Engage Conference Emphasizes Innovative Ministries for Student Involvement

Organizers said they hope young people learned how to live life with purpose.

Isabella Koh, Moriah McDonald, and Pearl Parker, Andrews University, and Adventist Review
Engage Conference Emphasizes Innovative Ministries for Student Involvement
Students talk with ministry representatives at the Engage Conference. [Photo: Darren Heslop]

The Engage: Live on Purpose Conference was held at Andrews University (AU) in Berrien Spring, Michigan, United States, from March 9-13, 2022. The event aimed to inspire and equip students and young professionals to be world changers by living mission-based lives.

The conference was sponsored by the Andrews University Graduate Student Association (AUGSA), the iCanvass Club, the Center for Faith Engagement, and the Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and is the first of what organizers hope will become an annual event. 

Programming included corporate worships, prayer-focused gatherings, exhibits, small-group interactions in Conversation Corners, and the opportunity to connect with the community during a Sunday canvassing and GLOW tract outreach.

“The different worship experiences were well attended, and the speakers were able to engage students during the presentations,” Matías Soto, director of the Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at AU, said.

On March 10, pastor Natasha Richards spoke on purpose and passion for a chapel program at the Howard Performing Arts Center. She began by guiding the audience on how to craft mission and vision statements for their lives, explaining that her own calling is to “help people live positively empowered lives.” Her talk centered around Jeremiah 29:11 and focused on God’s promises to His people throughout the Bible. In an audience-interactive activity, she showed how every obstacle in life can be overcome with aid from God. Richards challenged the gathered students and faculty to take every chance to live out their purpose in spite of fear, doubt or despair. “You are born for greatness wherever God is sending you,” she said. “You are born to fulfill your purpose. You are born to be what God created you [to be].”

Later that day at a Kinetic worship session in University Towers, Boubakar Sanou, assistant professor of World Mission in the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, spoke on living missional lives. He began by defining “missionality” as “partnering with God in what He wants to do in the lives of people we interact with on a daily basis.” Sanou continued his message by reminding listeners that Christ’s followers have been called to do priestly work and make disciples. This work is for everyone, not just a select few, and those who do this work can be a blessing to others, he said. Sanou also pointed out that living missionally necessitates a paradigm shift as well as a shift in one’s attitudes, habits, and actions to reflect Christ’s character as His treasured ambassadors.

On March 11, Heather Thompson Day, associate professor in the Department of Visual Art, Communication & Design, delivered a message at the Engage: Live on Purpose vespers. Day spoke about the importance of being intentional with one’s actions and words. Even if one doesn’t know their purpose, they can still rest assured that God will not abandon the work of His hands. Day spoke about the misconception that as soon as someone receives a diploma or gets married, that is when they find purpose and meaning. “Purpose is not something that happens to a person later or that they wait for — one can walk in their purpose right now by living as if things matter right now,” she said. “If individuals define what they mean by purpose, it can aid in understanding what purpose looks like in their lives.”

Soto said that after Proximity vespers on Friday evening, most attendees stayed in the lobby area for refreshments and visited the exhibit floor. Many interacted with staff at the Mission Exhibit booths and learned more about current projects taking place through various Seventh-day Adventists organizations and on-campus ministries, he reported.

“I hope attendees understood what it means to live on purpose and saw examples of how to find and engage with their purpose,” Soto said. “I also hope many will take the next step and get involved with a ministry, a literature evangelism program, or as student missionaries — that they experience living life with purpose.”

The original version of this story was posted by Andrews University.

Isabella Koh, Moriah McDonald, and Pearl Parker, Andrews University, and Adventist Review