Too Many Jonathans
Jonathan told how he had fled from the war in his homeland of Liberia for the relative safety of Nigeria.
Jonathan Boeyah [Bo-EH-yah] walked through the main gate of the Adventist Seminary of West Africa (ASWA). He hardly noticed the colorful flowers blooming brightly from recent rains. Tired and dusty, he made his way to the administrative offices and asked for the registrar. He was directed to a tiny office where a man stood to greet him. Jonathan spoke quickly, hoping the man would listen and accept his plea.
Jonathan told how he had fled from the war in his homeland of Liberia for the relative safety of Nigeria. He explained that he was the only Adventist in his family, and that he had learned about ASWA from church members he had met once he arrived in Nigeria. He took a deep breath and asked the question his heart was holding. Would it be possible for him to attend ASWA and to study for the ministry?
The man smiled. How could he turn away a student who wanted so much to attend school that he had walked for days to arrive on campus? Jonathan enrolled in the ministerial course. Although he was a Christian, his studies helped him to realize how interested God is in the affairs of His children. One course Jonathan found particularly interesting was on how to have a happy marriage.
At the end of the semester Jonathan joined other students who were traveling to neighboring Ghana to sell literature and earn money for school. As a literature evangelist, he was glad for the training he was receiving at ASWA. “As I visited people I realized that they did not just want our publications, but godly counsel. Several people told me about their family problems, and asked for help and prayer.”
One day Jonathan met a family that was on the verge of separation. Although Jonathan is not married, God used him to speak to this family. He shared with the husband some of the principles of a happy home he had learned in school. He prayed with this troubled man, and offered a few suggestions that he felt could help. Later Jonathan visited the man’s wife and shared some suggestions with her about how she could achieve God’s will for her home.
When Jonathan returned to school he received a letter from this family. With joy and excitement, he shared the news with his marriage and family teacher. The husband and wife reconciled their differences. They thanked Jonathan and the ASWA family for their prayers and influence in healing their home.
Ministry of the School
ASWA has trained hundreds of workers since it opened 30 years ago. Students do not simply study at ASWA, they put their training to use while still in school. The school’s staff and students have held evangelistic meetings, health classes, stop-smoking classes, Revelation seminars, and even community cleanup days in the neighboring areas. Virtually every neighborhood near the school has hosted some form of evangelistic effort. Following the most recent meetings, 50 people were baptized.
Give Others a Chance
Jonathan is one of the fortunate ones. He found a place to study at ASWA. Many more Jonathans are seeking admission to ASWA, but there simply is not room for everyone. Currently more than 500 students from 18 different countries are enrolled at the school. They all want to prepare to serve God. But the school is overcrowded, and there simply is no room to enroll more students. Dormitory rooms meant for only two students often hold six. Even the deans’ offices and the student lounges have become dormitory rooms stacked with beds.
The school has no auditorium that can accommodate the entire student body, so when general meetings are called, most of the students must stand outside the meeting room and watch or listen through open windows!
Classes meet wherever space is available: in the still-unfinished church, in the cafeteria, in the library, and even under the trees in the park. Classes that use the library’s conference room often disturb other students who are studying or doing research.
Sixty students meeting in the church sanctuary strain to hear the teacher over the whir of fans and the outside noises that flow in through open windows. Virtually every room in the church has been made into a classroom for the large student population. “Until more classrooms are built,” the pastor explained, “I’m afraid we have no choice but to use God’s house for classrooms.”
The school president, A. A. Alalade, explains that part of the reason for the lack of space was caused when a teachers’ strike in the government school system closed the secondary schools for several months. Children of the university’s teachers and staff could not go to school. Their parents begged the university to help educate their own children. So the university set aside several classrooms to serve as a high school.
The teachers and students of Adventist Seminary of West Africa are not happy using God’s house for classes and general meetings. They pray that soon they will have classrooms and an auditorium so that they can return the church to sacred purposes, and so the school can continue to grow and serve the students. A new classroom and multipurpose building complex could solve at least part of the overcrowding problem at ASWA. The complex will contain classrooms and lecture halls, and an auditorium large enough to seat the entire student body. Your gifts on Thirteenth Sabbath will help make these classrooms and auditorium a reality. Please give generously this Thirteenth Sabbath.