We Are the Pathfinders Strong

September 01, 2005 | Jeffrey Ward

I came to church one Pathfinder Sabbath and noticed a deacon looking at my green uniform with red, gold, white, and blue patches; multicolored award ribbons; and honor patches with honors of practically every color of the rainbow. I laughed and told him, "I bet you can't guess what my ministry is!"

Even though we stand out in a crowd, we are sometimes known as the "quiet ministry," (Not that Pathfinders are quiet!) because unless it is Pathfinder Sabbath or we take part in helping out in a church function, our ministry is not seen on a weekly basis by the average church member. And then, some churches don't even have Pathfinder clubs.

Some years ago, some discussion was even voiced about the relevance of the Pathfinder program. After all, how relevant is it to the TV, MP3, computer, video-game-playing 10- to 16-year-old to wear a uniform, march, learn braiding and wilderness skills?

Our relevance is what we do, and how we impact young lives. We teach biblical values in worships. We take part in Bible Achievement competitions, where we are tested on one book of the Bible. Our staff models Christian values to the children. We have a program where no child can fail, unless they choose to.

Pathfinders is a supportive place where a child is always loved. It is a consistent program where staff members are always there for the Pathfinder, no matter what chaos of problems, divorce, etc., may be happening at home.

Many times I have had young men and women in their 20s and 30s come up to me and tell me how much they appreciated the Pathfinder program when they were members, because it was their only "port in the storm" of their lives. They felt needed and loved and found stability when they so desperately needed it.

The Pathfinder program teaches Christian leadership and gives Pathfinders leadership responsibilities as soon as they show they can handle them. Many Pathfinders go on to become leaders in school, church, and society because of the skills and confidence the program has given them.

Why do we march? It's fun! It teaches discipline, teamwork, and cooperation like little else does. It is also an excellent way to organize a group of people.

The program is constantly changing. Our uniforms have changed, the class work is constantly being updated, and the honors are updated and new honors are written every year. We now have new honors in computers, blood and body defenses, basketball and the Sanctuary, to name a few.

Pathfinders is open to all children 10–16, and soon that will be extended to age 19, if they pledge to live by the Pathfinder Pledge and Law. Living by this code, which we repeat every week, is what makes us special, especially in a world that has no code of conduct.

There is a saying: "Pathfinder membership is not a right, it is a privilege." Unfortunately, not every child can be a Pathfinder member. A very few cannot live by the code and cannot discipline themselves enough to obey their counselors and staff, even with the help of the parents and staff working together to help them. No child should ever be forced to be in Pathfinders who doesn't want to be there.

Pathfinders is a special ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is fun! Children learn skills they would learn nowhere else, and they are always challenged to improve. They take part in camporees, fairs, campouts and special events. Above all, they draw closer to Jesus, to each other, and to Christian staff members. They become members of a "family" that is a world-wide ministry.

"We are the Pathfinders strong. The servants of God are we," the Pathfinder song tells us. Some day in heaven we will all get together and march in perfect step, shoulder-to-shoulder down the golden streets, just for old-time's sake!