March 15, 2014
Teachers Talk - A Matter of Life and Death
Paola Oudri, Teacher, Grandview Adventist Academy, Mount Hope, ON

“Teacher, did they give him a needle?” my students asked, eyes open wide, as if determining the severity of the situation by my answer to that question.  There was a sudden stillness in the room.   I had just announced to my Grade 1 and 2 class that one of their classmates, Lucca, who had left school early the day before because he wasn’t feeling well, had been admitted to the hospital with internal bleeding in his brain.  He was diagnosed with Brain AVM, which is an abnormal connection between arteries and veins.  He was in an induced coma, with a tube draining blood from his head to relieve the pressure in his brain.  I explained his condition to them as simply and as calmly as I could.  However, Lucca’s situation was critical.  It was a matter of life and death.  No one knew exactly what the outcome or after-effects would be.
My heart ached at the sight of his empty chair and as I faced my class that morning, something became incredibly real to me.  “Academics, sports and technology are all important,” I thought to myself, “but after all is said and done, this is what our education is all about; kids learn to either place their trust in God or place it elsewhere, and this is the place for them to learn to place their trust in God.”  This is also a matter of life and death. Ellen White emphasizes the importance of helping children look to God whenever they face problems and troubles of their own.  “As the little child sets forth on that journey in which, sooner or later, he must choose his own course, himself deciding life’s issues for eternity, how earnest should be the effort to direct his trust to the sure Guide and Helper!” (Education, p. 255).  I felt a tremendous sense of “spiritual responsibility” and at the same time was humbled by the opportunity to partner with God in guiding the minds of these young children to Him through this trial.  For that reason, I begged God not only to heal Lucca, but to show His faithfulness, care, and power to my students so that their faith could be strengthened.
It was a long and difficult five months. During that time, Lucca had a second bleeding in his brain.  On four different occasions, neurosurgeons attempted procedures to correct the AVM unsuccessfully. The problem was located in an area of his brain that was extremely difficult to reach. However, even though the surgeons were unable to reach it, each time, the vein miraculously closed itself providing a temporary solution. Our school, our church family and hundreds of other people around the world prayed earnestly for a miracle.  At last, the neurosurgeon’s fifth and final attempt at closing the bleeding vein was a success!
Today, Lucca is back in our classroom, running around at recess and having fun like everyone else.  He has shown a remarkable and rapid recovery, having had to learn to stand, walk, talk, and use his body all over again.  My students thank God and give Him glory for this miracle every day.
So, what did my class learn this year?  Well, some of my Grade Ones struggle with reading and spelling, and a couple of my Grade Twos still find it hard to regroup in Math, but one thing is for sure: through this experience, they all witnessed God’s incredible power firsthand and learned that He answers their prayers. They all know now that when trouble arises and problems come, they can place their trust in God. This spiritual lesson is vital. It is a matter of “life and death”, and we as Christian teachers have the awesome privilege of pointing our students in the right direction, the direction of life.