“A NAD Barna study on Adventist young adults notes that 70 percent of Adventist young adults are walking away from the church,” noted Pastor Ron Pickel, director of the North American Division Secular Campus Ministry (ACF). “The corollary is that 70-80 percent of Adventist collegiate-age students attend non-Adventist universities. I believe a strong public campus ministry program will do a lot to address these statistics.”
Pickel was the presenter on Sabbath, January 14, 2017, at the ACF “Reach the Campus – Change the World!” Seminar in Glendale. Nearly 30 young adults attended during the all-day event. Pickel and other leaders invited participants to help search for ways to develop ACF chapters on secular campuses in L.A. “Los Angeles is reportedly home to more than 85 college campuses,” he added, “a larger concentration than in other Pacific Union urban areas.” ACF-Pacific Union and the Southern California Conference co-sponsored the event. Pastor Donald Smith, Alhambra church, serves as the local ACF coordinator, assisted by Pastor Adam Hicks, Journey church.
With the young adults and leaders seated around tables in small groups, presentations broke frequently for discussions of questions and opportunities for personal experiences. One question was, “What has God asked you to do?” As with most of the discussion topics, participants were not shy about sharing with their peers.
“The ACF Seminar was not at all what I expected,” commented Keith Harris, a USC Adventist Fellowship member, “so initially, I did not plan to attend. However, by some providential circumstance, I ended up going, and it turned out to be an inspiring call to ministry.
SCC President Velino Salazar speaks to the groups, as Pastor Smith looks on. Photo by Esther Ong
“We had the opportunity to have a powerhouse in campus ministry come to our conference to show us ways to expand the Kingdom of God in an often neglected but incredibly important mission field: non-religious colleges and universities, ” added Harris. “Strides were made to begin reaching this important mission field. God is waiting to partner with us here, and I believe we have a good start. The next question is, ‘Who will join us?’”
“It is essential that every secular college campus incorporate a group such as ACF,” said Olivia Awadalla. “College students are looking for answers and want to find the meaning of life. A community like ACF can fill that need, which can open up a road for God to work and transform lives.”
“Current students and recent graduates who recognize the importance of this ministry are stepping up to help,” reported Pickel. “I cannot overestimate the importance of Pastors Donald Smith and Adam Hicks in their support and coordination of this event. Another key individual is lay pastor Fedly Bonneau, who has a strong heart for Christ and student ministry. I pray that this latest ACF event is a small but important step in building this ministry in Southern California Conference.”
“With L.A.’s concentration of public colleges and universities,” said Smith, “it is strategic to our overall public campus ministry outreach. At this meeting, we had representation from Cal State L.A., Pierce College, USC and the Art Center. We will continue to reach out to these and other campuses.
“Our plan is to organize a group to join the NorCal ACF Winter Conference in Santa Cruz for the March 3-5 weekend, and we are encouraging as many as we can to attend the ACF Institute being held this year in our union at Arizona State University, May 22-27.”
For details about these events, visit http://acflink.org.