Read This Week’s Passage: Exodus 31:12–18

Sabbath and School

The leaders of the Reformation—Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli—moved and were moved on the public university campus. Through their ministry, revolutions were eventually ignited at the world’s best colleges and universities. However, they were but the tipping point of revival that eventually led to the birth of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Arguably, the groundwork of the Reformation was done at least in part by a group of people known as the Waldensians, who many Protestant scholars regard as the forerunners of the Reformation. During a time of intense persecution, those faithful, Bible-believing Christians were forced into the mountains and valleys to find safety and religious freedom. They became known as the People of the Valley or the Waldensians.

In the mountains and valleys, their young people were tasked with committing large portions of the Bible to memory. At schools in the wilderness of the Alps, students wrote portions of Scripture and wove into their clothing the precious pages of the Bible. Then, they went as missionaries into the universities. They enrolled as students and lived out their faith, dropping seeds of truth. People paid attention. They saw the unmovable faith these students of the valley possessed and were strangely drawn to their example. The Waldensian movement impacted the best universities in England, Scotland, France, Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Croatia, setting the stage for the fire of the Reformation to light up a darkened world.

The power in the Waldensian ministry of public campuses lay in the way they lived their faith, keeping the Sabbath and dropping seeds of truth. They didn’t engage in controversy. As onlookers watched they asked themselves, What does this all mean? The power of the Sabbath served as a tool for these underground missionaries to lead souls to Christ.