What does hope and wholeness look like to a child, and what correlation could there possibly be between shoelaces, hope, and wholeness? Ann Arquitt, a teacher at the Floral Crest School in Bryant, Alabama, shares the following experience that may give us a glimpse.
On Friday, Gunner learned to tie his shoes, and that is such an important milestone; it was just such a beautiful moment, that I quickly jotted down the conversation word for word. I wish you could have heard the magic in his voice.
Gunner: “I just tied my shoe all by myself! I just practiced the skills you showed me. I just did it! I tied them both. I didn’t even mess up and have to tie them over.”
His words and joy were effervescent. Gunner was walking around the classroom exuberantly smiling, back straight, and totally delighted with himself and the acquisition of such a powerful new skill.
Teacher: “I am so thrilled for you.”
Gunner: “I was thrilled, too. Now I don’t have to have anyone help me tie my shoes. It’s easy once you learn. I just did it! It’s easy …. It may seem impossible, but, it’s not! Now I won’t have to worry about a thing, I can just tie them on my own now.”
Teacher: “I am so proud of you tying your shoe.”
Gunner: “I am so proud of you for teaching me. You are the best teacher in the world.”
Teacher: “Aw, that was nice. Thank you!”
Can you imagine the enthusiasm, gratitude, pleasure, sense of achievement, transfer of knowledge, confidence, joy?
I thought Gunner was rather remarkable when he stated, “It’s easy once you learn.” He said it so genuinely. And, how profound to comment, “It may seem impossible, but it’s not.”
His tone was full of conviction and hope. Doesn’t this bring to mind, “With God, all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26? What a revelation! We must embrace Gunner’s optimism, and apply it in a thousand circumstances as we strive to reach others with a message of hope and wholeness.
Because the work of education and redemption are one, teachers and administrators understand that their daily ministry is evangelism. Educators across the Southern Union are working to accomplish the common mission of the Southern Union and North American Division to reach others with the distinctive Christ-centered, Seventh-day Adventist message of hope and wholeness. With this in mind, our goal during this quinquennium is to advance the mission of the Church, and achieve the vision of graduating students who excel in faith, learning, and service. The desired outcome: students who have a message of hope and wholeness they can share.
Daily Encounter with Jesus
The new elementary Encounter Bible curriculum intentionally offers students the chance to have a daily personal encounter with Jesus. Interactive, experiential learning allows students to probe, ask questions, and dig deeper for knowledge as time is provided for collaboration with peers. They become free to know Jesus for themselves, and are excited to share the Word of God with others at school and beyond the classroom.
Students at Duluth Adventist Christian School, Duluth, Georgia, when asked what they liked about Encounter, shared the following:
“It’s a much better way to study the Bible.” –Ciana
“It is bringing me closer to God.” –Shalena
“It encourages me to tell my parents and brothers about what I have learned… It is different, but a fun and exciting way to learn the Bible.” –Amiel
“It has helped me to spend more time with God.” –Nestor
Kalicia Morrison, a teacher at Charlotte Adventist Christian School, Charlotte, N.C., has even found Encounter to be a part of students’ recess conversations. She also states that she loves “…how God is working through these units [Encounter curriculum] to reach the hearts of my students!”
Each Bible class becomes an evangelistic opportunity for students to experience the Good News of the Gospel. The strong spiritual foundation Encounter provides prepares students not only for challenges in this life, but also introduces them to a life-changing opportunity for Heaven. As a result, youth are excited to share the message of hope and wholeness — the news of salvation — at school, in their homes, and in their communities.
The Hands and Feet of Jesus
Getting young people involved in service is an important way for them to feel engaged in the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. One way the Secondary Education Department for the Southern Union has done this is through 2Serve Conferences for junior academy students. During these conferences, students participate in CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) disaster relief training, engage in a simulation with local first responders, and present the entire church service for at least one church nearby on Sabbath.
As a capstone experience for their training, students have interacted with first responders in four disaster simulations by providing moulage, where they make up each other to appear like they have injuries as specified by the first responders, and by being the victims for the disaster simulation. During the four 2Serve Conferences held thus far, students have simulated a tornado drill, a bleacher collapse, a lightning strike on a playground, and most recently, an active shooter drill on Forest Lake Academy’s campus involving the whole school, 100 victims, and approximately 80 first responders. Being able to share with church members what they have done through their training and disaster response has been a blessing to church members and students alike.
2Serve Conferences have prepared students to be able to effectively respond when a disaster strikes. It has also opened doors for students to be actively involved in meeting people’s needs in times of disaster, reaching them with a message of hope and wholeness. Recently, students have helped more than 100 families recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew, and assisted first responders with recovery efforts after the Gatlinburg, Tennessee, wildfire disaster.
Academy age students love to be the hands and feet of Jesus. They have boundless energy and compassion to help those in need, and are changed forever each time they do!
Why Share Hope and Wholeness?
When the youth rightly trained excel in faith, learning, and service, when they are empowered to reach others with the message of hope and wholeness, “how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Savior might be carried to the world. How soon might the end come.” Education, page 271.
Southern Union | May 2017