She bounced through the door and beamed from ear to ear as she exclaimed, “Guess what!? I finished all my Bible studies! Now I can get baptized!” My heart was full to overflowing as I celebrated with her and, just two days later, witnessed my fourth-grade student lead her mother into the waters of baptism. What a privilege it was to watch these two precious souls give their lives to Jesus with brand new commitment and to see them experience a new relationship with Him.
Just two years prior to this experience our school decided to incorporate several Preview Days into our marketing efforts. We now choose various school days throughout each school year and invite students from our community to join us for the day. Students are invited to Preview Days on days when our calendar differs from the local public school district’s schedule. This allows visiting students to come and preview what Hillcrest Adventist Elementary School has to offer without missing any class time at their own schools. Leading up to our first Hillcrest Preview Day, Matia’s family heard the radio spot advertising our event and decided to come check it out.
As time went on, God continued to lead and guide in amazing ways. After visiting during our spring Preview Day, Matia’s family enrolled her to start the following school year. That fall they immediately immersed themselves in our church and school family. Matia attentively soaked up class worships, asked amazingly insightful questions in Bible class, and openly shared her growing love for Jesus with her classmates and me. Watching her relationship with her Maker grow and mature into a real and personal experience has been a priceless privilege to behold.
Matia’s eager participation in worship, Bible studies and Bible class at school, regular Sabbath school attendance, as well as a willingness to engage in any kind of spiritual conversation, soon grew to another level. Her love for Jesus inspired her mother and ignited a quest for biblical truth in their home. She became interested in baptismal studies and her excitement influenced her mother to also request baptismal studies with one of our pastors. Together, mother and daughter completed all their baptismal studies with sincere eagerness and were baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church on February 19, 2022. Matthew 19:14 was recited from the baptismal tank as Matia’s love for Jesus is a beautiful embodiment of these words: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Recapping the details of Matia’s journey is a refreshing reminder of why we do what we do as Christian educators. This sweet, outgoing young lady visited our Preview Day as a second grader, enrolled that fall as a third grader, then as a fourth-grader completed baptismal studies and not only gave her life to Jesus, but also led her mother in the same decision. To God be the glory!
While Matia’s story is beautiful and inspiring, not all faith journeys unfold so quickly and smoothly. As educators, pastors and also as lay disciples of Jesus, we don’t always have the privilege of reaping (or even hearing news of) the harvest produced by the seeds we sow. However, I want to urge you to keep sowing those seeds. I want to leave you with the reassuring encouragement of Gal. 6:9, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”
—Tabitha Coto is the lower grades teacher at Hillcrest Adventist Elementary School in Jamestown, North Dakota.