Recently, I studied the book of Proverbs. I remember pondering the meaning of Proverbs 11:30, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.”
I take the fruit of the righteous to mean a wise, virtuous way of life, a lifestyle that has the power to win souls. The prayers, the love, the charities, the good example, the qualities that make up the character become the influence by which believers show wisdom.
The Septuagint translates this text this way: “From the fruit of righteousness springs a tree of life.” The righteous life becomes as attractive as a tree of life. Therefore, those who give to people from the tree of life of their personal righteousness attract others to themselves.
One of the goals of Adventist education is to develop in students a vivid commitment to God that leads them to become a link between others and God. This is what we call discipleship. Students come to our schools to know God, to be transformed by Him and to be equipped so God may use them to influence others.
Though soul winning is bringing people to the saving knowledge of Jesus, the meaning of soul winning is broader. It implies diverse layers of influence that believers exercise. Using the Master’s words in Luke 5:10, winning souls is “to catch men”. We catch people by way of our influence: they see our lives and identify something desirable, then they get closer to us to know more and listen to what we say; then they change the direction of their lives, hopefully for the better.
Look at Daniel 12:3: “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.”
According to Daniel, shining like stars makes others turn to righteousness. That is discipleship, and that is what Adventist education is about.
Dr Raul Lozano is vice-chancellor of Pacific Adventist University.