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Pathfinders Rise to the Occasion with Preaching Challenge

Pathfinders Rise to the Occasion with Preaching Challenge

If you have ever stood in front of a congregation to preach a sermon? Then you have a good idea of how difficult that can be. Not just putting the sermon together but having a panorama of eyes looking at you as you attempt to share a message that is of eternal value; anxiety, fear, and nervousness are just a few of the common experiences for most preachers, especially those with little-to-no experience. Now, imagine doing that at the age of 11-14! That is exactly what eight Pathfinders did though on Saturday, November 12 at the Salem Central Adventist Church as they participated in the Oregon Pathfinder Preaching Challenge.

These eight Pathfinders, representing seven different churches, each shared a message on the theme, Parables of Jesus. They each had up to 15 minutes for their sermon and presented to a congregation composed of parents, Pathfinders, teachers, and local church members. In the crowd were three pastors serving as the pastoral advisory panel for the event: Pastors Nate Hellman, Belinda Rodriguez, and Ben Barcenas. Each Pathfinder had worked with either their pastor, parent, or Pathfinder director in preparation for their sermon, some even joining Pastor Ben Lundquist for an online, one-hour preaching class, they were ready to execute the challenge!

After each message was presented, all three pastors kindly shared feedback on areas of strengths and areas where improvement could take place. Additionally, each pastor kept track and scored each Pathfinder on eight predetermined parameters for each sermon. At the completion of the eight presentations, the pastors took some deliberation time to determine the top three Pathfinders based on their scoring and personal judgment. All presenters were called up on the stage and presented a special certificate of participation and a $25 gift card.

After congratulating each preacher and recognizing their courage and effort, Pastor Belinda came on stage and announced the top three finalists, each being awarded a placement ribbon. The top three placements were: Emmanuel Vazquez of Salem Spanish Church, Isaac Boettner of Redmond Church and Jean Cifuentes of the Vancouver Spanish Church.

Our prayer is that this opportunity will serve not just as a stepping-stone for each Pathfinder to preach the word of God more regularly, but also as encouragement to others, young and old, to be willing to publicly share God’s word. We especially remind all young people of Jeremiah’s experience when he wrote: Ah, Sovereign LORD," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child." But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, `I am only a child. ' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD. Jeremiah 1:6-7

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