As you visit with Gilead Tarus, two things quickly stand out. First, he has a great smile and second, he has an unusually calm, peaceful spirit. Both qualities come from a life grounded in Jesus Christ.
Gilead is a 15-year-old sophomore at Maplewood Academy. He is the son of Samson and Everlyn Tarus. He was born in Minnesota and his parents are from Kenya. He can speak “broken” Swahili and his favorite food is chapati (Kenyan flatbread) with rice and beans. His favorite classes at MWA are science and Bible.
This remarkable young man has already delivered two sermons at his home church, the Andover Seventh-day Adventist Church. He also spoke last year for the MWA student week of prayer. As a 7th grader, he invited students to his room during MWA Music Festival for worship and Bible study.
Gilead’s gift for spiritual leadership began to show itself in elementary school. Tralese Syvertson was Gilead’s teacher for grades 5-8. “He found the Lord in a big way,” she said. “He was not reserved or ashamed about it. God changed him into a kind young man and kids would go to him for advice. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.” According to Syvertson, Gilead’s worship and Bible study while at MWA music fest outgrew his assigned dorm room and it had to move to the hallway.
Gilead was surprised how God’s spirit worked in some of his classmates last year. “I saw people come to Christ that I never thought would make that decision,” he said. “People that were watching basketball videos 24/7 switched to watching sermons.”
Gilead now sees a special opportunity to lift up Jesus over meals at the cafeteria. “People talk about God and His mysteries,” he said. “There are special times when the table talk is lifting us closer to heaven.”
Gilead’s ability to be at MWA is due to his reliance on God and, in part, his work ethic. This past summer, he worked for the Minnesota Conference Magabook program with Darrell Conway, the conference Literature Evangelism Coordinator. He highly recommends the experience. Additionally, he currently works with the ASSIST program at Maplewood. ASSIST partners students with senior citizens at assisted living center and nursing homes.
Gilead believes his Maplewood experience is teaching him independence. “I see Christ more,” he said. “I’m learning from my mistakes and I see God’s guidance in my life.”
With his joyful, peaceful spirit, his favorite verse makes a lot of sense. It is found in Isaiah 26:3, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusteth in thee.”
Adventist Education’s mission is “to enable learners to develop a life of faith in God, and to use their knowledge, skills, and understandings to serve God and humanity.” As you consider the children in your life or the local school ministry your church is sponsoring, remember this mission. And remember Gilead. Adventist Education exists to help our young people meet and know Christ. Please pray for your local educators as they strive to give more students the same opportunities as Gilead.
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