This summer, I met with a lady in one of our churches, and we talked about Christian education. As I listened to her attentively, I understood that she is a Christian lady and she understands that Christian education is important. She recently attended College Days at Union College, and was very impressed with all that she experienced, but then she said to me, “We can’t afford it”. I began to wonder, “Is the cost of private Christian education worth it?” I really can’t answer that question for every parent who is pondering where to send their children for college. I know that different people face different financial situations. All I can say for certain is that Adventist education is critical for the future of the church and our faith community.
Now I assume that when you’re a Seventh-day Adventist, you want your children to be taught about God by godly teachers, right? The two issues that where paramount on my mind when our first son reached college age was, first of all, where would we send him to get the best academic achievement? Secondly, where will he find an environment best suited for him to develop into a mature Seventh-day Adventist Christian?
Now I will confess that, for economic reasons, I had tried public education with our boys. But I discovered an indisputable truth through that experience: education is not neutral. Every school teaches particular values, which they believe are important, and which forms the basis of what they perceive as education. I discovered that public education system is no exception to this truth. As a parent, I discovered that in our children’s mental and spiritual development, there was a philosophical disconnect in their minds that we had to bridge because they attended public school. We constantly had to help them cross between the humanist philosophies of their school and Adventist beliefs of our home. I began to worry ,when I saw how during these formative years, my children begun to think, use logic, and to make applications in their decision making processes, all to reach conclusions that had lifelong consequences.
I had an opportunity this summer to talk with my son about his experience as a student at Union College. “It’s been wonderful, dad! At Union you have a sense of being part of a great family, and the teachers, faculty and students all showed concern for your wellbeing. It is such a community! I knew teachers and students from upper and lower classes; people I can talk to and hang out with.”
As a parent I can say that my son’s experience at Union has been worth it all. Brian Jr was very pleased with his choice of Union. So I asked him about the spiritual atmosphere on campus.
“Well I have definitely grown spiritually. I have been blessed by the many worship experiences offered on campus. Now, I will say that I did not always go to College View Church. I have tried to go to other churches in the area or other programs, in order to have a larger view of the church that has been enriching for me.” I was impressed with my son’s desire to see the whole church in action by visiting different churches and attending different church programs.
I asked him if Union College provided a rigorous academic program. His answer was both fun and informative: “Dad, they give you work alright. When I get stuck with homework, I can take a break and hang out with my friends, but yeah, learning has been academically meaningful.”
I look back with satisfaction that we sent our son to Union College. Union College which has a very strong academic environment that emphasizes achievement. I am also satisfied that Union trains students in an atmosphere where they are able to learn and apply Biblically based values, and to develop characters in line with Adventist Christian philosophy, in preparation for life in the “Real World.”
I am aware that I have not answered the question “Is the cost of private Adventist Christian education worth it?” All I can say is this: Think about the fact that this generation will be the leaders running the church and the world in a few years. Don’t you think it’s important to put your child in an environment where the teachers and the philosophy of teaching support all the values you see as important, values that you have implanted in your child, in the first few formative years? Don’t you want your child to be in an environment where he or she can interact with likeminded peers?
In concluding our conversation, Brian Jr. looked at me and said, “Dad I will miss being at Union, being surrounded by people I know, people I can talk to easily.” Brian Jr. will be moving on to Walla Walla University to pursue an engineering degree. As a parent talking to another parent (i.e. the lady in one of our churches) I concluded that I think that the question of value trumps the question of cost.
Yes, there are parents who may think that their children need a real world education. I would counter that maybe what we need to consider is a real world education that includes a next world education. We need to develop graduates who will serve the church and society in this world, while keeping their EYES on eternity by preparing for life in Heaven. Now in light of eternal value, I will challenge every family to commit to Adventist Christian education. As for me and my family, Union College is a better option.
Brian K. Mungandi, Vice President for Administration
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