I have always felt hopeless; my life has not been easy. I’ve heard people talk about how good God is. I knew they could say so because He was helping them and making them successful and happy. However, I was blind to see His hand working for me. I felt my life would never change.
I would speak to God like I would a friend, but…I refused to actually pray. Why should I ask God to bless me? He never had changed my life situation, so why would He change anything now, or fix my problems in the future? I needed help to move me from where I was, to help me grow, to bring change into my life. Maybe Youth Alive* did what I always thought was impossible.
A lot happened for me in those few days. My eyes were opened to see the details of my tough life in a different way. I felt hope every time we laughed together in our small group, every time I took a breath, every time I looked at each new friend and realized we were all there for a reason. I was touched when the pastor said we are not here to suffer alone, but to experience the sweet things our Lord brings to us–in His timing.
I believe part of His timing was in leading me to the Youth Alive weekend, even though I’m not a Christian. The Adventist church has brought a special touch to my life. I have experienced major changes in my life–attending NUA, attending Youth Alive. I am beginning to realize that God is preparing me for an amazing plan. All this time He has been trying to tell me that He loves me and He is close by. I may have not always felt it, but now I have chosen to believe He is real, and that He is able to change my life. –Participant, ESF Youth Alive, August 2022
* Youth Alive is a church-based mentoring experience to empower Adventist young people to live with purpose and resilience. The event referred to is featured in this issue’s Mission in Brief.
Passing On Pathfinders
It was January 19, 2022. As the Egypt Sudan Field (ESF) Pathfinder Director, I had been praying–and maybe even worrying a bit–how we could ever pay for a field-wide camporee in eight months. In the middle of my heavy thoughts, I noticed an audio message on my mobile from my long-time friend, Bruno. That in itself isn’t extraordinary. Even though he lives in Ireland now and I’m in Egypt, we’ve kept in touch since our early Pathfinder days in Brazil.
That’s a story that began in 1996 when I was 17, a Pathfinder counselor in Sao Paulo, Brazil. A distraught mother walked into our club center with her son. “Bruno loves knives,” she explained. “I cannot keep him from having a knife in his hand all the time. I hear you teach young people how to be responsible and use tools safely.” So Bruno joined our club and learned all about Pathfindering, not just how to use knives carefully. After a few years he proved himself so responsible that he was invited to join one of the most rigorous Pathfinder tracking expeditions into the jungles of Brazil.
Late on Friday afternoon of our expedition, as we cut through dense forest, it began raining. We were relieved to come upon a flat stone slab in the middle of the thicket; it provided the perfect space to safely pitch our tents before dark. But the rain was so heavy we couldn’t possibly set up camp. Together we knelt on the slab. I pled with God to stop the rain so we could safely settle for the Sabbath. The rain stopped immediately. We pitched camp quickly and put on supper. As we ate, the rain returned in torrents so heavy we couldn’t even see the palms just 20 centimeters outside our tents. But we were protected, safe, and we praised God.
A few months later, Bruno asked to be baptized. “You remember the rain that stopped when you prayed?” he explained. “I was praying too. I told God I was convinced of everything I had learned in Pathfinders about Him, but if He is real, please answer Marcos’ prayer.’” God’s response would change Bruno’s life.
That was Janaruy 2000.
Twenty-two years later, on January 19, 2022, I listened to his message. “Marcos,” Bruno said, “I have an offering for your Pathfinders.” He went on to describe how he wanted to provide funds enough to help some of our clubs pay their registration fees, buy material for their uniforms, contribute to the meals, and more. Once again my prayer was answered. This time, in a very tangible way, the soaking wet Pathfinder huddled in the jungles of Brazil looking for a real God, passed on the very heart of Pathfindering. He provided a way for a generation of ESF Pathfinders to meet a real God, and to accept the invitation to follow Him From the Pyramids to Glory!
—Marcos Lima, ESF Field Secretary and ESF Pathfinder Director