While some students decided to use the fall break to catch up on assignments, visit family members, and enjoy the freedom from classes, a group of young missionaries traveled to Kalamazoo to further the mission of spreading God’s love. These young individuals are volunteers of the Greater Youth Movement program (GYM), an outreach initiative launched from the Harbor of Hope Seventh-day Adventist church.
Prior to traveling to Kalamazoo, the team engaged in a mission training where everyone was informed on the protocols, and logistics of the trip. They were also introduced to the theme of the trip - Greater Leaders. This helped to unify the members with the goals of the mission.
Led by Business major Malik McIntyre, 15 students from Andrews University opened the Sabbath on October 11, by commuting the hour drive to Kalamazoo Trinity Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church, where they were welcomed by the pastor, Denry White and his family. The students settled themselves in the church with their sleeping bags in anticipation of a weekend that would be spiritually uplifting.
On Sabbath morning, the team was divided into three groups to visit three churches to promote the mission of GYM.
Those who remained at Trinity Temple Seventh-day Adventist church jumped into the spirit of worship and led the congregation in songs of praise. For the members, that was not the only surprise, as the entire service was transformed into a day of music and community engagement. Choirs, local and traveling musicians as well as the GYM group all provided musical selections throughout the day. Pastor White interspersed baby dedications in between the singing and celebration for family members in the surrounding community. This, he hoped was one way the church can show their love to their neighbors.
The GYM team closed the sabbath by spending the remaining hours of the day praying and singing with people from all walks of life who were seeking assistance from Kalamazoo Gospel Mission Center.
What surprised many of the students were how many clients at the center had connections to Berrien Springs, and even more so, Andrews University. One lady, who requested prayers for a place to stay as the winter draws near, told the students how she had received an education from Ruth Murdoch straight to a master’s degree from Andrews University. For other students, they were blessed to hear interesting stories about the people they met, and they all left more encouraged to continue sharing Christ to everyone they encountered.
On previous trips, GYM volunteers would fellowship with a church on Sunday morning. This time, the group spent the day canvassing, as this is one of the main ways the movement is financially supported. Jeanelle Robinson, an architecture graduate of Andrews University, shared that this was her first canvassing experience.
She said: “At first it was a bit daunting to think about going to people’s private spaces, introducing ourselves and the ministry and then asking for money, but then the experience turned out to be exhilarating because of the amazing encounters that could only be the Holy Spirit working through us as we interacted with the community.”
The final day of the trip was spent at Kalamazoo Seventh-day Adventist Junior Academy, where the university students conducted an engaging worship service filled with songs, skits, and discussion for the students and teachers there.
Their final acts of kindness consisted of helping Catholic Charities renovate rooms and sort through donations. The mission volunteers canvassed one last time alongside Pastor White, where they once again prayed with community members and invited them to the local Adventist churches in the area.
The volunteers of Greater Youth Movement have placed outreach at the forefront of their mission and plan to undertake two more mission trips before the end of the year.
Michelle Greene is pursuing a master’s in Communication at Andrews University.