NAD Youth Ministries Hosts First
World Prayer Conference
BY KRISTINA PASCUAL, assistant communication director, Texas Conference*
ore than 5,000 young adult delegates from the United States and 42 other countries attended Just Claim It (JCI), the first North American Division (NAD) World Youth Prayer Conference, held February 28–March 4, in Dallas, Texas. The crowd swelled to some 12,000 on Sabbath.
Along with worship services and drama productions in the main hall of the Dallas Convention Center, delegates took advantage of the more than 225 workshops offered throughout the four-day event. The options ranged from puppet and clown ministries to youth ministries development, family issues, and relationships.
|YOUTH LEADERS: Baraka Muganda (front/right), world Youth director for the Adventist Church, presented youth leaders from around the world to the congregation during JCI. [Gerry Chudleigh]
Those who chose the clown ministries workshop visited the Martin Luther King Jr Child Care Group Center and performed their first show, consisting of songs, skits, and moral lessons. The puppet team communicated lessons about making right decisions, being patient, the importance of perseverance, and demonstrating kindness to young children.
“[Puppet ministry] breaks down barriers and allows people to open up and share,” said attendee Brenda Overstreet of Amarillo, Texas.
Darriel Hoy of the Baltimore, Maryland, Adventist Community Services led out in a workshop that focused on homelessness. Participants prepared care packages containing mostly hygiene products such as soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and face towels. They then visited Dallas’s Union Gospel Mission homeless shelter, and volunteered their time to clear out cluttered areas to gain much needed space.
“There is true enthusiasm in doing God’s work by helping the community,” said Daniel Stoppelmoor from the Tampa First church in Florida.
Some of the young conference delegates arrived in Dallas a few days before JCI began in order to participate in Just Make Overs, a program designed to assist low-income homeowners with outdoor home repairs. Footprints Youth and Family Resource Center, a local Dallas faith- and community service-based, nonprofit organization, played an integral part in connecting World Vision and the Seventh-day Adventist Church for this project. Led by Diana Tyler, executive director and founder, Footprints partners with other organizations in Dallas to perform community projects. World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization whose stated mission is “helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty.”
“We are very enthusiastic about the relationship we have with Diana and Footprints, and were very excited to help out the Seventh-day Adventist Church with this project,” said Phyllis Freeman, director of World Vision Dallas. “When you do service like this, it’s all about the relationships.”
“If you are a good person you should stand up for your fellow man,” said Joseph Adante of the Filipino Church in Alberta, Canada, and a Just Make Overs participant. “That is what a Christlike character is all about—helping one another.”
Kimberley Newberry of the Quill Lake church in Saskatchewan, Canada, agrees. “Even with our busy schedules in our daily lives, these acts of community service help people and show them about God’s love,” she said.
During JCI’s Sabbath morning program, Baraka Muganda, Youth Ministries director for the world church, led in a celebration of 100 years of Youth Ministries and recognized Adventist youth leaders worldwide for their significant contributions.
|PUPPER MINISTRIES: Mount Pisgah Academy's His Hands Creative Ministries team members pose with their puppets: (from left) Brooke Wade, Cassi Summerville, Cory Maracle, Eshter Steinkraus, and Leydy Reyes. [Rich Herard]
“As we celebrate 100 years, we’ve seen how the Lord has led in this department in preparing young people to meet Jesus Christ, in nurturing young people, discipling them so they can become strong Christians, and providing opportunities for them to participate in the mission of the church,” Muganda said. “These 100 years indeed have led many young people to the cross of Calvary.”
A Sabbath afternoon parade featured floats designed by Pathfinder clubs and academies that depicted biblical books from Genesis to Revelation. A fisherman’s boat on a bicycle, designed by the Ephesus church of Covington, Louisiana, represented the book of Mark. And a float of seven dragonheads, created by the Garland Spanish church in Texas, portrayed the book of Revelation. Marching bands were also part of the event.
The conference climaxed with a dramatization of three young adults who chose to serve God. Bright lazar beams pierced a darkened auditorium, representing the lightning that will shine from the east and the west when Jesus returns to the earth.
“It’s not just about drama,” said James Black, NAD Youth Ministries director. “It’s about trying to get youth to understand and see what’s happening in the great controversy over [their] souls.”
In his closing remarks, Black admonished the youth to “get connected to the Master” and to make prayer and salvation their priorities in life. He also challenged them to continue their good works when they return home.
*Melody Argueta, George Johnson Jr., Roxie Graham-Marski, Patricia Humphrey, and Diane Thurber contributed to this report.
When “I’m Sorry” Isn’t Enough News Commentary
BY AMANDA SAUDER MAGGARD, who writes from Orlando, Florida
A recent court ruling attests that saying “I’m sorry” isn’t always enough.
Forty-two-year-old William Beebe recently pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual battery for an attack on Liz Seccuro in 1984. At that time, Seccuro was a student at the University of Virginia. Beebe assaulted her at a party.
Seccuro says she reported the attack to university officials, but Beebe was never pursued with any charges.
More than 20 years later, Beebe wrote to Seccuro to apologize for his actions. He did this as part of his recovery in the Alcoholics Anonymous program. One of the program’s steps requires alcoholics to apologize to those they may have harmed in the past.
Beebe was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison, with all but 18 months suspended if he completes 500 hours of community service.
Seccuro says she has forgiven Beebe for the attack. She chose, however, to pursue charges because she says an apology is not a substitute for punishment.
According to a poll on American Online,* there is a mix of opinions on the fairness of Beebe’s sentence. Nearly half (47 percent) think the sentence is too lenient, almost as many (44 percent) say that it’s about right, and just a few (9 percent) believe the sentence is too harsh.
A person may apologize and sincerely repent, but harmful behaviors have consequences, especially when they involve an offense as life-altering as sexual assault. Securro says the attack changed her life dramatically and she deserves to see justice served—even if it was 20 years delayed.
Beebe was very courageous to contact Securro and apologize. But Securro also has been courageous in her response by forgiving—and by pursuing justice.