Adventist Frontiers, November 2009
By Manny Romero
Universities offer “higher education” or “higher learning,” but I am currently enrolled in a school that offers the highest learning. I am a student missionary, but more than anything, I am a student of missions. The curriculum is extremely challenging, but there is no GPA here, no syllabus, and no C-minuses or A-pluses. Since I am very curious about etymologies, I looked up the Latin origin of the word student. I found it means someone who engages in painstaking application. As late AFM missionary Brad Jolly wrote in the October 1999 Adventist Frontiers, to become a missionary is to enroll in the “greatest character transformation program” available.
It was a nice Sabbath afternoon last summer at the Eau Claire Adventist Church in Michigan. The dedication service had just ended, and four demanding weeks of remarkable AF training had culminated in a great blessing. Some things were weighing in my heart though. There was a situation that could prevent me from going to Benin––something I had done. Also, I had done very little fundraising. As we all dispersed, I greeted John Kent, AFM’s training director. “Everything is done except the crying,” he said to me, smiling. At first, I didn’t know what he meant. Whoa! I’m not planning to spend my time in the mission field crying, I thought. Little did I know that, a couple of months later, I would be intensely crying out to God as I strove to be ready for the mission field. “School” had already started. Moreover, during my months in Benin, I gained a stronger sense of God’s unfathomable love (and my unworthiness), and this brings tears of thankfulness.
Think about it: Christ is the greatest teacher, and He has been teaching people how to navigate life’s challenges since Adam and Eve fell into sin. Jacob, in the school of his trials and actual wrestling with Christ, developed strong faith and character. During his difficult early years in Egypt, Joseph received an education preparing him to fulfill God’s wonderful plans for his life. And what about Moses? If 40 years of training and another 40 years of actual career work don’t make you the most patient character on earth, I don’t know what will. The author of Psalm 119 knew the matter clearly. “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation.” “I have not departed from Your judgments, for You Yourself have taught me.” “Through your precepts I get understanding, therefore I hate every false way” (Ps. 119:99, 102, 104).
I smile now as John’s words echo in my mind and I see how God has been working in my life. The things to be learned in God’s curriculum are definitely worth the crying. And I refuse to be denied even this.
P.S. There’s plenty of space for enrollment.