Michigan Conference Youth Department organized a Global Youth Day event where they made, assembled and delivered 120 beds for children and families in need in Lansing and Detroit.
On Sunday, March 21, Michigan Conference’s Youth department partnered with the Lansing chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP) and built 120 twin-sized beds for children and families in need, shattering the non-profit organization’s chapter record of the number of beds made in a day.
Chad Bernard, Michigan Conference’s Youth director, says he became aware of the need for over 500 beds in the Lansing area and thought he could get young people to help meet the demand. After registration opened up for participation, word spread fast via social media and local television of the need to construct beds at the Michigan Conference warehouse facility in Lansing. Two hundred people responded before registration was closed. Bernard says this was necessary to safely accommodate everyone. In the past the most beds built by SHP volunteers and delivered in a day was 40.
“I really believe that young people want to change the world and they want to act like Jesus and be like Jesus. That’s what Jesus was all about, helping people,” says Bernard. “The quote I always refer to in Ministry of Healing, p. 143, Christ’s methods alone will bring success. It talks about mingling with the people and meeting their needs, winning their confidence and then saying follow me.”
An event such as this one offers young people an opportunity to build relationships with people who may not know Jesus and aids in faith maturation. “That method is very powerful but can lead people to Christ and also strengthen our youth and have them be more involved in our church,” further notes Bernard. “Young people that have a relationship with Jesus and are active in church, don’t leave the church. That’s something we want to have, young people who are active with Christ and passionate about their community and passionate about their church.”
On Sabbath, March 20, in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, Illinois Conference members made sandwiches for the homeless, cleaned streets around their church community, and prayed with neighbors. “We have noticed that the numbers of homelessness have increased due to Covid,” says Jazmin Martinez, Little Village Church young adult who helped organize the outreach. “Every bridge you pass by there are homeless people living under them. Pedestrians can’t pass because they are being used as homes.”
As the young and old fanned out into the community with lunches donated by church members, they met people living under a bridge. One woman, named Maria, mentioned that due to Covid she and others on the streets are encountering greater difficulties. Maria asked what church they belonged to and a heartwarming conversation ensued. “It’s like she knew we were coming; she was friendly and very eager to chat with us.”
The plan is to continue reaching out to the homeless in the area. This week, the group plans to distribute toiletries and other items such as socks, which Maria indicated is an item of need for those without permanent shelter. The church is also aiming to feed their homeless neighbors once a week.
Helping the community was the main goal but Martinez says she realizes this will benefit the youth, too. “Covid has been challenging for our youth and this is one of the many steps we are taking for them to feel that they belong,” explains Martinez. “Our youth are very excited to help with that.”
Wisconsin’s Hispanic ministry, JAHWI, held a preaching series with David Ruiz, Andrews University seminary student, which was livestreamed from the Iglesia del Norte Church in Milwaukee. The topic of “I Will Go,” featured messages inviting the youth to follow Christ to preach and do outreach in their communities. Ruiz told the audience that God created each young person with the purpose of preaching the everlasting gospel and that before He sends them to preach, He wants them to have a relationship with Him. Ruiz expounded on how to use personal testimonies to witness and illustrated with the story of Amos that everyone can be used by God, just as long as he or she is willing to serve God.
The theme of GYD for 2021, “Reaching Out: Colors, Cultures and Communities,” stems from the Bible story of the woman at the well and Jesus’ interaction with her.
GYD began as a day of mission outreach in 2013. During that inaugural event, only 12 service projects were organized world-wide. Over the past eight years, GYD has grown exponentially, touching thousands of young people and producing hundreds of creative service projects in local communities.
“It’s an opportunity for Seventh-day Adventist young people around the world to collaborate together … and be the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus,” said Gary Blanchard, Youth Ministries director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Debbie Michel, Lake Union associate director of Communication, with Adventist News Network staff