Adventist schools in the smaller rural towns of New Zealand have been faced with declining enrolments over the past few years. However, this trend has been reversed in New Plymouth, Napier/Hastings and Whangarei.
“We’ve got a lot of small schools that have always been operating on a knife-edge,” said Rosalie McFarlane, education director for the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference. “With lots of prayer they’ve gone from struggling to viable.”
In Napier, the Napier and Hastings churches have been hugely supportive. A prayer-walk around the school was held. Last year 24 students were on the roll; this year there are 43. Parkside Adventist Christian School principal Belinda Bestel stresses this is entirely an answer to prayer.
In New Plymouth, the Adventist community has been very supportive and newly-appointed principal, Renee Timmins, reports that the current enrolment is more than double what was anticipated at the start of the year.
At Whangarei Adventist Christian School, where last year only one pupil attended an Adventist church, prayer and outreach to the local Adventist churches has seen that number grow to seven. New principal Anna Charlie hopes it may soon once again become a two-teacher school.
" . . . God can step in, bless and turn things around in a very short space of time."
In each case, the growth and renewal of the schools is seen as a direct answer to concerted prayer and the cooperation of the local churches.
“For me [these results] show that when you commit yourself to God and seek His intervention—and get the church and the school working together for that combined ministry around the school—God can step in, bless and turn things around in a very short space of time,” Ms McFarlane said.
“I’d like to see all of our schools with over 100 students,” she added. “That’s my bold vision. I ask myself, where would we get teachers? But if God can bring kids, He can bring teachers.”