This Sabbath, August 21, the Seventh-day Adventist Church recognizes the impact Adventist Education has had on millions of children around the globe by emphasizing World Education Sabbath.
When Martha Byington, daughter of the future Seventh-day Adventist Church president, opened the first church school for Sabbatarians in 1853, she couldn’t have known that from this simple beginning would emerge one of the largest Christian educational systems in the world. Today, there are more than 111,833 teachers, 2,044,895 million students and 9,408 schools that represent the goal of true education: “to restore human beings into the image of God as revealed by the life of Jesus Christ.”[i]
John Wesley Taylor, associate director of Education for the Seventh-day Adventist World Church shares that “God has a plan for education and our lives are transformed as we become participants...That divine plan for education is especially relevant in these last days of earth’s history, as we prepare to enter the School of Heaven.”
With competing philosophies and ideologies vying for our children, it is vitally important for them to be grounded in the “distinctive characteristics of Adventist worldview, built around creation, the fall, redemption, and re-creation, as derived from the Bible and the inspired writings of Ellen G. White.”[ii]
Unlike a traditional public school, specific spiritual goals are woven into the Adventist curriculum to train our young people to choose “to accept God as the Creator and the Redeemer; grow in their knowledge and understanding of God’s creation; creatively apply their spiritual, physical, intellectual, and social-emotional knowledge; demonstrate their commitment to the Creator through service to others.”[iii] Every detail is meant to minister to the whole person—spiritual, physical, intellectual, and social-emotional elements.
Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, director of the Education Department for the Seventh-day Adventist World Church, encourages families. “We’re on your side,” she says. “We love your children, too. And our teachers have developed skills to help your children be educated for eternity and also to be successful in whatever career they would like to do. We also can provide an environment where they learn habits for life. Parents, you are not alone! We are here to work together with you.”
Students who have attended an Adventist school attest to its positive long-term impact. In the ValueGenesis3 study conducted not long ago, 81% of students sampled in the North American region of the World Church agreed that attending an Adventist school was one of the most important factors in developing their religious faith.
Taylor says there is a consistent and important relationship between attending an Adventist school and the likelihood that a child or youth will join the Adventist Church and choose to remain a member. Highten Hamweene is just one example.
Hamweene is ministerial secretary for the Woodlands Conference in Zambia. “When I became a recipient of Adventist education,” he says, “I observed a sharp contrast between the secular school and church run schools. This was true also for the Adventist tertiary academic institutions I attended later. These institutions were consistent in the training of the head, heart and hands. Adventist education at its best focuses on developing the whole being.”
He continues, “Adventist education helped me grow spiritually. I was guaranteed physical rest every seventh day. The campuses were refreshing as the general atmosphere was often quiet and serene—away from the busy city life. I enjoyed wholesome and healthier food. Exercise was part of the culture. Respect, integrity and excellence were promoted. Above all, the ethic of service was entrenched in all aspects of academic life.”
Alexander Mainza, now an elder in his local church in Zambia, shares a similar testimony. “I was born in a Catholic family with three family members serving as priests. At 13 years old, I went to Rusangu Secondary School, an Adventist school, with strict instructions from my dad that I was going there purely for school. However, during a week of prayer, my heart was convicted and I got baptized. Since then I have kept my faith.”
Stories like these validate the importance of an Adventist Christian education.
Celebrating World Education Sabbath
The Education Department for the Adventist World Church suggests incorporating activities such as sermons highlighting the importance of Adventist education or testimonies of two or three individuals who have experienced Adventist education, into the church service on World Education Sabbath.
If the church is associated with an elementary or secondary school, they can present a promotional video for the school and have some local students provide special music or participate in other parts of the worship program.
Congregations can also collect a special offering for worthy students or a special project at the school, and have a short recognition ceremony honoring teachers, staff, and leaders who are local members.
For more information, visit adventist.education.
[i] Retrieved from https://adventisteducation.org/abt.html.