ey, that’s my island!”
A cheerful voice warmed the chilly air on Southern Adventist University’s (SAU) campus in Tennessee, United States, last autumn. I turned to see a man smiling and pointing at our student missionary recruitment banner.
“That’s Yap. I’m from Yap.” He gestured toward the image of a triangular thatched-roof hut on our poster, then quickly passed through to a room under renovation.
I was staffing the Guam-Micronesia Mission recruitment booth but caught up with the young man during lunch. I learned that his name is Edwin. He graduated from our Guam Micronesia Mission (GMM) high school on Yap and is studying construction management at SAU. His testimony of what led him here was exactly why we’re recruiting students to become student missionaries: to come to our islands and change lives.
Edwin described how the Seventh-day Adventist school on Yap and the student missionaries that taught there through the years had influenced his life.
“I started the second grade at public school in Yap,” he began. “I was a crazy kid. I got into a lot of trouble and had bad friends. My parents didn’t have money and weren’t highly educated. They were working villagers.”
Despite the challenge of a limited income, Edwin’s parents wanted to provide the best for their children. They asked around and learned that the Seventh-day Adventist school had a good reputation and had native English speakers as teachers.
When Edwin started at Yap Seventh-day Adventist School, his knowledge of English was limited to the words yes and shut up. The transition wasn’t easy, and he was suspended in the second grade. But Edwin was attracted to the school even during his suspension because he loved to play with the other kids. He hid in the field until recess and then joined the other students.
When Edwin officially returned to school after his suspension, things changed for the better. He credits the principals and teachers for leading him through his formative years. He remembers how an American missionary teacher took an interest in him and met with his parents. They devised an improvement plan, and the teacher tutored him after school. Edwin recalls fondly how she taught him to spell his name and the names of several colors.
As time went on, other struggles arose. Edwin became a bully at school. “I wanted to be the toughest,” he explained. “But by fourth grade, I realized I didn’t have any friends.” John, his homeroom teacher and later his principal in high school, became a spiritual mentor in the young boy’s life as he helped Edwin understand how Jesus died for each person.
“I began to question my walk with Jesus,” Edwin said. “Principal made us memorize Bible verses in class that helped me answer these questions that were building up.” Edwin brought home his growing faith and tried to share what he had learned with his parents.
Edwin’s life changed when he was introduced to the Adventist faith through the school. He stopped bullying other students. He graduated as valedictorian of his class. His relationship with Jesus grew deeper, and he was baptized after moving to the United States. Today, Edwin praises God for His provision as he diligently pursues higher education.
Edwin’s experience is an example of why the Guam-Micronesia Mission (GMM) schools exist. We invite university students to take a gap year and serve as missionaries because giving 10 months to provide Adventist education on our islands elevates lives academically and spiritually.
The mission’s education department is our most active ministry with the broadest reach: it shares the light of the gospel on our nine main islands every day of the school year! Most of the 2,000 students at our schools this year are non-Adventist (almost 99 percent at some schools) because families are drawn to the native-English-speaking, college-educated, mission-hearted teachers.
GMM school students have followed paths to become influential pastors, teachers, government leaders, and church administrators. But most importantly, students at our schools have been led into a closer walk with Jesus.
As missionary teachers build relationships with students, witness to families, and work closely with the local Adventist churches in outreach, they are changing lives for eternity. Prayerfully consider spending