Could These Be The Days of Elijah?

252 Pathfinders decide to follow Christ, 133 request baptism, 77 want to study bible, and 16 baptised at Camporee

News August 3, 2023

31 July 2023 | Sopron, Hungary [David Neal]

As the 1994 year began the singer, songwriter and composer Robin Mark became distressed after watching a ‘Review of the Year’  programme about 1993. The story of 1993 was a bad year for the world. Stirred by what he had seen, he summarised his feelings in the song known as, “These are the Days of Elijah”, a song which has been slow to catch on among Adventists. Strange, because its lyrics speak to the times as a song of hope in a world where the composer once wondered if  ‘God was really in control’. As he began praying to God about the matter he explains, “I felt in my spirit that He replied to my prayer by saying that indeed He was very much in control, and that the days we were living in were special times when He would require Christians to be filled with integrity and to stand up for Him just like Elijah did, particularly with the prophets of Baal.”¹

The song has many lines which speak to the issues of our time – great trials, loss of confidence in God’s Word, and even an allusion to the consequences of global warming (now recently described as having moved on to ‘global boiling’), creating ‘famine, darkness and war’. But as Mark describes, resolution for our human condition and situation comes through ‘Righteousness being restored’, because “In Christ Jesus, you who were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ”. (Ephesians 2:11-18 ESV)  The response of those living in similar times to those of Elijah is to live as “the love of Christ controls us…” (2 Corinthians 5:18-21 ESV).

Pathfinders and the message of Elijah

At more or less the same time as Robin Mark was composing his song, Malcolm Allen became the 5th General Conference (GC) World Pathfinder director (from 1986 – 1996). Allen’s burden for Pathfinders was to invite them to take up the ‘Elijah Challenge’, which in summary at its core is to let God fill them with his love, because in these times:

  1. The people on this earth need to see God’s love so badly.
  2. They need to see examples of people who are not selfish.
  3. They need to see examples of people who care about other people.
  4. They need to see examples of people who are loyal to God.

As I joined in singing this song along with today’s generation of Pathfinders at the Trans-European Division (TED) 2023 Camporee, I was reminded of their calling with ‘A message to tell to the world’, and to experience a ‘truth that will set us free’. Also on my mind was the challenge given by GC Education director, Dr Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, at the TED Education Convention (running concurrently in Serbia 26-30 July) – for the Adventist teachers present to shape students to become champions for God’s new countercultural society.

Camporee Baptism

“And these are the days of harvest…”, says the line of the final verse with an illusion from the gospel of John. “Well, I’m telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what’s right in front of you. These Samaritan fields are ripe. It’s harvest time! (John 4:35 Msg) And that’s exactly what Friday evening at Camporee felt like – witnessing ‘Righteousness being restored’, making disciples through the power and presence of Jesus. Watch the video!

Baptised into Christ and a Living Church

Stirring images of sixteen baptised Pathfinders! But this is a story which goes tonnes deeper than the beautiful and stirring images of the moment. Because this is a story about the Holy Spirit who has prompted these young Pathfinder hearts and minds for weeks, months and even years to bring them to this point. Through parents, Sabbath School teachers, Pathfinder leaders, pastors, elders, and Adventist school teachers, comes a strong message that it takes a living church, the Ephesians 4 church, one that is biblical, worshiping, caring, serving, and expectant – to not only lead a Pathfinder to Christ, but help them maintain their relationship with Christ.

Stirring images of sixteen baptised Pathfinders!
16 Pathfinders affirm their faith in Christ and his teachings before experiencing baptism, and inspiring hundreds of others to make a comittment to Christ.

Pathfinders Respond to Authenticity

But the added dimension of camporee makes the difference, not just for those baptised, but for all the Pathfinders wrestling with spiritual matters. As stirring as the images in the video are – and they most definitely do, the message from the response cards to the evening messages of Adam Hazel demonstrated the Spirit to be clearly working, prompting, stirring and convicting Camporee Pathfinders. 252 Pathfinders decided to follow Christ. 133 request baptism at a time in the near future and 77 want to study bible. It takes someone with a gift and a personality where authenticity shines, to ably connect with children and teens between the ages of 10 and 18. His story is worth taking a few moments to view.

Worship Matters

If there’s one thing the church struggles with but needs to understand about this generation – it is that today’s praise and worship experience is multi-sensory involving music, lights, sound, and expression. And this was the tenor of the Camporee music, sensitively steered by a newly formed praise and worship team, mainly from the Netherlands just for Camporee. Providing a range of songs, of both traditional and modern genre, the team engaged the Pathfinders with songs for reflection and meditation, and at other times songs to which campers moved and cheered, raised their hands, and gave the Lord thanks and praise with everything they could physically offer.

Young band playing at Camporee in Hungary, 2023
From left to right: Joshua Sambo (bass player), Cursey James, Allard Nammensma (drummer), Reuven van den Broek (guitarist), Ethan Manners-Jones (keys), Myrthe Buiel (front) Manon Nammensma (rear) and Shanevan Duinkerk.

The Drummer’s Story

Seen from a distance, it would be easy to conclude that the worship team are incredibly good musical artists focussed on presentation and style. Nothing could be further from the truth as the testimony of the drummer Allared Nammensma illustrates.

“Every time I play those few short words of the song, “Behold He Comes, riding on the clouds, Shining like the sun, at the trumpet’s call “, that’s the moment when I look up above to the sky and imagine how it will be when Jesus returns for us to be with him in person as he promised. I look forward to that moment, and every time I do it gives me goosebumps. I feel this way, not least because there is a war on at the moment in Ukraine, with so many people suffering (there have always been wars in this world). Recently my family experienced a serious health issue (and we are quite young) but we are now fine thanks to the Lord. It is in moments like we’ve just been through, that I can’t help but focus my concentration on the Lord. Combine the world’s problems with our personal issuses, and I have a deep longing for Jesus to return and renew this world from its present condition…”

The drummer’s testimony stirred and encouraged me. There is a poor stereotype with drums and drummers in the room, that the drummer and those singing along will somehow be ‘Adventist Christian lite’. The testimony says otherwise. The song says otherwise. The decisions of TED Pathfinders say otherwise.

My takeaways from Camporee:
  • Praise God as ever for every baptism and decision made.
  • Those baptised and who have made decisions need our continued and focussed prayer.
  • Will those who have made decisions, be followed up with excellent pastoral care and discipleship?
  • As the Pathfinders return home, will they find a living expectant church community?
  •  To make Camporee successful involves excellent team building, teamwork, and team-care. The leadership of Dejan Stojkovic made that possible.
Today’s generation of Pathfinders think there is ‘No God like Jehovah’ and are not afraid to repeat many times. Pray we do too.

¹The story Behind the Days of Elijah, by Robin Mark.
[Photos: Elsie Tjeransen and David Neal, Videos: Mike Ostrovljanovic with the TED 2023 Camporee Media Team (baptism), David Neal (interview), and Hope Channel Hungary (Song)].

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