By Debbonnaire Kovacs, posted Jan 20, 2016

“We are losing young people!” How many times have you heard it? How many articles (including in these pages), how many sermons, how many meetings? Arizona Conference Young Adult Ministries (AZYAmin) may have some answers for those who want to know what to do about it.

I was first given a tip because of a Facebook post by Benjamin Lundquist on NAD Young Adult Ministry Advisory, publicizing one of AZYAmin’s Samaritan’s Feet projects, about which Lundquist had this to say:

“After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet…” – John 13:5
Serving the community, though our Samaritan’s Feet Project, has become a highlight of young adult ministry in Arizona. Sharing 15 minutes with a child talking about their dreams for the future, the Gospel, and Jesus is a wonderful gift. Thanks to our volunteer team who answered the call to come out and serve on December 12, 2105. This is one of the most impacting projects we do each year, and I would other encourage young adult ministries to consider running a project like this is their community. #Gospel #Encouragement #SamaritansFeet2015 #AZYAMin.”

This post doesn’t say it, but besides giving heart gifts like prayer and service, the volunteers also give the children new shoes. This year, on December 12, 180 volunteers showed up. The impact no doubt is as great on the givers as on the receivers. In fact, they’re teaming up with Glendale, CA church to do it again January 23.

Then I learned that, according to their website they are “one of the fastest growing young adult SDA communities in the nation.”

So this feature grew beyond reporting on the Samaritan’s Feet events and into finding out why they are so successful. Here are some of the factors listed on their website:

  • an active presence in Arizona’s two universities,
  • local churches who “are taking significant strides to love young adults better,”
  • growing Sabbath School programs as well as
  • young adult small groups across the state,
  • a full calendar of events,
  • a full week-long camp meeting program for the young adults,
  • and a summer camp mentoring/discipleship program for the staff at their summer camp, Camp Yavapines.

If you live in Arizona and want to get involved, you’ll find plenty of opportunity. But if, like the vast majority of our readers, you do not, you can find a lot of inspiration here.

One of the things I noticed was that much of my research led to videos, Facebook groups, and Instagram photos—and it looked as though there was a lot of fun going on as well as a lot of ministry. You can see photos of young hands washing little feet, and of people praying together. You can also see photos of people skiing, and video clips of snowboarders falling down and laughing. You can see groups working together, and individuals on mountains or in lakes. There is a page to like and a group to join.

More training is available too. Here is another post from their young adults facebook page:

Has a mentor changed your life? Can we as leaders do a better job investing in the next generation? Where do we start in creating a culture of mentoring in local churches and communities?

‪#‎PUCMentor Conference is a one-day local church conference created to inspire, challenge, and equip church members to better invest in the next generation. The Pacific Union youth/young adult ministry team has come together and launched a traveling conference that will eventually land in every one of the seven conference in the Pacific Union. The video footage in this short film is from the most recent conference held in Arizona at the Camelback Seventh-day Adventist Church. Big thanks to Eric Penick, Erik VanDenburgh, David Solomon Hall Sr, Manny Cruz, Jackie James, Andrew Yeyama, Eddie Heinrich, Ron Pickell, and a few others for helping with this event.

Many other conferences may have similar programs. If yours does not, consider getting together your best young leaders and creating one.

General Conference Youth Ministries also has a youth mentoring program you can download at no cost. Go to this website and scroll down to Mentoring Series. Each chapter can be downloaded separately.

Any church can begin—perhaps with one activity that is a favorite in their own area, and one small group, preferably led by a younger leader.

God bless Arizona Conference, and all the other conferences and individuals who are hard at work loving and leading and learning from our young people!

Watch the Arizona young people at work by going to our Visual Arts department here.