A Christian Student’s Toolbox: Don’t Leave Home Without It!

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A Christian Student’s Toolbox: Don’t Leave Home Without It!

One evening during this past GYC, a presenter asked everyone in the room with birthdays between August and December to stand to their feet. From where I was, it looked like the majority of GYC attendees in the large convention hall stood up—anxiously, as no one knew the point the presenter was about to make.

The presenter, suddenly appearing disheartened, looked around thoughtfully at the number of people standing up. In a calm but despairing voice, he reported that a recent study found that one in three young Adventists eventually left the church.

I was overcome with a sense of discouragement as I also looked around and saw hundreds of young people standing up—all representing a number of people who could eventually leave the church. I was one of them. Not perceiving clearly anything else that the presenter said afterward, I sat back down in my seat and silently asked God to put me on a mission geared toward encouraging young Adventists like myself to stay steadfastly in God’s church.

I was born and raised in a Rwandan Adventist home that made the Word of God the beginning and end of each day. Although I appreciated living with my family, I can’t thank God enough for taking me away to face the secular world, because that’s when I began to evaluate my faith and personal walk with God.

Soon after leaving home at age 20 to continue my college education, I found myself needing a more systematic approach, much like a toolbox, to help me transition into the secular world. For instance, how could I go about finding a church that felt like the home church I grew up in? What were some practical reasons why church attendance was so essential to my faith? What were the benefits of weekly Bible studies in my personal walk with God? How could I stay close to God if I barely had time to eat and sleep?

These are some of the questions that ran through my head within the first few years of leaving home, and honestly, they are questions I never sought answers to. Looking back, however, I wish I had—the answers to these questions would have provided me with a toolbox that would have been instrumental in maintaining and growing my faith in God.

At that point in my life, I began to feel like a stranger in my own church. Suddenly, going a day or a week without communion with God didn’t feel like the loss it once was. I quickly learned that being an Adventist young adult didn’t come naturally in the secular world; in fact, being an Adventist young adult became an identity I couldn’t relate to anymore.

Through lessons in my own life and the lives of other admirable young Adventists around me, I’ve learned that there is actually a toolbox that young adults much like myself can use to stay close to God during their academic years. In this monthly series you will be reading about some practical steps that young Adventist Christians can take in order to maintain their belief in God on college/university campuses, particularly secular campuses.

A walk with God, like most things in life, requires some effort; the believer needs to engage in behaviors that result in more likeness with God (1 John 2:26). For instance, if I wanted to be more like an individual I admire, I would follow them around all day, learning everything they do on a daily basis in order to be who they are. This is no different from striving to be like God. I have a feeling you already know this, however!

On that GYC night as I stood hopelessly thinking about that horrific statistic, I was comforted by the fact that we serve an almighty God who is on a mission of using young people to impact other young people. I am faithful today because the happiest and most fulfilled lives I see around me are those of young, active, and devout Adventist Christians.

As that night progressed, I became confident in knowing the purpose for my life going into the new year 2016. I walked out of that large convention hall thinking about all the tools that have been instrumental in bringing me back closer to God. All the tools that every young person should be equipped with in order to survive the secular world and remain in the church. My prayer is that the tools explored in this series will help at least one Adventist young adult to learn about the practicality of remaining faithful to God on a college campus. I invite you to come along as we explore the contents of A Christian Student’s Toolbox.

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Bertilde “Bee” Kamana is a doctoral student in the department of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas. In her spare time, Bee enjoys writing about faith as it relates to young adults. She aspires to shine God’s light in seemingly dark places.