An artist and photographer reflects on the faith-building role of Adventist education.
Published on: 09-17-2020
Recently I found something that caught my attention on social media. It was a picture in which Adventist mother Paola Pérez shared a photo of her little daughter in a moment of prayer with her teacher, on her cell phone.
The caption under the image read, “The reason my children attend an Adventist school is that it offers wholistic education, which is very important for a society that is losing its values every day, and because it’s a school committed to God and society, training leaders in ethical and moral values, who cling to the truth with strength, courage, and grace.”
As I read that caption and perceived the certainty this mother felt in giving her reasons for sending her daughter to an Adventist school, my heart filled with joy. It reaffirmed what my mother always believed: Adventist education makes a difference.
It is now that I can see more clearly the results of my mother’s ongoing efforts to help me grow spiritually. The Bible itself became her guide, as it commanded her, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6, NKJV).
Inspired and moved by this, I contacted the girl’s parents and asked for her permission to use this image as a model to create a work of art. I began to work on an image showing how the effort by parents and the dedication of teachers helps children enjoy an educational experience based on general knowledge and life experiences. Those life experiences will stay with them forever and make them better people in the future and in the service of humanity.
Many moments in my childhood flashed through my mind. I remembered when I was six years old at the Adventist school in Tuxtla Gutiérrez in Chiapas, Mexico. Every morning, teachers prayed for us. Their petitions and thanks were part of our morning devotional, which gave us a sense of belonging and trust, knowing that someone was listening and willing to hear our concerns, no matter how small they might seem.
Our school would then become a real family, where our classmates became brothers and sisters, for whom we got personally involved and prayed. The same happened with our dear teachers, who would take care of us, reprimand us when we misbehaved, and lovingly helped us be better. This all left an indelible imprint, which, no doubt, I share with many others who experienced how parents and teachers decide to trust in Adventist education. It is an education that gives us values for a journey that is undeniably difficult and complex.
The privilege of attending an Adventist school fills me with gratitude, first of all, to God and my family, and to the people who, along with that long journey, offered me their help, words of encouragement, or an arm to lean on. To every one of them, I want to share that image and leave this thought: when you allow God to lead you along the way, to guide your plans and life, you become a powerful instrument in His service.
Daniel Gallardo is an artist and photographer based in Mexico.