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Reflections from a Product of the System

Alistair Huong

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Alistair Huong

Executive Director of AudioVerse

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  • February 10, 2018
    2:45 PM

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Father in heaven thank you so much for this week that we've been able to spend together for the council that you have given to us so we are not left without chart or compass in this most important work of preparing the world for your return and as we look at our own lives as we reflect and contemplate you're leading in my history particular but also as we reflect on our institutions and what we're doing or we pray above all that we may reflect Christ that we may help reproduce in our own lives and the lives of those students you know placed under our care because guide us THIS HOUR Mees to us now we ask Christ so a little bit of background about myself just so you are aware of the context where I'm coming from I was born into and Adventist home in Hong Kong My parents were both happened to stay met in college there and what might be interesting to you a little trivial fact is that on my mother's side of the family I'm a fourth generation Adventist being in a Chinese culture that is sure many. Unusual my mom's grandparents were introduced to the Agnes faith and then her dad my mom and me that's four generations so I was born into an abacus home I would grew up in the avenue school system from day one. Even in Hong Kong I went to our Samuel school there it was out of the school system elementary school we moved to the United States when I was six years old and I went to India Cademy from first grade all the way until eleventh grade and then my senior year in high school I went to watch the hills Academy. Where I graduated and after that I was I was a Harlan college for one term and then I took some time off formal schooling and I did a fair bit of mission work in campus seeing and I took some Bible training short term programs and things of that nature and then I went back to college at Washington's college what he'll call it started in between the time that I graduated from academy into that time and I. I got my degree in secondary education there and I was a student teacher at lower Brook Cademy for a short time and then I was a staff at Washington's Academy for a few few more years and it was during that time there that I was a staff that my wife and I had our courtship we actually got married while both of us were staff who each day and after which I went to Southern and got my degree in business and the School of Business my graduate degree and my wife also has a fair bit of history and self-supporting work as well not only a washable cadmium but she was student and she worked at Wildwood for about four years or five years there and so and now as it. Were going beyond the end of that story I graduated with my degree from Southern at two thousand and two thousand and twelve and since that time I have been serving as executive director of audio verse most of you are probably familiar with this ministry and I've also been a leader with G Y C vice president with them and also as Debbie mentioned earlier with a sigh Southern Union and so in and also have had some filiation with O.C.I. And so through this brief overview I think you can safely say that in a true sense on my family are closely linked to the self-supporting work of some day Adventists and the title of my story this afternoon is a reflection from a product of the system and I really mean it when I say that I have been deeply fundamentally irreversibly I would say impacted by that influence in the ministry. Many of our East Asians as well as other self-supporting organizations as well and what's. I share all of that with you because I think it's important to know where I'm coming from that I was a student both Academy and college and I was a staff and now I am still in many ways closely linked from you know events like this and A.S.I. and I do a fair bit of speaking I've been to a number of our institutions to share and I'm still closely connected with many individuals in this movement that I that's the angle right that's where my perspective is someone who's been in as well as someone who is working alongside from outside now and not only that I have come I come with somewhat of a background that have. Haven't always been and self-supporting work as well so I have had a little bit of experience before and after myself supporting experience but I think really inevitably and you're probably already thinking I'm not a mind reader but my guess is at least the question has come to mind and that is so why have you just decided to stay in the church why are you still active in ministry Why have you chosen a life career or life path that you have chosen because I don't have to tell you that there are many others many others of my very own classmates and friends who have chosen a vastly different path in their lives. I can't speak about what they think I can't tell you what their answer might be but I can share what I want I can share my perspective in my story and perhaps. Somewhere along the way there might be some. Something that triggers the mind that perhaps stops sparks a conversation a discussion somewhere maybe questions that can lead to further discovery and study I don't claim to have the answers that's one thing the first thing I learn from self-supporting work is how little I truly know and I am not here with the arrogance to say I've got it figured out no I don't I really don't but I am here to share perhaps some insights into my own personal experience that may impact some of the things that you do and what you are working with with your students as well so I am not a. Maybe I should put it this way I I am grew up not not prone to rebellion I'm not trying to puff myself up this is not humble humble brag time understand that that term I'm trying to be frank with you I've always been a fairly compliant child growing up and you know I look at a lot of my friends now and I'm not like many of them in terms of my personality and if if if you have been online. Which you probably have on Facebook and where wherever else. It is not infrequent to see disgruntled unhappy former students and many of them are individuals that I know myself and are friends of mine and some of them are outright antagonistic and if they are to be believed our schools don't do anything right we lead people down the path to perdition of legalism of perfectionism and right into the grass of the enemy and if they are to be believed all of our school should be shut down because they are good for nothing I am not one of those students I think you already know that but at the same time I feel I would be in sincere less than genuine if I was not frank with you about some of the challenges I experience as well so I want you to just understand my perspective. I'm not here to criticize but I do want to be honest so how did I get into self-supporting schools and how did I. End up in the system. As I mentioned I was born into an abacus home grew up going to add in a school denominational schools day schools what happened well when I was in high school around my well let me back up for someone who looks at me frequently on more than one occasion they have individuals have come and talk to me and said You must have grown up with the most like perfect ideal home and because for some reason they think that you know I'm apparently doing something right but the reality of the matter is although I was born into an abacus home and my parents were in the church and my dad even was a chaplain and he went the theology training culturally in our culture it was not family worship were not the norm I did not grow up with that. Personal devotion those were not things that were taught me when I was young and I love my parents and my parents prayed for me and I credit them with teaching me a lot of things and I think they would agree with what I'm sharing with you today is that we were largely not htat a lot of these basic devotional practices that we we really take for granted you know even. Pastor Bradshaw this morning was mentioning about how you know you you never see a child say I'm not going to call the Lord when they're having regular consistent devotions with the Lord every day well guess what. We were never taught. And so I grew up in a very nominal advantageous home and I went to Agnes Cool's But on the weekends where was I movies video games I didn't I wasn't just an avid gamer I was a pirate of illegal games. With thousands of dollars worth of illegally copy you know copied material and you know you know the sports and the games I was fairly well versed with the quote unquote locker room activity if you understand the euphemism of what guys talk about and how guys behave in the locker room and that's not totally a just a. Figure of speech you know there were REAL were locker rooms and the things that happened in there you know will just leave them there but I was certainly I was exposed to all of these things I was not a home school child and so all of this is just background backstory for what happened right how did I end up going to a self-supporting academy my senior year because everyone everyone that here's a story it's always Wow you went just for your senior year why didn't you just stay or why did you not go earlier so when I was in my sophomore year of academy there are a lot of details I'm going to leave out of the story but I had a fairly it was a decisive it wasn't a flash bang wild type of amazing testimony but it was a very decisive and clear conversion experience in my life it was a very. Concrete decision that I made that I was going to fall the Lord there were a number of circumstances people that the Lord brought me in contact with I had a very deep heartfelt conversion experience and I was really going through that first love experience that we read about. Church of F.C.S. left your first love well I was I was in the midst of the fires of the first love experience and I was going through some struggles because of those decisions in the environment in which I found myself. I'm going to go into all the details about what kind of stuff was going on but suffice it to say I realized that that was not a solution that was not where I got one through divine providence I came into contact with just a Clark you met him last night I went on a mission ship with him and through interaction with him I found out about Washington's Academy and he was either the best or the worst student recruiter ever in history the best because I ended up going the worst was because he never once invited me to go it just happened through conversation and this is going to be a theme this can be a theme that I saw in my own story that I'm going to try to bring to the surface and that is that it was through his personal interaction with me on a deeper level that convinced me that it was not God's will for me to remain where I was and I'm going to go off script a little bit because I was told I have plenty of time so I hope you are going to stay awake with me but I was really struggling when I was a little in the academy during my junior year I thought the war was calling me to be a Martin Luther on campus I was going to reform my school and save my classmates and I had these grand dreams of vast and aspirations I'd like to think that some of that youthful exuberance is still inside here somewhere but I have I have grown a bit mature to bit hopefully my wife might disagree but. And I was hitting a brick wall through a number of instances I wanted to accomplish great good but yet I didn't know how and as I was struggling with some of these these internal frustrations the lower through multiple you know circumstances brought me in contact with Chester and he really pointed me to see the Lord's will was best for me and I realized at that point I needed a change of scenery because I'm pleased. To walk away from the life that was holding me back and so I made the decision to go to Academy now very important distinction between what happened to me and what I think happens to many of our students is that it was one hundred percent my own decision to go. I parents didn't force me they never twist my arm there was no back door negotiation between my parents and the administration to you know visit the school and happen to forget me that they they left you know there was none of that kind of stuff. I went because I wanted to be there and as a result of that and I think those of you who have been in this work a lot longer than I have you understand that that almost pre-determined the outcome of the story and so I realize that I am not the prototypical boarding academy reforms project that parents drop off for the school to fix I realize that I had my issues I had a lot of growing up to do but the big difference I think for me was I wanted to be there and as a result of that it you know we talk about presuppositions right earlier this week in worldview and stuff so I came into my self-supporting education experience with the presupposition that I was going to accept what was taught me because I already knew what the bad life was I already knew that and so I came in another side here the funny story I was flying in to Little Rock and my flight got delayed and it was a Friday afternoon flight so I got on a later flight and as I was taking off there was sun was setting in I was reading my Bible and a gentleman next to me looked at me and said All are you a Christian I said yes what church you go to I said something I haven't said Oh right can I have your bible please he took my Bible and he pointed to several verses in action was going peons where you know the disciples were on the first day and the collected offering on the first day we all see you you're worshipping on the wrong day at any rate it was one of those experiences that just confirmed to me and I didn't have a good answer and that was what drove the dagger in my heart because I thought I should have an answer for that guy and it was like the Lord speaking directly to my heart saying. You're headed exactly where you need to go except I got off the plane we were driving back to school and it was in the middle of the night and the road got smaller and smaller and the trees got closer and closer and we were on a small bumpy road and then what we have a dirt road and then we stopped and there was a pickup truck with the lights out in the middle of the road and a drunk guy was passed out at the wheel and and we stopped and we called the police and I thought. But I when I got on campus and it was it was a shock at first in my luggage in arriving there was all that kind of thing but within a very very short time I realized exactly why the Lord had me at that place and so that's where I came from and I came in with the understanding that the Lord wanted to teach me something and just like we've heard this week it's not the teacher's job to orce knowledge or education on to an unready mind well I don't think I am exaggerating to say that I came in with a ready mind and so what did I learn so what is it that I gained out of my experience so I went to a as a senior so I was there just one year as a senior and my my story at this point is probably going to jump around a little bit because just to be honest sometimes I don't remember particularly what category what you know block of time so from that time on I was in self-supporting work for nearly a decade so as academy student as a college student as a staff some of these things might get mixed together but what did I gain what did I gain so. It was a clear contrast with my previous life and so maybe maybe one other piece of background information that will lead into perhaps the first one is that when I was going through this phase of changing my life my sophomore year before I actually came to catch me I I was the first member of my family to choose the budgetary we would meet before that I decided to give up my games and movies and it was all my own decision and as a result I think well meaning adults in the church began to sort of grasp at this and it became a almost like I don't know what the word is but to boost this young men who they thought were making good decisions to put them on a pedestal and say can you come and talk to our kids and oh you should preach at church and when you come to Bible study you know we tend to have this kind of attitude and so even in that short time I was beginning to struggle with Rye because none of my friends were like me I was the one that was studying my Bible and I actually knew where some of these bible verses were found and this was before I ever went to you know supporting a cat and so I thought I was actually pretty special they asked me to speed you know I spoke for various churches and I got invitations here and there. A One of the first things I'd learn. In self-supporting work was that lesson of humility and my very first works by this year and this has to do with him. And I think he still remembers the first day. You know I came you know just vibrant and just so excited to be on campus but yet inside I was still thinking you know on all that it was a piece that was thinking that until I had my very first job a sign I was assigned to work in construction and Mr Neal as we affectionately called him as students he I realized later he told me the rest of the story he wanted heal me now let's see what this guy's made out so we went to the back of the house there was this big you know small piece of siding where she'd rather be bored and he gave me a screw gun he said put this up and it was the most. I had never used to screw going before and you know how it is you can't get the screw in it it was a metal building Little did I know that you know it made any difference but I couldn't get the thing in and I think at that point he just shook his head and realized this city slicker is probably going to be a project. But those kinds of experiences that's just one anecdote but there are many experiences throughout my time in academy and later on in college that the Lord repeatedly would place me in circumstances and many of the times the staff and teachers without their knowing probably I think the Lord just create a circumstances calculated to just knock me down a peg and it was uncomfortable and it was sometimes aggravating and frustrating but that was one of the most important lessons that I learned is self distrust and I believe that if there was one thing that I could take away that perhaps is the most important don't look at ourselves and think you know I I can. I'm a professional I took that class I memorized those verses I can do this no you can't and that was one of the first and the most consistent lessons I learned throughout my time as a student. As and as a staff. In my experience in sporting education but. You know I think we agree that there are certain objectives we heard a lot of the objectives mentioned here and I feel like it is worthwhile to bring them up even if it's briefly and that is that I came out of my experience a self-supporting education with a very clear view of what the biblical world is I believe we can agree that that is one of the goals of our education for young people to come out understanding why they are here where they're going and what they're supposed to be doing in the mean time and I am very clear I came out with a crystal clear picture about what the Bible biblical worldview is what advantage them is all about our prophetic identity our mission and how I personally fit within and you know it that that shaped every decision in my life from the not from you know what I chose to do in my graduate studies the career I'm doing now even the wife that I chose to marry and obviously how we choose to raise our child the values that we have I can safely say that it is because of the self-supporting education that I received that I possess worldview that I. And and not only do I possess it I feel confident enough that I can express what that is and I think that is it it goal that we can say was achieved least in my own personal experience something closely related to that but just as important is a solid unshakable faith in the spirit of prophecy and I just have to say it is it is one of the most valuable things to be able to look at the writings of L. white with complete confidence. To have that source of admonition I don't have to wonder all I wonder what God wants me to do well I don't have to wonder I just have to wonder Hey have I found what he said that I need to be applying in my life and so I can say with absolute certainty that it is because of my self supporting education that I have a relationship with a spitter process that I do today in an interesting aside just to give you a little bit more context about me just a couple months before I. Went to academy my senior year I had a conversation with my youth group leader at my church and I kid you not my question was What do you mean when you use the term spirit of prophecy I was brought up in the church and is that occasion I was in a minister's home and I did not know honestly I did not know what the term spirit of prophecy meant and that was really the context that I had coming into. My Cademy experience and I am very thankful to say that I read a great deal of spirit of prophecy during my time in school. And of course beyond that my personal devotional habits it was learning how to train not just pray as in reciting the Lord's Prayer but claiming God's promise what is with us and even me and seeing answers to prayer you know I learned all of those things I saw in practice and how to study the Bible how to give Bible studies how to do outreach evangelistic preaching all of these practical things I got them I'm still using them today so praise the Lord for that and of course the work study program I mentioned a little bit earlier the teaching teaching the lessons of humility. That never said that never stopped. It seems working always seems to have ways of. Teaching us humility but beyond that all of those traits of excellence and all that we do just because it's going to be covered up with the sheet rock make sure it's done right it nobody knows God knows right if it's worth doing do it right. And the idea is a punctuality and cleanliness and going the Second Mile and all of these lessons were clearly. Htat modeled and enforced in a kind way and now I am an employer myself with a staff of seven people and I just frequently hear the voice of my former work supervisor saying like oh man I've heard that before and I'm telling my workers the same thing so a lot of those work ethic types of things it's like it's in the D.N.A. Now it's like can't get rid of it you know you see a job you go into the house you look at construction or you look at someone's garden and you realize OK because corners here or there it's it's almost it's almost frustrating because you never see the world the same again because you realize you know other people aren't working to the same standards that you have been taught to work towards but nevertheless it is such and such a privilege to have learned those things and of course the work study program contributed to lower cost of tuition and many of you know my wife and I we have a strange fascination with personal finance and so saving money getting out of debt that's a thing that we have a high value on and so the fact that it's more affordable I think that was a wonderful thing my parents did pay my way through but if I was paying you know. The full amount and in some of our other schools I'm not sure they would have been able to cover all of that and so these are the things I gain but I think it's important to make a distinction of what I gained versus how I gain because I think a lot of times we think of we think of instruction in the sense of teaching the class or weeks of career activity or you know getting a guest speaker to come in who's an expert in their field and just breaking it down you know I appreciate all those things I heard a lot of sermons I heard a lot of lectures we had a lot of you know chapel talks and and Vespers and prayer meetings and prayers and things of that in which I gained a lot of valuable knowledge but those were not the things if I remember as I was reflecting for this talk what was it that just you know press that mark into the the wax so to say it was none of those things it was a Bible class it wasn't all the weeks of prayer it wasn't the formal activities it was always almost always things that happen. I don't want to say serendipitously but that is what comes to mind but things that occur outside of the norm unscripted things that occur so a conversation on the work site sometimes might be the thing that just makes a difference but I want to share a couple of. Couple of anecdotes that really made a difference in my life and I believe this was in well most of these I think occurred when I was in college but one thing just just simply put is that we came to college and I remember we had this conversation where all the college students were gathered together and administration said you're not coming to church with us. You're on your own not in the sense that you're you can do whatever you want we're sending you out to the local churches and you are going to help those churches run the church programs or whatever and for some reason that made me so excited I thought that is like we're not going to be supervised this is going to be an adult like telling is OK you can do this you can do that like nobody's A So we actually have to do it that was the best experience ever we had to drive you know our church it was like an hour away the church I was assigned to and we show up the first week. We were going to play a D.V.D. today do any if you happen to preach on my friend look I mean. Give me five minutes. But that was the kind of stuff that just made an impact because after that you know we would have Bible studies would have I would sit with the kids we'd go visit people in the neighborhood we did a stop smoking program during the week you know on top of all of our homework it made a difference and a difference and we got put to work and it wasn't just that we had to do it right we had to do it but it was just the unspoken expectation that the administration had on us it made us rise to the challenge it wasn't like yeah we know it's going to be tough so here we can help you out no it was like sink or swim here drop you off in the deep end here a church is a need help be an adult because that's what you are you know enough now go do it right praise the Lord for that experience but even more than that I remember there was Hurricane Katrina I think we still are aware of what happened I think with two thousand. Because of five oh OK so longer than I remember but Hurricane Katrina came through New Orleans and I remember our school we packed everyone up we didn't stop school we just moved everyone down there for disaster relief and essentially you know we were down there helping and we start to do our school work or whatever. And I just remember thinking to myself. What kind of school would do that and for me it made a very deep impact nobody ever sat down and had a lecture here the principles of Christianity we are trying to apply in this story or in this particular situation we just did it and it made a very deep impression in my mind that we don't just preach the Gospel we are going to live the gospel even at great sacrifice and great expense to the school because the teachers came with us and they sought to teach the classes they were sleeping on cots with as we were still taking showers with the guard garden hose you know like everyone was in it together and we just went because there was a need and it helped us visualize at least for me did we don't just talk about helping the needy we don't just talk about. Doing service the school model that the school did and there was another experience a similar to this that. I reflect on many times and that is one of our elderly's staff members suffered from Alzheimer's and one day she got lost in the woods and our entire school Academy and college all the staff we shut everything down and we went cold with this one precious it was raining I remember because my phone died because it got water I had to take. Up to my waist tick bites I mean not just tick bites I mean we had sugars up to my waist and we had you know tics covering our feet and we had all of that kind of stuff happening and nobody complained because there was a very clear message nobody preached a sermon about it the message was there is a soul to say we're going to do everything we can to save this person. The National Guard came out they worked alongside us they saw the work ethic of our students some of us you know they were trying to recruit us to join the National Guard. But you know those kinds of experiences was what made the difference I would have years of Bible classes we could prayer seminars whatever but two days out looking for our staff member a week down in New Orleans helping disaster relief all of a sudden it's like yeah I believe that the prior that it was just knowledge was like yeah I can be here to take I can put on test Yeah it makes sense I can prove it but it didn't sink from here to here until we with my own eyes a demonstration of the application of the things that we are. Now more than over in that I think this is going to be really the theme that I'm going to keep coming back to is that moreover than just like these institutional activities even more important than that was the individual labor. Staff members that many of them I'm still very close with today the individual interest the times walking around campus talking about issues and the care and concern and the modeling of a consistent Christian life of genuine Christianity it was really what made the difference and for me it's not a joke it's not just a figure of speech when I say our self supporting family it was like family it really was like and so I feel like I can safely say that. I gained a great deal of hostages life changing things from my experience itself. But of course as institutions run by human beings full to human beings and myself being at fault human being there are challenges and there are struggles and so I do want to share a few of the experiences or challenges and struggles that I personally had that Mamie or may not be reflective of some others as well but perhaps things that may be relevant to other students that you're dealing with today and of course I am not here to finger any individual or institution but merely to share my experience and I have been to several institutions and so the first perhaps the biggest struggle that undergirds some of the other struggles that all arises from this is sometimes there was a struggle between perception and reality and for young person I have to be honest it took me several years really I was in Academy for one year and the several more years in college it wasn't some until sometime later in my college years where I really felt confident in being able to differentiate what was merely my perception versus reality and what that I mean what I mean by that what I mean by that is a sometimes our institutions have a particular culture and the culture can speak even when no one actually verbalizes what we think and sometimes the culture communicate things that we don't intend and as young minds are impressionable and there's this tendency to an all or nothing black and white type of reality I think perhaps I know I struggle with it it's hard to understand where the difference or where the grey areas are if that's an appropriate term or the nuances of perhaps what we are trying to communicate I'll just give you a couple of examples. One that was later on in my. College experience when I had decided to go on to Southern for well let me let me back up and I need to set this one up you know we talk a lot about your education and that is a term lifted right out of the Spirit profs. And it has a certain meaning that is invested in it but as a young person without any of that context remember I didn't even know what the Spirit of Prophecy the term meant OK coming into an academy setting I was still fairly young at the time sixteen years old. And I hear sure education sure education we are following the model we are applying the blueprint without the context that I have now it is easy to misunderstand that to mean we've got it all right we are right and everyone else is wrong I'm not saying that our educational system is worse or no is not better but the understanding sometimes is mis understood the perception versus the reality issue right is what I'm talking about is that sometimes the unspoken message I know I struggle with this is that OK everything that I am learning here now is the truth and there is no if and but about and this is the way and any deviation from this is wrong and you know I don't think anyone has ever sat down and told me that verbal is just one of those things picked up just because of the terminology and the way things are and how I perceive the world and coming in as an idealistic young person already prone to wanting to change the world and having a very black and white view like it's either Sen or it's righteousness what else can it be right and so I came in and you know there would be there would be certain issues that would come to mind that would cause those kinds of. Perhaps. Frustrations or in can grew in thinking or cognitive dissonance if you want to use that term one example that happened to me was later on when I was in college and I had decide to go on the southern I was dialogue with this particular individual and the clear message was it is such an unfortunate pity that you had decided to put yourself at risk of going to a Babylonian University when you already received your education I don't think I don't know of that intent of what this individual is trying to say but the message that and I had come to a point I grown up to the point where it didn't really they really have an effect to me because you know this person was a friend of mine and I understood where it's coming from and I can appreciate his good motives for a young person if it was a couple years earlier in my experience the message would have been clear if you go to another school you can be one and there have been individuals that have struggled with this I've spoken with where well if I go to school well that's not us that's not a school that applies the tenets of true education and so I guess I have to walk away from everything else that I can. And sometimes there is this perhaps this connects where well I am encouraged not to pursue further education to be a doctor or lawyer or whatever but then we're celebrating individuals that have those degrees when they choose to come work in institutions and so the perception sometimes that is misunderstood I believe because I I understand the right intentions that are institutions out is that without saying it there might be a misunderstanding of what the underlying principle is that we are trying to promote So we talk about your education I believe in tradition as an ideal as a goal as an objective it is not a checklist if you have a farm your work study program if you go to bed at nine thirty at night that's true education we can have an institution with the best farm best labs best beans. And still not be doing anything close to true education I think we all agree with that but it's just the way that is communicated Sometimes it may lead to miss understanding and I know as a young person it took me a few years to really figure this out and as an and unfortunate side effect also is that sometimes there is a natural tendency to and agonize those are not within our system and it may have been alluded to before this week and I think there are decided efforts to remedy this within all of our institutions but the idea that we have true education and they don't it puts us in conflict sometimes with organized it sometimes gives the impression that we have something you don't have and that's why we don't want to cooperate I'm not saying that this is something that is widely prevalent but I have myself struggled with those feelings individually and another point related to this idea of the issue of perception and what is reality is sometimes there is an unclear distinction between the lines of principle what the Bible says versus what are our institutional parts and it is dangerous sometimes for us to leverage scriptural principles to make our case for certain principles or certain rules or policies and institutions that then get misinterpreted as equal to. What God has said and I'll just give you one example and I don't want to belabor this point but you know we have dress codes in our institutions and everybody picks on our institution because our dress code is you know a certain way I actually happen to really appreciate our dress code I think it's great but my point here is sometimes the way that is communicated or mis understood we have a moral principle of modest that is bedrock biblical principle of applicable universally at all times all cultures and we do the best we can to apply in our institutions and so perhaps it might be skirts and we have ways of measuring the length right. But sometimes the misunderstanding comes in where it is misunderstood that students are taught if you don't wear skirts you are sinning against God and the other step beyond that is we also have policies Well Jordan and we have biblical counsel about jewelry and so it is not inconceivable and we know some young people that I believe have walked this path is since I am not choosing to dress in accordance to the dress code with the skirts on campus I might as well wear that you will because it is communicated as equal equal equal modesty equal skirts equal sure but I know that that is not the intent but it can be without even anyone standing up and saying any of those things easily misunderstood and for me it took me several years going on into my college experience before I could really confidently express the difference. And as an academy student particularly those again who don't particularly care to be there in the first place obviously you can't control what they're going to think but it is easy for them to look at this in the wrong manner and so all I am saying is that for this is one of the issues I struggle with is that if I had not come in with the predisposition to be cooperative to want to learn it could have been it could have been easy for me to throw the baby out with the bathwater so since I'm not going to live by this one principle here and this is true education the whole you know hidden caboodle here a Muslim just throw the whole thing out and fortunately I'm thankful that the Lord have mercy on me and I didn't go down that road but the second struggle that I had flows out of this one and this is something that was alluded to in our message last night by Chester. That is that this is again a matter of it's building on the idea of perception versus reality and that is sometimes the perception that is promoted in our institutions is that spirituality is the solution for everything another way to look at it is that spirituality or let me put it this way that any problem that we encounter is fundamentally a war all or a spiritual problem I believe in the whole person dynamic of a human being is aware interconnected so there is no such thing as a kid this is not spiritual and this is only physical I understand but sometimes the idea is if we just study the Bible more if we just prayed more if we are more repentant towards God who are more fervent in our outreach then that compensates the deficiencies in all other areas that we are struggling with and I'll give you an example in my own life when I was an academy we had a five forty five Morning Call wake up for morning devotions and it was not require the rule was you people either wake up but you were never required to have morning devotions there's nobody standing there with you know with the whip and saying you must have morning devotions No it wasn't that was in the rule at all even though that isn't this frequently again the perception was that it was enforced that way but nevertheless I wanted to do that I wanted to have good devotions consistently every day but I I struggle I was falling asleep every morning and I was tired all the time and so when we would sit down for breakfast or lunch or whatever and then this you know frequently the teachers doing their job would ask him Well what did you eat for your devotions this morning I would lie I would come up with some excuse about something I read days before or just something else because you know that was embarrassing. But more than that you know I had this I had this. Mental issues and I think you understand what I'm driving at is that the fact that I wasn't having morning devotions to me caused me an enormous amount of fuel I felt guilty and then the idea that you know how do you gain victory you have to have your morning devotions again victory but my problem was I wasn't having good devotions and it was like this double guilt and then now I'm lying about it when people ask so I'm like triple killed and so. So what did I do I compensated by praying more every night sometimes I would Neil by my bed lights out my friends are snoring away my roommates and I would praise and times until ten thirty eleven eleven thirty twelve o'clock in the morning because my problem was I needed a victory over this the setting since that was compromising every other aspect of my life nobody was telling me this you understand I mean nobody is guilty of causing me to have this guilt this is an internal struggle but the idea that was it that I was dealing with was if I was only more spiritual it would solve my problem well you know what the problem was I was sticking up late every night praying and not going to bet lo and behold later on when I was. In college and I actually had more reasonable hours is what I had to vote sions every morning and it was no longer a problem and so the message and again it is of no fault of anybody except perhaps the perception that happens due to the culture is that the solution is to be more spiritual and you know as a staff. You know I've had students with issues you know have students with issues and sometimes the issue is not just praying or the solution is not just pray and repent and the Lord will fix all your problems sometimes there are deep rooted issues that quite frankly sometimes we look at the student and we're just not equipped to deal with issues in their past maybe it's even a physical you know chemical imbalance or maybe it's you know abuse history of things and loneliness and homesickness but sometimes the common misunderstanding is OK we have to be spiritual because we have to be in overcoming sin and so whatever issues I have with my parents if I just prayed more God will fix the bitterness the forgiveness sometimes that can be easily misinterpreted and. You know one of the things one example of this is going to lead to the next point one of the things that one of the cardinal sit I say that. We as young people. Understood it to be was inappropriate relationship with opposite gender and I am not promoting that we allow young men and women to do whatever they want I understand the rule and I affirm it and if my daughter were to ever attend a school I better hope that rule is still in place I'm saying is the perception in the young minds and the perception and is that as a student in the dorm we hear about a couple that's placed on social or they are you know sent home for a time or sent home permanently you know we're not going to you know there's not going to be a public announcement right there's not going to be any type of public discussion that's inappropriate and so what's left to happen this is just the natural course of things there's chatter that happened in the dorm and the most influential students in the dorm and generally the most influential ones are not the ones you prefer to have the voice of or have the ear of all the others susceptible students they create the narrative about what happen if the blanks get filled in and the students amongst themselves create what happened and there is a perception there again of what happened when I can guarantee you is nowhere near the truth of the reality but again I'm just speaking to you from my experiences student I know the other end of the story and so growing or going through academy it was the cardinals and so it was almost. Imperceptibly I think I don't think verbal the I would ever phrase it this way in perceptibly I began to understand that the sin above all sense is to have feelings for the opposite gender of another students and you know later on I actually had that very struggle later on in my experience and that leads me to the third point of one of my personal struggles as I went through self-supporting education as a student and as a staff and that is that it was tough to ask for help it was difficult to ask for help and in my particular situation at this point I was you know I had I had certain influence around campus I had influence on students I was offered opportunities to speak sometimes but this preconceived notion that I had and this struggle of my personal feelings that I had led me to feel as though I just can't tell you and it was to the point where I was concerned that if it came out that I would be kicked out I would be expelled I would let people down and I want to mention that this perhaps is not even the bigger issue is not really with the students I think the bigger issue maybe with. That is that we as staff we have such responsibility for the students and we are looked up to and we're around them so much that if we've we feel sometimes the temptation that we let our weaknesses out that something horrible is going to we're going to let people down souls are at stake. But we're human too we have our own struggles and our own challenges and so I was going through this phase and I was depressed I was losing sleep I was losing weight I wasn't able to do my work well and I was feeling so simple. So during this time. What was the solution and really I'm not trying to rush the story here but the solution to this one problem happened to also be the solution that remedied all the other issues that I was struck and that was what I have been mentioning all through this afternoon's presentation and that is individual personal labor so I had some staff members and friends who saw that something was wrong with me and they pulled me aside pulled me aside and they took the time to say what is going on and instead of condemnation which I was fully expecting I don't know why but that was my misconceived you know misunderstanding preconceived notion these individuals share transparently with me. Struggles that they had previously. They shared strategies that they had done they gave admonition they prayed with me they didn't lower the standard they didn't change the rules they didn't do anything of the sort they showed sympathy for me they shared their own experience they encouraged me with God's Word they prayed for me they help me count you know what I don't even remember everything that they said but it was monumental for me those interactions and of course there were other staff members and other interactions Besides this is just in this one particular anecdote was I came away with a liberating feeling because I realized something what I realized was perhaps moving backwards through my list is that I don't have to be afraid of asking for help is that other staff members are not superhuman they are like. We are with like passion and that we are in it together and we are able to support one another but moving back beyond that the spiritual struggle that I had I realized you know what it might not be entirely the solution may not entirely be just pray more the more spiritual There are strategies exercise diet health Rast you know there are different things asking for forgiveness things of that nature but undergirding all of this going all the way back is the fact that I had misconceptions misunderstandings and notions that were far detached from reality because of my filtering of what the non-verbal culture was saying to me and the solution to that for me was an individual or individuals in this case demonstrating and modeling what that really should look like a person with failures a person with for the Bulls and someone who has made mistakes but yet has grown walking with their Lord down this path and growing in their experience when I saw that I realized oh. So what I had previously misunderstood that's not the case at all but that there are differences there are things that I didn't fully understand and so. In addition to that there was the the very clear clearly communicated message again it might not have been exactly in these words in my sound trite but it was the idea of unconditional love that there were staff members that cared about me no matter what I had done whatever the mistakes was it wasn't that they were going to condole in the state of things that you know inappropriate things that were happening but it didn't change their regard and their concern. And at that point there was a liberating feeling where it was like OK I can get through this and it was clear it's here that this is what we are trying to demonstrate towards It's not a list of tenets it's not just a series of facts it's not even you know the Gospel and the eight hundred eighty eight message. We went through all that but it wasn't until someone in flesh and blood embodied it modeled it lived it shared that Goss before I realized. I think I finally you know later on I was a staff member and I taught and I realized that if I were to actually have the same impact on these students as these. Individuals had on me that I couldn't just fake it I had to actually be in it for the right reasons I had to actually give them what they deserve so this perhaps is the greatest challenge of all and that is who's got time for that who has the energy to invest in the lives of the students in such a sacrificial individual manner that was done for me and of course there's also the challenge of certain students don't respond to certain staff and so many students I would say they're not receptive at all right so I'm not saying that there is some magic bullet here that everyone just do this and that's going to solve the problem everyone was just more attentive to the individual needs of the soon is not that's what I'm saying I understand that is already the intent and the desires of the hearts of our teachers but in our institutions everyone's got three four five six fourteen hats right there's a lot of demands on the time and the energies and so this is a challenge and not only that there are high levels of turnover of staff in organizations as well and as a staff member and as having interact with other staff members another challenge I have perceived is that often times staff members come in and they themselves have not fully figured out. Where the values are how do you align this what's principle what's policy and how do you express this in a winning way and how do I how much transparent with these students and how do I relate with them and you know a stab we're trying to figure this out and then we've got a new batch coming in the next year and the new batch coming the next year and then the students are turning over and so I understand the challenge I was right there this is not intended to say this is bad I'm just saying this is fact this is how things are and so in my particular experience I recognise shall as a teacher I can figuring out my lesson plan you know having it done that's not. Working with my students on an individual basis sometimes that wasn't enough I had to go the extra mile hunt them down in their dorm rooms haul them some time and perhaps through some of those efforts the Lord was able to reach some heart through my effort and I pray that for what the Lord has done for me I was able to do for someone else and so I want to conclude here with this quote and then a summary. And this I believe if I were to reflect back on my experience itself when it's both the challenges as well as the successes as a student as honest and as a stat What was the if I could boil it down to what was the absolute most critical thing what was the one thing that made the difference for me I'm not saying nothing else is important everything is important if I could to boil it down to the most critical point comes in this quote in the fundamentals of Christian education fifty eight c'est let it never be forgot that the teacher must be what he desires his pupils to become hence his principles and habits and should be considered as of greater importance than even his literary qualifications he should be a man or woman who fears God and feels the responsibility of his work he who would control his pupils must first control himself this was the point that really spoke to me to gain their love he must show by look by word and by action that his heart is filled with love. So if I could summarize it in this way. How has self-supporting education affected me why did it work for me it was because it was a self-supporting education that I came face to face with the gospel the Gospel not merely as an intellectual Tenet not merely as a sermon or as a series of Bible studies. But as the gospel demonstrated through the lies of individuals who show that they love me regardless of what I have done having a good system of education is vitally important I think we need to our very best apply the model the pieces of the puzzle the Lord has not left us ignorant but I would venture to say that even if we had all of the pieces in perfect proportion put in perfect order it is not enough if there is not that individual personal relationship that personal labor that Christ method requires the reaching of the individuals are so I'm thankful for those who have played a part in my experience I have been changed eternally for the better because of what I have gone through and I know that the Lord is in this work there are many other young people who would share my testimony with their own unique experience and twists as well but the Lord is doing a great work and I pray that we might continue to press forward by the grace of God Many more for him less power has together as we conclude here Father in heaven we are so thankful that you see us as he will faltering damaged creatures or you have given us the system of education in such a way that will that is best calculated to restore us into your image a lord you have not given this work to in joules to do. Even though they would do a vastly better job but you have called us individuals with like passions with similar problems and weaknesses to serve one another Lord in the process Lord all we know you are seeking to reform and change us as well Ward in this nicest work you get into this most precise and most delicate work of working with young minds what I pray that we may not grow weary in well doing for we know that we shall reap if we faint not there is a rich harvest Lord you have full harvest true this is plenty but the laborers are few and so as we go about our labor is to bring in the sheaves the young soul for the kingdom and to prepare them for service to reach others may we ever remember what Christ has done for us and may we demonstrate by looking by word and action that we love these young people that we might manifest the love of Christ as best we can to them that they in the end might be in the kingdom with us and thank you Father I pray your special blessing on all of these dedicated sacrificial teachers leaders and. Viens others say you will be able to utilize and. Reach many young. Was just the remainder of the Sabbath day in the remainder of this convention. Jesus. This media was brought to you by audio verse 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 if you would like to listen to more sermon or leave a Visit W W W audio verse or.

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