The beliefs and sentiments expressed by those whose letters appear here are not necessarily shared by the Adventist Review or its editorial staff. These letters have been edited for clarity and length. -- Editors
Saved by the Church
Regarding “My Church Saved Me”
(Sept. 15, 2011):
The author apparently believes that the reason our young people are leaving our church in large numbers is “they don’t find people they connect with, a ministry they can get plugged into, and a safe place where their spiritual needs are met.” Perhaps a graduate of a Christian college should be a meeter of those needs rather than looking for a hand to hold.
The Bible abounds in instruction for child training, including the parents’ responsibility for meeting the child’s spiritual, mental, moral, physical, and social needs. Worldly psychology would have us believe that teenage rebellion is a normal rite of passage into adulthood. If that’s true, then God planned it. He did not.
The most important thing for our children to learn is what a grand Maker we have, and the loving relationship He wants to have with us. That is learned through precept (Scripture, godly teaching, good reading, etc.) and example (Spirit-controlled modeling by parents and others).
One young man in his twenties once said to me, “I’ve always known what God is like. He’s a real good friend, like dad, only better.” Knowing God is the foundation of self-respect, which is preventive medicine for rebellion; it also renders needless the drive for self-worth through false pleasures. This teaching is the foundation that should begin in the cradle and be well established by the age of accountability, traditionally age 12. If the foundation is weak or missing, the walls crumble.
Public schools try to handle this deficit in parental responsibility with such things as school lunches, gun control rules, and sex education. Our kids often enter the doors of our schools and churches still ignorant of the knowledge and discipline they should have learned at home. Surely, our schools and churches are God-instigated and have a large responsibility in the developing maturity of our children. But home and parents are where this education should begin.
Remember, God lost Lucifer because Lucifer had to be allowed to make his own choice in order to preserve the foundational principle of the universe, which is freedom based on love. Our prayer should be that God will remove the self-centeredness and selfishness from us (parents, teachers, church officials, role models) so we can do all in our power to influence our children to make the choice to spend eternity with our wonderful Creator.
More articles addressing the issue of keeping young adults in the church are needed. Carlson is right in saying that members must not only be interested in youth, they must show it again and again.
I’ve been an Adventist for 46 years, and a pastor for more than 40. I’ve noticed that congregations with the highest ratio of young people were the ones that really cared about them, regardless of their age. Some of the activities that made a real difference were vibrant Sabbath school classes for every age, Pathfinder Clubs, and church schools.
There is no good reason that a church should not have a school, as long as there are at least two families with children. Every member can and should do something to help that school succeed. After successfully helping two schools get started in very small congregations, I can share specifics if anyone is interested.
Elementary church schools teach children about loving and serving Jesus. They encourage parents to send their children to academy. Students in academy are encouraged to go to an Adventist college or university. In college or university settings the majority of youth choose their life partners. These will get married and form Adventist families, returning to either the wife’s or husband’s friendly, helpful, and encouraging church family that helped them succeed.
Will your church be that kind of church?
--Ertis L. Johnson
Elk City, Oklahoma
Our Dark Heritage
I appreciate Shawn Boonstra’s recent article “Ten Years After the Sky Fell"
(Sept. 8, 2011).
Saying that “we” behaved badly in the Dark Ages is not only honest, it’s biblically accurate. I have a sermon entitled, “Women, Wilderness, and Wisdom: The Tale of Two Women,” in which I show from Revelation that the two women are really one shown in two different ways and time in history. The change from the woman of white to the woman of purple and gold is a revelation of the great apostasy of the Christian church predicted by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
With such an accurate expression of Revelation we don’t get Catholic-centric and offensive. We’re all in this together. And it opens doors to the gracious invitation to enter a better way in the truth as it is in Jesus.
About Adventist Education
I’m writing to thank you for Kimberly Luste Maran’s editorial “The Best and Brightest
” (Sept. 8, 2011). Now retired, I have been on the teaching end in Seventh-day Adventist schools for 32 years. Quite often over those years we teachers experienced public school teachers bringing their children to our schools. They wanted the kindness of Christian teachers, as well as the Christian curriculum, including Bible classes, worships, and Christian slant to all teaching, especially science.
They also expressed that church school teachers took a real interest in the success of their students scholastically and socially, and felt they were better prepared for life as well as for higher education when that time came. We were a three-way team: parents, teachers, and the local church. Of course we invited the Holy Spirit to guide us every day. There was always prayer in the classroom, not only by teachers, but by students as well. Students learned leadership roles even as low as fourth grade.
Many of my students have gone into advanced studies with doctorates in different fields, some of which they had to earn in other than Adventist universities. One student didn’t speak English so his Adventist parents felt he should go to a bilingual school for a year before entering church school. After three years in a bilingual school, and still hardly reading or speaking English, the father, a member of our school board, asked if I would take him into my sixth grade. I told him I would, but not to expect top grades for a while because we would have to work on his English.
I told all the students, including those who spoke his language, that we were all his teachers. They were to help him as much as me by not speaking anything but English while on school property. Before the end of the first semester he was getting straight A’s. Years later he came running to me at camp meeting, picked me up, and said again and again, “Thank you, thank you for making me learn English, and being kind about it.”
He told me he was attending Harvard Law School. This one example shows that Adventist schools are able to help even the best and brightest.
Adventist schools prepare our students for their needs in higher education as well as for daily living. We always taught students that Jesus is their best Friend and He ever desires to help them if they will let Him.
It is not a sacrifice to send our children to Seventh-day Adventist schools; it is an investment.
College Place, Washington
I grew up Adventist and had the privilege of attending an Seventh-day Adventist school through the middle of my eighth grade year, when circumstances beyond my control forced me to attend public school. When I started public school in the middle of my eighth grade year, I quickly learned I was behind and struggled because of it.
I understand the need to defend Adventist education. I think it’s important and great if parents can afford it, or if your church offers it. I sent my son, who is now 11, to the local Seventh-day Adventist school that I went to as a child. I struggled financially to send him, but felt the sacrifice was worth it. If God wanted him there, He would make the resources available. I found myself getting agitated with parents in the church who chose to send their children to public school or homeschool instead of our church school, especially when the threat of closing it down because of lack of attendance was made a reality several times.
Maran’s comment, “It bothers me when people ‘trash talk’ about Adventist schools,” bothers me because I often hear “trash talk” about people who send their kids to another school besides an Adventist school. The editorial made me realize I was one of those people.
My son now attends a non-denominational Christian school, and I was blown away at the difference. He was so far behind when he started his new school, and he had a lot of catching up to do in a short amount of time.
While he may not get Adventist doctrines on a daily basis, he is taught about God and Scripture. He is also getting the benefit of high-tech computer systems, a more advanced math and science program, the option of sports, Spanish, and music classes, and still gets the benefit of smaller classrooms and individual attention.
I know from experience of attending an Adventist school that nine times out of 10 these other options are not available. This really disappoints me and breaks my heart because I would love my son to get the Adventist education that we all desire. But I also have to be the parent and look out for his best interests. They are not in an Adventist school right now.
As a church we have to look at what we’re offering our kids for education, what our schools are lacking, and bring them up to speed with the rest of the schools so that there is no question or competition about where they should go. That’s not trash talk; it’s just being honest.
Des Moines, Iowa
To Drink? Or Not?
It was good to see in “Tea and Coffee Revisited
” (Aug. 25, 2011) that the doctors upheld the counsel given to the church so many years ago.
However, they did not point out that in decaffeinated varieties of coffee and tea, while the caffeine is reduced, the still contain some chemicals used to reduce the caffeine; and these can be as bad as caffeine.
There are two problems with tea and coffee that the doctors did not mention, which make it wise to avoid these drinks completely. First, they are diuretics. The body has to use two to three cups of water for every cup drunk to eliminate the poisons in tea and coffee. This can leave the body dehydrated and weakened, especially since most people don’t drink enough water.
Second, both drinks are highly acidic. Coffee with cream and sugar has a pH of 4.0--1,000 times as acidic as distilled water. Black tea is worse at 2.79. An acidic body is ideal for disease to take over. To avoid disease ensure that your body is on the alkaline side. Avoiding tea and coffee is one way to achieve this.
--Stanley V. Maxwell
Print Them Again!
Thank you for the recent article about Alma McKibbin, “The Reluctant School Teacher
” (Aug. 25, 2011). I greatly enjoyed it.
By coincidence I had recently gone through some old Reviews from the spring of 1962 and found a 12-part series about her life. I found the articles most interesting, and kept them out as a significant part of Adventist history. Even after a half century, they could be run again to good advantage.
--Donald G. Sather