By Fernando Lista Oleynick
In this divisive world filled with uncertainty, the Nevada-Utah Conference (NUC) found an opportunity for reconciliation and unification by combining two schools in Las Vegas, Nevada: Abundant Life Christian Academy and Las Vegas Junior Academy.
“We had to listen to and understand the grievances and hurt of the past that had created a divisive culture in the Las Vegas area,” said NUC President Leon Brown. A reconciliation committee was formed to really listen to the hurt caused by racial injustice.
As Sherri Hannon, the reconciliation committee leader, explained, “The committee is composed of representatives from both schools. We have conducted a survey of church members in the Las Vegas area, seeking feedback about the schools and suggestions for change. We are also interviewing people, including parents and students, who have attended one or both schools and are willing to share their experiences. Several themes have been identified from the surveys and interviews. The committee is working on suggested guidelines and recommendations to address these recurring issues and will present them in a report to the K-12 board and the new school board in the near future.”
In addition, as NUC Executive Secretary Carlos Camacho said, “There is no longer room for a culture of division.” All churches in the Las Vegas area are being asked to support Vegas Valley Adventist Academy with a financial subsidy. Pastors and teachers are being asked to partner together in ministry, both at the churches and the schools.
NUC Education Superintendent Fernando Lista holds a vision of unification and growth: “Our desire is not just to join two schools, but to provide excellent Adventist education for the children who attend, and eventually to be able to provide a K-12 education program.” The hope for the future is to have web-based classes that can be offered to rural churches in the Nevada-Utah territory. “We have a vast mission field. What if a local church does not have the financial resources to open a physical school for four or five kids but has the ability to provide supervision as children learn from certified teachers over the internet?” asked Karen Schneider, NUC treasurer.
God’s leading has been very evident in this endeavor. Denice Raphael, the new principal for Vegas Valley Adventist Academy, said, “Our goal for our students at VVAA during the 2020-21 school year is to achieve greatness academically and develop socially and emotionally as they learn to be productive citizens for the community around us. Our ultimate goal is for each student to have a strong relationship with Christ, letting Him guide them in their daily lives.”
Their plea is for you to act today. Pray for the teachers as they reopen their classrooms, both in person and using web-based tools. Pray that the parents will recognize the tremendous value in Adventist education for their children. Pray for the students to have a safe learning environment that will enhance their walk with Jesus Christ. Pray for the support staff as they struggle with a workload that never seems to decrease. Pray for the financial resources to be available. Pray for a way you can get involved to glorify and bring honor to God.