What do you do when you have to make a big decision?
Paula Cristina Ghibut had a big decision to make. She was 14 and about to finish eighth grade in Romania. She had to decide where to go to high school.
The decision was huge.
Paula wanted to become an elementary school teacher, and she could go to a nearby public high school that offered a special teaching track for high school students.
But Paula had attended Adventist schools since kindergarten, and she wasn’t sure that she should go to public school. The Adventist high school only offered a science track.
Paula prayed and read the Bible at home in Targu Mures village in northcentral Romania. She spoke with her parents and read passages from books by Adventist Church cofounder Ellen White.
As she read, she found advice that seemed to suggest Adventist children should study in non-Adventist schools in order to be a light in the world.
In Ellen White’s “Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students,” she read, “The followers of Christ are to be separate from the world in principles and interests, but they are not to isolate themselves from the world” (page323).
In “The Great Controversy,” she saw that Waldensian students had used their Christian influence to transform entire schools in the 13thcentury and beyond. She read, “From their mother's knee the Waldensian youth had been trained with this purpose in view; they understood their work and faithfully performed it. Converts to the true faith were won in these institutions of learning, and frequently its principles were found to be permeating the entire school” (page 70).
Paula decided to enroll in the public high school. She thought it would be a good opportunity to share Jesus and simultaneously prepare to become a teacher.
But first she needed to pass the entrance exam to enter the school. She prayed, “If it is Your will for me to study there, help me to do well on the exam.”
Competition was fierce for the 150 openings at the school. Four children applied for each open seat. Paula placed seventh out of the 150 students who were accepted.
But Paula still didn’t feel peace. It was difficult to leave Adventist schools after so many years. She knew that the public school teachers would not pray before classes and that the students wouldn’t sing Christian songs.
Two weeks before classes started, Paula had a nighttime dream that she was at the public school. The teachers were proud and unloving,and they kept blaming her for the wrongdoings of her classmates. The false accusations made Paula upset. At the end of the day, as she prepared to go home, she heard a voice shout, “Run away, run away, and never come back!” Paula turned around to see who was shouting, but no one was there.
In the morning, she wondered what the dream meant. She wasn’t sure that the dream was from God because she knew that the devil could also cause dreams. She prayed.
“God, if this dream is from You, please confirm it to me through another way,” she said.
Paula turned to her parents for advice. They said she had to decide on her own. So she prayed and fasted for several days. She also read more from the Bible and Ellen White. She was amazed to see that everything she read indicated that she should go to the Adventist school.
In “Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students,” she read.“To place over young children, teachers who are proud and unloving is wicked” (page 175). In the same book, she read, “Our church schools are ordained by God to prepare the children for this great work” (page 176).
She thought, “I wanted to start training to be a teacher at the public school, but the Adventist school can train me even better, even though its emphasis is on science.”
Then in “Child Guidance,” she read, “In planning for the education of their children outside the home, parents should realize that it is no longer safe to send them to the public school, and should endeavor to send them to schools where they will obtain an education based on a Scriptural foundation” (page 304).
It was late to ask to transfer out of the public school, but Paula managed to receive permission at the last minute. She was so happy to hear the teacher pray before classes and to join her ninth-grade classmates in singing Christian songs.
Paula learned some important lessons about understanding God’s will when it comes to making decisions. She prayed and asked her parents for advice. She read the Bible and the writings of Ellen White. Then she made a decision.
Paula is sure that she made the right choice. While at the Adventist high school, she gave her heart to Jesus and was baptized when she was 16. Now she is 18 and will graduate soon. She realizes she will have plenty of time to learn how to be teacher at the university.
“My walk with God has been a process,” she said. “I didn’t use drugs and then have a miracle conversion story. Instead, God led me step by step. I want to encourage young people also to live step by step for Christ. In every step of our lives, we need to recognize Him, and He will work in our lives.”