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LIFT Changing Lives
186 seventh & eighth graders converge at Camp Au Sable. 57 students respond to appeal for baptism.
"Nowhere in a person's life are they more susceptible to God then when they are a child, and we need to be on the front end of taking advantage of that," says Jeremy Hall.
Camp Au Sable
by Andy Im
It’s true, they’re “only” 7th and 8th graders so it’s easy to write them off. They’re young, energetic, and playful; and it’s natural to overlook the fact that they’re thinking about really deep stuff.
Diane Barlow, the education superintendent, says one of the most popular seminars at this year’s LIFT (Lifestyle Improvement For Teens) was the one entitled, “Nothing to Fear for the Future,” because our kids are more fearful today. That's probably not what we want to hear, but it's true. Over the past several weeks our young have witnessed fires, hurricanes, and shootings, to name a few, and God only knows what’s going on in their minds.
Cindy Peterson, who taught a seminar on Bible studies, said this year was “the best” in terms of having students that were spiritually minded, and really excited about the class. God is clearly moving upon hearts and minds in these last days, and that includes our children!
The reality is, our kids are growing up faster. By the time they hit 7th and 8th grade, they’re arguably more aware of what’s taking place in the world than they have in the past.
LIFT is designed to provide biblical and practical solutions to this current milieu. It’s an “interactive retreat,” that both inspires and equips attendees to face multifaceted challenges on a spiritual, social, and physical level.
There were breakout sessions on Bible studies, devotions, witnessing, relationships, hydrotherapy, cooking, and auto care to name a few! Sprinkled in were special features such as the talk that exposed the physical and spiritual dangers of drug use.
One of the highlights this year was having Pastor Chad Bernard as the keynote speaker. Asher, a 7th grader appreciated the fact that his sermons were simple, in-depth, and short. He also learned, “If anything is blocking your relationship with God you need to take it away, and get more close to him.” Reflecting further he added, “I have a few things I need to do when I get home!”
On Tuesday night, Chad made an appeal for baptism, and 57 youngsters responded. Isn’t that awesome? We typically don’t associate our “in-house” events with evangelism, but when hearts and minds surrender their lives to Jesus, that’s exactly what it is.
Jeremy Hall, the education associate superintendent, agrees. “When you have 60 kids that give their hearts to the Lord and want baptism or rebaptism that’s powerful evangelism over a three-day period.”
In fact, Diane Barlow sees the education department as “one big evangelistic program,” that starts in August and ends in May. She has a deep burden to make our schools a place where young people are won to Jesus and the three angel’s messages.
If there ever was a time to prepare our young for the imminent return of Jesus, it’s now.
“He wants us to be prepared for the future and give our hearts to Him, and tell others about Him,” says Daisy, an 8th grader attending the Holland school. “It’s kind of a hard time for us because we want to go along with what the world says, but we have to go by God’s words and not others.”
It’s this kind of thinking that needs to penetrate every young person. This is why the home, Adventist education, and events like LIFT are so vitally important.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. We have 38 schools and four academies in the state of Michigan that need our prayers and financial support and the ramifications are eternal.
May God continue to bless our young people, that they might be inspired and equipped to take God's message of warning and mercy to the world!
"With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Savior might be carried to the whole world!" —Education, p. 271