As the year 1994 began, the singer, songwriter, and composer Robin Mark became distressed after watching a Review of the Year program about 1993. The year 1993 was a bad one for the world. Stirred by what he saw, Mark summarized his feelings in “These are the Days of Elijah,” a song that has been slow to catch on among Adventists. Strange, because its lyrics speak to the times as a song of hope in a world where the composer once wondered if “God was really in control.”
As Mark began praying to God about the matter, he explains, “I felt in my spirit that He replied to my prayer by saying that indeed He was very much in control and that the days we were living in were special times when He would require Christians to be filled with integrity and to stand up for Him just like Elijah did, particularly with the prophets of Baal.”¹
The song has many lines that speak to the issues of this time: great trials, loss of confidence in God’s Word, and even an allusion to the consequences of global warming (now recently described as having moved on to “global boiling”), creating “famine, darkness and war.” However, as Mark describes, resolution for the human condition and situation comes through “righteousness being restored” because “in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13, ESV). The response of those living in similar times to those of Elijah is to live as “the love of Christ controls us” (2 Corinthians 5:14, ESV).
Pathfinders and the Message of Elijah
At more or less the same time as Robin Mark was composing his song, Malcolm Allen became the fifth General Conference (GC) World Pathfinder director (from 1986–1996). Allen’s burden for Pathfinders was to invite them to take up the “Elijah Challenge’” which, at its core, is to let God fill them with His love because in these times:
- The people on this earth need to see God’s love so badly.
- They need to see examples of people who are not selfish.
- They need to see examples of people who care about other people.
- They need to see examples of people who are loyal to God.
As one would join in singing this song with today’s generation of Pathfinders at the Trans-European Division (TED) 2023 Camporee, that person would be reminded of their calling, having “a message to tell to the world” and experiencing a ‘truth that will set people free.” Also, one may consider the challenge given by Dr. Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, GC Education director, at the TED Education Convention (running concurrently in Serbia on July 26–30): for the Adventist teachers present to shape students to become champions for God’s new countercultural society.
“And these are the days of harvest,” says the line of the song’s final verse, with an illusion from the Gospel of John. “Well, I’m telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what’s right in front of you. These Samaritan fields are ripe. It’s harvest time! (John 4:35, Message). And that’s exactly what Friday evening at Camporee felt like: witnessing “righteousness being restored”—making disciples through the power and presence of Jesus. [Watch the video!]
Baptized into Christ and a Living Church
The image of 16 baptized Pathfinders was stirring, but this is a story that goes far deeper than does the beautiful moment. This is a story about the Holy Spirit, who has prompted these young Pathfinder hearts and minds for weeks, months, and even years to bring them to this point. Through parents, Sabbath School teachers, Pathfinder leaders, pastors, elders, and Adventist school teachers comes a strong message that it takes a living church—the Ephesians 4 church—one that is biblical, worshiping, caring, serving, and expectant—to not only lead a Pathfinder to Christ but help him or her maintain a relationship with Christ.
Pathfinders Respond to Authenticity
Notwithstanding, the added dimension of Camporee makes the difference, not just for those baptized but for all the Pathfinders wrestling with spiritual matters. As stirring as the images are—and they most definitely are—the message from the response cards to the evening messages of Adam Hazel demonstrated the Spirit to be clearly working, prompting, stirring, and convicting Camporee Pathfinders. Over 250 Pathfinders decided to follow Christ: 133 requested baptism at a time in the near future, and 77 want to study the Bible. It takes someone with a gift and a personality through which authenticity shines to ably connect with children and teens between the ages of 10 and 18.
If there is one thing with which the church struggles but needs to understand about this generation, it is that today’s praise-and-worship experience is multi-sensory, involving music, lights, sound, and expression. And this was the tenor of the Camporee music, sensitively steered by a newly formed praise-and-worship team, mainly from the Netherlands, just for Camporee. Providing a range of songs, both traditional and modern, the team engaged the Pathfinders with songs prompting reflection and meditation, and at other times, songs to which campers moved and cheered, raised their hands, and gave the Lord thanks and praise with everything they could physically offer.
The Drummer’s Story
Seen from a distance, it would be easy to conclude that the worship team comprises incredibly good musical artists focussed on presentation and style. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the testimony of the drummer, Allared Nammensma, illustrates:
Every time I play those few short words of the song, ‘Behold He Comes, riding on the clouds, Shining like the sun, at the trumpet’s call,’ that’s the moment when I look up above to the sky and imagine how it will be when Jesus returns for us to be with Him in person as He promised. I look forward to that moment, and every time I do, it gives me goosebumps. I feel this way, not least because there is a war [going] on at the moment in Ukraine, with so many people suffering (there have always been wars in this world). Recently, my family experienced a serious health issue (and we are quite young), but we are now fine thanks to the Lord. It is in moments like we’ve just been through that I can’t help but focus my concentration on the Lord. Combine the world’s problems with our personal issues, and I have a deep longing for Jesus to return and renew this world from its present condition.
The drummer’s testimony was stirring and encouraging. There is a poor stereotype regarding drums and drummers: that the drummer and those singing along will somehow be “Adventist Christian lite.” The testimony says otherwise. The song says otherwise. The decisions of TED Pathfinders say otherwise.
Takeaways from Camporee
- Praise God for every baptism and decision made
- Those baptized and who have made decisions need continued, focused prayer.
- Will those who have made decisions be followed up through excellent pastoral care and discipleship?
- As the Pathfinders return home, will they find a living, expectant church community?
- To make Camporee successful involves excellent team building, teamwork, and team-care. The leadership of Dejan Stojkovic made that possible.
Today’s Pathfinders think there is “No God like Jehovah” and are not afraid to repeat it many times. Pray that adults will follow suit.
¹ Robin Mark, “The Story Behind the Days of Elijah,” https://robinmark.com/the-story-behind-days-of-elijah/.