Guiding the Desire to Serve

April 16, 2024

The mission of Southwestern Adventist University is “Inspiring Knowledge, Faith and Service Through Christ-centered Education.” This foundation sets us apart. As an educational institution, knowledge is a priority. As a Christian institution, faith is central. As an Adventist institution, service is a distinction. 

In the book Education, Ellen G. White states that “Love and loyalty to Christ are the spring of all true service. In the heart touched by His love, there is begotten a desire to work for Him. Let this desire be encouraged and rightly guided.”

I have been asked, “Why should a student attend Southwestern Adventist University?” To answer this question, we need to understand the value that Adventist education offers. As our graduates leave Southwestern Adventist University, they have a degree that will open the door to a career for which they are expertly trained and that will provide financial resources, a sense of stability and a professional network. These things are admirable and desirable. However, the journey of Adventist education should also guide a graduate to contemplate how their career can also be an avenue for service.   

We were created to serve! “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10.

Adventist institutions are uniquely positioned to encourage and guide the desire to serve. 

The first way this is done is by prioritizing a relationship with Christ. True service cannot exist without love for Christ, and in our schools, young adults are exposed to professors, mentors and friends who support and encourage a personal walk with Christ. At Southwestern students engage by not only attending but leading worship on a weekly basis. On Sabbath, students can be found in churches across our communities serving in many capacities.

Second, opportunities for service are integrated with education through mission trips, Service Day, small groups and class projects. Spring break on our campus this year included mission trips to the Navajo Nation and Brazil. Service Day, an academic day was designated as a day to serve our community through a variety of projects, attracted over 300 participants..

Third, our students can engage in short and long-term service programs while their academic goals through opportunities to work for church ministries, including summer camp, canvassing, internships and student missionary programs. Choosing to work at summer camp or to spend a summer canvassing is encouraged and rewarded with 100 percent matching scholarships for funds earned. 

Through these experiences, lives are transformed, and the intersection of education and service leads to lifelong calling. 

At Southwestern Adventist University, our calling is to walk in faith beside our students on their academic journeys. To inspire “Knowledge, Faith and Service,” not as the world defines these terms but as Christ defines them for us. It is a calling that distinguishes Adventist education in a world that needs a generation trained and inspired to answer God’s call to serve.

By Ana Patterson
Southwestern Adventist University President