Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Couple Builds Laurelwood Youth, Pathfinder Experience

When John and Janelle Rivera decided to work with the Laurelwood church youth again, they only planned to revive the Pathfinder club. However, they ended up leading a group of young people of varying ages, from juniors to young adults, many of whom did not grow up in Seventh-day Adventist homes or didn’t take their faith seriously.

Story by New Jersey Conference Staff

The Deptford church’s Laurelwood Lions Pathfinder Club sometimes functions more like a youth group, combining aspects of Pathfinders and Adventist Youth (AY) mixed with a dose of practical life lessons. Recently, the Riveras challenged members to create a $1,800 monthly budget for living on their own.

During the session, the Riveras helped the young people estimate their expenses. They then reviewed the lists with the group. John jokingly said to a participant, “I guess you’re going to eat your Xbox controller because you didn’t list down food.“

At the end of the exercise, one young adult, with a thoughtfully sober expression, said, “This was a lot harder than I thought it’d be.” This type of activity is helping the Riveras build relationships with the group.

“Until our kids learn to walk with Jesus on their own, we represent Him and are Jesus to them,” says Janelle. “Jesus' example makes it very clear that, through simply being someone’s friend and mentor, the seed of faith can be planted. We recognize that their willingness to participate and follow our lead lies in loving each as Jesus loves them and empowering them to become leaders.”


Feature photo: John Rivera teaches the Pathfinders drill and marching steps last winter.

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