By Tysan, December 12, 2017: Thousands of Adventist young people from ten nations gathered this week in Tanzania for the Pathfinder Camporee of the denomination’s East Central Africa Division (ECD). It began Monday and will end after Sabbath.
Some arrived three days early from Rwanda, the Congo, Uganda and Kenya. The venue is Kibidula Farm, one of the largest farming operations owned by the denomination and managed with the help of missionaries. Adventist Today spoke with Antoinette Fournier, a South African citizen married to a Canadian missionary, Jason Fournier. She said the farm includes more than 4,000 acres and has several evangelism as well as agricultural production activities.
“God has called us to do what He wants us to do,” she said. “I was called when I was 19 and (I am) still ready to hear another call when God says go.”
The first Pathfinders to arrive assisted in clearing brush and cutting wood, building tents and simple housing, carrying water and many other activities to prepare the camp. It is the rainy season and to ensure the safety of campers, volunteers are digging at various places along the streams to direct water flow away from the tents.
The roads in the camping area have been named after Luther Warren, a pioneer in Adventist youth ministry; Blasius Ruguri, the ECD president; Baraka Muganda, the former General Conference youth director who is currently a faculty member at Washington Adventist University in the U.S. and will be a speaker at the Camporee this week; and others.
Pastor Magulilo Mwakalonge, the ECD youth director who organized the camporee, has been very busy with a massive event, but not too busy to focus on the needs of young people. Adventist Today heard him talking to pastors, expressing his feelings about how youths are to be related to. “Please do not put down our young people. We want them to remain in church no matter what they may do.”
At the inaugural session, Mwakalonge introduced the youth directors from the union conferences in the ECD. He also introduced the Camporee theme, “Sola Scriptura: The Bible and the Bible Alone.”
Participants from Kenya, where political crisis and tension continues, wonder at how peaceful Tanzania is. One man from Gethorai Central Adventist Church in Kenya told Adventist Today that he is enjoying how peaceful Tanzania is and asked for prayer by Adventists around the world that Kenya take the same path. “Kenya is a good country with a few challenges that need to be overcome, and that [must] start it in our individual capacities. … We require your prayers more than criticism.”
Some of the groups on their way to the Camporee faced great challenges. Adventist Today received a note via social media that “820 Seventh-day Adventist Ugandans are being held … by the Tanzanian police at Kyamilya Bridge. We have been stranded here since Thursday due to the fact that buses from Uganda have a seating capacity of 5 people per row instead of 4 people. And Ugandan buses have 6 tires instead of 10 tires. Ugandan buses are found overloaded even if no person is inside it. We are stranded, children are hungry, [and] youth directors from fields and conference are here stranded too. We have negotiated enough beyond our elasticity point. The only advise they have given us is to contact the Ugandan embassy so that it can contact local authorities.” The border police were requiring payment of fees totaling 10.8 million Tanzania shilling ($4,840) to enter the country and a similar toll when they returned.
This is only the second Pathfinder Camporee in the ECD. Adventist Today will provide another report next week when the event is concluded.
The editors want to express appreciation to Pastor Magulilo Mwakalonge, the ECD youth director, for inviting an Adventist Today reporter to cover this event. Young Adventists in Africa make up one of the largest segments of the worldwide Adventist faith and will play an important role in its future.
The featured photo shows a Pathfinder band from Kenya welcoming groups as they arrive at Camporee.