“And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: . . . Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God”—Luke 18:15-16.
As Seventh-day Adventist Christians, we have read and heard this text many times. The Bayberry school on Cape Cod experienced a wonderful testimony from the family of a student who, I believe, heard God’s call to come and let Him bless her.
The Paul-Joseph family emigrated from the country of Haiti to America to provide a better life for their family. Currently, all five of their children, ranging from kindergarten through seventh grade, are enrolled at Bayberry. Their daughter, Mia, is in the seventh grade.
It is the custom at the school to hold a weekly town hall meeting where students are given the opportunity to share their concerns. At one of those meetings, Mia shared her story with her classmates. Apparently, some people had commented concerning the clothing she and her siblings wore. Mia shared how hard it was for her parents, who work every hour they can to pay for their church school tuition and to improve their lives. Mia saw her parents cry when life became difficult, and told how she cried for them, too, because she knew they were making sacrifices for the good of the family.
Sometime after Mia’s testimony, Cindy Santos received an e-mail from Partnering for Eternity (PFE) requesting participating schools to submit the name of a family within the program who exemplified what the organization promotes. Santos, Bayberry’s PFE coordinator, submitted Mia’s name and story.
Sponsored by Southern Adventist University, Partnering for Eternity provides scholarships to make Christian education more affordable by pairing students with individually matched elderly mentors, thus facilitating positive inter-generational friendships. The PFE board met within a few hours the same day and voted to give Mia’s family a gift of $700 to spend on celebrating a family Thanksgiving and Christmas. This was such a surprise and blessing for the Paul-Joseph family!
Life is both complicated and interesting. It is a series of observations, communications, decisions, and actions. Children have the ability to communicate with an open heart. Mia’s courage to take a stand showed that she believed God gave her the courage to speak.
Life lived from a Christian perspective is mysteriously wonderful. As Christians, we depend on our relationship with God to help us live productive, love-filled lives. A successful lifelong journey with Christ depends on hearing His call. Heaven will be ours if we open our hearts to receive God’s call and communicate with Him.
Each day at home, families present their children to Jesus, and in Adventist schools, we partner with parents to continue on that vein. This responsibility is taken very seriously, as parents entrust their precious children to our care. It is important for us to give students the opportunity to connect with Christ, both through the daily activities in our classrooms and the personal testimonies of the teachers as they share their relationship with Jesus with their students.
Jesus publicly touched and blessed each child to show that children were important. Their relationships with Him were as important as His relationships with adults. A touch from Jesus helped each of them envision eternal life. Parents just like Mia’s father and mother wanted Jesus to bless their children with His touch. They recognized what His disciples could not—that each person, each child, needs to meet Jesus. Each child needs to claim all that Jesus represents and offers.
Beverley Bucknor is the Southern New England Conference superintendent of schools.
This article first appeared in the January 2019 issue of The Atlantic Union Gleaner magazine, page 8.