Story by Adventist Christian Fellowship and Philadelphia Central Korean church staff
The majority of Adventist young adults—approximately 70 percent by one estimate—do not attend Seventh-day Adventist institutions of higher learning. During the recent Philadelphia Mission Trip event, more than 70 young adults, mostly from the Columbia Union, worked to reach these and other students at Bryn Mawr College, Temple University and Drexel University, schools in the Philadelphia area.
“There are many spiritual challenges that an Adventist student faces on a secular campus,” says David Hong, an event organizer and Temple University student. “It can be difficult to find the right community where a student feels comfortable enough to share about his or her religion. …It’s easy for Adventist students to feel alone and discouraged about their faith. Being on a secular campus can also bring many temptations, such as trying to socially fit in by participating in secular activities and forgetting the Sabbath.”
Young adults from Pennsylvania Conference’s Philadelphia Central Korean church (PKSDA) in Horsham, Pa., the North American Division’s Adventist Christian Fellowship (ACF) and ANEW, a Mid-Atlantic Campus Ministries network, planned the event for fellowship and as a practical training opportunity that encouraged attendees to be a more active presence on their campuses.
Hong adds, “Giving the students the opportunity to expand their social and spiritual network is one of the numerous reasons why this type of event is so important for them. This event not only brings all the Adventist students together, but it also encourages them to collaboratively work towards a spiritual goal.”
Participants learned about the Adventist prophetic identity and spent the afternoon and evening at Temple University, trying to connect with students on campus. Outreach efforts resulted in one student signing up for Bible studies and another who connected closely with a few mission trip participants.
On Sabbath more than 70 young adults gathered for Sabbath School and church at PKSDA. Approximately 52 participated in outreach efforts on Sabbath afternoon, including an interactive activity with a Daniel 2 cardboard statue, singing groups, a spa activity and a love language survey. In the evening, speaker Jermaine Gayle (pictured right), a pastor in the Michigan Conference, made specific appeals for baptism, rebaptism and a commitment to missions, to which four individuals responded. On Sunday Gayle gave a final charge to the remaining participants to continue in their faith journeys and to pray and seek what they can do for their campuses back at home.
“We believe that God greatly blessed this initiative in giving students a greater excitement and desire to be involved in campus ministries work,” says Michel Lee, one of the event organizers and a student at The University of Texas at Austin.
Lay members from local churches and Adventist students attended this mission event and made critical connections that will advance the work of Adventist public Campus Ministries in Philadelphia. “Through their collaboration, it is certain that Adventist Campus Ministries can become an unstoppable, soul-winning agency on Philadelphia’s many college and university campuses,” says Lee.
The Pennsylvania Conference, Columbia Union Conference and NAD sponsored the event. PKSDA provided free housing, transportation and food and prepared all the meals for the duration of the event.