Somewhere there must be yellow receipts, cancelled checks, or moldy ledger books reflecting how much my 18-plus years in Adventist education cost. Likely tens of thousands of dollars just in tuition alone. Add to that amount the subsidies contributed by local churches, conferences, the Union and the Division and it would be little exaggeration to see a six-digit figure attached to my transcripts and diplomas. While that formal classroom experience ended some years ago, I still want to say to my parents (my mother will no doubt read this) and to those local churches and sponsoring organizations a heartfelt THANK YOU. I am so grateful for the huge investment my church made in me.

Firm Foundations

It was more than 50 years ago that, from a seat next to my first elementary teacher, I decided to go forward during an altar call and place my life in the hands of Jesus and join this church in baptism. The memory is so clear it could have been yesterday.

It was in a biology classroom a few years later that my teacher asked me to prove my faith. In that experience, I learned that faith by definition is just a bit beyond proof; it is a choice. In giving me that task, he helped me sustain my choice for faith.

In college it was a music teacher who would not take anything less than perfect as good enough; it was a theology professor who called me into his office simply to pray with me. He did it again a few years later in my master’s program.

Many of my educational mentors rest in the grave awaiting the trumpet blast and the shout of the archangel calling them to life when Jesus returns. When I see them again I will simply be constrained to say THANK YOU.

The world movement that is Adventism owes much to its schools, and particularly teachers.

We would not make the impact we do, given our small size, were it not for the vision planted in the hearts of students by those inspiring, tireless and deeply compassionate people standing before them in our classrooms. Day after day, with much diligence—sometimes after sleepless, prayer-filled nights—they get up to lead their students (your children and grandchildren) one step closer to Jesus.

Everywhere I go, I connect with Union College graduates. It is so gratifying to hear their experiences on our Lincoln campus, often mirroring my own from my alma maters.

Opportunity Continues

Adventist education in Mid-America is not perfect—yet. We are working for that. But let me suggest that, despite its shortcomings, it is one of the best things we have going for us. I am so proud of our schools, our teachers and students.

To those who continue their support for our schools through their philanthropic gifts, their offerings, and their faithful returning of the Lord’s tithe (all of which are vital) I want to say again THANK YOU. The return on your investment is a heavenly one, beginning right here and right now. For those of you who may be wondering about the future of Adventist education in MAUC, that future is in our hands. I ask for your prayer support, your encouragement for our teachers and staff, and your generosity. Without those pieces in place, the future will be less than it can be. But with them operating maximally, the best days are still before us.

Photo Credit: Derek Timms, Dakota Adventist Academy