Is it time for our children to leave the cities? That may sound like a strange question, but, dear reader, don’t tune out just yet. Let me tell you what’s been on my mind. On September 1, 1939, the British government began execution of a plan called “Operation Pied Piper.” The purpose of Pied Piper was the intentional evacuation of individuals, especially children, from the cities in England to the countryside, where they would be safer from the Nazi bombardment of British cities during World War II.
I did some research and was amazed at how big of an undertaking this ended up becoming. By the end of the first four days in September, more than 1.5 million people had been evacuated out of the cities. Over 800,000 of them were school-age children. Many of these children were sent away with no idea where they were going, and, even worse, no idea when they were coming back. This was no small task, and, I would say, it was no small sacrifice. It certainly seems odd by today’s standards.
What would possess a parent to send their child away like that? It was the fear that if they had kept them at home by their side the children would be in worse danger than if they were sent away to the countryside. The parents knew that the war was real, the danger to them was real, and they valued their children’s lives too much to take the risk of keeping them in the cities.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, especially in relation to protecting our children. I’d like to suggest to you, especially those who live in the cities and who do not have Adventist education options for their children, to consider whether it’s time to enact a version of “Operation Pied Piper.”
We are in the middle of a war. Our families are under constant bombardment by the enemy. Our children are prime targets because the devil knows that if he gets them, he hurts them and breaks the hearts of the parents at the same time. Our children face challenges every day in the form of peer pressure from unchristian friends, television, and music that encourages crime and vice, as well as school indoctrination that tells them that personal freedom trumps such things as the Bible, God, ultimate truth, and more. The challenges of raising children are difficult enough in a Christian home/environment, but it seems almost impossible these days to prepare children for a future with God when everything around denies His existence. What do we do?
“The time has come when, as God opens the way, families should move out of the cities. The children should be taken into the country. The parents should get as suitable a place as their means will allow. Though the dwelling may be small, yet there should be land in connection with it that may be cultivated”—Counsels for the Church, p. 148.
The time has come for us to return to the same spirit of sacrifice that compelled the English to put the safety of their children over their parents’ comfort and personal feelings. You can minister in the cities, but you don’t have to live there. If you have to live there, find a way to send your children somewhere where they can be away from the front of the battle, which is the cities, and to a place where they can have a different experience. A place where it is easier to hear God’s voice and be taught based on the principles of God’s Word, instead of by the dictates of unconverted people.
There are those that say the days of boarding academies are past. “Adventist education is still relevant, but no one wants to send their children away.” I would respectfully disagree. The need for schools in country settings, away from the iniquity of the cities, is more important than ever. And since we can’t all live near these places, we have to have schools that offer boarding facilities. Within the Atlantic Union territory, there are two academies that have some type of arrangement for boarding their students. I want to recommend to you to consider them.
Union Springs Academy is the Atlantic Union’s only [full] boarding academy and I would encourage you to consider my invitation. I believe it is time to sacrifice comfort for the sake of protecting and placing our children away from the front of the battle between good and evil. The enemy is after our children. Send them someplace where they will be safer from his bombardment.
I invite you to consider Union Springs Academy as an option for your children. Yes, it’s a sacrifice; yes, you’d miss them, but I’d rather sacrifice and miss them for a short while than miss them for eternity.
Miguel Crespo, president, New York Conference