Students discover how their uniqueness can benefit others

In September, 69 students and 14 staff members from seven Adventist academies arrived at Broken Arrow Ranch near Olsburg, Kansas for the Mid-America Union Academy Bible Conference. Themed Uniquely His, the event’s focus was on helping students recognize what is special about themselves and their schools. Students also learned new ways of making an impact for God through outreach, social ministries and worship.

The outreach group discussed particular ways each school could serve their surrounding neighborhood. These young people then practiced their skills by leading outreach activities for the entire Bible conference in the city of Manhattan, Kansas, as students boarded buses and put into practice their love for Jesus.

The group that focused on social ministries planned a Hawaii Luau for the group on Saturday night, giving everyone the opportunity to experience what it means to be accepted and enjoy clean fun without the presence of drugs or alcohol.

Students who chose to explore the topic of worship had six sub-tracks from which to choose: sermon preparation and presentation; how to organize a worship service; conducting a Friday night Bible study; Sabbath afternoon activities; communion services and After Glow; and praise and worship. Students led out in all the group’s weekend worship activities, including two outstanding sermons by Cheyanne Hall and Caleb Haakenson of Sunnydale Academy.

Program director Travis Sager, Youth Ministries director of the Kansas-Nebraska Conference, said, “It is impossible to describe the feeling you get when a student says, ‘Hey, I’m preaching for first time!’ Or a group of students say, ‘We can hardly wait to go back to our school and get started with doing outreach in our community!’ Or a mother who is a sponsor says, ‘My son is up front for the first time!’”

During the general assemblies students from each academy shared with the group their school’s unique calling, gifts and opportunities for God. Then the entire group surrounded the students from each school for a prayer of dedication. Academies represented were Wichita, Mile High, Maplewood, Dakota, Campion, Sunnydale and Vista Ridge.

On Sabbath students listened intently as John Kriegelstein, superintendent of schools for Mid-America Union, shared his story of overcoming cancer the past year. In response, they gathered around John and his wife, Jenienne, and voluntarily offered heartfelt prayers of thanksgiving and praise to God.

Tying the whole weekend together were the outstanding devotionals by speaker Rebecca Barcelo-Murdock, a recent graduate of La Sierra University and coordinator of the One Project. Hubert Cisneros, Mid-America’s Youth Ministries director, said, “She did an outstanding job bringing the students to Jesus each day. She is one of the most Spirit-filled speakers to young people I have heard in a long time. We were fortunate to have her as our speaker.”

Cisneros also encouraged everyone to pray for each of the four boarding academies, three day academies and nine junior academies in Mid-America’s nine-state territory. “Each academy has faculty and staff who dedicate their lives every day to serve God by bringing Jesus to the classroom,” he said. “And each academy is uniquely His.”