The Saint Paul District witnessed some pretty amazing things when God enabled us to start a Distance Learning site for Maplewood Academy. These events encouraged me beyond imagination. May they encourage you as well.
We had been working on this project for over two years. When I came back this summer from a mission trip I knew I would have to get busy again to get things ready for opening day at our campus at CCACS. I had the assurance we were closing in on our benchmark of five students to get started and all that was left was to get in touch with families to seal the deal, and to make sure they could afford the education which was priced at our site at $6000 for the year.
The closer we got to our deadline the more apparent it became that we were not going to make our benchmark. We had four students, and had exhausted our list of prospects. We had no one left to approach. Then out of nowhere a family showed up at Capital City Adventist Christian School expressing an interest in Christian education; one of their children was in the ninth grade. My heart was racing when I met the family who had recently immigrated to the US and they shared their interest, but my heart sank when they told me there wasn’t much they could do towards tuition. Four children and a wife, and part time work at sub-standard wages made it plain that if their child was going to be in our program it would take a miracle.
I set up an appointment with the family to discuss the options. I also contacted the only person I knew who could write a check in the amount they needed. The only problem was that donor had his heart set on another project at church that for the past year just wasn’t getting off the ground. I called the donor’s daughter and laid everything out…three projects that I was asking him to choose between: an elevator, which was his pet project, live streaming equipment, and sponsoring our fifth student for distance learning.
The daughter promised me she would share the options with her father but not to expect him to change his mind. At 92 there was enough history to know that once he had made up his mind to do something there was no peace until it was done. And for the last year there had been no peace. I promised I would pray for her and her dad; which I did.
At this time I read a passage of Ellen White’s book on Prayer. It goes like this…
“It is at the time His people see no way to advance, when the Red Sea is before them and the pursuing army behind, that God bids them: ‘Go forward.’ Thus He is working to test their faith. When such experiences come to you, go forward, trusting in Christ. Walk step by step in the path He marks out. Trials will come, but go forward.” Prayer, 16.
I met the family later that evening and we prayed again. I shared this passage with them. I laid everything before them. I told them everything. This was a long shot, and it would take a miracle for it to come through, and I asked them, “Do you believe in miracles.” And they said, “yes…we survive on miracles.” So we started by faith to fill out the paperwork to apply. On the financial sheet it turned out they could cover $1500 through a new convert grant and discounts, due to the student’s good grades and things like that, but we still needed $4500.
Later, My phone rang and it was the daughter of the donor. I interrupted the application process and took the call. She told me her father agreed to fund the live streaming project at church, and put $2000 towards this student’s bill. I was both pleased and sad, but continued to listen. She explained that her father put the elevator project into his will and for the first time in a year had peace in his heart. She thanked me for the opportunity we had given them to find that peace. Then she continued, “Oh, by the way my husband and I will give $2500 to the student as well.”
I hung up the phone and turned to the family of the student. And with a huge smile on my face I told them I just saw two Red Seas part. Their student was fully funded and the donor for the first time in his 92nd year of life found peace. With student #5 in place I left that home that night riding high.
The next day, and I kid you not, it became clear that student number four had never had any intentions of attending our school. But with the miracle of the night before still filling my sail I was certain God must have another plan for our campus. By Saturday night, the day before registration day at MWA, we revisited two other students we had recruited earlier, to meet with parents, and learned their students could not attend either because of money.
We were down to two students. On Sunday we registered those two students by faith we would have 5, though we had no idea how. Move forward, right? That same day a donor who had been unemployed for three years had just received work and promised to sponsor two students out of gratefulness to God for His blessing. Just like that we were back up to four students.
We received four more names of students to look into, but none of these panned out; until Friday of the first week of school. We got a phone call that a parent had called Maplewood Academy to enroll his student but he was referred to us when the discussion turned to finances. The family lives 30 minutes from the campus in Saint Paul, but they were certain that God wanted their child in Adventist Education again. With father unemployed and mother a full time student, and five mouths to feed in their home I asked again, “Are you sure this is God’s plan for you?” And they both said yes.
I told them we would give God until 12 noon on Sunday to raise the money needed. We knelt down and did just, that thanking God for the opportunity to participate in a venture that could only be successful if He did it. An appeal was made at Saint Paul First and Saint Paul Eastside Churches and we laid the whole issue before them. We needed $4500 by 12 noon on Sunday and we had this one option left. By 12 noon the next day we had exactly $4500 to the penny donated to help this student no one had even met. Fourteen donors from two different churches working together to make it happen.
It is at the time His people see no way to advance, when the Red Sea is before them and the pursuing army behind, that God bids them: “Go forward.” We celebrate a season of Immanuel, God with us. He is with us. Together let us continue to move forward…with Him.
Tony Jasper Pastor – St Paul First SDA Church & St Paul Eastside SDA Church
Images by Eun Sook Jasper
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