9,500 evangelistic centres (schools), in 150 countries, with approximately 111,000 evangelists (teachers) ministering to over 2 million potential candidates (students). That’s the mission outreach power of SDA education! In the East-Central African Division alone, around 100,000 people per year are attracted into our faith because of the influence of our schools. Education has become a pulling mission force for the gospel.
Here in the United Kingdom, I often wonder whether our schools are being recognised as the missiological tool they can be. Have we overlooked our greatest evangelistic tool?
The story is told of an emperor who requested that all the great men and women of his tiny kingdom be brought to his palace. He vigorously shook their hands, complimenting them on their great achievements. Last he came to a smartly dressed little old lady. Though hunched over and grey-haired, her eyes still had a brightness, and she beamed when the emperor took her hand. He turned to his counsellors and asked, ‘Who is this kind lady?’ The counsellor replied, ‘She was the teacher of all these great people we honour today.’
During the pandemic, in the United Kingdom it was the schools that ensured that essential workers could continue their very important work. It was schools that enabled vulnerable children to be physically in schools, which are sometimes their only protection from domestic violence, drug-related activities, neglect, or abuse. Schools are the places where they can hear someone say, ‘I believe in you and I care about you’. Such is the power of schools.
Consider now the additional impact of a godly teacher in an SDA school! When our schools, are ‘Christ-centred, Bible-based, service-oriented and heaven-directed,’ pupils are invited to meet the master teacher. Schools become centres of Influence for in-reach and outreach:
- In reach: Research has shown that the longer a student stays within our school, the higher the probability of the student remaining in the church.
- Outreach: Recent feedback of the 2021 UK Census indicates that for the first time ever in UK history less than 50% of people identify themselves as Christian. The UK is ceasing to be a Christian country. Similar statistics no doubt exist for many western societies. In this environment, schools give an excellent avenue for outreach.
The rise in families dissatisfied with mainstream education has resulted in many families electing to homeschool. Similarly, there is a growing number of pupils who are now deemed ‘school refusers’, unable to cope in schools with large populations, who are in need of alternate schooling.
Our schools should be seizing the window of opportunity that is now available for SDA schools, to become centres of influence and meet the growing societal needs. Most schools in our division are filled predominantly by non-SDA children because their parents want something better. There is still power in the Word of God to reach the many children (and parents) who are looking for something better, and our schools can be an avenue for helping them connect with Christ.