I’ll pay for your education, any career you choose, his father said. Except pastor.
Listening to his father’s words, a young man by the name of Bernardo Samano made the choice to pursue what he knew was God’s calling for his life anyway. It is a calling he has enthusiastically embraced since his own days as a student at Calexico Mission School (CMS), where he currently serves as Bible teacher and where he has served in other leadership roles throughout the years. If anyone believes in the life-changing power of Adventist education, it is Bernardo Samano.
Born and raised in Mexico in a devout Catholic family, Samano had his sights set on becoming a priest, and he began his endeavors early in life as an altar boy, even becoming president of the altar boys group at the age of 12. His parents had been separated for a while, but when they reunited in his mid-teens it included a move to a new home and a new school: Calexico Mission School. Being a deeply religious young man, Samano was pleased to find out that he would be taking Bible classes at his new school. Upon his arrival at CMS, Samano also quickly connected himself with a local priest and began to help him conduct community courses on liberation theology.
But within a short time, Samano was in for something of a rude awakening when the things he was learning in Bible class at school began to conflict significantly with what he had been taught all his life—and was currently studying with the priest and teaching to others. He started going to his priest with heavy questions, primarily about Sabbath.
He had also stayed in touch with his mentor in Mexico, the bishop of the diocese he had been a part of, and he started asking him questions, initially with the intent of being able to prove the Adventist pastor wrong. But instead of proving the pastor wrong, Samano kept learning more and more, until one day the local priest closed the Bible in front of him in frustration and said, “Do what you want.” At the age of 16, Bernardo Samano made the decision to get baptized into the Adventist Church.
“But you’re already baptized,” his mother told him, reminding him of his baptism when he was a baby. His father threatened to leave his wife again if she let their son get baptized into a different religion. But such threats held no power over the greater power of the Holy Spirit. Samano began sharing his new faith with his family, and within a short time Samano’s mother and older brothers got baptized too—as well as other family members.
“After being exposed to the Bible doctrines, I was convinced the world needed to know the teachings of the Adventist Church,” Samano reflected. “The invitation received from my Bible class teacher to become a pastor affirmed my conviction,”
As a result of his testimony and efforts, 34 friends and family accepted the Adventist faith and joined the church, and since then the Holy Spirit has used Samano to lead many more to embrace “the Blessed Hope,” as expressed in his own words.
Despite the lack of financial support from his father, Samano went on to study theology at Montemorelos University, and he later earned his master’s degree in religion from Andrews University. His professional journey led to many teaching, pastoral, leadership, and administrative roles in Mexico and throughout the U.S., including at CMS— from 1989 to 2000 teaching English as a Second Language, Spanish, math, and other subjects, as well as serving as chaplain and acting principal; from 2012 to 2017 as development director; and currently as Bible teacher since 2018.
While Samano’s professional résumé is dizzying in sheer length and volume, the common thread that runs through every role and every accomplishment is not just service to the church but a deep love for Jesus Christ and a personal heartfelt conviction that the Seventh-day Adventist message is a fundamentally necessary and transformational one that touches every area of life, not just spiritually. In every role he has held—be it administrator, teacher, or pastor—he has shared his love for Christ with others.
One of the ways that the Adventist message, through its educational system, made a marked difference in his life was through healthy lifestyle.
A desire to study the Bible more wasn’t the only thing Samano brought with him to CMS as a teenager. Following the example of the only religious teachers he had known thus far in his life, Samano, though only a teen, also smoked and drank. In his worldview, as modeled by his previous teachers, smoking and drinking was a normal part of life, just something men did.
“Apart from the spiritual enlightenment, Christian education taught me to value and care for my life. It gave my life purpose and direction,” he said. “It’s by the merit of Jesus and the price He paid for my salvation that I am valuable.” In other words, he saw himself as having very real worth and real value— enough to cherish and care for his physical body, rather than harming it.
Today, Bernardo and Silvia Samano, his wife of over 40 years whom he met at Montemorelos, are the joyful parents of two thriving adult children, both of whom also attended Adventist schools and who have chosen to serve God in their respective professions and church life.
Why is Adventist education a worthwhile investment?
“Taking a child from the crib to jail costs nothing. Taking a child from the crib to heaven is costly; it cost Jesus dying on the cross,” Samano said. “Any investment we make in our children’s future and character development is always a worthwhile investment.”