More Than 300 Adventist Youth 
Go on a ‘Cruise With a Mission’
Medical, dental clinics, good works are trip highlights

BY CASSIE MARTSCHINGCommunication Director, AdventSource, writing from Lincoln, Nebraska
n December 16, 330 Adventists ages 18-35 launched from Tampa, Florida on the first “Cruise with a Mission.” They boarded the ms Veendam, a Holland America Cruise Lines vessel, prepared for a seven-day combination spiritual retreat, mission trip, and vacation.

Cruise with a Mission was created by Ron Whitehead, the director of the Center for Youth Evangelism in Berrien Springs, Michigan. His dream was to connect Adventist young adults from around the world to experience spiritual growth, community, fun, and the joy of service.

The Center for Youth Evangelism is part of the Seventh-day Adventist theological seminary at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. CYE’s mission is to develop and provide the methods, resources, and leadership to train young people in various forms of effective youth evangelism. CYE’s goal is to mentor a movement of Seventh-day Adventist young people committed to letting God change their lives and the world in which they live.

GIFTED HANDS: Dr. Ben Carson is one of the world's most respected neurosurgeons and a devout Seventh-day Adventist. Carson, 56, said he prays for guidance before every surgery. [Photo courtesy Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly/RNS]
MEDICAL TEAM: Susan Gamble, center, visits with a man requiring medical attention. The medical team saw 250 patients in Belize and Guatemala.
The trip brought together young adults from diverse backgrounds, both professionally and geographically. Doctors, students, dentists, communication consultants, pastors, engineers, and more came together from across North America and from as far away as England and United Arab Emirates. Together they experienced spiritual growth through general sessions and small groups, plus a little time for relaxation and reflection. For many, building community was a highlight of the trip.

“I don't think I've ever had the opportunity to grow both personally and spiritually with such a wonderful group,” said Edward Teh from Loma Linda, California. “I consider [people I met on the trip] family now and I didn't think I'd ever have that with any group in such a short amount of time. My soul had an overflowing of the Holy Spirit, and I needed it. As we continue His work, I will look back fondly at our time together and use it as energy, fuel, and passion to move forward in all that I do.”

Young adults were involved in leading all aspects of the trip. “It is encouraging for me as a leader in the church to see the passion that young adults demonstrate whenever we give them the opportunity to lead,” said Manny Cruz, the associate director of young adult ministries for the North American Division and a featured speaker for Cruise with a Mission. “Everything from the programming to the community projects was carried out by young adults.”

This trip also marked the beginning of a new way to do missions. Participants disembarked the ship in Belize and Guatemala to conduct medical and dental clinics, lead vacation bible school, or VBS, programs, and help renovate several parks and schools. To Whitehead’s knowledge, Cruise with a Mission is the world’s only seven-day cruise/mission trip. Other Christian groups have contacted him to help them duplicate the event.

“I loved seeing the joy of the children as they opened over 700 Christmas shoeboxes, the renewed hope of the couple hundred patients who were seen by our medical team, and the tired, satisfied, dirty, painted faces of those who gave local schools a face-lift and shoveled dirt for building new foundations,” said Raewyn Hankins from Berrien Springs, Michigan.

“This event was both personally and professionally satisfying,” Whitehead said. “Young adults are often undervalued for what they can offer the Adventist church and its mission. The secular world values young adults’ talents, opinions, and their felt needs – and that’s what we made an effort to accomplish on Cruise with a Mission. These are spiritually grounded, mission-focused people who want God to use them to change the world.”

The second Cruise with a Mission is scheduled for December 14-21, 2008, departing from Tampa, Florida. The Cruise with a Mission team is putting together an exciting group of speakers, musicians, worship leaders, event planners, and programming experts. Additional information is available online at

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