Exemplifying the Face of Jesus
Editorial by Ileana Santa Cruz-Espinosa
"Mom, will you see Coach Webster in Chicago?” my adult children asked with eager interest as I prepared for my trip to the 2018 North American Division Teachers’ Convention. Tedd Webster, who serves at Great Lakes Adventist Academy (Mich.), is special to all three of them. Not only was he their P. E. teacher and gymnastics coach at Greater Miami Academy (Fla.), but he also embraced and loved them when they first arrived in this country with no friends and limited knowledge of the language. Every day he showed them the face of Jesus. Many years later, and now with children of their own, my kids have never forgotten Coach Webster’s Christlike attitude.
Worth the Trip
Just before the academic year started, our Columbia Union Conference team joined some 6,000 Seventh-day Adventist education professionals who descended on the exhilarating city of Chicago to participate in the teachers’ convention. I am so thankful that the Church decided to invest in one of its most precious resources—our educators—by providing such an experience.
Bringing educators together once every six years provides a tangible way to thank these unsung heroes who stand before our young people day in and day out to lift up Jesus. These men and women are sometimes the only face of Jesus their students will ever see. They give selflessly of their time, knowledge and expertise, often sacrificing their own wellbeing (and that of their families) for their students, at times even closing the gaps for books and supplies in their classrooms out of their own pockets.
As always, the gathering provided an opportunity for much-needed professional and spiritual growth and for reuniting with former class-mates, colleagues and teachers. Above all, we had the chance to laugh, sing and pray with peers, understanding that we all share the same passion—guiding our children to have a meaningful encounter with Jesus.
The experience of my own children is not unique; it is one of thousands and thousands replicated across the globe. I have a huge debt of gratitude to so many educators, like Coach Webster, who helped shape my life, my children’s lives and are now shaping the lives of my grandchildren. The next time you meet a teacher, stop to thank him or her for furthering the ministry of Seventh-day Adventist education. And let us continue to pray for them and our young people, as we work together to hasten the return of our Lord.
Ileana Santa Cruz-Espinosa serves as associate director of Elementary Education for the Columbia Union Conference Office of Education.