Adventist Journal Online | Adventist education grows rapidly on former Soviet soil
Schools touch the hearts of children and parents.
A boy with a non-Christian father and former Seventh-day Adventist mother gives his heart to Jesus after studying at an Adventist school.
A third-grader’s ways change so drastically after enrolling in an Adventist school that her atheist mother wants to become an Adventist.
Two children beg to go to an Adventist school after learning from friends, and their parents end up becoming Adventists.
These stories show how the power of God is transforming lives in Russia, Ukraine and other countries of the former Soviet Union as Adventist education grows rapidly on once atheistic soil, leaders said. church at the Euro-Asian Division (ESD) year-end meetings. The Adventist Church had only 14 schools in the area ten years ago, but today it operates 77 elementary and secondary schools with 4,128 students. 40 more schools are expected to open over the next four years.
“Adventist education is closely tied to the mission of the church,” said Ivan Riapolov, ESD education director, reporting annually at year-end meetings.
“You cannot separate Adventist education and Adventist mission,” he said. “Wherever schools open, the church grows. “
A boy whispers in Bible class
This certainly appears to be the case in Odessa, Ukraine, where a 10-year-old boy named Anas struggled to pass his classes amid a continuing torrent of racial discrimination from his classmates at school. public, said Riapolov in an interview. The boy’s non-Christian father lived in Iran and his Ukrainian mother, a former Adventist, had left him with his grandmother. Devastated by the bullying, the grandmother finally transferred Anas to the local Adventist school.
At first Anas was withdrawn, but he loved Bible lessons so much that he tried to remember the teacher’s words by whispering them as he heard them in the classroom, Riapolov said. But over the days and weeks, he found that the other kids liked his wit, and he quickly became a beloved class clown.
His mother was furious, however, when she learned that the grandmother had enrolled the boy in Adventist school, and she brought him back to live with her. The grandmother prayed for a year for God to intervene, and one day the mother agreed to meet with an Adventist pastor. During the conversation with the pastor, Anas learned that three former classmates were going to be baptized, and he announced that he also wanted to be baptized. He had studied the Bible on his own for baptism. Her fervent desire to give her life to Jesus touched her mother’s heart, and she and the grandmother saw the boy being baptized with his classmates two weeks later.
“There was not only a reconciliation of the family, but also a reconciliation with God,” said Riapolov.
The daughter teaches the mother about God
In another part of ESD, a mother called an Adventist school to say she knew nothing about religion but wanted her daughter, Natasha, to get an Adventist education, Riapolov said. The mother explained to the principal that Natasha had attended a private school that gave the children free rein for their creativity, but she believed the girl needed discipline. She worried about Natasha and remembered that when she was pregnant, she had once felt pressured to send her child to a Christian school. She had no idea where the idea came from because she was an atheist.
“I want my daughter to study at this school,” she firmly told the principal.
Two weeks after Natasha’s third year started, the mother called the principal to tell him that she was delighted with the changes that had taken place in her daughter.
“She loves your Bible lessons and she fell in love with school,” she said. “She tells us everything that happens there and makes us pray before meals. I’m so happy I brought her to your school!
Then the mother contacted the director to ask for information about Adventist beliefs. “Natasha wants to become an Adventist and I would like to know what changes need to be made in our lives,” she said. “I also want to become an Adventist.
The history of the family is not over. “Their path with God has only just begun,” said Riapolov.
Powerful parents accept Christ
Elsewhere, a luxury car pulled up at an Adventist school on the first day of the school year, according to a story shared by Riapolov. Two children carrying bouquets of flowers for the teachers got out of the car, accompanied by their parents.
“We want our children to study at your school,” the father told the principal.
“I’m afraid it is impossible,” replied the manager. “We have no more room for students.
“We are going to buy new desks and chairs for all the students and pay double the tuition fees,” retorted the father. “Please allow our children to go to your school. “
“You know we also don’t have government accreditation to hold final exams here,” the director said. “Your kids should take them to public school.
“It’s not a problem for us,” the mother said. “We will help you get accreditation. “
“You know it’s a Seventh-day Adventist school, don’t you? Said the director.
“Yes, and we want our children to study here,” the father said.
The mother said the family had vacationed at the Black Sea a few weeks earlier and the children had made new friends who attended Adventist school. Every evening during the holidays, the children had enthusiastically talked to their parents about school and begged to go when classes started.
Then the mother handed her business card to the principal. She was a municipal judge. Her husband was a high ranking military officer.
The kids entered the second and third year of school and they loved studying there. But over the weeks they started to ask their parents to read to them Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories, which they heard at school.
“The parents of other children read these stories to them, and you don’t,” the children said.
The mother cleverly told the children to ask the teacher to sell them the book. “Then I’ll read to you every night,” she said. The kids bought the book and she read to them every night.
Months passed and the children asked to attend Sabbath school and church. Parents took them every Saturday (Sabbath). The following summer, mother and father were baptized.
Education is evangelism
EDD has made education a high priority, and at its request, the Thirteen Sabbath Offering collected in the first quarter of 2021 is helping expand two schools, one in Russia and one in Ukraine.
Riapolov, speaking at year-end meetings, hailed Adventist education as “the longest and most important evangelistic event taking place” in the Adventist Church. A child enrolled in an Adventist school in first grade can learn about God for 11 years – until he graduates from grade 11, the last year of the old Soviet school system, he said. declared. Even more years of Adventist education can be added if the young adult decides to pursue higher education.
“All of our efforts are focused on the mission of the church, which is to proclaim the messages of the three angels,” said Riapolov. “We want children to gain a biblical worldview and make the decision to give their lives to God. “
Mikhail Kaminskiy, president of EDD, told church leaders at year-end meetings that education plays a key role in winning souls for Christ.
“Education is evangelism at its best,” he said.
Adventist Church President Ted NC Wilson, who also attended the meetings, described Adventist education as fundamental to the church’s future in ESD, and he prayed that God would bless the growth. continues schools.
“May we find a lot of them in Heaven through these schools,” Wilson said.
The original version of this story was published by Adventist mission.