MISSIONARY and OYiM+ GRADUATION APRIL 24, 2021

Written by Grady Yonas, C.A.M.P.U.S. Fellow, East Lansing

On April 24th, 2021, the collaborative program between the General Conference, Lake Union, and Public Campus Ministry Department of the Michigan Conference, One Year in Mission (OYiM+), officially came to an end. The graduation ceremony was held at the University Church, East Lansing, Michigan. Approximately 100 people attended the service, including Eld. Justin Ringstaff, Michigan Conference Executive Secretary and Pr. Jermaine Gayle, University Church Senior Pastor. Both Program Directors of East Lansing and Detroit, Pr. Leeroy Hernandez and Pr. Steven Conway welcomed the attendees and gave a brief overview of the program, then followed by the Fellows and Missionaries sharing their experience.

The keynote speaker was Pr. Israel Ramos, Public Campus Ministry Director of Michigan Conference and Lake Union. In the message he emphasized that the focus of the CAMPUS and OYiM+ is to help young people to be 21st century missionaries by overcoming their fear and indifference.

The program was then followed by handing certificates to the Missionaries, Joi McClellan, Erika Hernandez, and Upuia Fineaso, and the Fellows, Andrew Park, Grady Yonas, and Bamiji Ibironke. Pr. Steven Conway closed the program with benediction upon them.

Despite the unprecedented situation, God tremendously blessed the program. The determination of the three ladies to join and finish the program has inspired many around them.

We want to thank all of you who have faithfully supported this program. Only eternity can tell the impact it’s made. We need missionaries today more than ever. Maranatha.

CAMPUS MISSIONARY BATCH 20

YEAR IN REVIEW SLIDE SHOW

Freedom in Christ, S.O.A.R.

Freedom in Christ, S.O.A.R.

Written by Bamiji Ibronke, Detroit Fellow 20-21

On the morning of March 1910 in Dayton Ohio, The Wright brothers along with their father, Bishop Wright gathered to fly their newly invented aircraft. Though they had flown many times before, this day was different. The Wright brothers had pledged to never fly together in fears that if there was an accident and their lives were lost, the work of completing the aircraft would cease. However, now unhindered, having completed the project they were free to fly together. After the brothers finished their round, Wilbur and his aged father boarded the plane next and began to soar over the Ohio landscape. As they soared through the sky his father leaned over to say one word, “Higher Wilbur, Higher.” 

What if we too, as believers realized our freedom in Christ. What if we found our chains to be broken, our fears dispelled, and the world before us as an open arena to serve God and our fellow men. What if we too aimed higher. 

Last year a small group of Adventist youth sought to do just that. Gathering together early Sunday morning in the basement of a local church, though we all were from diverse backgrounds, shared one thing in common; a desire to experience God on a deeper level and share His love with others. Thus marked the conception of S.O.A.R.

Who: S.O.A.R. (School of the Adventist Remnant) is a group of Adventist youth who seek to do their best in fulfilling their God given mission and purpose to the world in earth’s final days. Driven by God’s grace we seek to learn how we can prepare ourselves and others for Christ second coming. 

What: Meetings are held Sunday mornings and consist of exploring essential Bible topics; Righteousness by Faith, Hermeneutics, and Personal Spirituality to name a few. Service projects are conducted and allow members to grow together and live out their faith. Assignments are also incorporated into the curriculum to challenge members to practice and apply gained knowledge. 

Why: “If God so loved us we also ought to love one another” 1 Jn 4:11

By God’s grace what started as a small group of several members has steadily grown into a broader community. As we look to continue growing this summer, prayers for our ministry would be greatly appreciated. 

“Since I have attended SOAR it has completely changed they way that I view my status in the eyes of GOD. Being raised Adventist I have found that  it’s really easy to become legalistic . During a study of the book of Romans I have begun to truly realize and accept that my Salvation comes by faith in Christ alone by the grace of Christ alone so that no wo(man) may boast. I have truly grown to love our early Sunday morning sessions”. Jasmine Simmons, U of M Dearborn

“I like S.O.A.R  a lot because of the diversity of people. Learning a lot from different people helped me grow and see things differently from the Bible study. Sam Smith, student.

“SOAR has been a revival for me when it comes to bible study. It has pushed me to understand scripture on a deeper and more practical level. The tools I have acquired can be used throughout my life”. Daniel Barnes, Mechanical Engineer

Young Adult Sabbath School

Young Adult Sabbath School

by Joi McClellan, CAMPUS Missionary 20-21

Upuia Fineaso (Detroit Missionary), Rachel Cowell (President of ACF at MSU), Joi McClellan and Erika Hernandez (East Lansing Missionaries), Zo (faithful Uchuch member), Kaitlyn Harris (regularly attending visitor: MSU student)

You might be tossing around that ‘term’ in your head and thinking “Hm, I haven’t heard of that in a while.” In fact, you may not have seen a young adult in your church before the Divine Service since the last time the sweet ladies at church served breakfast. We are known for skipping. You don’t have to rub it in, we’re guilty. And yes, I have lived up to your low expectation. I was a delinquent Sabbath Schooler.

Since entering young adulthood, Sabbath School has never held much intrigue. I felt that most churches did not see its purpose and invested little to nothing in it, and frankly, neither did I. Going away to college, I quickly fell into the habit of being a regular Sabbath School absentee.

As the pandemic broke last spring and everyone was booted out of normalcy, like most other extroverted people in the world, I realized what a great loss this was to community and started searching for long-lost means for creating it. God came through in a most unexpected way. A well-meaning but annoying friend (annoying, that is, because she knew I was not a Sabbath School fan) was convinced that she and I must start a Zoom Sabbath School class. I was not in the least interested.

After reluctantly and barely participating for a couple of weeks, I was dragged further into what I meant to be a theoretical discussion on how to advance the potential of this Zoom class. That discussion quickly changed into a practical and joint execution. My friend and I started brainstorming about the fundamental elements and goals for a Sabbath School, considering resources that could actively plug the growing number of participants into the Word, and ways to build a space for Christ-centered friendship. If we were going to invest in this class, make people wake up and be present early on a Sabbath morning, it must be worthwhile. We wanted a Bible study that could keep us all on the same page, yet something with ample space to dive directly and actively into the Word. The topics needed to be straightforwardly relevant to our currently off-kilter lives. The newly minted General Conference InVerse Bible lessons were the perfect fit. 

Young Adult Sabbath School at the University Church

From March through the entire summer, there was a consistent, large, and geographically diverse Sabbath School group made of Adventist and non-Adventist students and young professionals alike. Being a part of this class I began to see the potential of what a young adult Sabbath School community, digging into the Word could produce. Organically, a vibrant Bible-centered community was birthed and each person was fully engaged and practically challenged. 

Fast forward to August. The first weekend I arrived at CAMPUS in East Lansing, I attended my final Zoom young adult class. I had not realized how much my heart had been changed to love and value Sabbath School, and now found myself eager to engage in the Sabbath School in this new community. To my surprise, however, I found that the University Church did not currently have a young adult class. It did not take long for one of the CAMPUS fellows, Grady Yonas, and I to put our heads together, pray, and seek the steps necessary to start a safe, in-person young adult class.

Throughout the last eight months, the young adult class has been running, mostly in-person, but for phases of time on Zoom during holidays and lockdowns. There have been lulls and highs, but overall the class has experienced more consistency than I could have expected. There are non-Adventist young adults who come and participate— some who only come to church for Sabbath School and have only stepped into the Divine Service twice. In fact, the commitment has been the highest among those without an Adventist background. 

The fundamental goals for this class have been similar to but further built upon what was done over Zoom. Our goals have been to maintain a discussion-based Bible study in which each person is engaged. Engagement is not based on whether a person has previously studied the Sabbath School lesson or not, but a study in which we together learn practical hermeneutical approaches to the Bible and walk away with not only theoretical but applicable lessons. In addition to Bible study, it has been our goal to see those who study together grow closer as a spiritual community that goes outside of the Sabbath School hour. Though every goal has not been reached perfectly, as leaders, we constantly and prayerfully reevaluate to further grow. 

Personally, being a facilitator for this Sabbath School class has challenged my spiritual commitment and deepened my passion for studying the Word within community— not relying on someone’s pre-chewed exposition of the Word but digging into it, learning directly from the text and discovering together.  By the kindness of God, He has taken me from being a dispassionate Sabbath schooler and has made me useful in a most unlikely area of His work.

A Quest for God

A Quest for God

by Anthony Petroff, Lansing Community College Student

My name is Anthony Petroff, I currently go to Lansing Community College, and I am studying Computer Networking and Cybersecurity. I currently live, and was born and raised, in East Lansing, Michigan. Getting to know Christ and His word has been a long journey for me, but a fulfilling one. Unlike many of my friends, I was not born and raised in a Christian household. My parents both adopted an agnostic but quasi-spiritual worldview after they both had terrible experiences with abuse and shunning from different Christian groups. They taught me this worldview when I was young, along with an anti-Christian sentiment. As I grew up they had pressed onto me that Christianity was nothing more than a scam to take money from those that were too stupid to know any better, that it was a means to comfort and control people, an “opiate of the masses.”

Yet as I grew into my early teens, I began to question the validity of their words. As I entered high school and met and became friends with several Christians, I started to wonder about what I had been told growing up? Were my friends really evil or being taken advantage of like my family stated? Was Christianity exactly like my parents had claimed it to be? At the same time, I found myself going through what felt like a crisis. All around me I saw senseless suffering. To everyone I knew, suffering was the baseline of their life, any joy or satisfaction seemed to be the exception, not the rule. In my own life, I could not help but feel unsatisfied, as if something wasn’t right, or that I was missing something. Every experience I chased after couldn’t fill this hole in my chest, only at best distract me from it for a time. What was I missing? What was the point of it all? Was it all meaningless? All of these thoughts raced around my mind as I went about my ordinary day.

While I was questioning these things, one day a friend of mine invited me to a Christian club that was being started at my school, the “Christian Student Union.” Not wanting to disappoint my friend, I accepted his invitation and went along with him. As I walked in and started talking amongst everyone, I couldn’t help but find myself not taking things seriously. How long did I have to be here to satiate my friend? Would it be too socially awkward if I left now? While I considered how to best escape, the meeting started, and someone lead out in prayer. Not wanting to ostracize myself, I mimicked everyone’s actions and listened along to the prayer. While I did this, I realized that I would need to take the group seriously, if I wanted to confirm whether or not my parent’s claims were valid, to see if Christianity really was what they said it was. As everyone was praying, I prayed that God would reveal himself to me, if He truly existed. 

From that moment on throughout the rest of the meeting, I felt this presence around me, and had this strange experience of being loved by something. After some time, I realized that it must be God reaching out to me. As I sat and listened to the group go over the Bible, and describe the life of Jesus, and the reality of sin and suffering, everything that I had pondered began to make sense. Afterwards, as I grabbed a copy of the Bible and began to read through the New Testament, all of my fears, doubts, and questions were made clear by this overwhelming sense of reason and understanding. It was from that moment on, that I considered myself a Christian, and pursued God in every way I could. 

Although my family was shocked by my revelation and prevented me from going to church, I diligently studied and learned as much as I could about the Bible in my spare time throughout high school. As I transitioned into college, I followed my peers and went to a First Assembly of God church while I was at MSU. It was there that I stumbled upon the SDA’s campus group while I was looking at all of the student groups at MSU’s Sparticipation, an event where all student clubs tried to entice freshmen to join. They caught my eye with a flyer they hung from the bleachers: “$5000 to whoever can point to where in the Bible it states the Sabbath is on Sunday.” This intrigued me, and I felt arrogant enough that I could answer them, thinking about Genesis and other sections I had studied. However, when I went to talk with the members present, I found myself being politely refuted with every argument I brought up, until I was left dumbfounded at the group’s wisdom when it came to the Bible. Although I felt embarrassed for being so thoroughly shown wrong, the group impressed me with their character and knowledge, and I took them up on their offer to meet with them afterwards.

Anthony with ACF Students this past winter

It was from repeated meetings and hangouts with the SDA student group that I slowly became friends with a few of them. As I got to know them, they began to speak to me often about the Sabbath, and the fallible doctrines of other groups. While I got to know them, I made some poor personal choices and fell into a deep depression, and kept my distance from them and everyone else. After a year, I ran into the group again, and spent time with them off and on, as I continued in my studies, not really taking them seriously. However, after a few years, I really started to question my faith, as it had stagnated, and wondered if there was truth to their words. After meeting with them, and taking their words seriously, the Sabbath really started to weigh on my heart. Was it a commandment that I was missing? Is it still something Christians are called to observe? 

It was after several serious studies with one of my friends from SDA UChurch, that I felt convicted in my action of ignoring the Sabbath. After several more meetings with Pastor Jermaine at UChurch, I felt convicted to be baptized into the church, partly because I had never really been properly baptized, and partly as a sign of my commitment to God. Before I was baptized, I felt alone and isolated on MSU’s campus and in East Lansing, but now I have a group of family and friends who support me in life, and in my walk with Christ.

A College Student Is Coming Home. Should The Whole Family Wear Masks?

A College Student Is Coming Home. Should The Whole Family Wear Masks?

Image credit: Sarah Gonzales for NPR

Click here to see the original article from NPR.

Sandy Kretschmer imagines her son Henry returning home from college, dropping his bags and then giving her a big hug. But she knows the reality of this homecoming may be a lot different.

“I’ll probably have a mask on, and he’ll have a mask on when I hug him,” she says.

Henry plans to take a COVID-19 test a few days before he leaves Iowa State University where he’s a junior, and he’ll self-quarantine until he heads home to Chicago.

The Kretschmers are taking these precautions because some family members have underlying conditions that put them at higher risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. Henry’s father has an autoimmune disease, and his 78-year-old grandfather is in hospice care.

Families all across the country are facing a similar dilemma: They want their students home for Thanksgiving, but no one wants the virus to come home with them.

“I want to make sure that I’m not bringing anything home to my parents, and I don’t want them to get sick,” says Brianna Sislo-Schutta, a junior at the University of Minnesota.

Home is just a 20-minute drive from campus, in the suburbs of St. Paul. “That’s why I went to school in my home state,” she says. “I love my family. I love spending time with them.”

In normal years, she would go home often for a meal or a visit. This year she’s forgone the weekend trips home — afraid she might get her parents sick. But Thanksgiving is a hard holiday to miss, which has meant some hard conversations about what the visit might look like.

“As a mother, it’s just gut-wrenching,” says Brianna’s mom, Toni Schutta. “Can I be inside with my child? If so, for how long? Do we have to wear masks?” she asks.

Some students are choosing not to risk it and have decided to stay on campus for the holidays, says Amira Roess, an epidemiologist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

“There are students who are choosing to stay in the dorms because they have family members who are high risk,” she says.

Other experts agree: If a family member is especially vulnerable, the safest option is to celebrate lovingly — but remotely — this year. But for college students and their families who are considering spending Thanksgiving together, here are some precautions you can take to reduce the risk of spreading infections.

Get tested — but don’t rely exclusively on test results

A few colleges are requiring students to get tested before they leave campus and head home.

“It’s kind of like the last phase of our semester,” says Daniel Diermeier, chancellor of Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tenn. He says the exit testing is to make sure that the families and the communities the students are returning to “feel good about their students coming home.”

The State University of New York requires on-campus students to test negative before heading home for the break and Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina just announced the state will send rapid tests to colleges ahead of Thanksgiving. The University of Minnesota, where Brianna Sislo-Schutta is a junior, is also offering free coronavirus testing.

“I know testing isn’t 100%, but it definitely makes it a little less scary for me. I can go home and feel better and have peace of mind,” she says.

But remember a test is just a snapshot of the day it is taken, says Dr. Judy Guzman-Cottrill, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Oregon Health & Science University. “One negative test does not mean that you are home free.” And even if a test is negative, it’s not a guarantee the person taking it is not infected.

She recommends students take another test when they get home, and in the meantime, they should stay masked up after they return home and keep 6 feet away from other family members.

Masks and social distancing may seem like they take all the warmth and humanity out of the holiday, but Guzman-Cottrill says any place where 5% or more COVID-19 tests return positive is a high-risk zone. Before traveling, students and parents should evaluate the rates of infection on campus and the surrounding community.

Not all colleges are offering students testing before they leave for the holidays. The College Crisis Initiative did a random survey of about 100 four-year institutions and found that only eight were offering additional testing to students before the break.

“There’s a sense, at least at some colleges, that once the semester finishes and students leave, it’s not their problem,” says Robert Kelchen, an associate professor of higher education at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. Seton Hall transitioned to online classes this week, amid a rising number COVID-19 cases on campus. The school is encouraging all students to get tested at the university health center before they head home.

Limit your social activities starting now

For colleges that don’t have resources for exit testing, many are encouraging students to essentially lock down before heading out for Thanksgiving.

“If you don’t have testing available, you really have to be cautious starting now to make sure you don’t bring it home,” says Rebecca Smith, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

And remember, “any form of travel involves some amount of risk,” she says. “Just relying on testing alone is not enough.”

There are 13 days until Thanksgiving and the virus’ incubation period ranges from about five to 14 days. “If you were to be exposed any time, starting now, you could be infectious at the time that you go home for Thanksgiving,” Smith says.

Getting tested once doesn’t mean you won’t test positive for the virus a day later, she says. So the best defense for students — and the family planning to welcome them in — is to limit activities to the essentials.

“No parties obviously,” says Smith, and “limit your social circles to only the people in your bubble and keep that bubble small.”

Wear masks, keep your distance and rethink that turkey dinner

Students should stay masked up after they return home, says epidemiologist Guzman-Cottrill.

“The only time they should be removing their mask should be when they are eating and eating in a separate room, I think, is the safest decision, or eating outdoors,” she says.

And while it may seem like this takes the joy out of the holiday, with the virus surging across the country, the extra precautions are worth taking, our experts say.

“The last thing we want is big family gatherings that end up being somebody’s last Thanksgiving,” Smith says.

And there are all sorts of things that you can do outdoors with your family that are safer than meals, says Smith.

“You could play outside, you could play croquet or bocce quite safely. You can play cornhole with your family safely outdoors,” she says.

Outdoor activities are safer because airflow helps dilute the virus, thus reducing the risk of infection.

The Sislo-Schutta family usually gathers with at least 20 friends and family members at their home, but this year it will be just immediate family and they’re planning to do Thanksgiving dinner around the fire pit.

And there will be one more big change this year — they won’t be having a turkey!

“The new plan is to make spinach lasagna,” Brianna’s mom says. “It’s going to be a lasagna Thanksgiving.”

That’s fine with Brianna. “I’m honestly not a huge Thanksgiving food person,” she says. “I just enjoy spending time with my family.”