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Young Adult Leadership Sabbath in La Crosse

Updated: Mar 29

On the 23rd of March, my church, La Crosse SDA, hosted a Young Adult Sabbath, featuring Dr. Amir Gulzar as our guest speaker. I arrived at 9:00am and left at 7:30pm, and I can definitely say that it was a beautiful, full day instilled with God’s presence. As the sun set the day before, my prayers were for the morning. I asked God to be with my words, thoughts, and actions in the coming day. I had the honor of being in charge of the music program, and we began Sabbath School with praise to our heavenly Father!

The topic of the day was Leadership Lessons from the book of Nehemiah. For Sabbath School, a panel of five people (Pr. Pedro Luis, Pr. Zack Payne, Eldith Adongo, Travis Baumchen, and myself) discussed Nehemiah’s first three chapters. In preparation for this topic, my Bible study group delved deep into these chapters. I personally hadn’t ever stuck my nose into Nehemiah, but I was quite fascinated by my findings, and I loved examining every small detail and hearing everyone’s opinions on the storyline. And then getting to hear some of the views and theories again during our panel discussion put a smile on my face. Nehemiah is so full of wisdom and has great examples of what a leader should be.

Dr. Amir Gulzar’s sermon focused on Nehemiah 4 [giving content spoilers for my group’s next chapter study, but I digress ;) ]. Because of the past reading, I believe I was able to glean much more from the speaking. What stood out most to me was the fact that Nehemiah did not give up on his work for God, even when faced with opposition.

After the closing hymn and prayer, the church members and young adult guests made their way downstairs, fellowshipping together as they enjoyed a haystack feast. Not to brag, but the guacamole I made was a big hit! ;)

Following the hearty meal, Dr. Amir gave an informative lecture. This time on Nehemiah 1-3! He broke down the chapters in a distinct way, attaching lessons we could learn from each individual verse. His teaching kept the young adult guests as well as the La Crosse church members engaged.

A crucial moment in our Sabbath schedule was our planned outreach project. Earlier in the week, we partnered with our district’s Pathfinder club, and the young club members packaged over 40 sack lunches for the homeless. Most of the non-perishable food supplies were donated by our church family! And at 4:00pm on Sabbath, wearing matching black shirts with the words “Living to Serve” printed on them, our lively group carpooled to a nearby park where homeless members of the community had gathered. Many of these people were recently displaced due to chances of flooding. One man showed great interest in attending our next church service and exchanged contact information with Pastor Pedro Luis. Another man, Bozz, shared with us that doctors had told him he only had one year to live. He was an influential leader in the homeless population, a strong voice that most respected. Members of our outreach crew prayed with him and asked him what his relationship with God was like. The thank-you’s were abundant in that hour, and it made my heart glad.

Not only did we have that opportunity to bless others, but we left feeling blessed as well.

Upon our return to church, we enjoyed a presentation from Pastor Zack Payne on the subject of dealing with conflict as a leader, and then together we discussed having future collegiate events.

My biggest take away from this Collegiate Sabbath? We are all an integral part of the body of Christ. And no matter our place, we share a singular goal. Sharing the Good News of God’s love and sacrifice. Staying in motion is the only way the body will grow and thrive. God was able to use us last Sabbath, but I pray that each of us has the faith and strength to continue the work that He has given us in the days we have ahead.

What are our Young Adults Saying

Slava Chemperei, a young adult currently studying at UW Madison, said "I really enjoyed my time at the weekend! It was a great opportunity for me to see my friends, do outreach, and learn more about leadership in the biblical context."

Clare Castleberg, a young adult from Marshfield, said "my favorite thing was that I got to see a bunch of other young adults, as I don't have any at my church. Being able to mingle with people close to my age and talk amongst us about our lives was really cool. I also loved feeding the homeless, as one of my favorite things to do is service. I'm excited to see what we can do for them in the future. [The weekend] taught me so much about being a leader and how to do it in a godly way."

Kevin Wilkinson, Jr., a young adult serving as a missionary to UW Stevens Point, said “My favorite part would have to be when we were passing out supplies to the homeless Sabbath afternoon. Many of them seemed skeptical and cautious at first but the team was able to connect with multiple people and have some great conversations and prayers with them! I'm excited to see this opportunity continue and see who all God may have us reach!”

Travis Baumchen, a young adult living in La Crosse, said “I really enjoyed the camaraderie of working together with everyone on a common goal. To see a mere idea of spoken words come to fruition was pretty cool. Taking it back to Nehemiah 3, everyone had a role to play in making it happen and it was really cool. Be it the people who donated, Adeline, Tony, Eldith, Pastor Pedro, or me. To see a group of young adults from other adventist churches come from so far away to help contribute was also amazing to see. As far as the outreach, I enjoyed hearing the stories of a few of the people we hung out with. Bozz and Sarah to be specific. Just to speak to "misfits" as Bozz referred to himself and others as and hear their story was really intresting. Its such a different walk of life. And knowing that Jesus would be down there doing the same thing and more was a really rewarding feeling.”

Tony Baffoe, a young adult who is a student at UW La Crosse, said "Seeing the smiles on their faces and knowing we were making a difference together was such a rewarding feeling and a blessing. Also I was at peace when we were able to pray for two of them, with one admitting to the fact that he needs Christ in his life and was told he had a year to live because of cancer. It brought joy to my heart, knowing that he will get to know and accept Christ in his difficult times. And of course, Pastor Amir's sermon on Nehemiah was incredibly inspiring. It really got me thinking about leadership and how we can all contribute to rebuilding our community in meaningful ways. Overall, it was a day filled with compassion, teamwork, and a whole lot of heart. I'm proud to call each of the attendees my friends In Christ and to be a part of a Church group that's making a positive impact on the world around us.”

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