by Donald Alexander and Gerizin DePena
Grandview, Wash., February 5, 2014 - During the summer of 2013, leaders from Washington's Lower Yakima Valley churches and the Upper Columbia Conference met to discuss the fate of the Grandview Adventist Junior Academy (GAJA). The meeting was called because funds were dwindling and the churches that support the school had barely enough funds to keep their church doors open, let alone sufficient funding to keep the school afloat. So leaders met to close the school.
In its hay day, the school had nearly 70 students, four teachers and a bus that delivered 20 or so students from the surrounding towns of Sunnyside and Prosser, Wash. It offered an educational system up to the 10th grade. But over the past several decades the area churches and the school have suffered a steady decline as demographics have shifted.
Things began to rapidly take a turn for the better in September 2013 when the English and Hispanic Grandview congregations united and combined forces to tackle the situation. One of the decisions was to invite Steve Green, a bilingual artist, to put on a benefit concert for the school. Green accepted and agreed to donate half of his usual commission to help in cause. The concert was set for Jan. 18, 2014.
The expenses were substantial and the logistics for a large concert can be overwhelming and labor-intensive. Through key decisions to offer the tickets online and networking with other local churches, the group forged ahead. They were apprehensive that they would make money for the school on the eve of the concert. It is then that God showed His hand.
On the evening of Jan. 18, the auditorium began to fill. By the time the lights went out and the performance was about to get underway, the auditorium was only about 60 percent filled. But before the end of the first act, the count was nearly 700 people in the auditorium, which has a 750-seat capacity. The school took in several thousand dollars that night through ticket sales and offerings.
Following the concert, money continues to flow in to the school, making the total more than $12,000 to date. For a church of about 20 active members to step out in faith, there is no doubt that God and God alone made this a great and humbling success.