By KIMBERLY LUSTE MARAN, NAD Communication
More than 750 Seventh-day Adventists converged in Tucson, Arizona, on Jan. 8-11, to worship, learn, share their talents, and network at the 2017 North American Division Adventist Ministries Convention (NAD AMC). They also gathered to serve the local community through three NAD Compassion Movement outreach opportunities: assisting two public schools through Tucson Serve the City, and packing more than 25,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now.*
During their online registration experience, each attendee was asked to select a compassion project to volunteer for during the first part of the convention. Each project was on a first-come basis and numbers were restricted for each event. At the Stop Hunger Now event held at the convention host hotel, for example, more than 150 attendees helped put weighed dry foods into bags to create the meals that Stop Hunger Now distributes to countries/peoples in need.
Each project was on a first-come basis and numbers were restricted for each event.
The Tucson Serve the City project was held offsite at two under-resourced schools in the city. This outreach partnered NAD AMC attendees with the local Serve the City organization to help clean up and refurbish the schools.
At the Elvira Elementary School project volunteers painted approximately 700 sq. ft. of brick wall (to prep for a future mural), added fresh paint to an existing desert scene mural, swept walkways, raked leaves from playgrounds, and assisted with a door-cutting project from the kindergarten.
"'Separation of church and state' doesn't mean what we think it does, and nowhere is that difference more evident than in public education in Tucson, Arizona,” shared NAD AMC organizers. “By saying to schools, ‘How can we pray for you and how can we help?’ and then actually following through with both, churches have been welcomed by the public schools to come alongside and serve. Our attendees fit right in with the service they provided.”
Santa Clara Elementary School has a fresh new look as NAD AMC volunteers painted the entire cafeteria. Said organizers: “We set aside time to be salt and light in Tucson in ways that make an immediate, tangible impact, but that also are having ripple effects throughout the entire city.”
Bryant Taylor, Southeastern Conference Communication/IT director in Florida, coordinated at the NAD Compassion Movement outreach project at Elvira school. Taylor said that the principal was appreciative that “we were willing to give of our time to come out on a Sunday morning to paint their school.” Taylor explained that many of the students come from the reservation that is less than five miles away, and the school is in the poorest area of the city.
“The principal mentioned that he, along with one or two others, have been painting the school on weekends for weeks. He was ecstatic that we were able to complete 1/3 of their total project in one day. He invited us to like the school’s Facebook page, his primary communication tool with parents and the community, so we could follow the activities at the school.” Taylor added, “We had prayer with him and prayed a blessing on the school.”
*Stop Hunger Now is an international relief organization distributing meals abroad to 74 different countries with whom they partner. They distribute meals through feeding programs operated by partner organizations in developing countries that promote education, encourage children to attend school, improve students’ health and nutrition, address gender inequalities, stimulate economic growth, fight child labor, and are crucial to address global issues.