Light Bearers returned to Oregon to host its ARISE Intensive event in the Oregon Conference Holden Center in Gladstone on November 4th-6th. Led by pastors Ty Gibson and David Asscherick, the ARISE Intensive program exists to take people through the Bible and the story of God in three days––condensing the weeks-long ARISE program especially for those who cannot otherwise access the longer ARISE discipleship program. Over 220 people were in attendance that weekend––an inter-generational group of PNW residents and many from all over the United States and as far as Guam and Thailand.
Nicole Dominguez, 25, traveled to Gladstone from Chicago to attend. “ARISE was always something that I wanted to do,” she said, “But I knew that I would never be able to take three or four weeks off and travel to Australia for it. Having these shorter intensives in other places that I’ve loved visiting, or have always wanted to go to, really worked in my favor. I love Light Bearers, and this is something I’ve always wanted to support and experience.”
With much of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America asking questions like, “How do we engage young adults in spiritual development?” ARISE seems to be doing just that. I asked Nicole why she was willing to spend her time and money to attend something like this halfway across the country, and what drew her to ARISE in the first place. “First and foremost, they are Christian before they’re Adventist,” said Nicole, “They care most about getting to the core of the Gospel and making sure you understand it. I think that’s a major–and really beautiful–kind of pull that I’ve seen in this generation of Christians and young Adventists. We’re kind of tired of all the red tape. We’re exhausted at the constant rush of ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’t’s.’ We’re tired of majoring in the minors. So getting back to the core of why we believe what we believe is key––and not in the way of ‘Here are a list of scriptures and facts, and if you don’t believe this then you’re wrong and going to Hell’ but in a way that, I believe, is the best and most accurate representation of how we, in our independent study, can come to know God. It’s a picture of a God of love, a God of justice, and a God of care.”
Nicole shared that it was not only the information shared at ARISE that stood out to her, but also the method and language Light Bearers uses to share their message. “Another thing that has been amazing is that ARISE focuses on storytelling. They’re not just making sure that the content is grounded, they’re also showing us that the way that humans were created to learn also happens to align with how the Scriptures were meant to be read. I’ve always thought that that was so spectacular and beautiful––how they really get down to the heart of the Gospel and take the time to really cut bone from marrow and sort of leave everything else on the threshing floor for us to determine through the lens of the Gospel and the Gospel alone.”
The ARISE program tells the story of God from eternity past – the time before Creation – through eternity future – the time after sin and suffering is no more. It presents the Bible as the source book which tells that story, showing us God before the creation of the world, the story of creation and the fall, the covenant God made to rescue humanity, the coming of Jesus and humanity’s need for a Savior, the role of the Church, the Second Coming and creation of the new Earth, and how to share that story with others in our lives.
Looking around many local churches, it may seem that young adults no longer care about God. We may hear the cynical refrain that young adults are no longer interested in developing their faith. But Nicole shared a different perspective: “The most common breakdown of relationships in so much of our communication comes down to comprehension. I can say, ‘These are the things that I need’ and list them out, but if my definition of those things and your definition of those things do not align, there’s going to be a breakdown there. A gap. If I say, ‘We need spaces that are a judgment free zone’ or ‘We want to have spaces where we can really find community,’ but the person I’m talking to falls back on their own definition of what that looks like, they often end up defaulting to, ‘This is what WE think young adults want or need.’ So, they do that, and then are shocked or surprised when we don’t show up. So, we don’t just need more listening. We need more listening, more comprehending, and more people willing to be engaged enough to stay for the questions that will come up.’”
Cutting to the core values, Nicole concluded her thoughts by sharing, ‘We’re seeking Christ Himself. We’re not seeking advice on how to tell people that the day they worship on is wrong. That’s my take on it.”
To learn more about ARISE, discover Bible study resources, or support the Light Bearers ministry, you can visit their website at www.lightbearers.org.