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.
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
When people meet Andrew Park, his dedication is obvious, especially when it is related to God. Andrew grew up attending the Detroit Korean SDA church, but never made a decision to be baptized. After graduating high school, he enrolled at Michigan State University as a major in Packaging Science, and it was there that God brought him to the point of surrender. It was after finishing his sophomore year at MSU when God interrupted his typical college life with a calling to follow Christ. The work of God in his life is something to be celebrated, but he also recalls the continued journey after he made the decision to follow Christ. See his testimony here
After canvassing the summer after his sophomore year for the summer, he decided to take a year off of school and attend Ouachita Hills College – this provided a more concentrated time to deepen his experience with God. He later served as the president of “Adventist Student Fellowship (ASF) at MSU, and student ministry took place every day. Andrew explained, “Things were getting difficult because there was so much ministry. It came to the point where we were doing a lot of ministry but we were not connecting as a team.” There were multiple small groups during the week, Friday evening CRAVE, sundown vespers on Sabbath with games nights following, and meetings on Sunday. He admits that although he never stopped doing ministry, in his heart he became tired.
God provided a reprieve the next two semesters as he moved to Maryland and Tennessee for major-related internships. During this time, God taught him how to be a Christian without the support of a student ministry. Separation from the Adventist community at MSU created new challenges in his walk with God. He learned the importance of finding accountability. More practically, he suggests, “Find someone that you can talk to about your struggles and your difficulties. People always talk about ministry, yet we struggle with self every day and we need support.” Andrew recounts the faithfulness of God to keep him in the faith.
His advice to student leaders is to invest time in relationship building, and create a safe community to help one another. He concludes,
“We cannot neglect each other; we need to take measures for things to be sustainable. Embrace the fact that we are going to struggle; it will be hard, but this is part of the process. Just because we are a Christian now does not mean that we no longer have difficulties. There are more testimonies to be made and God will constantly work on the areas in our life that need to be renewed. We all have brokenness that God wants to heal, and it is a continual process throughout life. When we have crises or obstacles in our faith, view it as a call from the Great Physician to heal us. Consider Isaiah chapter 61. He came to heal the broken hearted. He wants to set us free, and God will engage in this work as we engage in ministry.”
Andrew Park is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Packaging Science from Michigan State University this summer. He currently serves as the president of GYC and will serve with CAMPUS as a Fellow for the 2020-2021 school year.
As Decontee began her math class at Lansing Community College, she knew it was going to be a difficult class. Along with the growing difficulty was also a desire to be closer to God. Little did she know that God has been preparing for a few years a divine appointment to not only help her with Math but introduce her to a saving relationship with Jesus.
Halee Boughton, CAMPUS Missionary Alumnae ‘17, continued in East Lansing after the MTP program and was instrumental in starting a small group Bible Study at Lansing Community College. She happened to be enrolled in the same math class as Decontee and signed up for the same group study at the beginning of the semester. The two soon became friends and became study partners for their difficult math class. One time when they met, Halee had a book she was reading about a man who went to prison because of his faith. Afterward they continued to talk and Halee invited her to study the Bible together in October of 2019. Decontee enjoyed the studies and Halee invited her to their weekly Bible study on campus, and Decontee began to attend occasionally.
She began to attend regularly and met Pastor Jermaine Gayle in December at one of the last Bible Studies of the semester. He invited her to attend GYC. She opened her schedule and attended. On Sabbath evening, the speaker made a call for those who wanted to give their life to Christ and make a public profession through baptism to come forward. She was thinking about what the speaker said. Two pastors from Michigan were sitting near her when one of them nudged her and said it was okay to go. She stood up and went forward. Pastor Jermaine and his wife Allie joined her at the front to pray.
The time at GYC was life changing, and she began to study with Halee. Every Sabbath Decontee would faithfully attend church bringing her nephews and nieces. She continued the studies twice a week and was eager to be baptized. God was transforming her life. One day she looked at her wardrobe, and decided to get rid of everything and find clothes that were more modest. No one said anything to her about her clothes, but the Holy Spirit had touched her heart. She desired for her love for God to also be revealed in how she lived and even what she wore.
A date was set for her baptism, and Decontee expectantly waiting for the day she could share publicly her love for Jesus. Then the Covid-19 crisis broke out, and the baptism had to be rescheduled. Those disappointed she knew it was just a week away. But then there were restrictions and her baptism had to be postponed. Her heart sank and her grief overflowed in tears.
Decontee expectantly waiting for the day she could share publicly her love for Jesus.
Then on April 11, 2020, she was able to publicly declare her commitment to Christ and be baptized at the University SDA Church in East Lansing. You can watch her testimony below.
It has been a few months now, since the time I was pulled over by the officer, and each time I sit in a police car I am thankful for the opportunity to serve. Having done a few ride alongs I am learning a new culture, my eyes are being open to new needs in my community. My prayers are being answered by a God who cares for and extends grace to me as a Pastor and to those in uniform who work to keep us safe.
CLICK HEREto read the full article published in the Lake Union Herald.
At the North American Division’s Year End Meetings which take place in the fall of each year, delegates made a unanimous decision to include students attending public universities as part of the division’s highest decision making body. During a short, but very powerful report given by the Adventist Christian Fellowship President Lucien Nana-Yobo, a PhD student in geology from the University of Houston, Nana-Yobo made an appeal to the body to include public university students in this committee. One of the delegates from the floor responded to this appeal and made a motion to add 10 new delegates representing public college campuses to the Year End Meetings. The motion passed.
This action follows a similar action which took place previously when students on Adventist college campuses were added to the NAD Executive Committee.
Alanna Knapp has extensive experience in public campus ministry. In 2002, she served CAMPUS as an intern, serving as a missionary at the University of Michigan. Following her internship she served CAMPUS as an Administrative Assistant and Student Network Coordinator. She founded and served as the president of a student organization at Michigan Technological University and led the student group during its strongest years of ministry and fellowship. Now, she is completing her graduate studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. With a vast experience in campus ministry, Alanna is an excellent representative of the more than 75% of Adventist young people who do not study on Adventist college campuses.
This vote by the North American Division is an enormous stepping stone in the work of public campus ministry for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.