Linda Hecker didn’t grow up as an Adventist and wasn’t a Pathfinder in her youth. The church her three older daughters grew up in didn't have a Pathfinder club. Perhaps this is what motivated her to make sure her youngest daughter would have the opportunities for service and meeting Jesus that a Pathfinder ministry can provide.
Linda first became involved with Pathfinders in 2005 with Eleanor Brandon, wife of Tony Brandon, Baker City (Oregon) Church pastor. The two saw that the youth of their church needed something to belong to and with encouragement from their area coordinators, Darrin James and Andy Shaw, they started the Baker Valley Mountaineers. The Homedale (Idaho) Hawks Pathfinder Club came up to present a church service and demonstrate to the Pathfinder-age kids what being a Pathfinder was about.
Tony Brandon says, "The kids are excited to have a club that is just for them. Pathfinders is a way they can stay involved with the church and experience Jesus."
"Linda has been great," he says. "Her energy and passion for Pathfinders is tremendous. Her sole concern for the youth is that they know and experience Jesus and become passionate and dedicated Seventh-day Adventists."
In their second year of existence, the Baker Valley Mountaineers are finding lots of ways to reach out to their community. Last Christmas the 10 Pathfinders threw a Christmas party for the children and moms at a local drug rehabilitation facility, complete with gifts. Linda said it was fun to watch the Pathfinders interact with the other children.
The Mountaineers are also involved with their own church. During a recent church service, Terry Rusk, Idaho Conference Pathfinder director, with most of the conference coordinator staff, helped conduct an induction ceremony. Comments after the service were so positive—the church members loved to see their kids affirmed during church. They understand the importance of keeping their youth connected to the church.
The church members have also been supportive financially. Transportation to community service events and Pathfinder events has sometimes been a challenge, especially with a small staff and 10 Pathfinders. Linda went to the church board with a request for a 12-passenger van. They contacted a donor who purchased the van and donated it to the church!
Linda Hecker is a true Pathfinder. No, she didn’t grow up as a Pathfinder, didn’t spend many years as a staff member, isn’t even a Master Guide (yet), and hadn’t done anything like this before. What she does have are three qualities that any Pathfinder staff member should have: 1) a committed love for Jesus, 2) a genuine love for kids, and 3) a “can-do” attitude—whatever it is she can’t do, God will provide! It’s not the size of the church or the experience of the staff that make a ministry for youth successful. It’s the size of the heart for God and His kids.