For the first time in Minnesota Adventist history, Maplewood Academy students were included in workers’ meetings. Originally planned around the topic of bullying in Adventist churches and schools, the topic morphed to become “RESCUE: The Calling We Share.”
The tone was set Monday evening, Feb. 4, with the Maplewood Academy Choraliers singing, “Lord Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace.” Then Nathan Greene, beloved Adventist artist, shared his personal experiences with the rescue of God’s smaller creatures and the story behind his painting, “The Rescue”. While we usually identify with the lamb, he suggested that it is just as valid to identify with the Good Shepherd, who is willing to risk everything in order to rescue one black lamb. Another highlight was hearing the story behind the commissioning of the Civil War painting, “I Was Thirsty,” where a soldier risked his life to bring water to injured enemies lying on the battle field.
Tuesday morning was begun with Dr. Joseph Kidder sharing the story of his escape from Iraq. Beaten to the point of death for honoring the seventh-day Sabbath, he survived, with the help of God, and was able to immigrate to the United States where he finished a degree in engineering at Walla Walla University. Not long into this career, he realized that God wanted him in full-time Adventist ministry. He now teaches at Andrews University and has written the books, “Majesty” and “Four Secrets to a Thriving Church”. After hearing his inspiring messages on the Monday preceding the rescue conference, pastors wished the teachers had been able to join them earlier!
Dr. Christopher Wall, Assistant Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic, shared reasons why young teens are not equipped to handle the stress of bullying at this time in their lives. He shared the tragedy of loss of life that results from bullying. Later he offered answers to questions from students and workers.
Rick Young, head of the International Rescue and Relief Program at Union College, came to show the students active means of rescue, but before doing so, he shared the story of how God had rescued him personally. Rick survived a 32-year career in law enforcement in the greater Los Angeles area working primarily with gangs and troubled youth. His break-out session with pastors and academy teachers provided awareness of drug abuse patterns among young people.
Kari Schebo, lower grade teacher from Minnetonka Christian Academy, used this same time period to expose elementary teachers to the benefits of Responsive Classroom technique in creating a culture of compassion within each school and classroom.
John Kriegelstein, MAUC Education Director, summarized the day by calling pastors and teachers to commit to the loving care of someone in need of the rescue they can provide. Each presenter came at “Rescue” from a different angle, but through the day it became clear that the cure for bullying is not to blame or change the victim, but rather, to establish a corps of RESCUERS who create an environment where bullying cannot succeed.
A Minnesota pastor wrote, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a culture of rescue in all our schools, and yes, in all our churches? Our recent meetings brought us one step closer to making our churches and schools the safest places to be. I wonder if this is one of the most important prerequisites to fulfilling our mission as God’s end-time people!”
By Connie McCormick, Education Superintendent – Minnesota Conference
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