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Logo of AdAgrA 2015: Restoring the Waste Places

It's Time

Eric Johnson


Eric Johnson

Principal of Fresno Adventist Academy



  • November 12, 2015
    8:15 AM


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Father in Heaven Lord thank you thank you for the opportunity this morning we have to come together to be here in your presence. And Lord as we share. As we talking as we dialogue here this morning. Subsist specifically about what you are asking of your schools for these times are in Lord I decide that your spirit will be in this room. Do not let Satan be here father and take away any threats traction from our mind father. I as though that you would bless you would guide. And that we would be able to be clearly understand what you're calling us as a people to do. And to be for your soon return you know I pray men. So before I dive into what we're doing it Fresno want to share a little bit of my story a little about who I am. So you can get to know a little bit about where I come from and maybe start putting a little dots together. I graduated from Southern avenues University in one thousand nine hundred seven with a with a degree in physical education. And I was. I was teaching at a LAN Avocet Cademy and teaching P.E. and I was vice principal and my. My oldest daughter was getting ready to be in kindergarten age and. My wife and I were just so convicted we are so convicted. That we did not want my life working. When our kids were being raised. We want her to be at home. And she's a nurse. And I was a teacher and on a Teacher's Salary. That's very difficult very difficult to do. And so we transitioned I transitioned out of education for about seven years. Went into business for myself. Was a mortgage broker a banker worked at a local bank. And were able to have our kids raised at home during that time. And about. I guess it was two thousand and ten. Now two thousand and eleven. Got invitation to come out and speak for the SO kill can't meetings in central California conference. And I was on the board for a ministry called Kids in the Siple ship about how we can. How we can. Disciple our kids better to Jesus Christ family worship time and being intentional about our own time alone with God and so. Through that journey. Got connected with the education director of the central California conference. Found out my degree was in education background and administration as well as teaching. And he says Eric you know what I've got a. I've got a school. That's going to be a principal. And I said No Think you. We were happy and happy valley if you ever been to China you go to college Dale there's a term called Happy Valley. It's a huge conglomeration of have been it's an it's a Mecca there and that has its downside as well. But we were content their kids were going through the school system I said No I never want to go live in California. I do not want to be in California and repeatedly. We said no but God made it crystal clear crystal clear that he was calling me and my family to Fresno I had no idea. I had I had a look where exactly Fresno was on the map. So through much where we transition to Fresno Evista get to me. And this is my fourth year. As the principal there. At F.A.A. on the campus. We are blessed with forty acres. We have forty acres on the campus. And while those forty acres are in. It's a lot of land it's right in the smack dab of the city is surrounded with the airport is right there. It's not in a country setting so you think wow forty acres. That's amazing but is forty acres that's been there for a long time but everything else is built up around it if you get the picture. And when I when I read where you came to F.A.A.. They had about twelve acres. Roughly. That was just a big dirt field. And huge field and. Also there are some citrus some citrus trees that are there as well. They had such as produce such as products that they were selling at the oranges. From the school. And we had I met with my board I says What should we be doing what should we do in this land. And I was at this time of this is my second year at F.A.A.. I was starting to dive into some of Illinois councils even more I said What is got what is Ellen White saying. Was a bible thing that our school should look like for the times we're in and as I was doing this. I I was also convicted. That we need to sell our home when we came to Fresno we bought a house about ten minutes away. And we were living there. But there was an old home that was on the campus. That was built in one thousand twelve but it is gone into disrepair and. I was convicted along with my wife that we needed to sell our house. And then help with the renovating this property on the campus we could move to the campus. And it could be a center of of of influence for the students we could have Vespers worship. We could have our our community come together. There at the school. And so we did that the community got together we renovated the property and I moved onto the campus on my side and my second year in Fresno County. And every morning I would get out and as I would get out I joined getting up early and I enjoy walking. And just walking and spending time with God as I'm walking and we have this this property was in the city is actually a little refuge there. And I was walking in the mornings. And I'm looking at is a vacant land out there I'm like Lord what do you want. And I've got board members are saying it should be an R.V. park we should we should have it be renowned for R.V.'s. We should do this we should do that and. And nobody could come together as far as what we should do with this just dirt is just big dirt. Patch and at the same time. I was I was having these strong conviction. Strong convictions that God is desiring. He is desiring a school. That can be raised as a model to the world of what he wants to see happen when this school is standing for the right. And is willing to put all aside and abide by what God's word says. And what the Spirit of Prophecy teaches us. And so I can distinctly remember one morning. I was walking and I looked at that and it just was just like. I've never heard the autumn of OIs of God So I've been clear I've never heard God speak. Audibly. But if you're listening and you're praying. And you're in tune with God. You can know when his Spirit is speaking to your heart. And you can know when God is is saying move is time to move. And I can tell you distinctly. God said Eric. Raise a farm. Raise up a farm and teach these kids about agriculture and about work and do it in a manner. That's going to integrate it into your curriculum. Hand in hand. So it's not just an industry that's separate from the school but we've it into everything you're doing. So I went and and share this with my board. And I got I got a first. First give you a preface. I know very very little about agriculture. Not very little my wife. Trish would tell you you know nothing. It's it's it's minimal. And I will tell you my learning curve has been very sharp and I still have much to learn much to learn. But. But I believe. I believe that God does not call leaders that are experts in every field but God asked leaders to be wise and surround them with experts and find people that are that are knowledgeable. That are living according to God's principles according to God's word and surround yourself with those individuals who are going to lift you. And support you. And so I went to the board. Two years ago and I share with them this vision. And I can tell you that I had some people who were on board and I had some strong naysayers. And they started ticking off how Eric. Agriculture and education does not work in two thousand and this was two thousand and thirteen it just doesn't work. If you as you just it just failed every time they started ticking off school after school who have over the years closer farm for whatever reason and and schools that have tried it and it's gone by the wayside and money is not there and and it was shared with me how I know you need to have this big model crop and. And the only way to do this is to do it on a large scale. And you're not going to be financially viable. And so I came back and I said. I said Lord help me help me and so I went back to scripture. I went back to the education. The book education. And I really read. And I was more convicted than ever that know. It is what God has asked us to do we need to be doing this and the reason that we failed in the past is because it's been our own doing. And we have not been truly in line with what God is asking of us. And God is one of us. And we've been parson parcel in it and it's been too much of. Well I think it needs to be this and I think it needs to be this. Instead of. What does he think. And what does he want. And what does he desire. And what is his goal for our schools. And so I went back to the board and share this again. And my board cut the vision. They cut the vision and. This was in November I guess it was two years ago. And they said well OK Eric. Your first step is you go find somebody that knows something about farming who's going to run this thing. And so. About two weeks later. One of my board members. Gave me a call. He was at an ice year conference in central California central California where. If you don't know what that is it's a of a bunch of individuals and youth come together for a weekend. And they share how they are sharing Christ. And they share what they're doing. Through literature evangelism a different thing. And at this conference he said hey I met this guy. His name's David over Miller. Don't don't know him. But we started talking and he might be able to give you some some insight into what you need to do. To find somebody for your farm. Here's his number. So I pick up the phone. I called David over Miller. David was working on son is on a farm in Arizona at the time. And I share with who I was never met David before. And we went through. The vision. I went through the story. I went through what. What's God wanted to do. And as I was talking. David was giving me insight. And they was given Well you need to do this you need to do this. And as we were talking. You have a have a have a conversations when you can. You can feel that and the very conversation you're having God's Spirit is moving. God's Spirit is moving in that very conversation and towards in the conversation. I paused and I said David. I don't know you. But I called you to get a pair of vice on the what we should do with our farm. But I feel convicted to ask you a question. Would you be interested in coming and running this farm for us. And then David perceives tell me his story his life story of of how he had left souls west and went to work on a farm for the very reason. The very reason that gotta put his heart that he wanted to see agriculture. Connected with education. And he had a passion for that. And he has spent the last four years on this farm. Learning all the aspects of running a farm. Wanting to see how God was going to move in that. And here I am giving him a call. And it's just unbelievable how God works. Fast forward a few months later. Because I could be here all morning tell you all the details. But David excepts our offer. We come in because it comes up to Fresno. And we're sitting there. And we're looking at this dirt together. We have absolutely nothing. We have no infrastructure. We have nothing is just a big plot of land. And we were able to through our budget. We were able to find some resources to give David some money to come. But I had no money for anything else. Nothing else. About two weeks three weeks I guess it was after David got there. I had an individual and sit in my office. And they said Eric. What you're doing here on this campus is of God don't let anybody else tell you otherwise. He said. You need the resources to make this happen. And he sat there he said you know what he said I'm going to work with you I'm going to partner with you. And I'm going to personally guarantee one hundred fifty thousand dollar. Line of Credit and conjunction with the conference. To help you get jumpstarted. You need to get it going. So I went to the board. They've they approved it immediately. We got funding. About two weeks later. From that I had another individual who is a local dentist. In the area. Came in met with me and said. Eric. He said I've been waiting for thirty years. Thirty years. Does he see what's happening here on this school. Happened he said. I want to be a part of it. He called David up he said Go down the John Deere pick out whatever tractor you need. He said it's on me. And so Dave went down to lose on thirty some thousand dollars. Picked up a tractor needed they custom built it for us. And I can go on and on and on of how individuals have been raising up to come up and alongside of us. As we as we raise up this farm. And as we go forward. I want to I want to share with you as well. And I want to be careful. But most year with from my heart. Fresno Avocet Cademy is a conference school. And I work for the Central California conference. But I believe that when you look at integrating agriculture in education. We are we are lacking sorely in schools that are conference schools that are following this. And I told David I said David. I said. I don't want to go work at it independent school. I don't want to go work at a self-supporting school. I want to show the world and show the church. That a conference supported school. Can do what God is one thing to be done for his people at the end time. And I want to be very careful because nothing against self-supporting nothing against independent that's one of God is raising that up. But I believe that that too often. Our conference report is schools and our schools in that manner. While they are led by good people. Too often we are we are. We are leading from a point of weakness. And we're leading out of fear instead of leading out of what God is going to do through faith. And by that I mean we're always afraid of. Well. If I do this. I'm going to lose some kids. And so I need to keep this program. Even if this program is not in line or not in harmony with what God is asking for this time. And more afraid to let go of it. Were Afraid to cut it. Because we're well we may lose some kids. We may lose two kids. So we operate of a basis of fear. And that basis is leading to a continual decline in our in Rome and in our conference schools. And it's no I don't I don't believe it is is any. Any secret of why that's happening is because we as a system. As a system. By and large have moved. Have moved from God's true plan. We have. And I'm part of that. I'll tell you I'm a huge sports guy. I just be honest with you. I love sports. Lana Falcons are. I love love football. But you know what. For the times we're in the times when do we need to be spending so much of our resources. So much of our energy. So much of our effort in athletics in our school systems. Or do we need to be shifting those resources into areas that are much more in line with what God is going to call to raise up to church to develop true character in our youth. To be able to stand for the right. And face what is coming before us. It very very quickly and very soon. And so I I have to say. We've got to realign ourselves and we have to look at that. And we have to look at what. What we're going to be doing. I just finished my masters. My master's degree from last year university and. In my masters my masters project. They gave me the latitude. And they said they said. Eric. You can do a project of studies right now thesis. And so I did a project in my project was centered on integrating agriculture indicate twelve haven't said you cation and. And this. This Masters research project I was able to present to faculty at last year. I was able to dive into the spirit of prophecy and combine it with current research. There is so much current research. That is out there. That is validating. That is validating. What we have been told. One hundred plus years ago. It's there. But you know what sadly sadly too many people. Too many people will only start to listen. If it comes from secular research. And they're afraid to listen. If it comes from the Spirit of Prophecy. But that's that's that's a life for and that's the world we live in. And so this project this this this this paper that I was able to do. I was able to dive into research. And I'm a transition now. I do not see a clock. So you're going to have to help me out here. Where's how much time do I have left. OK so I gotta be careful because I can. I want to go into the meat of what we're doing here. So I'm a US I'm a transition I'm a share with you some specifics of our farm. What we're doing. How it's working. And I want to share with you a quote to begin with education page to nineteen to twenty. L.-Y. states no lawn of manual training as of more value than agriculture. Or would be that guy got couple a man's. No line. No line of manual trading is of more value than agriculture. Let the teacher call attention to what the Bible says about agriculture in the study of Agriculture. That the pupils be given. Not only theory. But practice. I want to. I want you to to keep that quote your mind here because I have I want to tie it in with another quote that I have from current research. A study was done in Africa in two thousand and eleven. And it states. Experience will learning. Has long been the foundation of agriculture extension and education. Both of which emphasize the importance of learning by doing. Too often in our school systems today. And I'm a product of it. We are teaching to the test. And we are teaching kids to simply have wrote. Just OK you go and you you could just get this information. Put it down on paper and move on but that is not developing true character. And people and parents are longing for education. That is real that can get can have hands on. No I'm not saying we do away with math and do it with science and English. No we've got to have that. But it needs to be integrated and. And I can tell you that if we truly will look at ways that we can integrate the agriculture into the curriculum. We will have waiting lists on our schools. At Fresno has Academy. Over the last two years. And I say this to God's glory. I say this only to God's glory. But in the last two years since we've begun this farm there are twenty eight schools in the central California conference. Of the. All the enrollment growth. Fresno Academy. Accounts for fifty percent of it. We have been growing exponentially. I do not see that as a coincidence. I do not see that as well this is good marketing or. No it is because our board. And our community and our constituency. Has come together and we have said. You know what. No matter the cost we are going to rise up and stand up and do what God asks of us during the for this time. And parents want to be a part of that I have. I have a non ave a SAHM Lee who is driving an hour. With five kids. An hour. And they drive their kids to Fresno Academy for the singular reason because we have an organic farm. They are a wonderful Baptist family. And they said you know what. We want our kids to be a part of this. We want our kids there. And you know what's happening. This is the second year there narry they're there now. Now their kid has joined our choir. And he's performing at our local churches and their parents are coming. And they're being in our churches our educational school system can be the single greatest evangelism. Opportunity we have in our school. If we stand up and do it right. And we follow God's word. I can go on and on I'm A. I'm going to I'm going to transition here. And I share with you about the farm and so specific and show you some pictures and walk you through what we're doing. And what's going on and then I will close of the story. So I need to point this. Certain direction. I'm pressing the. Thanks. I'm pressing the forward button. There we go. OK So to give you a little background. This huge building here. Was a vacant shop that had not been used for a long period time. Just the lap of lated. OK great. And so what we did was we gutted it. And we we converted into our farm. Operation Center. It's where we're operating the farm out of. And we spent much time. Developing a logo. Developing our name. And I could spend a lot of time as to the meaning of this but I won't right now. I won't take your time but that's that's a picture of our of our operations center of the farm on the campus. Can you take next slide. So this is from the parking lot looking out here. And then if you can envision. This was just nothing but dirt. OK. What we have begun the philosophy we're doing is intensive cropping. And we're starting What's a C.S.A. which I'm sure many of you are familiar with community supported agriculture. Multiple different varieties different products different produce. Instead of just all tomatoes or all corn. We have lots of a riot ease. And we are then selling it to families in our community. And each week. They will then get a box of produce. And they can either customize their box they get just a standard box and we've developed a relationship with different entities within Fresno. And we go and those are drop off points. And we we go we take the the boxes there. The families come they pick up their their box of produce. At that place. So that's kind of the model that we're operating under as well as a wholesale market to remark we provide produce to certain orders to to organic. Restaurants. Organic growth. Places there inside a Fresno. Again just some pictures here. This was. This was a ball field. OK. This was this was. This was our old football field at Fresno Academy the back part of it. OK. And. And we've taken down these old goalposts. And we've tilted under. And this. This or. We've got to high tunnels. And then we've got two new green houses that were donated and. That's what's that's what's being done there. Now this is a cool thing. This what gets me excited right here. OK And. Because this is why parents want their kids to be involved in this is what Ellen White I believe was talking about not just growing produce. That's good organic produce. But. But teaching the kids. And so we have our fourth graders who are integrated right now. Into the farm. And they're doing projects. They're going out there to the recording samples. They're going out there. They're they're taking measurements. They are you. Integrating their mass into the the farm by by in their in their classroom. They're learning. They're learning about fractions and learning about this and that. So then they go out to the farm. And they learn to apply that with the amount of fertilizer this put out in this and that and they integrate together so they can see how it's useful for them to know these fractions and useful to know this math. How can they actually apply it to their life. And what's it mean for them. And I got parents calling me in there like Eric. My son. He's loving mass now. He hated it before because he would just sit there. Go through the go through it and saw no purpose for it. But now he has to go out and he gets to record samples. He gets to be involved you get to see how he can use that math for real life and make a difference. These kids. Many of these kids. They they have no clue where food comes from. None. They go to the go and I I was probably part as well. You can use Think what you go to the grocery store and it just comes just there it's always there right. You go to the society we live in. We just go in there and there it is. It's just there. And so. To watch a plant. Go from the tiny beginning all the way up. These kids are amazed. They're loving it. When a hard time of this thing. There we go. You can see one of this is just a cute little picture of a little kid. A kid. Just down to earth warm. He's like what I do with this thing. What is this thing. And you can see the expression on his face. He's like oh my goodness. What do I got here. We also have on the can't we have organic chicken. Not organic chickens. OK. Organic eggs. OK. We have chickens. We have about forty chickens. Maybe more than that now. And we've we have a roving cart. And you can see that white fence is electric fence. And we take that and we. We go and we rotate it. Throughout our citrus trees and it's used as fertilizer. And then we're able to add the organic eggs to our farm as well. So families are able to get their. There again it gets there as well again some more pictures of our class are our students. On the farm. Taking measurements. Taking doing their class work there outside. Again the kids are just excited they love being outside. And they love being a part of doing this they. They're beginning to ask Windsor farm day. When when can we went we go again Windsor next time. So in our high tunnels. We we began growing the plants as from seedlings and then they get transplanted out to the farm. And I'm not going to go in to do a lot of specifics that I really don't know. David does. And that's great. He can he can go through a is actually how it all works. But the high tunnels there the kids are able to go see how that works from a plant from the very beginning. Up through. Maturity. We have a website we developed and. Bam families are able to go online and see that. I mean if you guys here have heard of Air B.N. B.. You know I started. Three guys in San Francisco. Two thousand and eight and. There was a convention in town. And all the hotel rooms were full. And so these guys were broke and they said you know what let's let's let's start something. And they create a little web site. And they blew up fear in three or mattresses and they said. Here's three air mattresses for sale in our house along with a serial breakfast. And they put it on the site and they sold out. They sold out there they sold all three of them along with her cereal breakfast. Over the next few years. That company has grown to or now it is valued at twenty five point five billion dollars twenty five point five billion dollars. They they have hotel rooms that farce that surpassed Hilton and everything else. With with with homes that are operating if you know the model. It's homes that open up their home. And so there's far more than even Hilton or all those those hotels combined. Why do I share that story. I'm sure that story. Because people at the beginning mocked them. They said it will never work in never make this work. You're competing against giants. But they through determination through effort. They saw through to reality and Avocet you cation. Many people have said. Farming is outdated. Farming will never work. Farming was back for the night. The eighteenth century one thousand three not for now. Way to focus on technology we need to focus on on this in this. I say. No I say. Yes Our kids need to be focused on technology. Our campus. We also are highly innovative with technology. All of our high school kids have i Pads. And they utilize the i Pads. But why can't. Why can't we empower our kids to be creative. Why can't we empower our kids to utilize technology income. Come. Combination with agriculture. To provide new things and new ways to experience. What God is wanting to call for them for their lives for now. I want to close with a short story. And it's a story from when I was serving in pull out my family had the opportunity service missionaries. On the island a full out if you don't know where pullout is it's in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Close to the Philippines. And I was serving as principal there. Of the high school as well as the elementary school or high school campus. We were on a large large parcel of land and had a guy who came up to me. And he said. Eric I want to help. And I want to cut down some trees and clear the property up as a great that's wonderful. So we come he would come on Sundays. And he would. He would clear brush for me. And just help volunteering. Our school was staffed primarily was due to missionaries just students who take a year off of school to come and be a teacher there. So this particular Sunday. Most of the state teachers were gone out on the ocean they were gone store cooling things like that this individuals on the campus. And he was clearing and he was burning some brush. He took a lunch break. And on his lunch break. He after he came back. The when to take in this brush fire. And it is spread. And there was now a fire on our campus. That was not a massive fire but it was definitely a large fire where he was the only one on campus. And he was a local plow on. And he panicked and he got in his truck and drove off. Got his truck and drove a few hours later when the student missionaries come back to campus. There's a raging inferno. On the campus and. I don't know if any of you have been to plow the plow is a fire department one fire truck. And so they came out as well as. What's called the C.B.S. The C.B.S. or a division of the U.S. Navy I believe. And they do humanitarian work different things and they came out and. At this point. The pastor's house was here. And my house was very close. And they were flat concrete roofs. And the flames were in the trees and the firemen along the C.B.S. is like. They're like Eric. You're going to lose the campus but we're going to go and create a fire wall. And so they were going to get there. The bulldozer to start. Bulldozing so that it was it was contained there. Because in pull out all. There's two seasons you've got the rainy season and then you got dry season when it just doesn't rain a lot. And there was just it was just brutal brutal and. We got up on the top of the pastor's house with a hose. And the flames words were I kid you not from these chairs to here and we're just in there hosing. And the flames were approaching the school. At this point the pastor says. We've got nothing we can do except for prayer. And so the firemen were lined up on the driveway along with the Seabees flames. In the trees everywhere. And if you look outside today. It's a pretty clear day. I think it's pretty sunny. This is what was it was hot middle of the afternoon. Not a cloudless sky and so we knelt down the on the roof. And the pastor cried out he said Lord save our school. And the the the mission is to missionaries took turns Prain. As they stood up from their prayer. A black cloud appears in the sky. It comes over our campus. Pours rain on the entire campus. Dissipates. And blue sky is left. The fire is gone and the firemen's mouse drop the C.B. there like just standing there. And we burst into the Doxology. Why do I tell you the story. I tell you the story. Because I believe with all my heart that God is longing for the fire of the Holy Spirit to be poured out on its people. But that spirit can only be poured out on hearts that are cultivated and hearts that are ready and willing to receive it. And it is up to us is up to us to be in God's word. To be searching scripture to be searching the Spirit of Prophecy to see how we can. Be in line with where he is wanting us to go for the times we're living. He's calling it is longing to raise up a people to raise up an army of youth. To finish the work. And I believe that the time is NOW you the my. My the topic of my sermon is it's time and I want to finish with a quote from Ellen White. And I will ask you to give me a little bit of latitude in this quote because you may not have heard it read quite like this before but I'm going to to read it hopefully you will understand the greatest want of the world is the want of students students who will not be bought or sold. Students who in their innermost souls are true and honest. Students who do not fear to call sin by its right name. Students who is she conscious is as true to duty as the needle to the pole. Students who will stand for the right. Though the heavens fall. Let's pray as we close by in heaven. Lord thank you so much for this opportunity to share about what you're doing on our campus regarding our farm we going to agriculture. Lord I just pray that these individuals they go through their conference the next few days will be blessed by their seminars blessed by the meetings Lord. And most importantly father. As a leaf here. Yes we want more knowledge and planting and harvesting. But Lord. The singular most important thing is that we leave from this place more connected to your city. So I'd ask your glasses Lord. Go with us now. Your name I pray human. This media was brought to you by audio person. A website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio. And much more. If you would like to know more about audio verse for you would like to listen to more sermon. Leave visit. W W W dot. 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