“There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this. . . . Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted.”—John 6:9, 11 (MSG)
The story of Jesus’ feeding 5,000 men and, in addition, women and children, is familiar to many. The crowd was fed because of the generosity of one little boy who offered his lunch of five loaves of bread and two fishes. On the surface, it seemed impossible that the boy’s meager meal could be used to satisfy the appetites of all those hungry people. But it was a story with a “heavenly twist.” Only God could have looked at the heart of the young boy, understood his faith and commitment to the service of others, and after blessing it, used what the boy had to feed all those people, and still have lots more left over than when they started.
There are examples in the Bible of committed young people who were willing to be selfless in their desire to do God’s work. Throughout the history of the Adventist Church there are also examples of young people who displayed their love for God through service to Him. That is no different today. However, too often we underestimate the compassionate heart of today’s youth and God’s ability to work with and through them to accomplish great things for Him. Their commitment to service should not be ignored or suppressed, but embraced and encouraged.
In the Atlantic Union there are many examples of young people who are shining their lights for Christ, and in this month’s issue of the Gleaner we are sharing a few of them. From early childhood and up, young people are involved, representing Jesus in their churches and communities through random acts of service to others. The Bermuda Conference youth held Compassion 2015, spreading compassion throughout the island. About 200 children between three and six years old showed how they are growing and walking in God’s footsteps. And in conjunction with the Adventist Church’s Global Youth Day, youth from the Beverly church participated in several service activities in their community. These are just a few of the examples of Atlantic Union youth in action.
Even though we have access to better ways of communicating with the use of today’s technology, the work of many of the youth goes unnoticed. Think of the number of stories that have not yet been told. Think of the lives that have been touched by these young people that no one will ever know about.
Never has this Adventist movement been about how much one gives or gets. It’s about whether or not one is moved with compassion for the needs that are present, such as the boy in the story with the loaves and fishes. It is about developing a culture of generosity within oneself, the family, and the community.
In just a few weeks, the General Conference will hold its 60th Constituency Session in San Antonio, Texas. Several of the delegates representing the Atlantic Union are youth. We pray for them, the entire Atlantic Union delegation, and the session as a whole as the delegates participate in business of the church.
As leaders we should be excited to take on the challenge of working with our youth as they share their loaves and fishes in their churches, neighborhoods, and the larger communities.
Ednor A. P. Davison is the editor of the Atlantic Union Gleaner and assistant to the president for communication in the Atlantic Union Conference.