Cedar Lake, MI—Michigan Youth Rush students gathered for the end of summer iShare Conference at Great Lakes Adventist Academy, August 12 – 13.
Main speaker Cody Francis, Ministerial secretary for the Michigan Conference, encouraged Youth Rush students and other attendees to continue working for the Lord as they returned home.
David Pano, Literature Ministries director, and Seth Roberts, assistant Literature Ministries director, arranged for seminar speakers to share with the students. Pastor Louis Torres shared his experience with secular music, Leeroy Hernandez, CAMPUS program director, shared opportunities with students for ministry as they head back to school—whether it is on a public campus or not! Finally, Chelli Ringstaff, Adventist Community Services director for the Michigan Conference, spoke with the students, empowering them to use their unique talents and ideas to serve their communities at home.
Various students also shared testimonies from the summer—stories of how God used them to reach people. One such student was Cherise Roberts, who shared a powerful testimony of how the Lord used her through her pain. You can read about her experience below.
“Lord, Show Me My Purpose”
During church, Cherise shared an abridged version of the testimony found below. I was moved and connected with her afterwards so she could share her story again, in more detail. Cherise is 15 years old and plans to save the money earned from Youth Rush donations to put her through pilot and EMT school. She would like to follow in her father’s footsteps as a medial missionary pilot. When you talk to her, you can see that she has a passion for saving souls, saving lives, and helping those around her grow closer to Jesus.
Judy:Tell me a little bit about yourself, your story—how did you end up here in Michigan doing Youth Rush?
Cherise: I’ve lived overseas all my life. I’ve been in Indonesia for the past seven and a half years, and before that I was in Chad. I’ve been stuck here on furlough because of COVID.
In Washington, my friend Sierra told me about Youth Rush and encouraged me to come. At this point, I knew God existed, and I knew He could do miracles, but I’d never seen Him do miracles in my life. I was kind of doing devotions to make my parents happy. But it wasn’t truly a relationship—it was like, “I’m just doing this to get it over with.”
I knew I should come to Youth Rush, but I didn’t want to. In April, Sierra reminded me to apply—and I applied just to get Sierra to stop bugging me! I thought ‘Who’s going to accept some crazy missionary kid from Indonesia?’
I applied, was interviewed, and was accepted two weeks later. And now I’m so glad!
Judy:What did your summer look like? And how did God end up using you despite your original doubts?
Cherise: When I showed up, I was nervous. I knew I would be out of my comfort zone, going up to strangers, knocking on their doors. I knew it was God’s will. I came to realize that I had been forcing my plans on God, and I needed to make God’s plans my plans instead. It was a satisfactory but nervous feeling. I knew I was where God wanted me, but at the same time, I didn’t want to do it.
One day I injured my foot. I canvassed on Sunday, but by Monday I could hardly walk. I had been praying all summer, “God, I know you brought me here for a reason but Lord, show me that purpose, and give me the words to speak.” That morning, I reinforced that prayer and told Him, “I know I’ll be struggling today, but I know I’ll be out there for a reason.”
After walking for a while, my foot began to hurt worse and I started doubting. A thought crept in—”Why don’t you just sit out? You know you can.” Immediately another thought took its place. “You just prayed this morning that God would give you a divine appointment, but you can’t get a divine appointment sitting in the van. You need to do your part!”
I got out of the van and I saw a woman walking her dog. I was immediately impressed to go talk to her. Of course, the war between good and evil was going on in my mind. “No, Cherise, she isn’t going to have money. It’ll be a waste of time.”
Her dog ran over and wrapped his leash around my legs and I had no choice! I showed her Habits that Heal, which is Ministry of Healing. She wasn’t interested so I switched to Peace Above the Storm, which is Steps to Christ.
She said, “This is what I need. I just got out of a storm in my life.”
She began opening up to me. She was in an abusive relationship for 42 years, and had just mustered the courage to get out.
I left her with Peace Above the Storm—and she immediately started crying. I told her I was a Seventh-day Adventist, and asked if she would she like to come to church with me. She said “You know what? I’d really like that!” I offered Bible studies, too, and she said, “This is what I want! I’m not religious, but there’s been too many bad situations in my life. I shouldn’t even be alive right now.”
I called her later that week, and she said, “I’m counting the days until Saturday!” I was praying, because often things come up to distract and keep people from following through. But she came—to church, Sabbath school, and potluck!
It was an answer to prayer, but I also prayed for the church members to be loving. When she left, she said, “I’ve never seen a church family as loving as this one. You’ve really brought hope to me.”
It was powerful—what if I hadn’t decided to do my part and get out and canvass? What if I hadn’t asked for words to speak? It was such an answer to prayer. It was also the last day I was able to canvass because of my foot. It was a perfect ending.
Judy:You came a long way to do literature ministries. What would you say to someone who is wanting to do literature ministries, but is hesitant or scared?
Cherise: It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you do in life, you’re going to struggle. There are the awful days where you will get only out five books, and 20 doors slammed in your face. Then the next day you will sell 30 books, and you think, what is happening? I’m the same person! But it will all be worth it because in the struggle, you will find yourself praying. Someday someone will say to you, “God sent you to my door for a reason. I know that you came here to give me these books because this is what I needed.” You might have 20,000 difficult doors, but that one door is what makes it all worth it.