The Public Campus Ministries (PCM) program of the Lake Union Conference in the United States is planning to join the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists’ “One Year in Mission” initiative with a unique form of ministry: a food truck.
The One Year in Mission program is operational in a number of divisions across the Adventist world church. The initiative is focused on reaching the unreached through ministry with the help of volunteer missionaries building centers of influence, particularly in large cities. Although other divisions have been engaging with this program, Lake Union PCM coordinator Israel Ramos said that it has been less active in the North American Division (NAD). The Lake Union, the only NAD union that has organized a union-level public campus ministry, is hoping to get the ball rolling with this initiative in the North American Division.
Public Campus Ministries, which focuses on Adventist outreach on public university campuses within the Lake Union, particularly wants to involve young adults with a “passion for ministry” to take a year off and serve as missionaries with PCM. “[The missionaries] will help run the food truck and help engage in the community and hold programs for the community. We’re going to combine this One Year in Mission with the food truck. The idea is to also use it as a way to train missionaries to practice a modern approach to mission,” Ramos explained. PCM is aiming to receive these missionaries within the Lake Union in 2020‒2021.
“We have found that food is the most critical part of our ministry, outside of Bible study,” Ramos said. PCM is debuting the new food truck at the 2019 International Pathfinder Camporee in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It is part of an “experimental phase,” Ramos said. The practice run at the camporee will help PCM to know whether the idea is viable and how popular it may be, and will help to perfect logistics of the operation.
If the food truck is successful at Oshkosh, Ramos continued, the vision is to launch it in Detroit, PCM’s next focus in growing the center of influence.
“The city of Detroit is one of the largest cities in our union, outside of Chicago,” Ramos said. “It has the third largest university in Michigan. It has an inner-city population, it has a wealthy population, it has a strong Muslim population, and all of these are significantly unreached people groups in the North American Division. We felt this was a great place to start a center of influence.” If the effort finds success in Detroit, PCM hopes to expand the food truck ministry into a mobile center of influence by spreading the presence to other cities and, potentially, obtaining more food trucks.
The upcoming General Conference session will be held in 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ramos said the hope is that the first step at Oshkosh serves as a launching pad for more engagement on college campuses in the Lake Union.
“We’re using that as an opportunity to be able to give this more promotion, give it a little bit more attention and, by God’s grace, give us a success story for the North American model,” he said.