Given a Chance

An exciting trend is beginning at Walla Walla Valley Academy (WWVA) in College Place, Washington. Local businessmen and Adventist-laymen's Services and Industries (ASI) members Rick Claridge and Mike Tillay decided that they were no longer going to sit back and wait for someone else to help Walla Walla youth become more involved in the blessing of soul winning. Mike asked the academy students, "Who would like to be involved with outreach?" Twenty-four students showed interest, and 15 came to the first organizational meeting.

At this point Rick and Mike began the adventure of turning their vision over to the youth. Though available when students had questions or needed direction, they wanted the youth to see their own incredible capabilities. The students were to learn firsthand the blessing and struggles faced by soul winners.

Excitement mounted as the students created a seven-member board to lead the organization. While the plan was to hold evangelistic meetings in the fall of 2003, the students felt there should be someone to "prepare the soil and plant some seeds." So they organized a summer program during which 15 young people worked a Magabook project in the greater Walla Walla Valley. Their goals were to find Bible studies and make personal contact with individuals who were searching for answers to life's great questions. By the end of the summer, after knocking on 15,000 doors, they had commitments for 27 Bible studies.

To involve as many as possible, the student board decided to run concurrent, five-week evangelistic crusades—one in downtown Walla Walla at the Center for Sharing, and one at the WWVA auditorium in nearby College Place. With the expansion of their plans, more help was needed, so the students appealed to their friends. More than 60 additional volunteers organized into twelve teams to help with everything from greeting and attendance tracking to special music and health lectures.

During these crusades, the young people were the preachers. They prepared the advertising, prayed with those struggling and visited in the homes. These youth have caught the spirit.

Why would young people want to give up their time to do this? They have experienced the true happiness that comes when you are an intimate partner with Jesus Christ bringing life to empty souls. This kind of happiness is never found in the empty self-serving we often live.

Using their incredible energy and creativity, these young people seized an opportunity both to give and to gain a blessing.

January 01, 2004 / Feature