PAA Scholarship Brings Student to Safety

November 15, 2016 | Liesl Vistaunet

“During the recession, we lost our home,” says Sharon,* mother of a Portland Adventist Academy (PAA) student. “We had to move, and my son Tim* had to attend new schools. It was hard on him. He lost confidence. He was bullied, and he came home discouraged nearly every day.”

Sharon looked for ways to help Tim. They eventually found a community in an Adventist church, and Tim was welcomed as a friend. “Church friends seemed to make a difference for him,” Sharon explains.

The years went on, and eventually Tim was at a public high school with more than 3,000 students. “I had friends there, but they weren’t like my church friends,” says Tim. “I didn’t feel comfortable, and I wanted a different life.”

Family friends from church encouraged Sharon and Tim to visit PAA for an open house. “After I visited PAA, I didn’t ever want to go back to my old school,” Tim says.

“Tim became persistent about attending PAA,” recalls Sharon. “But it was impossible for me to afford tuition. And because I didn’t want to disappoint Tim, I told him if he wanted it so bad, he needed to pray about it and take the steps to make it happen.”

Normally shy and reserved, Tim stepped out of his comfort zone. His childlike faith gave Tim the courage to pick up the phone and call PAA.

“I was a little surprised,” says Jason Bibb, PAA’s vice principal of finance. “I’ve never had a student call me to ask how he could become a student. I could tell he really wanted to be here. I knew we had to find a way to make it happen.”

Just days before school started, Sharon found herself in Bibb’s office shedding tears of gratitude. Through the compounding gifts of their Adventist church family's tuition support, the Oregon Conference’s Every Child Deserves to Know Christ Scholarship and the Portland Adventist Academy Student Scholarship (PAASS), Tim would attend PAA.

Now a junior at PAA, Tim not only attends classes where the teachers pray, but he enjoys chapel every week, participates in Gospel Choir and has already been on two spiritual retreats with his friends.

“Being at PAA is so different,” says Tim. “It’s just out of the park for me. Honestly, it’s been hard to get used to because I never knew the world was like this. People are so nice. Right off the bat, I made friends. And I’ve realized that being around people who are nice all the time inspires me to be better.”

“It’s a miracle to me,” says Sharon. “He comes home more confident, outgoing and positive. It’s changed his life to be in a place that doesn’t contradict his beliefs.”

Tim is one of 99 PAA students who attend PAA because of tuition-supporting scholarships like PAASS. Lives are changing because of the people who want to make miracles happen for students like Tim and parents like Sharon.

Sharon shed tears as she expressed her thanks. “You’re providing a spiritual home for Tim and all of these students. They are getting opportunities they need that they could never get at a public school. God is working through you to bring students to a safe place where they can be supported in their faith and love of Jesus. It’s overwhelming how grateful I feel.”

*Names have been changed to support privacy.