Ministering to Tomorrow’s Leaders
The June mountain air was charged with a contagious energy of enthusiasm and anticipation as 100 young adults filled the carpeted upstairs lounge of the Big Lake Youth Camp (BLYC) lodge. Introductions were made of veteran and new staff alike. From where I sat, elbow to elbow with fellow staff for what would be my eighth summer of youth camp work in central Oregon, my soul was filled with the same sort of anticipation I had when I first stood in the Sunday registration line as a 12-year-old camper signing up for sailing class.
As introductions were being made, a deep southern accent boomed from the corner of the lounge. “Hi, my name is Benjamin Lundquist, and I am here for you staff this summer," the voice said, "To be a friend, to listen, to pray for you. My job is to simply be here for you!”
And as the summer progressed, during early morning water ski runs, daily worships, burrito nights with staff, even through the loss of a staff member, Lundquist and his family became a source of refreshment and comfort for our camp family of college-age adults who desperately needed a warm hug amidst days of grieving the loss of a friend or advice on what it means to minister to campers who come from broken homes.
The idea of having a pastor at camp whose role was to solely support the staff was a welcome addition to Big Lake’s ministry. Lundquist not only embodied a new role at camp that was desperately needed, but with his wide smile that crinkled the corners of his eyes, his southern charm and his overflowing personality of positivity, he became a valued and needed member of our camp family. His investment in simply giving his time and energy to be available to staff was a gift that kept on giving throughout the summer as relationships were formed between staff and himself. Lundquist’s presence and encouragement painted a bigger picture of belonging and the feeling that someone believed in us as young-adult leaders in Oregon.
Lundquist, along with his wife, Kimberly, and their two children, moved to Oregon in June to not only support the staff at BLYC but to love the young-adult generation of Oregon better, a movement that has long been In the hearts of those working in the Oregon Conference youth department. What kept Lundquist awake at night while pastoring at the Camelback Church in Arizona and while completing his master’s program at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Mich., was the young-adult puzzle in the Seventh-day Adventist church. Lundquist established the first young-adult-designated department in the Arizona Conference and was soon invited by Oregon Conference leaders to do the same in Oregon.
Now, the Oregon Conference has devoted an entire department to young-adult ministry (OCYAM) with Lundquist as its prayerfully considered leader. The purpose behind the OCYAM is to be “a growing network of leaders using their energies and influence to love young adults better.” The aim for this ministry isn’t meant to be complicated; it is meant to empower and encourage young adults in their journey to discover their own unique calling in life. Lundquist believes the local church can become a safe place to do this.
Looking forward at the role of local churches in loving young adults better, Lundquist is convinced it’s not something “that we need to do; it’s something we must do.” The mission of OCYAM is to inspire young adults to become committed followers of Jesus and leaders for his cause.
Loving young adults better for Lundquist means he looks at them as partners in ministry and values the time he spends with them. Whether this means listening while on a chairlift on Mount Hood, buying burritos for the staff at BLYC, or planning a vision night to listen to the hopes and dreams of young adults, Lundquist hopes the young adults of Oregon feel loved, heard and fully supported as they launch into a life of mission and calling.
As a young adult who has grown up in the Oregon Conference, not only did I feel excitement for the summer of 2016 that morning at BLYC, but I also felt hope ignite the future of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Oregon as I experienced three months of the Lundquist family actively loving my friends and I throughout the summer. Loving better isn’t complicated.
Loving better is laughing over funny stories at the picnic table, bringing Taco Bell burritos after a long day, sitting in the hard places of grief and playing softball with other staff members. But, most of all, loving better looks a lot like being a friend.
Mackenzie Thompson is serves as a chaplain at Walla Walla General Hospital and was part of the Big Lake leadership team last summer as the girls' village director. She has a passion for leadership development and sharing Jesus creatively with today's generation.