Students from Sunnydale Adventist Academy’s School of Evangelism (SOE) are learning spiritual leadership through preaching, witnessing and hands-on church work classes.

SOE director Scott Haakenson says the goal of the program is “to train young people to be soul winners and to make a difference in people’s lives through service and witnessing.” Since its inception four years ago, the program has included a two-pronged approach to evangelism; first, evangelism training classes incorporated into the academy’s curriculum, and second, using this training to participate in local and overseas evangelism and outreach.

This past school year Haakenson took his student workers and students from his SOE classes to the Mexico (MO) Adventist Church on a regular basis to participate in various church leadership roles. During the week, the group would travel the 20 miles to the church and clean up the grounds and the inside of the church, as well as sit in on board meetings, attend Wednesday prayer meetings and more. About once a month the students took responsibility for leading out in all aspects of the Sabbath services, from teaching Sabbath school classes, to song service, to presenting the sermon.

After junior Jean Butoyi, a preaching class student, gave his first sermon he said, “Preparing for this sermon led me to a better understanding of what it means to help my brother and to be a true Christian. I found what I like to call true religion during my studies. Many of my teachers have shown me what it means to be like Christ by going the extra mile for me and other students. To me that is true religion—serving others.”


Author Michelle Hansen is communication/Sabbath school director for the Iowa-Missouri Conference.