“The head and not the tail.” Pastor Daniel Ferraz says this motto, drawn from Deuteronomy 28 , underlines the whole purpose of Adelphian Junior Academy (AJA), the school associated with the Holly church. It highlights the renewed efforts of both the church and school to reach the community.
In a recent sermon titled "Heads or Tails," Ferraz stated his belief that the church school is our most effective evangelistic tool. "Not just because we hope to baptize our children, but because our school events bring non-Adventist parents, grandparents, and community members onto our school and church premises like nothing else. We are focused on aggressively advertising our school and church events to the public through door hangers, word-of-mouth and social media. We want to mingle and socialize with people, gain their confidence and friendship. We feel energized that the Lord is leading and blessing our efforts,” says Ferraz.
Why not use the school as an engaging outreach project? AJA is located on a busy road close to the church, surrounded on all sides by large neighborhoods. Recognizing their prime location, the school and Holly members combined time and resources to put on two major community events.
“An Evening with a Scientist," featured Ben Roy, a science instructor at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. When not teaching, Roy travels to various schools combining the wonder of science with the principles of God’s creation. Roy presented AJA’s Week of Prayer in mid-April. His demonstration on Thursday evening was open to the public. Church members and students distributed flyers in neighborhoods and libraries; posted on social media; and invited their friends and neighbors.
Roy and his assistant, veterinary technician Debra Rivera, kept the crowd’s attention with their exciting hands-on science experiments. One such demonstration used a device called a Rubens Tube, where flames rose out of a tube connected to a microphone. When a participant sang into the microphone, the flames surged up and down the tube in accordance to the intensity of the singer’s voice.
Another simple experiment, but one that drew much applause, was the complete free-floating of a screwdriver in midair with nothing but air pressure from a vacuum to hold it up! In between exhibitions, Rivera walked around with interesting animals, including a corn snake and a pair of hissing cockroaches.
Approximately 135 attended, 40 of which were non-school and non-church members. Three science kits were given as prizes, and each guest family took home a gift bag with an AJA school handbook, Adventurer and Pathfinder Club information, and details on the upcoming VBS program held at AJA this year.
The second event took place June 5. This was a kickball tournament with a picnic and dessert bake-off. Again, both church and school members worked hard to involve the community. Posters, flyers and personal invitations were handed out around the neighborhood. They also invited local law enforcement, including Police Sergeant Legant from the Holly Police Department, who graciously attended. Festivities began at noon. With a 70 percent chance of rain, many began praying earnestly for the Lord to hold the rain.
Well over 100 attended, with families from the nearby neighborhood joining the kickball games. One community mom of two, while playing kickball, asked an AJA student where they went to school. When told that this was their school, the mom responded, "How cool!"
Visitors were invited to share in the picnic fellowship and learn more about AJA. One family received a requested tour of the school, with interest in enrolling for the next year. As the rain held to a light drizzle, many prayers of thanks rose heavenward.
With the continued team effort to utilize AJA as missionary headquarters, the academy and the Holly church will be rewarded two-fold. First, church members can see the significance of the school both for its outstanding Christian education and for its unique ability to serve the people surrounding it. Second, as a shining example of Christian love, and with increased enrollment, AJA will continue to be a witness, encouraging the surrounding community members and their families to join the greatest community of all: God’s. "It's personal," says Pastor Ferraz. "That's Jesus' method."