An Encouraging Word

Bruce was a failure. That's what he'd overheard the fifth-grade teacher say. Another strike against him. Times were rough at school and home. His mom, attempting to raise three kids alone on a nonexistent budget, was barely coping with an emotional breakdown. "What future is there for a kid who's a failure," he thought.

So you can understand if Bruce approached the next school year, and a new teacher, with apprehension. As he entered the foyer of the school and turned left down the corridor, he saw her. She was standing at the door greeting each student. She reached out, shook his hand, and with a smile asked, "And who are you?"

"I'm Bruce," he said.

"Oh, I know who you are," she exclaimed. "And I know you're going to be a wonderful student."

At that moment something very simple changed Bruce's whole outlook. He'd earned enough money during the summer to buy a bright blue shirt with a zipper on the breast pocket. He was really proud of that shirt. While she spoke, his new teacher reached out, clasped the little chain and zipped the zipper open and shut. A small gesture, but it struck Bruce like an electric shock. "She accepts me," he thought, "and maybe she's right. Maybe I can be a good student."

Under the mentoring of this wonderful Christian teacher, Bruce's low self-esteem gave way to a brighter outlook. What had she added? Significance. He was significant. He could make a difference. By the end of the sixth grade, Bruce was at the top of his class.

But years passed, and with times still hard, Bruce faced an uncertain future after high school graduation. With no guarantee of financial support, he determined one early morning to hitchhike to Walla Walla College. But by the end of the day, he was only 30 miles from home. Discouraged he gave up and returned to his starting point near a gas station where he had sometimes worked for the Adventist manager. "I guess God doesn't want me to go to Walla Walla," said Bruce when the manager saw him coming. "Oh yes He does," was his friend's quick reply, "and tomorrow I'm going to take you there myself!"

So Bruce Johnston went to Walla Walla College, became a college professor, missionary pilot, international evangelist and visionary who in turn encouraged hundreds of others along an upward pathway to success.

Our students need encouragers. Like Bruce, they need an Adventist community that refuses to let them fall through the cracks–before, during or after graduation.

Afraid to invest your money in today's uncertain economy? Try a different angle: Invest in a student. You may help another Bruce Johnston take flight.

Our students need encouragers. They need an Adventist community that refuses to let them fall through the cracks ... before, during or after graduation.

July 01, 2009 / Let's Talk