Auburn Students Find New Purpose

March 10, 2020 | Education | Krystalynn Martin

No one knew just how different student week of prayer was going to look at Auburn Adventist Academy this school year. In the middle of the week, school administrators chose to close the campus and transition to a temporary online distance learning in a precautionary move amid regional concerns over the coronavirus.

Student leaders rose to the challenge. Sophomore student leader Jalen Creed said, “Hey, instead of this being a week of prayer, we can turn it into a month of prayer.”

So that's what Auburn students did.

The campus ministry team, comprised of 25 students representing all four grades, is writing and sending daily devotionals to their peers during this time of online learning. Student and staff receive a personal and uplifting devotional thought each day.

Once everyone returns to campus after spring break, student week of prayer will start where it left off. The student leaders see this as a great way to welcome students back to campus in Auburn, Washington.

School chaplains are inspired to see students who want to be actively involved in reaching out to their peers. The team, which is the biggest Auburn has ever seen, has planned meaningful spiritual events all school year, including weekly vespers, Sabbath School, music praise teams, some church services and PowerPack weekends. 

Their dedication became especially evident in the weeks leading up to this year’s student week of prayer. News about the new coronavirus (COVID-19) started to circulate more and more, especially with the Washington epicenter located 28 miles away from campus. But in many ways, it still felt a world away.

The week of prayer started out somewhat normally but quickly changed as the death toll from COVID-19 began climbing in just a few days, mostly from a Kirkland nursing home. At every week of prayer meeting, special announcements were made about basic hygiene and the importance of washing hands, drinking water and staying healthy.

On Wednesday evening, March 4, 2020, the school administration took precautionary measures and decided to close campus and transition to distance learning through spring break time. A school mission trip abroad was canceled too.

“All these abrupt changes made it very difficult to adapt easily,” says Stella Ga, Associated Student Body spiritual vice president. “A day earlier I had been telling a fellow student how God does everything for a purpose, so if it’s His will He’ll make it happen, and, if not, then there must be a good reason. I think back to that moment and realize that the events that took place over the past few days have been for a very good, divine purpose. Maybe my mission wasn’t to be in the Philippines but actually here, all around me, helping others.”

The campus ministries team prayed about the last Thursday gathering of student week of prayer. They asked God to reveal His purpose (which was, ironically, the week’s theme) in all of this — and the students saw the results of their prayers.

Students had powerful messages about God’s presence and purpose in our lives, and the student praise team led their peers in singing songs with truths like “… our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are Higher than any other, our God is Healer, awesome in power, our God … .”

Campus chaplain David Kabanje says, “I am continually inspired by the tenacity and authenticity I see in these leaders. They pursue ministry. They not only want to connect with God but also desire a sense of family with their cohorts.” And that indeed has been evident in this year’s student month of prayer.