Throughout Adventist history, the church has greatly benefited from the involvement and ministry of youth and young adults at all levels of the organization. The younger they are when they get involved, the more years of service they tend to give and the more the church stands to gain. One example was the ministry of A.G. Daniells, who started working for the church as a young man, rose through the ranks to become General Conference (GC) president, and was the architect of our current church structure.
In 1886, Arthur G. Daniells received a call to serve in New Zealand and later, Australia. Though only 28 years of age, Daniells and his young wife accepted this life-changing appointment that transformed their lives forever. Daniells was an articulate preacher and a humble, yet brave and effective administrator.
Charles Watson, GC president at the time of Daniells’ death, wrote that “under his leadership the present organization of the field began to take shape. It was there that the union conference feature of our work was originated, and with it the departmental features were developed. There, too, in laying the foundations of the educational, medical, publishing, Missionary Volunteer [now Adventist Youth Ministries] and other distinctive lines of institutional and departmental service”—Review and Herald, April 18, 1935, vol. 112, no. 16, p. 3.
While overseas and faced with discouragement, the involvement of the youth gave him new determination and vigor. The contribution of younger members re-energized his spirit, and encouraged his soul and the field. Encouraged and upbeat, Daniells wrote to Ellen White in March 1893, that “Some things are quite encouraging. Every hand in the office has taken hold anew, and I believe the younger employees have had a better experience than they have ever had before. They all take hold and speak and pray every time there is an opportunity for them to do so. Not one holds back. I regret that some of the older ones did not see the importance of attending the meetings and coming in personal contact with the hands in their spiritual experiences. I fear they will not fully appreciate the tenderness of the plants and water them as they might had they entered into the personal efforts to seek new experiences,”—A. G. Daniells Collection, Correspondence 1893, Collection 227.
Daniells was not afraid to venture into new programs, explore new ideas, and try different strategies. This, of course, helped him to prepare for and adjust to every leadership transition and period in his life. The involvement of the youth in a new missionary meeting he started for them brought great joy to his heart. He reported his joy to Ellen White when he penned these words, “As I look at those forty young people, I can see that our work with them is very important. If all of them were to become truly converted and become Bible students and true missionary workers and all this is just what ought to be, they would be a great blessing to this church,”—A. G. Daniells Collection, Correspondence 1893, Collection 227.
He did not see these young people as a threat to his own leadership. He saw their potential to be “true missionary workers” who could render years of great service to the church. Daniells, therefore, had spiritual foresight.
This issue of the Gleaner focuses on the youth and young adult ministry in the Atlantic Union. Today, there are more “Daniells” in our pews who are eager to make their contributions to the church. Youth and young adults more than ever need the support of church members and leaders. Our support and reassurance will facilitate and encourage their ministries and bring joy and encouragement to our hearts.
Pierre Omeler is the executive secretary for the Atlantic Union Conference.