Students refocus: baptisms, acts of service to follow
Avondale’s bi-annual week of spiritual emphasis has seen 10 students requesting baptism and nearly 30 students committing their lives to service.
Festival of Faith is completely student-run, something Lake Macquarie campus chaplain Pr Ray Moaga says is crucial in empowering the students in their faith journey.
“When students come to the program, they know it’s their friends who are leading them in worship, setting up the prayer room or greeting them at the door,” he says. “It’s a discipleship process—we have student leaders, and my job is to make sure they’re all doing OK, but really, the students run 99.9 per cent of the program.”
“[Our theme was] Refocus,” says Sahil Nath, who coordinated Festival of Faith in his role as Student Associated Ministries leader. “We wanted to bring a new perspective to the Old Testament.”
Pr Brock Goodall, who serves Haven Campus Church at Central Coast Adventist School, spoke 11 times during the week on Leviticus. The book, which emphasises ritual, legal and moral practices, is not as accessible as others in the Bible. “And that’s the reason I chose it,” says Goodall. “We read it, and it makes no sense, which only reinforces why we don’t read it. But the book’s in the Bible for a reason. Someone took the effort to write it down, so it must be important.”
The way the Spirit of God is moving on campus is remarkable. . . . We have students leading other students to Jesus through Bible study, and students leading Bible studies for our church members. This generation is ripened for the challenge.Pr Nimrod Maua, Senior Minister, Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist ChurchGoodall’s message to the students: God is good with you. He illustrates this by referring to the three classes of sacrificial animals—bull, sheep or goat and dove or pigeon—mentioned in the first chapter. “You realise they’re all listed so people in every economic class could have access to God,” he says. “Some of the texts in Leviticus are pretty brutal and make me uncomfortable, but when we refocus and see things as the original audience saw them, then we see something beautiful.”
Before Festival of Faith began, Moaga initiated a prayer challenge for all staff members and students, inviting them to gather to read Scripture and spend time talking to God. With up to 20 participants some days, Moaga says the student involvement in the challenge even inspired some staff members to begin a regular prayer walk.
Student Life Services live streamed Festival of Faith on its Facebook page, drawing more than 6000 views across the week. On Friday evening alone, more than 1000 people watched the program.
“We have a lot of distance students,” says Moaga. “Creating a prayer challenge via Instagram or live streaming the program means those students, whether they’re interstate or even overseas, can still be involved.”
The decision cards distributed on Friday evening=, played an important role in laying groundwork for further commitment and service. Ten students requested baptism, a further 13 asked for Bible studies and 30 indicated they had a specific prayer request.
Committed to ensuring students continued their spiritual walk, Moaga and his team produced cards that asked students if they wanted to serve, giving a choice of serving on campus or at Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church. More than 30 students indicated a desire to serve in some way at the church, while 27 said they would be more comfortable serving in some way on campus.
“So often we have decision cards that come in where the person has ticked a box simply saying they want to serve,” says Alex Green, associate pastor of the church. “From a follow-up perspective, that can be difficult because we have no idea in what capacity that person means. Do they want to serve their community, their family, their church? If we’re able to distinguish where a student is more comfortable serving, then we can follow that up much more effectively and intentionally.”
The buzz on campus following Festival of Faith is something that remains with the students for months. “It’s such a highlight and a real spiritual booster for the campus,” says Green. “It’s an intentional week where students are being fed spiritually twice a day with solid biblical teaching. They can wrestle with and explore Scripture for themselves, and pray, be encouraged and worship God with their peers. Every single time we hold Festival of Faith, the spiritual temperature on campus just increases. Before [last week’s event], students were still talking about the Festival of Faith we had in second semester of last year.”
And it’s not just Festival of Faith that highlights the spiritual transformation happening at Avondale. “The way the Spirit of God is moving on campus is remarkable,” says Pr Nimrod Maua, the church’s senior pastor. “We have so many students in Life Groups and leading Life Groups. One theology student took our Life Group Ministry from 30 people attending across five groups to 230 people attending 27 groups, mostly led by students. We have students leading other students to Jesus through Bible study, and students leading Bible studies for our church members. This generation is ripened for the challenge.”