by Anita Lebold
ATHOL, Idaho, November 23, 2016 - The primary focus of Pathfinders is supporting youth as they develop a personal relationship with Jesus. Upper Columbia Conference (UCC) Pathfinders and staff, numbering 679, joined together for that purpose as they gathered at Farragut State Park in Idaho for the UCC Pathfinder Camporee.
The camporee is the big kickoff for the Pathfinder year and sets the stage for the activities to come. It included spiritual refreshment, recognition of accomplishment, acts of service and outdoor adventure.
Ron Whitehead led the group through a series of talks challenging the Pathfinders to develop a strong faith and trust in God. One illustration he used was a trust-walk exercise. He had a Pathfinder walk through a maze of mousetraps on the stage.
The first time the Pathfinder had on shoes and just walked quickly through the maze. The second time, when he had to walk through the maze without shoes on, the Pathfinder took the route a little more slowly and carefully. The third time, a blindfold was added. The youth had to trust and closely follow Whitehead’s instructions in order to avoid the trap.
Whitehead used the illustration to show how it’s easy to believe our walk with Jesus is good without putting much into it, when things are going well, and how much more we have to trust and rely on Jesus when things are difficult.
Whitehead summarized his talks for the weekend with a challenge for the Pathfinders by asking, “Where's the beef in your relationship with Jesus?” He told about the old TV commercials that showed a woman looking at a very empty hamburger bun and asking, “Where’s the beef?” Like empty sandwiches, many people have a very superficial or shallow relationship with Jesus.
Whitehead shared three things critical to developing a “meatier” walk with Jesus:
Prayer: Never compromise prayer time with God because of who's around you and instead follow the example of Jesus and His prayer life;
Bible study: If you are struggling to read the Bible it may be because you need to get reacquainted with the Author, so listen to Scripture while you are doing other things, put Scripture in your mind to fortify you, and look at the example of Jesus, who responded "it is written" every time Satan threw something at Him;
Your testimony or witness: There is a right time and wrong time to share your testimony; be guided by the Holy Spirit — Jesus was a testimony by just living the life.
Pathfinders experienced all three points of the message during camporee. They had a prayer wall where they could add requests and thanks and prayed together at each session and throughout the day. They spent time in the Scriptures both during the talks and during activity times.
They also had the opportunity to share their witness through service to the local community. One of the biggest needs in the nearby community of Athol, Idaho, is supplies for the local food bank. For the act of service, the Pathfinders and staff collected donations of nonperishable food items and brought them to the camporee — enough to fill an entire pickup bed. They presented these donations to a representative of the food bank.
How will you answer the question “where's the beef" in your relationship with Jesus?
At the end of the challenge, Pathfinders were given the opportunity to complete commitment cards, expressing their desires for their personal walk with Jesus. Through that activity 105 Pathfinders indicated they were interested in preparing for baptism, and 82 indicated that they were ready to be baptized. There were 330 Pathfinders who, though already baptized, wanted to recommit their lives to Jesus. Are you surprised? You should not be, because Pathfinder ministry is evangelism.
To learn more about the Seventh-day Adventist Church, go to: www.mywaytoJesus.com.