David Park is a university student, and the president of ANEW - a network of Adventist university students that attend non-Adventist institutions. He talks to Spectrum about his organization, his goals and his convictions.
Question: ANEW is described as a retreat for Adventist college students attending non-Adventist schools - a weekend to get together, network, worship together and get inspired. How did you get the idea to start ANEW? Is this the first year the retreat has been held?
Answer: This year was the second year that ANEW has been held. ANEW isn’t just a retreat, it is an organization, and the sole organization that networks Adventist east coast secular campus ministries together. This means that we don’t operate just one weekend in a year, but we keep the east coast campus ministries constantly connected through prayer, support, and resources that will enhance the effectiveness of our individual groups.
I was only one of the founders of ANEW. The idea came to a small group of us at a CAMPUS LEADS retreat held in July of 2007. CAMPUS is the Center for Adventist Ministries to Public Universities, located in Ann Arbor, MI.
LEADS stands for Leadership Education and Development Seminar. Last summer was the first time I attended, and it was the most comprehensive and practical conference for campus ministries I had ever been to. There weren’t just powerful messages, but there were workshops and even a networking session and a planning session to equip students to be missionaries at their campuses.
After LEADS, a few of us who attended and lived on the east coast saw the need for something powerful and effective like LEADS to be implemented back home where we lived. A difference between ANEW and LEADS is that again, ANEW maintains a network throughout the year. With ANEW we want to not only motivate students to do Biblically-based campus ministries, but to equip them as well. Soulwinners are just more effective when they are trained.
Question: You held a retreat the first weekend of November at Mt Aetna Camp in Hagerstown, Maryland. How many students attended? How did you feel the weekend went?
Answer: Approximately 60 young people from secular universities attended from all over the east coast, including Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and even Michigan.
The weekend wasn’t just powerful and inspirational, but it was life-changing for many of the attendees, and the leadership as well. Many college students left having made decisions to serve the Lord and to start campus ministries at their schools. From the leadership perspective, it was worth going through all the work to put the conference together because we didn’t just get to witness the attendees appreciating the messages or just feeling good, but making decisions that will change their lives. Question: Did anything surprising or unexpected happen over the weekend? Have you attended similar events in the past?
Answer: It was just very encouraging to see young people like myself catching the vision to represent God at secular universities.
I would have to say that the most surprising thing for me was when the last message on Sabbath was over, instead of people just talking and hanging out (as most people do at the retreats I’ve been to), people formed in groups and shared testimonies, convictions from the weekend, and even opened up their Bibles to study together.
But this is how it should be, when people are convicted truly so that they end up taking action.
Question: Did you plan the retreat and organize all the logistics yourself?
Answer: There is a team of three of us who put this together.
We have a VP for Programming & Logistics, Erica Dashner from the University of Delaware. She’s a PhD student in cancer research.
We also have a VP for Networking and Resources, Josephine Elia, who is a PhD student at Princeton University for Chemical Engineering.
I serve as the President.
We try to keep it simple, and while we have our individual roles, we help each other out as much as we can.
Question: How was the retreat funded? Did you have to pay to bring in speakers?
Answer: There are two local churches in Maryland who provide support for us. Through our budget, we are able to cover all the expenses to get the speakers to ANEW. We also have donors who give generous donations to further campus ministries.
Question: How did you locate Adventists students at secular colleges on the east coast to invite them?
Answer: We just try to encourage whoever we know to attend. Word of mouth works great.
Question: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where do you go to school and what do you study? What inspires you?
Answer: I attend the University of Maryland in College Park, MD. I study electrical engineering and am a 4th year student.
However, currently I am taking a year off school to be an intern in the CAMPUS Missionary Training Program. It is an excellent program that really provides you with the training that you need to do God’s work not just on your campus, but wherever you are. Because our training ground is the secular university (one of the toughest spiritual environments), wherever we go after college - whether it’s another country, or the workplace - we are well-equipped, having dealt with such a vast variety of people.
What inspires me is just being a part of God’s movement in these last days. I want to be able to see Jesus face to face when He comes and hear “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”
The entire universe is waiting to see how the Great Controversy will be played out on earth, and it inspires me to know that one day in heaven, we will be sharing our testimonies of the amazing things God has done in these last days throughout eternity.
Question: Clearly you saw a need for something like ANEW. What do you feel Adventist students at secular colleges are missing out on? If it's something really important, why don't they just attend Adventist colleges?
Answer: I don’t think Adventists at secular colleges are missing out on anything. If anything I see it as a great opportunity.
I think that there is just a lack of infrastructure to support secular university students in doing ministries at a school where not everyone believes the same thing you do. That’s why organizations like CAMPUS began and decided to provide that support. That’s why we have local conferences like ANEW to network ministries together. The large majority of Adventist young people attend secular universities. We are just fulfilling needs that are not being met.
As public university students we have a unique role to be missionaries on our respective campuses. Most public university students only see themselves as attending school and obtaining a degree but don’t realize that the four years they have been given is one of the best opportunities to work for the Lord in a place where there can be so many blessings. Radical things can happen at a university.
Question: How do you see Adventist colleges? Do you think they are doing the job they were set up to do? Why did you decide not to attend an Adventist college?
Answer: I haven’t attended an Adventist college myself so I don’t really know. But if Adventist colleges are doing their job, then the students who graduate from those institutions should be able to do ministry not just in a comfortable Adventist circle, but in any environment, both religious and secular, in the home and in the workplace, in the church and in the community.
You can ask students from Adventist schools if they feel they are able to do that. I myself prefer an environment where there are many different ideas shared, thought out, and contested - which the secular university provides.
Question: What goals do you have for ANEW? Where do you see it going in the future?
Answer: We want ANEW to strengthen its network of east coast campus ministries, and to raise up an east coast movement of committed, hardworking young people who desire to see Jesus come soon. God requires us to sacrifice; after all He sacrificed the most for us.
One of the best sacrifices we can make is to give Him our time by using it to grow in Him and do His work.
I'd like to say to the reader: I hope that hearing about ANEW has not just been a blessing to you, but convicting as well. God is calling you to put Him first, and get actively involved wherever you are. He is raising up a generation of young people to finish the work - a movement that will be talked of throughout eternity. You don’t want to miss out. The question is, will you make the decision not later, not tomorrow, not next week, not next year, but now, to serve the Lord?
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/1243