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Some people may wonder if Christian education is really still important or relevant. Can't our children get a good education in any school they attend? Absolutely they can! It's so important to pray for our children and all the teachers who are teaching kids in all types of schools. That being said, there are things an Adventist school can provide that are unique and impactful. Let's take a look.

My daughter Aprille and I are both long-term students and graduates, of Adventist schools. Both of us attended public schools briefly due to circumstances beyond our control, but most of our education was received in Adventist schools.

No, we didn't always have the vast array of extracurriculars that students in public schools may have. No, we didn't meet as many people and weren't exposed to as broad a range of experiences as public school students usually are. But there were other factors that made our educational experiences memorable and helpful.

Because Adventist schools are usually smaller than public schools, students are able to become better acquainted with their classmates. Both Aprille and I have lifelong friends that we went to school with for many years. We share many memories and experiences with these friends that somebody in a large, impersonal school might not enjoy. Also, because Adventists seem to move more than some others (Movement of Destiny, anyone?!), and because of the relatively small size of our denomination, I can travel to a new location, pop into an Adventist church, and often meet somebody I know or have at least heard of.

I tend to believe the teachers at Adventist schools also become closer and better acquainted with their students because of a smaller teacher-to-student ratio. Often the teachers are able to spot areas where students need extra help, and students often pitch in and help each other with their schoolwork.

It is a great asset to be able to learn about God both at school and at home, to be able to share a love for Him and His Word, and to speak freely about our beliefs. The more avenues we have in childhood to study God's Word and to strengthen our faith in Him, the better prepared we are for life's challenges. The network of fellow Christians can be very important throughout our lives.

One thing Aprille was able to experience that broadened her horizons (literally!) was volunteering on short-term mission trips. She went on three trips during her high school years: Yap, Micronesia; Peru; and Ecuador. She was able to help build buildings for Adventist institutions in these places, and experience cultures much different from ours here in the United States. She tells me that the building in Ecuador was a church that was also the strongest building in the area, so it could double as a shelter during storms. The building they constructed in Yap also sheltered a number of people and withstood a ferocious storm shortly after they helped build it.

There are no guarantees in this life, and certainly, Christian education is not a guarantee of success in this life and an eternity in heaven. However, I think it can be a huge positive influence and a contributing factor in these areas. A Christian education not only strengthens the mind, but it feeds and strengthens the soul and provides a solid foundation for a useful and rewarding life here on earth, and a joyful eternity in heaven.

I have been privileged to volunteer at Parkview Adventist Academy for many years, and this has also been a blessing to me. I hope it has also blessed the hundreds of children and parents I have interacted with during this time. What a privilege to have an impact on those who are the future of our church!

by :: Robin Sagel

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