February 13, 2020 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens/IAD
Dozens of pastors’ kids (PK’s) from throughout the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America gathered for a special first-ever territory-wide retreat to reaffirm their purpose and honor their contribution in the mission of the church. More than 200 young people accompanied by dozens of church leaders met for two full days of presentations, fellowship and networking activities, Feb. 8-9, 2020, in Miami, Florida, United States.
“Today you are a representation of so many PKs across the Division and we want to let you know that the church is thinking about you, values you, believes in your future and loves you,” said Cecilia Iglesias, shepherdess ministries director for the church in Inter-America and main organizer of the event. “God is going to remind you how important you are in His plan to fulfill His great purposes on earth and in His church.”Iglesias was joined by Pastor Josney Rodríguez, ministerial association secretary for the church in Inter-America, as they welcomed young people, who are part of more than 3,200 pastoral families across Inter-America ministering throughout 23,000 churches and congregations every week.
Themed “Heirs of the Promise” the event featured talks on leadership, health, social media, how to deal with criticism, mental health, and more.
“We love you and know how you feel and think, your challenges and fears,” said Pastor Rodríguez. “God has called you and is speaking to you letting you know how much He loves you and has a wonderful dream for your life.”
Reassuring their purpose
Understanding that purpose and interacting with other PK’s representing the 24 unions, or major church regions, across Inter-America, was meant to encourage and motivate them to continue engaging making a difference in their churches and communities, said Iglesias.“We know of many PK’s who are leaving the church and are feeling that they are not important, so it’s key that the church gathers them, lets them be part of creative ideas to reach others, and help them understand all the opportunities available to impact others with their gifts and skills wherever they are,” said Iglesias.
IAD President Pastor Elie Henry spoke to the more than 250 congregants on Sabbath to be assured that they are all sons and daughters of Abraham, God’s chosen people was told of their lineage with a particular purpose.
As a PK himself, Pastor Henry reminded the delegates that they were chosen for a special purpose. “God calls and puts us in a situation that perhaps we did not choose ourselves,” said Pastor Henry. “You didn’t choose to be a pastor’s kid, but God placed you where you were to be born, opens opportunities before you and pours out many blessings every day in this ministry.”
“God can do extraordinary things through you, and He will fulfill many promises as you trust and have faith in Him, just like He did with Abraham,” Pastor Henry said.PKs in evangelism
Many of the young people, who ranged from ages 12-23, were selected in their respective church regions for standing out in leadership and evangelism and are active in serving the community throughout different activities and initiatives every week in their local church(es), explained Iglesias.
Kelvin J. Caballero, 15, was among six Pk’s who traveled as delegates from the Panama Union. He is from the Colon Province and has been busy with leading his own puppet ministry with his sister throughout the churches his dad pastors back at home. He donates his vacation time or two months every year to assist in the planting of new churches–an initiative to engage young people during off-school months in evangelism across Adventist churches in Panama.
“We team up in two’s to knock on doors, give bible studies, clean up the community, and arrange with community leaders to paint beautiful scenes on walls across the community,” said Caballero. Although it’s hard to hold a position at a local church because they travel every Sabbath to a different church his dad oversees, Caballero said that has allowed him to make so many friends and helped him minister so many people. He has canvassed too, selling as a literature evangelist and is clear about his purpose once he graduates from high school. “My experience in impacting others has led me to feel the call to study theology and become a pastor,” said Caballero. “Coming here and meeting so many other PKs has reassured me of that.”PKs in small group ministry
At just 12 years of age, Nicoll Quintero, has been clear about her passion to reach other children. She has gone from church to church with her parents in the five churches and two small groups her dad ministers to. But now she has organized a small group of 15 kids in her neighborhood. “We sing praise songs, share about our week, pray for requests, study a bible character, eat snacks and play fun activities together,” said Quintero. She also gives out specially marked bills for kids who come early, or bring their bibles or bring a friend and at the end of the month they can use those bills to buy pencils, erasers and other knick-knacks as a reward. Quintero also leads a baptismal class every Sabbath. As a result of her own active ministry, eight persons have been baptized.
“I know that it is a really beautiful privilege that we have as PKs to share with others,” said Quintero. She takes with her a better understanding of the stress and work that her parents go through in the ministry and how to better overcome any challenges that come in navigating life as a PK.
For the first time in his life, Pablo Hernández, 13, of North Colombia, began his school year at a military school in Caucasia. There are no Adventist schools nearby, something he was used to, but he soon found a way to connect with others at his school.“I feel like I’m a missionary reaching others who do not know about Jesus there,” said Hernández. He has already distributed literature to students and teachers and has organized lessons on some of the honors that Pathfinder clubs offer, like camping, swimming, sports, knots and more. So far he has two other students who have joined and wants to get a small group going once more students join.
Being part of the selected group attending the PK’s retreat has really taught him to appreciate the blessing in having opportunities to witness to others, and continue impacting the community around him, he said. “As PKs we feel bad sometimes because we get criticized a lot because we are supposed to behave a certain way or feel like we are being watched all the time, but I’ve learned that we need to not let that upset us or stop us from sharing with others.
Adrienne Johnson, 20, from Jamaica, said she had tears after listening to a seminar on how to deal with criticism presented by Pastor Guenther García, president of the church in Guatemala, who also experienced life as a PK.“I just cried after the presentation because I didn’t feel alone and felt understood with all the circumstances that I have been through,” said Johnson. “It was such a wow moment that all of us in our group really understood and we gained a better appreciation for our parents and how much they have sacrificed for the church and for us.”
She’s been preaching at church ever since she was six years old and has been involved in PKs’ club in East Jamaica for nearly ten years, before she began studying at Adventist operated Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Jamaica. Connecting and taking part in a PK club back home really helped her through some tough times, she said. But seeing so many more kids from across throughout Inter-America who understand how she has felt is comforting. She has traveled on many mission trips across Inter-America and is involved in visiting the shut-ins, singing in the praise team at school and visiting many other churches on Sabbaths to connect with others and witness through different ministries.
Leaving a mark
Maricris Solano, 22, from Puerto Rico, felt comfortable taking the stage during the event. She shared how for many years she has been able to tell children and young people how to treasure the stories in the Bible in their daily life. She has a special study Bible that she marks and scribbles and cross-references in her daily devotions and as she prepares to share what she’s learned. It was a gift that she got when she turned 15 and has changed her life completely.“I used to think that the Bible was the most important instrument that my dad uses,” said Solano. “But I realized that it becomes more important in your life when it’s personal, when you find your identity in God’s Word and you see it as beautiful instrument that you can be a part of your whole life.”
Solano has discovered that her gifts have multiplied as she’s grown in the church and been involved in youth, music, witnessing ministries and multiple mission trips to several countries. She is studying to be an English teacher at Antillean Adventist University in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and is anxious to make a difference wherever she goes.
“We too can leave a mark in the ministry, in the community. It’s not our parents’ church, it is ours too to be part of personally, to impact those around us with Jesus’ love,” said Solano.“We are living and breathing this church as we grow up, not just helping with the audio visual during worship or teaching Sabbath school but we can reach others with our own ministry for God,” Solano said.
Many of the PKs shared their creative ministries and evangelism programs they are involved in back home and were able to get to know each other throughout special activities, praise and worship and prayer sessions throughout the program.
“There will be thousands who will be blessed by your dedication and commitment to the mission of the church in this your generation and more to come,” said Iglesias. “You have an important role to play in expanding the gospel right where you are.”To view a photo gallery of Inter-America’s Pastors’ Kids Retreat, Click HERE
To watch the program online, view as follows: