Some weeks ago my wife and I took our oldest daughter to Southern Adventist University for their Smart Start program. Like most parents, I felt that time seemed to have passed without me noticing it. What had happened to my baby girl, who suddenly had turned into a poised, warm, and engaging young woman?
We shed a tear or two as we drove the 600 miles separating Collegedale, Tennessee, from Silver Spring, Maryland. It felt as if this were the end of an era. We were grateful that we did not return to an empty house. Two younger daughters were waiting for us, trying themselves to deal with the trauma of change.
I assume that many of our readers have made a similar journey. Recent research suggests that Adventist Review readers are firmly committed to Adventist education. Whether to a boarding academy or a faraway college or university campus, you have had to say goodbye to a son or a daughter—then drive home. In the rearview mirror you saw the child, your child, waving (or perhaps jumping happily up and down!), and you felt tears well up.
Weeks have passed since that sad Sunday morning. We have realized that we really haven’t lost a daughter—we just let her fly. Her phone calls and text messages come daily; our conversations have changed, and we listen as we hear her expand her horizons. We are proud of her accomplishments and saddened by her disappointments. We have found a new normal at home and see new characteristics develop in our younger daughters as they step up to the plate.
As parents we are acutely interested in Adventist education. Both my wife and I are products of this education; we met on an Adventist college campus. We are grateful to the caring and committed teachers who make Adventist education Adventist. We are worried about those faculty who may not (yet) understand the close link between education and redemption that Ellen White highlighted more than 100 years ago.
We hear, we listen, we observe, we are invested. I imagine we are not the only ones. There are thousands of Adventist parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts who watch closely. They want to see quality education, caring and committed educators, and opportunities where faith, real-life faith, can be built into young adults. They want to see growth. But above all, they want to see Adventist education in action. They are not too worried about the latest technological gadgets and educational fads; they don’t need the highest-ranking school (at least we don’t); they don’t care much about athletics and competitive sports. What they do care about is the faith journey of their sons and daughters. They are passionate about their preparation for eternity. They wonder about their children’s introduction to service.
So, Adventist university administrators, board members, or educators, know that we will lift up your ministry to our children in our prayers. Recognize that we will stand right behind you as you prepare our children for eternity. In the rearview mirror, as we drive away from your campuses, we see a precious son and daughter of the living God, and we entrust them into your care.
We will watch; we will pay; and we will pray.
Gerald A. Klingbeil is an associate editor of Adventist Review.