Ted N.C. Wilson
Did you know that Sabbath, September 19, is a very important day for nearly 2 million young people around the world? That’s because it is “World Pathfinder Day”—a day set aside each year to highlight young people who are involved in Pathfinders.
The Pathfinder Club has been an official component of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s youth ministry department since 1950, so this year they are celebrating 70 years of worldwide Pathfindering!
A special online World Pathfinder Day program will be livestreamed worldwide this Sabbath on the GC Youth Ministries Facebook page. For more information, visit the link below—youth.adventist.org
In case you may not be familiar with Pathfinders, this Seventh-day Adventist youth organization is focused on young people 10 to 15 years old, and is filled with action, adventure, challenge and group activities, and has a strong spiritual component. It provides opportunities for the development of new attitudes and skills that produce personal growth, team spirit, and a sense of loyalty and respect for God, His Creation, and His Church. Perhaps one of the best-known activities of the club is the large international camporee held in OshKosh, Wisconsin, in the United States every five years.
This year, the theme for the World Pathfinder Day is “Reconciled: Where I Belong” and focuses on the story of the welcoming father in the story of the Prodigal Son, with the key text of Luke 15:22, where the father welcomes his wayward son home. This son, who demanded his inheritance immediately and then wasted it very irresponsibly, decides at last to come home. We read the touching scene in Luke 15:18-24.
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’
20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, [a]‘Bring out the best robe and put iton him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
What a beautiful story this is for us all—young, and the not-so-young. It contains eternal lessons for us—giving us a beautiful picture of a Heavenly Father who loves us and is eagerly waiting to welcome us home.
Perhaps you, friend, have wandered, or are tempted to wander away from Jesus. Maybe you feel you have gone too far to turn back now.
“Do not listen to the enemy’s suggestion to stay away from Christ until you have made yourself better. If you wait until then, you will never come,” we read in the beautiful book, Christ’s Object Lessons. “Arise and go to your Father. He will meet you a great way off. If you take even one step toward Him in repentance, He will hasten to enfold you in His arms of infinite love. . . . The very first reaching out of the heart after God is known to Him. Never a prayer is offered, however faltering, never a tear is shed, however secret, never a sincere desire after God is cherished, however feeble, but the Spirit of God goes forth to meet it” (p. 206).
What a beautiful, precious promise!
And you know, this touching story also speaks to our hearts in welcoming back those who have gone astray. Do our hearts yearn for those who perhaps grew up in the Church—maybe they were even involved in Pathfinders and other youth activities—but have somehow lost their way? Do we spend time on our knees for these dear youth, pleading with the Lord to bring them back? Do we find ways to reach out to them, letting them know we care and that they are missed? And when they do return, do we welcome them with open arms?
There is so much we can learn from this parable. Let us take to heart the wonderful theme of this year’s World Pathfinder Day— “Reconciled: Where I Belong.” With God. That is where everyone belongs!
Jesus promised in John 14:1-3— “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions . . . I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place of you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
Let’s pray together,
Father in heaven, we thank you for these marvelous promises that you have prepared places for us, that you have known us even a far way off before we even arrive home. You are longing to have us back into your presence.
Lord bless our Pathfinders. Bless our Pathfinder leaders, bless our church members who encourage the Pathfinders and Lord bless those young people who may have slipped away from you.
Maybe they’re even older people who at one point had some connection with the church and with Pathfindering, but have left your fold. Bring them back Lord and help us to make contact with them and encourage them. Thank you Lord, for these wonderful promises of your everlasting love for each of us, we long for the day when we will be reunited with you in heaven.
Never to part again in Jesus’ name, we ask it. Amen.