“God Knew What He Was Doing When He Invented Pathfinders”
"Rick does a great job of reminding us how much fun we’re having,” says Sojourner Pathfinder Club co-leader Jason Meert.
“Jason? He’s the oldest kid in Pathfinders!” says co-leader Rick Luce.
Along with a large staff—which includes both their wives—Jason and Rick shepherd 35 Pathfinders through their paces. The Sojourners are supported by the Bellevue and Kirkland (Washington) churches, but draw from other area congregations as well. One family living 30 miles north on Whidbey Island board a ferry and transport their kids to meetings through Eastside rush-hour traffic every week.
A couple of years ago the Sojourners spun off 10 kids to form a whole new club, but instead of shrinking, the main club grew. Why?
“Our outstanding staff is one reason,” Jason says. “They clearly care about the kids and their relationship with Jesus. Also, there’s nonstop encouragement and prayer from pastors, church members and the Kirkland Adventist School. A week doesn’t pass without someone saying, ‘Thanks for being a Pathfinder leader.’ That really helps keep us from getting burned out.”
“An additional reason we’re growing,” Rick suggests, “might be that we teach kids it’s possible to have friends beyond just home and school—not only kid-to-kid rapport but with leaders as well. It’s really fun to go to church and have dozens of kids say hello to me. I get the feeling they’re beginning to value my friendship as much as I value theirs.
“Still another reason for our growth might be that we’re teaching kids ‘common sense,’” Rick continues. “In school, kids get great book-learning and sports instruction, but Pathfinders teaches them how to build campfires, how to pitch a tent so it stays dry and protected from the wind, how to do a lot of out-of-the-ordinary things and be the best they can be.”
Spiritual growth happens too. Jiaqian is a perfect example. The daughter of an Adventist father and a Buddhist mother, she joined the Sojourners shortly after arriving from China. “She knew only about 10 words of English,” Rick says, “so we had to communicate by sign language and demonstration. The first word I taught her to say was ‘Excellent.’ To this day, she’ll say to me, ‘Excellent, Mr. Luce!’”
As Jiaqian’s English vocabulary increased, so did her love for Jesus. Finally, she decided on baptism. Delighted, her dad suggested that she be baptized at the church they attend. “No,” Jiaqian replied, “I want to be baptized at the Pathfinder Fair, because Pathfinders is where I met Jesus.”
Jason sums it up perfectly: “God knew what He was doing when He invented Pathfinders.”