Festival of Faith II 2016 at Avondale College of Higher Education.

Honest stories telling

Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Student-led faith festival impresses former White House guard

The student response to Avondale’s biannual Festival of Faith is unlike any other, says a former military honour guard at the White House.

“I’ve been blessed to speak at many universities,” says Dr Terry Johnsson, “but I’ve never had the response of the one-on-ones like I’ve had here [at Avondale College of Higher Education].”

More than 50 students helped organise the week-long festival, which reached about 350 students in morning and in evening sessions each day.

Johnsson explored the theme of My Story throughout the week. His story? The former Senior Radio Chaplain and Operational Manager for WGTS 91.9, a contemporary Christian music radio station in Washington, DC, previously served three presidents as part of the United States Air Force Honour Guard. He is now Executive Director for Mission Integration at the Adventist Medical Centre in Portland, Oregon.

Students also shared their stories, demonstrating that God can use ordinary people to do extraordinary things. The way the students told their stories impressed Johnsson. “I could just go up there [to the pulpit] and say ‘amen’ and sit back down because I have been so blessed night after night with their honesty.”

Dr Wayne French, the chaplain on Avondale’s Lake Macquarie campus, has helped organise Festival of Faith for the past 11 years. “It’s student owned, student driven and student inspired, and that’s what I love about it.”

Students served in two praise teams, a stage design team, a welcome team, a prayer team, a testimony team, a video team and a café team during the festival.

“It’s great to see so many different people being used by God,” says Festival of Faith co-leader and Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Teaching student Rebekah-Eunice Modernel. “Everyone at college is so wonderfully unique and has amazing God-given talents, and I feel God really harnessed that this week.”

Modernel and the others involved in Festival of Faith have received a blessing, too. “It’s always a renewing of my faith,” says French. “It’s so incredible to be challenged, and for it to be such a meaningful challenge. It gives me fuel for the fire.”

Modernel’s fuel comes through participation. “I feel God work when I serve,” she says. “It helps me discover my talents and God’s will for my life.”

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Aleesha Whatson

Aleesha Whatson is a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Teaching student at Avondale College of Higher Education.