Some time ago, I heard a family tell about how they wanted to send their child to an Adventist Christian school. The family started planning in the spring, making a spreadsheet listing the schools and visiting each school. After reviewing the positives and negatives, one school was chosen. They sent an application and deposit to the school, but they got no response.
In the meantime, they looked at another Adventist school some distance away. The visit was quite positive, having received information, personal prayer, follow-up calls, and messages. After considering what would be best, the family decided that it would be worth the expense to move, because this school showed they cared. A week after school started, a letter with a receipt for the deposit from the first school was received with no message inside.
Sometimes care is shown in very small ways. In the last week of July 2015, a phone call came to the Atlantic Union Conference Office of Education. The caller asked if it was possible to get some information about Atlantic Union College. He had heard that the religion department was going to open again for classes beginning in two or three weeks. He wanted to join that class and he needed to have acceptance into the college before he turned in his two-week resignation notice. He was directed to the right individual. Follow-up calls were made and he received confirmation that he was accepted.
Samuel Jerome had the faith to leave his comfortable position, move his family, and answer God’s call to prepare to serve. He loves his classes and knows that God has called him.
How should Jesus’ schools and churches care for people? Jesus was a Master of Caring for people. Look at how He took care of people when he fed 5,000. The disciples thought that they were being helpful in sending them away to get some food. But Jesus took looking out for people to a whole new level. His instruction was, “You give them something to eat”—Mark 6:37.
The Scripture is full of examples of Jesus caring and going out of His way. Jesus, the King and Creator of the universe, repeatedly asked, “What would you have me do for you?”—Mark 10:26.
As Jesus’ disciples we can follow His example in our schools and churches by:
• Answering the phone/e-mail promptly
• Listening/reading attentively
• Responding to students, parents, and all people in a timely manner. (The current acceptable response time is 24-48 hours.)
• Looking for felt needs first. These would be emotional comfort, water, and food.
Remembering that Christ said being taken advantage of and insults are the norms for service. That is what carrying a cross means.
Jesus said, “Come follow me”—Mark 1:17. Caring for people is a messy business, but it has a glorious result, because that is where He said He would be. We get to see Jesus.
Jerrell Gilkeson is the Atlantic Union Conference associate director of education and children’s ministries.