I was only eight years old when a family friend started taking me to church, and I fell in love with Jesus. As only a young child, I became the first Seventh-day Adventist in my family.
For our own safety, my mother and I had to emigrate to the United States when I was nine years old. When we arrived in the United States, I asked my mom to take me to an Adventist church, and that first Sabbath, we learned about the Adventist school. I immediately started begging to attend! At the time, there were only three months left until summer vacation, and I attended public school; but I was bullied and made fun of because of my accent. That made me dream and pray about attending the Adventist school.
My mother and I did not have much money. We had just arrived in this country and did not even have a place to live or enough money for food. Unfortunately, attending the Adventist school was something we could not afford. We lived an hour away, and our financial situation was dire. My mother, a single mom in a foreign country, could not even dream of fulfilling her daughter’s dream of attending an Adventist school.
My mom said, “Dary, I am so sorry, but we cannot afford this right now.”
I remember praying and asking God, “Please help my mother be able to afford an Adventist school.”
Someone from my church shared our story with the school treasurer, who reached out and said she would see what she could do to help us. The ten-year-old me knew God was working to fulfill my heart’s desire. I had faith that He could do anything. As Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
As the new school year got closer and closer, I started to lose hope. Two days before school started, I still needed a uniform, school supplies, and money to pay for tuition. I kept praying because I knew God was listening.
God is great! I started school the same day as everyone else, and that was not all! I graduated from middle school and high school at Houston Adventist Academy. God used my mom, the school’s treasurer, and my teachers to keep me close to Him. Even though my mom is not a Seventh-day Adventist, she would still drive me an hour and a half each way every day so I could attend an Adventist school. God showed me through the support of many people that He wanted me to be there.
My experience in academy was great. I was part of the student association, and teachers nurtured my spiritual and academic growth. Some still stay in touch to this day. Academy was instrumental in helping me stay connected to Christ. God used school to show me that He protects and cares for my mom and me—that He hears my prayers and provides for us.
Attending a school where people cared about my faith and academics has changed my life. I found my calling in life: to serve God as a teacher! For me, Houston Adventist Academy fulfilled Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” A single mom who is not an Adventist church member was able to guide her daughter into an unbreakable relationship with the Lord thanks to an Adventist education at Houston Adventist Academy.
Dariela Erazo´s testimony is shared by Smith Castillo, associate superintendent for Education at the Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.