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“God opened a way for my people,” Jia says. “We now have our own seminary.” (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

Underground Seminary Graduates First Students

“It’s a miracle that this school has been open for 3 ½ years,” says the seminary’s director.

By Andrew McChesney,

An underground Seventh-day Adventist seminary in Asia has graduated its first batch of students in a milestone that its director calls a miraculous answer to prayer.

The students graduated this summer from the seminary, which opened in 2014.

“It’s a miracle that this school has been open for 3 ½ years,” said the seminary’s 42-year-old director, Jia.

The seminary works underground because the government does not recognize Adventist educational institutions. Adventist Mission is not identifying the location of the seminary or its leaders to protect their work.

Jia credited prayer for the seminary’s success.

“The government could close us at any time,” she said in an interview. “The students and teachers pray all the time for God to protect us.”

The students and teachers also pray regularly for financial support for the students, many of whom come from impoverished homes. Some teachers help cover tuition costs out of their own pockets, Jia said.

Jia began dreaming about an Adventist school in her country when Saturday classes prevented her from completing college. Jia, a first-generation Adventist who began keeping the Sabbath in high school, had wanted to become a kindergarten teacher. In college, she initially was excused from Saturday classes, but then someone reported her to the authorities. The authorities ruled that even though she had the right to religious freedom, she also needed to obey the college’s rules. Jia quit her studies.

“At that time, a dream began to form in my mind that one day the Adventist Church would have its own school where my people could study without any Sabbath conflict,” Jia said. “It was just a dream, and I didn’t think that it could ever come true.”

After leaving college, Jia worked for the church for 11 years and then was sent abroad to study for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education.

“I longed to be a Bible teacher and to work for the church,” Jia said. “I still dreamed about having an Adventist school in my country.”

Upon graduating, she received a call to return home to lead the new seminary.

“God opened a way for my people,” Jia said. “We now have our own seminary where we are training young people to be church workers. We are very excited that our campus’ first class is graduating this year.”

She expressed hope that more Adventist schools would open in her country. Many young people still struggle to keep the Sabbath at public schools, and they face exams on the Sabbath.

“I hope to see many young people trained to share the gospel before Jesus returns,” she said. “God is helping us. We cannot do this on our own.”