Adventist Youth on the Move in Bermuda
The Bermuda Conference celebrated its third annual Compassion event on the weekend of March 28-29. Thirty people from the Atlantic Union Conference left their homes on the east coast of the United States and traveled to Bermuda to accompany more than 230 local youth and young adults in spreading compassion throughout the island.
The event was spearheaded by Bermuda Conference’s youth and young adult director, Cyril Millett, and consisted mostly of young people going into the community and performing random acts of kindness throughout the island. Some of these random acts included distributing flowers, candy, and kites, and displaying motivational signs on the roadside.
Compassion participants also teamed up with such agencies as Keep Bermuda Beautiful, Meals on Wheels, the Bermuda Police Service, Habitat for Humanity, The Coalition for the Protection of Children, and many more. Through these partnerships with businesses, schools, other registered charities, and community agencies, youth and leaders were able to assist people with needed food hampers, perform health assessments, visit two senior residential care facilities and two elementary schools, clean parks, and brighten people’s day. “We only wish we could have reached more people and met more of their needs,” said one youth leader.
Using the motto “actions speak louder than words,” the goal of the Compassion Weekend was to portray Christ’s character. The joy of selfless service exploded this year as a result of sponsorship from the Atlantic Union Conference and collaboration from community businesses, social agencies, schools, and the government.
With the full force of the Adventist teens from island public and private schools, along with Bermuda Institute’s middle- and upper-school students, Compassion 2015 took to the community on Friday, March 27. The youth were backed by Adventist church members from across the Atlantic Union who took time off from work to join the cause of Christ.
Among the projects undertaken were reading to students at the Victor Scott Primary School, tidying classrooms in West Pembroke School, and collecting more than a truckload of garbage at Clearwater Beach and Cooper’s Island. Millett says, “We had our youth serving in places they might not think to serve. For the cause of Christ, we must be willing to go everywhere if we are to take His message to everyone.”
Students served willingly and they were given high commendation from the Bermuda Police Services, Park Services, and other organizations with which they partnered. One lady called the Bermuda Conference office to say, “Thank you for the flowers given in the Washington Mall. Your kids are terrific!”
Days before Compassion Weekend, youth from the island’s 11 churches launched a Week of Prayer. Together they petitioned God for good weather, for the words of encouragement He wanted them to use for those in need, for courage to witness for Christ, and for the general needs of the world. The evening prayer services came to a crescendo when Raymond Alcock, Northeastern Conference Youth Ministries associate director, delivered a powerful message on the eve of the Sabbath. He challenged the youth to do that which pleases “Daddy,” our God.
Sabbath saw youth, their leaders, the youth directors, and those from the Atlantic Union join in service for their Creator. Kenneth Manders, Bermuda Conference president, also joined the youth as they served as the hands and feet of Jesus. Together, young and older members of the church were the sermon in action.
The rain came and went and smiles never left the faces of the young people as they shared flowers and cards of encouragement with the people from Somerset on the western end of the island to St. George’s on the eastern end of the island. They sang songs with seniors and offered prayer with strangers. The youth helped to attract pedestrians to the health screening table in the Washington Mall, a major shopping and business complex in Hamilton, the capital city of Bermuda. At the table, professionals conducted health assessments and encouraged people to live healthier lives.
Because of a marked increase in participants, for the first time Compassion initiatives were spread out around the island and not just in a central location. Youth leaders were determined to show the love of God to people in communities closer to their home churches. These same leaders have pledged to continue the work of compassion throughout the year, using their churches as bases from which blessings flow to their communities.
After a soggy start to the Sabbath service to others, the youth gathered for praise and worship with a powerful message from José Cortés, Jr., North American Division associate ministerial director for evangelism, who introduced the Compassion initiative in the Atlantic Union while he served as youth ministries director.
In the afternoon, Josué Feliciano, Southern New England Conference Youth Ministries director, conducted a seminar on how to foster compassion at the local church level. This helped the participants to see the value of service for Christ as a lifestyle that impacts people and encourages them to consider the Giver of all good gifts, as their Redeemer, both from sin and the shambles of this world.
In the aftermath of Compassion 2015, the leaders are listening to the youth and their encouraging sentiments are heard in such phrases as, “Let’s do this again,” “I have an idea!” and, “Don’t wait until next year!” One American guest said, “Invite me back in two years and I’ll come!” Another said, “Compassion has taken on a whole new meaning for me. We need to do this everywhere.”
The Compassion Week ended with a resolve in many hearts to press forward in service, even when obstacles are presented. The compassion of Christ knows no limit and the compassion of the youth of the Bermuda Conference seems to be just as boundless.
A collaborative effort by Cyril Millett, Bermuda Conference Youth Ministries director, and Dasha Caines, member of the Hamilton church and a Bermuda Institute student, who enjoys writing and serving in the community.