Hundreds of Seventh-day Adventists studying in public universities across the Inter-American Division (IAD) took time to fellowship, gain spiritual and professional development, and impact communities during the annual Public Campus Ministries (PCM) Weekend on October 14-16, 2022.
The theme for this year was, “I’m the Change Agent. I Choose to be Faithful.” The annual event seeks to empower Adventist students and young professionals to be grounded in the mission of Jesus, the church, and engage their peers in a lifelong relationship with Christ.
“The weekend was meant for Adventist students to learn how to better make a positive change among their peers, professors, and campuses; take the time to reflect on God’s guidance and blessings in their life; and become an agent of change for good in their community,” Hiram Ruiz, IAD PCM director and main organizer of the event, said.
More than 4,000 people took part in a special online worship and in training sessions on Saturday, which were broadcast from an auditorium in Bocas del Toro, in Panama. The participants were officially organized into 120 PCM associations or team groups across the IAD.
Kleber D. Goncalves, director of the Global Mission Center for the Secular and Post-Christian Mission of the General Conference, was the keynote speaker. He encouraged students to make their choices count in their lives. “The small decisions that you make will have a greater influence in the big decisions that you will make in the future,” he said.
Goncalves reminded young people to not be surprised by the adversity that comes their way and he encouraged them to love God because that will make a difference in the decisions they make each day. He also reminded the audience and online viewers that God can use any adversity for good, for a purpose. “God has a way to get you through every moment and every circumstance in your life, but you must let Him lead you. Trust God,” he said.
In reflecting on the story of Daniel and his friends, Goncalves motivated university students to live with integrity according to God’s principles, have self-control, and have the courage to stand for what is right.
All across the IAD territory, “university students were challenged to identify an area on campus where they could plant trees, look out in the community around them to see if there was a house that looks like it needed repairs, or if there was a homeless person who needs more assistance, or if there were potholes that could be filled,” Ruiz said.
In the Southeast Mexican Union, more than 600 university students and young people marched and cleaned up beaches, held health brigades, and distributed magazines through Isla Mujeres.
In the Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union, dozens of PCM members joined with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) to participate in a special project distributing medicines and food boxes to needy families.
In Monterrey, Mexico, university students painted murals encouraging children to read and study in school while showcasing dozens of interesting careers they could pursue as they go to school. In addition, a group of PCM members sat in parks inviting people to sit on a park bench and share their thoughts without fear of judgement.
One week before, from October 7-9, hundreds of Adventist university students gathered at the Marianao Adventist Church in Havana, Cuba, for a weekend of spiritual renewal.
In El Salvador, dozens gathered to pray throughout campuses in San Salvador for students to be able to take their exams on Fridays instead of Saturdays.
“As never before, it is necessary to encourage and support this new generation that can make a significant difference in the leadership of the church where they study or where they work,” Ruiz said. “PCM chapters help retain young people, develop their leadership skills, and help create mentors for the next generation.”