Guest’s Take: Adventist Education Spotlight (Michelle DeSilva)

Here’s a guest post by Michelle DeSilva, Principal at College Park Elementary School and spouse of Pastor DeSilva.

Train up a child in the way, he should go; when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Michelle DeSilva (right) and Pastor Glenn DeSilva (left)
Michelle DeSilva (right) and Pastor Glenn DeSilva (left)

Traditionally, once a year, we highlight Adventist Christian Education and its importance and impact on our church and community. As with most items, members’ opinions on the value and role of Adventist Education vary. Some view it as an indispensable help in raising their children for Jesus; others view it as a sought-after but unaffordable luxury, while others consider it to be a defective or lesser tool in educating for the here and now. Each of us approaches Adventist Education with our own personal bias shaped by our life’s story. Allow me to share a little of my story.

Many years ago, my father was introduced to the Seventh-day Adventist message. His newfound faith and knowledge immediately impacted our family. He wanted his three children to grow in the knowledge of scripture and hold fast to the hope he had acquired in Jesus. In quick succession, we went from somewhat nominal Catholics to weekly attending Sabbath School, Adventurers/Pathfinders, Children’s Choir, and AY meetings. In my little mind, things were changing at whirlwind speed, but the greatest change was yet to come. My parents needed to ensure that we were receiving consistent messaging; they took the admonition in Proverbs 22:6 seriously and were well aware of their need for help. And so came ‘the great move’ to allow us to attend an Adventist school. It mattered not to my parents that we looked different from all the students, that we needed uniforms, that my mother would need to learn to drive, that we might not have access to the latest teaching tools, or that my dad would need to take on additional jobs. All that mattered was that we would be in a place where “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17) for God’s glory and that my parents’ desire to be supported in their attempts to plant seeds of faith in our young minds would come to fruition.

Several years ago, I attended an education sabbath day where one parent, Jared Morae, shared his rationale for sending his children to our schools. His testimony has stuck with me, and with his consent, I share a summary of it now. In 1 Samuel 13, we find the Israelites in a hot mess. Saul and the Israelites are outnumbered and fearful; they are about to face a superior, well-equipped Philistine army. Tucked near the end of this chapter are the following verses:

Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, ‘Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!’  So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plow points, mattocks, axes and sickles sharpened.
(1 Samuel 13:19-20, NIV)

Imagine the ridiculousness of this situation. The Israelites couldn’t sharpen their own weapons, so they counted on their enemies to sharpen them. It’s safe to assume that no Israelite ever walked away from a Philistine blacksmith with a truly sharp tool. And yet, if we believe the proverb that “iron sharpens iron”, many of us find ourselves in the same absurd predicament when we place our young, malleable precious ones in the hands of ‘the enemy camp’ and assume they will be able to withstand the ‘sharpening’ they receive while still remaining true to Jesus and His teachings.

Adventist schools are not perfect; my family encountered seasons of frustration and disappointment. In these times, the one thing that remained constant was that imperfect teachers continued to lovingly plant seeds of faith in our lives. My parents had a strong conviction that if they did their part, God would do the rest, supersede all human failings, and eventually bring their children into a saving relationship with Jesus. Praise God, today, all three of us continue to claim Jesus as our Saviour and have seen the wisdom of placing our children in Adventist schools. I invite you to consider doing the same today.


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