Scores of educators boarded buses, vans, and cars as they wended their way last fall to Camp Victory Lake in Hyde Park, New York. This was the first time in the history of the Northeastern Conference that teachers and pastors convened for workers meeting. As they disembarked, cemented smiles glowed from the faces of friends and coworkers. This was the day that they anticipated.
The auditorium was packed to capacity as every worker sat in expectation of the day’s activities. Our hearts were truly blessed with musical presentations by our high school students from the Brooklyn and Manhattan campuses. We were lifted away on angels’ wings as Edward Jackson, pastor of the Macedonia church in Wyandanch, New York, reminisced about the past—the times when students were given an opportunity to gain an education through the industrialized programs that were conducted at our colleges. He spoke of his own experience when he had no money to pay his tuition, and how he survived and assisted others by the use of a lawn mower and his faith in God.
We were enthused by the message of Atlantic Union Conference education director Astrid Thomassian, who reminded us of our commitment and challenged us to keep the flame of the pastors and teachers burning in the Northeastern Conference. Some teachers and pastors expressed their frustrations about the system, but God has assured us through His inspired writer that although our schools might seem to sway in the direction of the world, He will stabilize them.
Our keynote speaker, Elissa Kido, professor of curriculum and instruction at La Sierra University and director for the Center for Research on K-12 Adventist Education, used data that was collected through CognitiveGenesis to inform us of the impact of Christian education on the life of a child. Ninety-one percent of students who received 11 years or more of Christian education remained in the church, in comparison to 58 percent of those with no Adventist education. Kido’s husband, Daniel, a product of Christian education from elementary to university, boasted of the support he received from his church to help him become a neurologist.
As spring ushers in fall and fall ushers in winter, so today, as recorded in Matthew 24, the signs all foretell that Jesus is soon to return. In the day of final reckoning, fathers and mothers will be asked what they did and said, to secure the salvation of the souls that they took upon themselves to bring into this world. The good done for others will not cancel the debt you owe to God for the care and education of your children. The spiritual welfare of your family comes first.
As the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness, they met several monuments, and they questioned the significance of the stones. They were told by their parents that the stones were left there so that they could find their way home.
Teachers, pastors, and parents, what stones are you leaving so that our children can find their way home? Let us all commit ourselves to Christian education. Rally then, rally then, stand by our schools!
Viola Chapman is the Northeastern Conference superintendent of schools.