Hundreds of Seventh-day Adventist schools throughout the Inter-American Division (IAD) territory celebrated the region’s annual Day of Prayer on March 10, 2021. Students set aside their regular classes to focus on praying for others during a pandemic that has turned them into full-time virtual learners.
“This has been a challenging and sad year in our Adventist educational institutions because so many parents and teachers died from the coronavirus, families have been financially affected, and just the normal program in our schools was completely altered,” Gamaliel Flórez, IAD education director, said. “This day of prayer is for students and teachers to understand that communion with God makes the difference in their lives, that any challenge can be faced with God, and that with Him, there is hope.”
Affirming the Power of Prayer
The celebration was another opportunity to affirm the power of leading a daily prayer life not only for students and teachers but for their families as well, church leaders said.
“God is real, and He loves you,” Flórez said as he addressed more than 6,300 students enrolled in 30 primary and secondary schools in Chiapas, Mexico, during the live online program. “If you allow God to act in your life, if you live for His honor and glory, He will answer you, so trust in Him and make Him your friend,” he said.
This was IAD’s first virtual day of prayer since the event was first launched in 2010. In previous years, leaders traveled to various regions to meet and pray personally with students and teachers.
During a special segment of the live program, Lenika Yutiana López, a 14-year old student from the José Bates Educational Center in Huixtla, Chiapas, was baptized.
Reflecting on Bible Heroes of Faith
The special day of prayer saw students reflecting on the week’s theme, “Bible Heroes of Faith.” They also sang together and engaged in several interactive activities from their homes.
In Guatemala, more than 5,800 students enrolled at 27 primary and secondary Adventist schools took part in their own school’s program for the day and later joined the prayer emphasis program. “All this week, we have had special devotional nuggets before class, with mid-morning prayer sessions, a time to make posters, children perform dramas, and more,” Yanet de Cima, Adventist education director in Guatemala, said.
The school system has been hit hard, with about 500 fewer students due to a mandate that preschool classes stay closed during the pandemic, Cima explained. Unemployment and financial struggles have also affected Adventist education across the country. “Adventist schools have been a beacon of hope because, through each spiritual program, prayer has been offered for so many parents who have been unemployed and need food,” she said.
Schools have collected goods to distribute among the needy, and Adventist educational leaders have provided scholarships to two students in each of the 27 schools, she added. Cima shared that 45 percent of the students attending Adventist schools are not church members. “So, the assistance provided is a testimony to the love and care that the mission of the church stands for,” she said.
North Mexico, with its nearly 5,000 students in 34 schools, saw a specially designed program themed “Codes of Honor,” where students reviewed the story of Naaman's servant girl. The story drew similarities to what children are going through with the separation caused by a coronavirus pandemic that has closed in-person classes. It also emphasized family unity, forgiveness, and how faith can be strengthened while one is going through challenging circumstances.
Praying for Others
Students took time to pray for health professionals who are assisting so many during the pandemic and for spiritual leaders and government officials. A group of teachers and secondary students from the Obregón Adventist School in Sonora, Mexico, set up a campus station to collect food, toiletries, and diapers for babies and the elderly and toys, for the needy.
In the Caribbean Union Conference, with its 53 Adventist primary and secondary schools and more than 9,000 students across dozens of islands, Caribbean Union College Secondary School in Trinidad celebrated a special prayer program with testimonies from parents and students on Adventist education, special music, spoken word performances, interactive virtual Bible games, and spiritual messages.
Parents of students enrolled in the Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union, with 71 schools and more than 7,200 students, shared during an online program on the benefits and values of Adventist schools.
Testimonies from Parents
Gisela López Vázquez, a parent of four children enrolled at General Ignacio de la Llave Adventist School in Veracruz, Mexico, thanked teachers and school leaders for their commitment to instilling principles and values in their students.
“I am delighted and overjoyed seeing how my children have been strengthened spiritually and in their values,” López said. She encouraged all viewers to continue praying so that the school can continue reinforcing biblical principles through its work.
Students witnessed the baptisms of two primary-school-aged children from the school during the online program.
Prayer Program Resources
A week-of-prayer program based on “Heroes of Faith,” complete with video resources, was sent to all Adventist schools across the IAD, according to IAD associate education director Faye Patterson. “This day of prayer is like a day of celebration in our schools, with students all excited to take part in it,” she said. “It’s part of our culture in the Adventist school system already, and it’s been a real blessing to witness.”
Church leaders and educators across the IAD said they will continue to promote daily Bible study and prayer to more than 164,000 students enrolled at 790 primary and secondary schools.
Keila Urbano and Uriel Castellanos contributed to this report.