Like the Coming of the Dawn

I walked into the University church, prepared to sit through another time of worship in which I could only have minimal involvement. Another day in which I would have to guess at what the speaker was saying, and sing hymns while only recognizing the tune to which we sang. I’ve gotten used to it, and can now pay attention to or ignore whatever is being said around me at will. But I don’t think I will ever enjoy the fog of separation my lack of understanding creates, and I have come to appreciate just how much like sunshine communication and understanding really are.

The congregation stood for the closing prayer of Sabbath School, and I waited patiently for the Spanish prayer to be over. I almost jumped with surprise when I heard not ‘Nuestro Dios,’ but ‘Dear God’ instead. I stared with shock, at a very European looking man speaking English with an accent. For the whole time preceding the sermon, I was feeling apprehensive, because of the possibility that he might not be preaching. However, my fears were not realized, and I had the delicious pleasure of hearing a sermon preached my own language.

That church service crystallized for me just how much I’ve become accustomed to not really being a part of what’s going on all around me. Certainly my language skills have grown at an amazing speed during the last two months, but my Spanish of sixty-four days has a very difficult time comprehending the meaning of someone else speaking the Spanish they were born to. Every day is a reminder that I am different.

I often tell people here that every Friday I have English class and sometimes a test, but each day is a test in Spanish for me. A test of understanding. A test of speaking. A test for my courage and self worth. I can no longer depend on excellent scores in school, not even if I do everything I can to pass. Right now, that’s just not a reasonable expectation. To realize this, is to lose a significant part of what I have previously thought of as who I am – a person largely defined by what I could accomplish.

In the past, I had often shut myself away from other people by choice, but no longer. Now my isolation is born from my inability to communicate anything of real weight even if I wanted to. After two months of being surrounded by a foreign language, I can understand more of what people around me are saying, but am severely handicapped in my capacity to respond, not only by my pea – sized vocabulary, but by the insecurity which that tiny vocabulary produces. Before, I may have been concerned with saying something wrong in English, but now  in Spanish, the inhibition to express myself is far greater. Life for me here can change just as easily as the fickle weather in New England, all because of the words.

At school I may be laughing with friends over a hilarious joke, which we can all share, and five minutes later be turning my face away and hoping no one will notice the tears threatening to spill down my cheeks. Why the dramatic change? The words I didn’t understand. I might have copied down everything my teacher wrote on the board, and even attempted to read and understand some of those notes, only to be able to write nothing more on the test than my name, my class, and the date. What caused this to happen to a student such as I, with a record of A’s and B’s behind me? The words of a language I don’t fully understand.

The separation caused by these irritating unknown words is a unique situation to be in. Nearly every moment I am conscious of a determined mist that forces itself between myself and others, a fog that rolls in every morning, thick and seemingly impenetrable, reluctantly retreating each night with the quiet of my English speaking brain, but when I wake up again, the fog returns, looking as unforgiving as ever. The encouraging characteristic about fog is that sunshine has a way of making it disappear.  It does, however, take time to dissipate.

I have long stories to tell around single Spanish words and startling experiences of being rescued again and again by God in this struggle to learn. But the daily miracle, the silent growth in my brain of learning a new way of communicating with others is so quiet and unobtrusive, I usually don’t realize that it’s happening at all; it’s like the coming of the dawn.  New words distinguish themselves to me daily.  The fog is disappearing. I’m already getting excited for the day when I can walk into the church, the school, the circle of friends in conversation, and find that the fog is gone, and in its place is all sunshine.

Emily Merwin

Written in 2010 from Chile

Mission Service

I was blessed to serve as a missionary over the past 4 years in Palau. The experience is one that taught me so much, not only about myself but about the world I interact with. Without a doubt, each year of service has increased my appreciation for the faith that I have, learning, and people.

It’s interesting, because I know the mentality we often have as we go to serve is that we’re going to change the world! After all, the Gospel Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) fills us with the spark and the power to go out there and really make a big difference for the sake of God’s kingdom. But for me, and for many missionaries alike, we find that the biggest differences are made in ourselves.

By interacting with the native people of Palau, I found a family among a people I never expected. Their love changed me, and only made me want to serve in more ways and better ways than I had from year to year. To be honest, the simple appreciation for people, people different than myself, wasn’t something I really had until I came out to Palau the first time. Palau has been a part of my life for the past 9 years, and that appreciation for them and for others continues to grow.

I learned many things in my time as a missionary, namely the purpose of service. I always thought it was always just about us trying to make the biggest difference and get the good news of Christ out into the world as quickly as possible so Jesus could return. While that is of course a big part of it, I’ve come to believe that God blesses us with the privilege of service as a benefit to us as well.

It might sound confusing, but telling someone about Jesus and serving like Jesus aren’t the same thing. In other words, we may not be accomplishing all that we think we are when we simply “tell” someone about Jesus and His love for them. We know that in terms of communication, the words that are spoken are worth the least, and the language of the body tells 90% of the story.

When it comes to Christianity, the Gospel in word is only useful if the Gospel in deed and action is revealed. That’s where the true power of the Gospel is. If all we do is tell people that Jesus loves them but never show them that He does, we’re actually doing more harm than good.

It’s a great cycle: our service shows others that we truly believe in what we say, while helping us to appreciate others more, and we continue to serve. Our service increases, and the evidence for what we believe and Who we believe in increases.

That’s why service is so important. It’s the link that makes the story we tell from our mouths believable, it’s the link that reveals the truth of a God who loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for us, and it’s the link that makes this God worth living and serving for.

My encouragement to everyone is to choose to serve. In any way, whether overseas for a year or two or in the opportunities that come up in the day to day – choose to serve. It’s what it really means to be like Jesus, and it’s the one thing that can change the minds of the unbelievers, and fortify the minds and resolve of the believers.

Corey Johnson

I served as a missionary for 5 years. The first taste of mission service was after I graduated from Southern Adventist University in 2010 and returned for 4 consecutive years from 2015-2019. I have finished my time in Palau (for now) and am heading to Andrews University to work on the Masters of Divinity, as I plan to pursue military chaplaincy.

God Provides

Brum-brum. Brrrrrrum. Scre-e-eech. Hiss! A large truck carrying the massive pressed-block machine stopped at 1 a.m. on our narrow road in Phnom Penh to begin what would turn into several hours of unloading. The middle of the night is the only time they make big deliveries here because traffic is too heavy for trucks during the day. Thank you to everyone who united to give our project this gift! The quality building blocks from this machine will be an invaluable boost to God’s work in Cambodia. After two years of traveling and fundraising and almost a year living in houses that didn’t keep out rain or insects, we are looking forward to using some of the first blocks to build a place we can call home.

Since we arrived in Cambodia, we have been praying that God would show us exactly where our home should be. There are no for-sale signs or realtors. We just drive around introducing ourselves to strangers and asking if they know of any land for sale in the area. We have been waiting for the rainy season to arrive before seriously looking for land. Places that looked promising before are now deep underwater. The few hills are occupied with Buddhist shrines and temples.

With Stephanie’s mom, Jan Roberts, here for a visit, we decided to spend the day property hunting. We drove past miles and miles of rice fields flooded 10 feet deep. By afternoon we were hungry and discouraged. We pulled to the side of the road to say a desperate prayer: “God, You have led us so clearly over the last few years and brought us here from so far away. Please bring us the last few steps.”

After a few more minutes of driving, we noticed we had left the floods behind, and the land was sloping gently upward. We turned onto a long driveway and spotted a foundation for a large building that had never been finished. Mom suggested we inquire with the nearest neighbors. They kindly left their chores and made us feel at home. The grandma had the sweetest smile and a bubbling laugh. Grandpa told us he felt as if he were in a dream. It was the honor of a lifetime that we had stopped by so he could meet us and be our friend.

He told us the land was not for sale. The foundation had been for a school, but construction was halted because there were already enough schools in the area. He said if we wanted to buy land, there were two long lots for sale across the street with more than 100 mango trees, dozens of coconut trees, rubber trees, good ground water and a house that had been abandoned for several years.

Grandpa took us by the hand and led us on a tour of the property. It is 10 beautiful acres, long enough that we can build at the back where the noise from the road is muted. The surrounding properties are covered with trees, too. The soil is sandy and ideal for making blocks. We could fix up the abandoned house and live in it while we build a new house. Later the old house could be renovated for use as a clinic, school and church.

The owners and the neighbors know we are Christians, and they are happy for us to come. We shared about how we teach people about healthy living, and they exclaimed that they had heard of us and what a great help we had been to other people. They said they had even tried three times to find us themselves. They commented about wanting their children to learn English. They told us that three Chinese people and two Cambodians had tried to buy the land recently, but they decided not to sell to them because they didn’t want to risk having loud Buddhist festivals, drinking or a pig farm next door. They are willing to sell the land to us for less than they have been offered, and they said they will pray that we become neighbors. “If Allah helps you become my neighbor, then I will quit smoking,” the owner promised.

There are a hundred other blessings we don’t have room to mention here. The land is central to three of the villages in which we will be working. It is surrounded by hundreds of mosques in every direction that represent the people God has called us to reach. A few minutes away, there is an all-girls Muslim boarding school that draws more than 1,000 students from all over the province. We might be able to volunteer there. And the land never floods!

In His own timing, often at the last minute, God likes to show us His plans that are more beautiful than we can imagine. This is what prayer will do. And we feel the power of more prayers than just our own. Thank you!

We have put a small deposit on the land, and now we need to raise funds to purchase it. The price stretches our budget just a little, so any extra gifts towards our housing fund are greatly appreciated. The size of the land also means that we can share it with our missionary partners, Carly and Eric Tirado, who plan to launch this fall.

We thank God in advance for providing a pleasant, peaceful, permanent base for many years of mission service.

Joshua and Stephanie Lewis

Adventist Frontier Missions

To read more of their story visit their website at https://afmonline.org/missionaries/detail/4329?fbclid=IwAR3MfWplUxxKPel-C1Y-vLSzo6rCFSq68J-CkCrdhjGsWVKMcBLDZhiKbds

A Plus Z Equals One

It has been said, “Behind any great man, there is a woman rolling her eyes.” There is humor and validity to this statement. However, a better saying goes, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” In the Bible we read a good amount about the apostle Peter, and we find him to be a confident, arrogant and zealous man. He is passionate about everything he does, recklessly pursuing what he believes to be right in that moment. A little known fact about this bombastic and influential apostle is that he was married. There is no mention of his wife in the Bible, and we only know that he was married because of the story of Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law. Perhaps Peter’s wife had died, but regardless we can imagine what she would have thought about Peter’s life and eventual ministry. One would hope that her love language was not quality time, as I’m sure Peter could give little of that. Nevertheless, I imagine Peter and his wife being complete opposites, one a determined game-changing disciple, the other a quite and unknown biblical character. In the book of Genesis, Moses writes that a man will leave his mother and father, join together with his wife and they will become one. The amazing part about this is, how do two people become one when their approach to life is entirely opposite. We can almost imagine how different Peter and his wife might have been, yet at the same time, they were one. How can two different personalities, extrovert and introvert, come together and be one?

About two years ago, I married my dear wife, Lindsey. I met her at summer camp in the flat, northern state of Michigan. She was great with the kids, a profound thinker, superb conversationalist and had a pleasant smile. I was immediately smitten by her green eyes and long, thick brown hair. We dated a few years and are now happily married. We are one. Yet, fundamentally we are different, different perspectives, different upbringings and different personalities. I am an extrovert, she is an introvert. To me the weekends mean a chance to see, talk and meet as many people as possible. To her the weekends mean a time to rest, self-reflect, and perhaps recharge with a select few or by herself in nature. Despite these differences, we are still one.

Without a doubt we are still on a journey. However, we have found that these differences are not ones that should or will tear us apart but ones that will strengthen our marriage. To be honest, I am not a romantic by nature. My good friend on his first date, bought flowers, did a scavenger hunt, cooked a few meals, wrote letters on sheets of papyrus, (where does one even find papyrus?) played her some music, read her a poem, it was endless and all this just on the first date. He was telling me this after I had a candle making date with my wife. I felt like my date was pretty lame after hearing his story. But Lindsey came up to me, sweet as she is, “Moses, Moses, yes Eddy had an overly romantic first date, but I love you and what you do, and even the little things mean the world to me coming from you.” So that is my journey, finding the little things that I can do to light up her world.

How does one balance extroversion and introversion, and how can that possibly build a marriage up? For starters, had we both been extremely extroverted, getting to know each other would have been more difficult, since we would have found more energy spending time with a multiplicity of people. Had we both been intrinsically introverted, I could see us encouraging each other to continuously be with less and less people. I am not saying this is bad, it is just not something I would enjoy. In short, she is a perfect balance to making our marriage work.

When I say balance, I imply that there is potential to be out of balance. The book of Proverbs, chapter eighteen, gives wisdom when it says, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding but only in expressing his opinion,” again it says “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:2,13 ESV). Keeping Lindsey guessing as to what I feel in the moment does not help us grow, neither does it help if I give all my opinions without understanding her point of view. I know for me the hardest part is if I have something I want to do, such as go to a gathering or attend a certain event, it is hard to redirect my focus and understand what Lindsey is saying. An even harder and important step is, after listening to her request, finding how to change my mindset so that I enjoy the choice we make. What I mean is, if I wanted to go somewhere, but decided to stay home with her, being grumpy the whole time does not make me a good husband. This process is all about how to listen, understand and be content.

The idea is not about keeping score. Keeping a running list of all the times I chose Lindsey’s idea undermines the whole joy in bringing two opposites together. The times we choose something we did not initially desire, should be looked at as positive new experiences, challenges to step out of our comfort zones. Our marriage is not about compromising who God made us to be, it is not about shaming each other for being different, it is about fully celebrating our God given personalities. No, it is not always a walk in a rose garden, but marriage is a journey and being with Lindsey has made this journey fundamentally richer. We may have opposite personalities, but we are one. If only one person is giving, the cycle of love in a relationship is broken. Because I love Lindsey, I learn more everyday how to choose options in life that make her happy. Because she loves me, she does the same. If she is the only one choosing to do things that make me happy, the cycle is broken and the marriage becomes stagnant. Love gives and gives again, a vibrant marriage is dependent on both parties giving love.

Peter and his wife had their differences, yet they were one. My wife and I have our differences, yet we are one. I am imperfect and this means my marriage is not perfect as well. God shows me new revelations of what love means all the time. Lindsey is patient with me on a daily basis. Her character and love make life better. Her opposite personality makes the relationship come alive, it is to be celebrated. When I listen, understand and find contentment, I see more and more how two opposite personalities, extrovert and introvert, can come together and form a vibrant marriage experience.

Moses Maier

When God Gives, It Pours

When God gives, it’s pours. “A life of service is a life of joy.”

God is so generous to us, and when we live in His services, we will experience countless blessings. This is what I’ve been learning through my recent experiences as a nurse missionary in the Masai Mara of Kenya.

Some people think it is hard to be a missionary: to leave your family and friends behind and go serve. To give up being paid in the United States, to sacrifice maybe cleanliness, or favorite foods, to give up luxury to live in the footsteps of other people groups and cultures.

I know there are challenges to being a missionary. I know there are sacrifices that must be paid. But I think time and time again, when you choose to follow God and serve where He wants you— the blessings far outweigh any “sacrifices” you might make. You can never out-give God. So when you start being generous with your money, your time, your relationships— the blessings just keep accumulating.

There are many ways to give and be a missionary. You don’t have to go overseas to represent Jesus and choose to live a life that witnesses about His love. Sometimes it is even harder to be a missionary in the states than it is overseas. When you are overseas, people recognize your work. People tell you “thank you for your service” or “good job”; sometimes you see the results of your labor quicker.

But when you are in America, sometimes the little things you try to do can get overlooked. It can get easy to get burnt out doing the sometimes mundane jobs of daily living. For me it is even hard to love each patient in the hospital when there are so many needs and so high expectations of nurses in the states.

No matter where you are working or living, whether God calls you to serve your neighbor or parents or a culture overseas, when we choose to love others and give to God we will experience more love and blessings ourselves. Sometimes our current work, or situations may be difficult and it may be hard to be faithful and make the right decisions. But God is watching us from above with love, and He will richly bless us for our service for Him. I just want to encourage you that no matter where you are in the world, and whatever work you are doing for God, not to give up. That God is faithful. He is stronger than anything the enemy can throw at us; and He will constantly provide for us- His children.

Colossians 1: 9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.

*Written by Brooke Bernhardt. Read more about her journey in Kenya at beautiful-journey.com

To Everything There Is a Season

For most of the US, spring is either here or rapidly approaching. The air is slowly getting warmer, the daylight hours are longer and trees are budding and wildflowers are showing off their colors.  As a farmer, spring signals the start of a new season, winter crops are producing well but won’t last much longer. Summer crops need seeded, spring crops need transplanted, strawberries need weeding and the list goes on. At times like these,  it’s easy to get overwhelmed as everything needed to be done yesterday and new jobs keep coming up. Life is like farming; there are bills to pay, a home to clean, a car to maintain, a yard to mow etc. However, with all that goes on in our busy lives, we don’t have to be worried or stressed out because God’s children can trust everything happens in due season.

Let’s take a look at Genesis 1. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 ESV). Think about that. God had a huge task ahead of him, and He made a plan and followed through every step of the way.  Looking at the Creation Week, we see order: light illuminated the dark space, God separated the land from the water, then came the plant life, sea life and birds and animals. When all this was done, God said “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26).  After everything was ready and in its place, God created His final masterpiece for the week: man. And after a time, He created out of man a companion – woman. Everything God did, He did with purpose and forethought; nothing was left to spur of the moment decisions.

The Bible says that everything has its own season. “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV). None of us went from toddlers to adults over night, or skipped over college to walk across the stage to get our diploma without putting in the work.  If you have ever planted a garden or watched a deciduous tree go through the seasons of the year then you know that nature takes its time and never hurries. There is no instant gratification in nature. Planting a little seed in the ground, one wonders how it will ever survive to grow and produce fruit, let alone send up a tiny sprout, but it does. The very act of burying that seed in the ground allows for biological changes to happen that could never happen properly,  if the seed were left on top of the ground. The growth that the little seedling endures through each stage of life, prepares it for the next step.

In nature, all good things take time and it’s worth the wait till it’s ready. When life bogs us down, maybe it’s time to remember that we might be in the stage where “the seed” is underground and a growing process has just begun. While we are waiting for the “seeds” to grow, let’s keep watering them with the Word, keeping our face to the Son. “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:6).

 

Seth Shaffer

Generation of Youth for Christ Post-Conference Reflection

Some have described GYC as a conference, while others have classified it more as a movement. The difference between these two is if the impact has lasted throughout the year.  According to the post-conference statistics, it seems that GYC is a year-round movement, not just a once-a-year event.

During outreach in Houston, TX, donations were collected for the cause of helping local refugees.  After the GYC Conference, the donation items collected were sorted into kits and distributed to local refugees families. These refugee kits included 73 cleaning kits, 96 family care kits, and 114 hygiene kits. Additionally, pop-up health clinics conducted short seminars and blood pressure screenings. The majority of the attending refugees hailed from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China. Post-conference work also included canvassing for Bible studies, in which 189 doors yielded 19 new individuals interested in learning about God’s Will for their life.

“I’ve had the opportunity to lead an outreach bus twice, and each time, I was surprised how quickly the time went.  From start to finish, the whole thing was incredibly fast and high energy,” stated Gregory Church, a Community and International Development Major from Andrews University and volunteer Bible study canvasser. “Thankfully, Jesus is already inside each house. He’s been there with them through thick and thin, and has asked you to play a role in the process.”

Alongside the various GYC chapters around the world, the continual development and lasting impact of the outreach programs are what cement GYC as a movement, rather than simply a conference. It is not an authority that points young people towards mission fields. Generation of Youth for Christ is service-minded young people coming together to learn more and serve in the best of their abilities.

 

Konner Dent

To the End – Re-cap

At the cusp of the new year 3,144 young Seventh-day Adventists gathered for GYC 2018. Under the banner “To The End”, like-minded individuals from a diverse collective of countries, colleges, and upbringings met to share ideas, cultivate networks, and take Christ’s Great Commission to their world. “Jesus had a vision that every young person become a spirit-filled missionary to the end,” stated Gary Blanchard at the conference’s beginning. 

For GYC as a movement, this spirit-filled mission work means Iceland. Currently, the Adventist population of Iceland floats in the 500s, and while SDA ministerial efforts date back to the late 1800s, the country’s secular majority and imposed Lutheran history has always made it a difficult audience to reach. While the mission trip is scheduled for the summer of 2019, the preparation began during the Monday even plenary, with VP of Missions Jonathan Walter, who flew out from GYC to knock on the first door, live-streaming the event with 2,520 listening conference attendees. 

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Of course, this is GYC. Mission work is par for the course. By now, the outreach numbers
have been announced all over, with 32 buses, 11,058 doors knocked on, and 19,643 GLOW tracts handed out by over 1,600 attendees, with blessings not just limited to those inside the homes. “As a bus leader, I got to meet so many new faces who got on the bus looking tired or gloomy or nervous, and then less than four hours later returned to the bus rejuvenated and ready for action!” reflected Jacob Martin, a Senior Biology major at Southern Adventist University. “The energy on my bus was electrifying, and I was so thankful for the opportunity to serve in this way.” Sunday’s outreach yielded 584 requests for Bible Studies, (350 in English and 217 in Spanish), with 17 requests by refugee families in Arabic, Dari, Farsi, Mandarin, Swahili, Urdu, Cantonese, Pashto, and Twi. And that doesn’t even include the impact made by GYC’s post-conference follow-up. Additionally, over one-hundred homes indicated refugee status, and requested kits for cleaning, hygiene, and family help, as well as English language and citizenship classes. “Every single refugee care kit delivered during post-conference were met by the donations garnered in affluent neighborhoods from outreach day.” reflected Tara Vang, VP of Evangelism. “God is good!”

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Which ends with the conference itself. Activate small group sessions provided a launchpad for participants to take evangelism and sacrificial initiative, the essence of GYC, above and beyond the conference. The prayer room and multiple seminars were filled to room capacity, while the plenary events were streamed online and on 3ABN, as well as translated live into Spanish for 3ABN Latino and interpreted for ASL participants. “What excited me the most were the different speakers that we were able to bring in, a very diverse and unique group, who might not be the most popular within Adventism currently, but have really important things to share and say,” VP of Programming RD Gallant reflected. “For all ages. I think GYC has an awesome opportunity, demonstrating how we should be handling discussions and issues and controversies within the Adventist Church. There is so much in this world that could be potentially distracting from our mission and purpose as Seventh-day Adventists, and a return to a real, living relationship with God – a revive of primitive Godliness – is what will help in solving our problems.” To quote Michael Goetz’s final morning message, “If we stop to fix and get everything we think should be right, we will miss out on what we are called to do.”

 

-Konner Dent is a freelance writer and licensed chef from Southwest Michigan

-Photo credits to GYC ECOM members

To Activate an Army

It was 2010, and I was in the midst of an associate’s degree in Graphic Design at my local community college. Each week I had a four-hour lab for one of my design classes which basically consisted of sitting in a Mac computer lab working on a variety of projects. Next to me sat Josh. I can’t remember all the details, but I know Josh wasn’t the religious type. I think he had grown up with a minimal Christian background but had ultimately rejected it all for the party lifestyle. Each new week as we sat in class, he would share how he had been wiped out that weekend getting drunk, clubbing, and watching the latest movies. Each new week I’d listen with little to comment on, wondering if we had anything in common at all besides this class. He wondered the same and mentioned that I really wasn’t into anything he considered fun.

“With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world!”

For over a decade, GYC has referred to this statement from Evangelism, p.271 as one of the primary motivations for our existence. Few have bothered finding the preceding paragraphs to understand what exactly these workers are supposed to do.

“He who knows the depths of the world’s misery and despair, knows by what means to bring relief. He sees on every hand souls in darkness, bowed down with sin and sorrow and pain… …The burden of labor for these needy ones in the rough places of the earth Christ lays upon those who can feel for the ignorant and for such as are out of the way. He will be present to help those whose hearts are susceptible to pity, though their hands may be rough and unskilled.”

What is the work to be done? It is serving those in misery and despair, ministering to all who are bowed down with sin and sorrow and pain.

Then, we come to the paragraph just preceding the “army of workers.” It says:

“There is no line of work in which it is possible for the youth to receive greater benefit. All who engage in ministry are God’s helping hand. They are co-workers with the angels; rather, they are the human agencies through whom the angels accomplish their mission. Angels speak through their voices, and work by their hands. And the human workers, co-operating with heavenly agencies, have the benefit of their education and experience.”

What is ministry? Sometimes we have the idea that ministry is door-knocking, canvassing, Bible work, and public evangelism through Daniel and Revelation seminars. While these are all true, such a perspective is far too narrow.

One day, Josh decided to take a smoke break during one of our four-hour labs. I don’t remember how or why I ended up outside as well, but as I exited the building he stopped me to chat. He shared how weird it was that we had almost nothing in common, and yet even though he had the fun, party lifestyle, he felt like it was hollow, meaningless, and his life had no purpose. Yet he was confused that I didn’t do anything he considered “fun” like that, yet always seemed to have a sense of happy meaning and purpose to life. It just didn’t make sense to him. At that moment, I had the opportunity to stumble through sharing with Josh how God was the source of that meaning and purpose, and how without knowing God personally, I too had once sensed the same hollow, meaninglessness in my own life. I don’t think I ever had another spiritual conversation with Josh, and he never really had enough interest to study the Bible, but I know God placed me there right next to him for four hours a week at that point in our lives. That was ministry.

All around us, people are suffering. Some may suffer from physical needs, circumstances, or sickness. Many of them have a deeper hurt, however, a dull persistent ache for something more. I suspect most of us have also known it at some point. As we read above though, the question for us is: Do you feel for those who are out of the way? Are you willing to co-work with angels?

This year, I believe God has a calling for your life that is more than just a cookie-cutter approach to ministry. It may involve some tried-and-true methods, don’t get me wrong, but I believe we all have the opportunity to take that calling beyond just a career, interest, or hobby. For this reason, as part of GYC Beyond, we have published a workbook and are hosting a workshop every participant at GYC will get the opportunity to go through entitled “Activate – Find Your Calling, Fuel Your Passion, Fulfill Your Dreams.” It is our hope and prayer that as you go through this experience, God will guide you to find ways to serve him through your calling, passion, and dreams.

See you there!

Eric Louw
VP of Networking
GYC

40 Days of Prayer

We are living at the end of time. Our world seems more than ever divided, angry, violent, and even hopeless. The signs the Bible foretold in the books of Daniel and Revelation especially are being fulfilled in rapid pace. There is no more prophetic time left, we are living on borrowed time. But how are we to live as young Seventh-day Adventists in such challenging days? What is our most important work? What practical lessons does the Bible gives us to navigate through such solemn times as these?

1. Repent

As young people living at the knife edge of time, the Bible calls us to complete surrender and dependence on God. The Bible says in 2 Chronicles 7: 14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Whether you consider yourself a liberal, a moderate, or a conservative, we are all sinners in desperate need of an all mighty Savior. God’s people at the end of time are going to be characterized by their meekness and relentless surrender to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through the grace of God, we must learn now to have a genuine sorrow and hate for sin and a desire to reform – not for our glory but God’s glory. Before we blame a person, an idea, or an organization for the woe in the world, we must first look at ourselves in the mirror, our social media posting, our iTunes playlist, our friends, the words that we say about other people who do not think or look like us. It is often said that we recognize more quickly the faults in others that we struggle with ourselves. There is a reason that some of the first words spoken by John Baptist and Jesus where “Repent”. This is a matter of urgency and it is okay to submit to God and His Word and to renounce our sinful ways.

2. Become Biblically Literate

Secondly, we must be students of Scripture. A youth director was once quizzing some of is youth about their Bible knowledge, and asked them to give him about three verses supporting the Sabbath teaching. None of them could. One even tried using John 3:16. That is a wonderful verse, but the connection to the Sabbath doctrine might require some spiritual gymnastics. Most likely, that verse was the only verse he knew from memory. What is interesting to note is that most of these young people that participated in this exercise had been attending church most of their lives. But before we point a finger at them, how many of us can defend half of our 28 fundamentals doctrines using two verses for each or name the Ten Commandments in order from memory. The Bible says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You” (Psalms 119:11). Living at end of time, Satan knows that he has but a short time and is doing whatever he can to distract us and overwhelm with temptation and despair. He wants to destroy us. We might have all knowledge of the world but if we don’t know God’s word, we will be swept under a current of error. If we do not study, God’s word will not be hidden in our hearts now and we will separate ourselves not only from one another, but ultimately from God. But the more we earnestly study scripture the more loving we become, the more Christlike we shall be. Sister White concludes, “A true knowledge of the Bible can be gained only through the aid of that Spirit by whom the word was given. And in order to gain this knowledge we must live by it. All that God’s word commands, we are to obey. All that it promises, we may claim. The life which it enjoins is the life that, through its power, we are to live” (Education, page 190).

3. Be All In

Lastly, we must be resolute in our decision to follow Christ and His remnant movement to the end–even if it is not popular. We are often told to consider how to be relevant to society. This can be helpful. But more importantly we should ask ourselves: are we relevant to God? God is going to finish this work with or without us. God’s movement is the movement that will end all movements, and it does not get more relevant than that. And He has called you and I to be a part of His church – His Bride. We have a choice. But the Bible warns us that joining God’s prophetic movement will set you up on a collision course with the world. Jesus said:

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17: 14-17).

The closer we come to Christ the more we shall be tested on these points. If the world hung Him on a tree, why should we expect any less? We must ask ourselves, Who do we serve? Am I willing to stand for truth though the heaven falls? Is my identity in Christ more valuable to me than my identity in the world? Such a resolute stand for Christ can only be aided by the power of prayer. Jesus himself spent much time in prayer (John 17). When he faced the cross, He was seen in prayer in the garden. Such is our example of faithfulness in the last days. If Jesus needed to pray, how much more do we? This is why at this GYC, we want to make prayer a central focus of our conference. We want to surrender, claim God’s promises, and be faithful till the end. We want to dare ourselves as youth to take sacrificial initiatives for Christ. Hence, to set the spiritual tone of our conference, we want to invite you to join us for 40 days of prayer leading up to GYC. We will begin on November 17. We will claim a Bible promise and a theme for each day. Once at the conference, we will gather together from all four corners of the world in the prayer room early Sabbath morning and every morning at GYC, seek God’s face together, and see what He can do when His people who are called by His name shall humble themselves and seek His face.

 

 

 

Moise Ratsara
President // GYC
Joshua 1:9