Stephen Erickson

Skills Used in God’s Service

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Papua New Guinea often hosts youth gatherings at different locations. Three years ago, the Kewa Church sponsored its youth on a church-organized youth rally in a village on the bank of the Fly River. It took our young people two days of travel by land, river and creek to get there. Hoping that this church-sponsored event would inspire our youth to be more active in church, we were disappointed when many of our youth stopped attending church after returning from the convention.

“What happened?” we asked the few remaining ones.

“They didn’t attend the meetings. They wandered off doing their own thing in the village,” they lamented.

So we were justifiably cautious when, towards the end of last year, our youth leader asked the church to sponsor the youth to go to another rally at a different village on the far bank of the Fly River, a little further away than the last place. After much discussion between the Kewa church and youth leaders, we gave them a second chance. We prayed hard for them before they left and continued while they were gone. I prayed for a miracle. We wanted to see positive spiritual growth among the youth as a result of this rally.

Another reason for my reluctance was that eight of the youth wanting to attend the rally were the workers helping me build the training center and other buildings associated with it. That left me with a skeleton crew of only four young men to continue tying up loose ends on some of the buildings on our little campus. Remarkably, God not only answered our prayers for the youth who traveled, but He also blessed our small work crew who stayed behind.
While our youth were at the rally, word got out to the sponsoring church leadership that our young men had some experience in putting up buildings. The village has a large Adventist presence and had been attempting to construct a church structure to meet in. Unfortunately, they had hired a contractor to do the work, but he ran off with their money and the plans.

I received an urgent call from our youth leader at the end of the rally. “Dad! Can you draw a plan for a church and email it to us? They want us to build their church for them.” I had mixed emotions. I felt like a parent proud of his children who wanted them to use the skills they had acquired to help others but also nervous at them doing this by themselves without my presence. Could they do this on their own? I wondered.

I sent a plan the next day, but it was too late. They had already worked out a plan themselves and started framing the walls. (The support posts and floor framing were already in place before our group arrived, so they had a base to build on.) I was amazed to see their progress as they would send me photos from time to time. The walls went up in record time! But soon, the timber supply ran out, and they had to stop until more could be milled. With nothing to do, they came back to Kewa for a couple of weeks. They were happy to be home and satisfied that they could use the skills they had acquired to help others.

I was pleased to see the young men back at church as well. Even the workers who remained with me started attending church, and one of them now wants to be baptized. Praise God! How wonderful it is that they are experiencing the satisfaction of giving back to God.

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