A Tale of Two Cities
Two very different cities have something in common.
By Willie Tafadzwa Chinyamurindi
What do the cities of Telford in the west of England and Mossel Bay in the Western Cape province of South Africa have in common? Geographically, they are separated by a vast ocean. Demographically, when entering Mossel Bay you are greeted by shanty towns that residents call home. Conversely, the residents of Telford enjoy the vast terrain of the English countryside. The difference in opulence between the two towns is stark. Despite these and many other differences, there is a commonality that threads these cities together. It’s what I call the “Adventist Youth Presence.”
A Fragrance of Hope
This presence is a fragrance of hope that an army of workers who are “rightly trained”1leave behind in a community. Our youth can—and do—leave a powerful aurora in their communities.
Within a two-month time frame I attended two major youth events. One in the United Kingdom (viewed as a bastion of secular teaching) and the other in South Africa, a country reeling from past hurts. Fresh in my fiber are the stories of members of these two communities after experiencing the Adventist youth presence.
“Please Pray for Me . . .”
Mattie, a 39-year-old woman in Mossel Bay, opened her gates to three strangers dressed in immaculate suits and badges with a cross and three angels. “We are here at a youth camp,” said one of the young people to Mattie as she approached her. She offered Mattie the book When God Said Remember.
“Please pray for me and the challenges I am going through at work and in my life,” responded Mattie to her three guests. While they prayed with Mattie, other young people were visiting homes in the same community, enrolling residents of Mossel Bay for Bible study, offering prayer, and giving out literature. In one afternoon more than 500 doors were knocked on, and the presence of Adventist youth was felt.
“I Wish You Could Come Every Day!”
On the another side of the world in Telford, Adam Keogh led a delegation of young Adventists to a nursing home. Armed with broad smiles and hymnals in their hands, they entered the posh-looking nursing home. Maureen Gatharia, from Ireland, led a hymn. The residents were overjoyed. As the young people left the home, one of the residents shouted out, “I wish you could come every day!” Other youth knocked on doors, enrolled people for Bible studies, and conducted street evangelism activities.
Though these two groups of young people are unlikely to meet, they are united by the common cause of being relevant to the needs of their community. The challenges these communities face are different, but the solution is common—and young people are helping to change lives and bring hope. They exude the Adventist youth presence.
True Mission Work
Communities around the world are in need of help. Adventism provides a wholistic solution. The Adventist youth presence is most effective in service to the community and being able to meet the physical, mental, social, and spiritual needs of people.
Busi Khumalo, director for youth and Adventist chaplaincy ministries in the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, emphasizes the important role of young people and their involvement in community: “True mission work is meeting people where they are and responding to their plight.” This was the method used by Christ: “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’”2
Joy in My Heart
I left the British summer to come to a South African winter—yet in both locations I was warmed by the synergy of this global movement.
Gratitude for being part of the Adventist youth presence in these countries—and others—has helped me define the meaning of home as a place where a positive presence is felt. This presence cuts across the divides and geographical barriers, a presence actuated by the life and example led by Jesus. Important in His ministry was not the city He went to but the lives touched while there. This tale of two cities, and the Adventist youth presence, brings joy to my heart.
1 Ellen G. White, Education, p. 271.
2 Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 143.
Willie Tafadzwa Chinyamurindi is in his final year of his Ph.D. with the Open University in Milton Keynes in the United Kingdom. He writes from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where he is collecting data for his research.