We have been looking at MAPS, an acronym for the four pillars of our educational program at Holbrook Indian School (HIS).
These four pillars are:
This month we are looking at the final pillar in our program, the spiritual.
One big challenge in presenting Christianity to our students at Holbrook Indian School (HIS) has to do with the historical “witness” or exposure that many older Native Americans have experienced in the name of Christianity. That experience has had a ripple effect through the generations. It has often created tension between students who might develop an interest in learning about the Bible and their older relatives.
Our MAPS program, and much of what we do as a whole, is designed to help in healing these historical wounds.
There are many things we do at HIS that contribute to the spiritual growth of our students.
A typical Bible class begins with a devotional. Mr. Mahinay then utilizes simple activities tailored to the subject matter for his lessons. Since different spiritual backgrounds and levels of interest can pose a challenge, Mr. Mahinay uses materials designed for a learning context where students of various faiths share in the power of story, grapple with real issues openly, then make discoveries for themselves. It’s a place where investigation is invited. The Encounter Adventist Curriculum is the primary guide in their studies.
At the beginning of the school year, a week of prayer is held for our students. We also have dorm chapel periods involving personal development, educational, and spiritually focused themes. Friday evenings include vespers for the students primarily, and Sabbath worship is also well attended by our students. All of these events provide ample opportunities for our students to participate in singing and reading.
The student reactions to what we believe and teach here at HIS range from indifference to mere curiosity to sincere interest. Many students ask questions about the things taught, some to the point of taking personal ownership of the beliefs once they understand them.
On May 1, 2021, after a group of students finished studying the topic of baptism, 16 students were baptized. That is the most on record that we are aware of.
One of our greatest concerns is the response of the parents to their child’s decision. We always inform our students’ parents to ensure they are OK with their child’s decision. Without consent from them, we would only be exacerbating any unfavorable feelings. However, the Holy Spirit was working miraculously in this group—not only in the hearts of the students but in their parents/guardians as well.
In addition to the 16 students, three parents were also baptized, along with two graduate students, and five staff children—for a total of 26.
Love in action
The primary person working in the fulfillment of baptisms is Pastor Ludy Mahinay. As the school’s Bible teacher, chaplain, and pastor, he spends a lot of his time in the spiritual arena with our students. However, he would be the first to tell you that these baptisms are the result of a collaborative work of Divine power and a staff that loves their students—and those are not just flowery words. A survey found that this is quite literally the case, as Pastor Mahinay discovered for himself.
“I did a random survey in class, asking our students what inspired them to accept God or get baptized,” he said. “The multiple-choice options included various specific teachings/doctrines or topics of the Bible and a space for an ‘other’ response.”
The responses were heartwarming.
“Some answered with specific topics that convinced them,” Pastor Mahinay recalled, “but generally, they wrote that what convinced them is how all the staff here treated them, cared for them, and loved them. To me, this is a perfect reflection of God’s love through action and not just in words.”
The reflection of God’s love in action created a ripple that reached the hearts of the parents and guardians as well. In one such family, the parents asked if they could get baptized together with their three children here at HIS. This was right before the date for baptism, so it presented a slight concern about having adequate preparation for the baptism and Bible studies.
Pastor Mahinay made the necessary consultations with Senior Pastor Walcott, and together they decided to baptize the eager parents, explaining to them the purpose of baptism. Pastor Walcott will be doing the follow-up with the family to accommodate their location.
This is how God works: utilizing a network of human vessels, from the supporters of Holbrook Indian School who help make the resources and staff possible, to the staff who in turn provide direct education, love, and care.
Thank you for your help
Thanks to you, we have been able to provide this comprehensive program we call MAPS. You are part of the legacy of supporters who have helped make these intentions a reality for 75 years. We hope that with this background information on each component, you will realize how much of an impact you are actually making.
By Chevon Petgrave