Dagenham Eagles Pathfinders and their leaders were buoyed up to celebrate and recognise three events − 25th Anniversary of Women's Ministries, Black Adventist History and the 70th Pathfinder Anniversary Baptism and Investiture Celebrations.
Mother of three, Kerina Jean Pierre, a Master Guide in waiting, in her keynote message entitled 'Reconciled – where I belong', shared through the lens her personal story as a black single parent, her challenges and how she overcame, not only speaking truth to power but empowering others to be 'reconciled' with her past, present and future.
Quoting a prolific writer, Kerina asserted,
"In reviewing our history, having travelled over every step of advance, to our present standing, I can say praise God! I can see what God has wrought. I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as my Leader – my Pathfinder, my Master Guide. Reconciled to Christ, 'we have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history', which is our story."
Kerina's presentation which included the term, 'Three Hidden Pioneers', unveiled a deeper truth, as part of the 70th Pathfinder Anniversary Celebration. She said, "in the hall of fame, stands three hidden 'black' pioneers. Charles Kinney, known as the father of black Adventism. Anna Knight, self-disciplined and self-starter with no formal education who later gained a degree in nursing. Third, Martha Byington, the first Adventist home schoolteacher and the founder of the Dorcas Society (later renamed Community Services). Each of these Adventist pioneers were contrasted to three modern black pioneers that may have been hidden to the world.
For two years Elijah was our Adventurer of the Year and top ADRA Champion. Like our black Adventist forefather, Charles Kinney, Elijah will leave a hallmark of change in his home, school and community. When faced with parental directive to go shopping on the Sabbath, with moral courage, Elijah prayerfully asserted,
"The Sabbath is a holy day of rest. Six days thou shalt do all thy work and labour. God rested from all His works, so we too must rest from our work." He went on to say, "the Sabbath is not for going to shops, buying and selling and doing what we want but instead involves spending time, listening, speaking and learning about God in the Bible, so together with God we can build an eternal relationship."
Naomi, like Martha Byington, was the first daughter of her parents. As a ranger she was tested to practically demonstrate her faith to four of her friends. Determined Naomi developed a WhatsApp discussion group during lockdown and later became a co-founder of a community group called 'Talking Point'. Resourcefully, Naomi also an Adventurer ADRA Champion, independently coordinated, prepared, shared, and taught her non-Adventist school friends Bible in the summer. One day, convicted by what she was passionately sharing, she said to her friends, "I don't know about you, but when all this pandemic is over, I am going to be baptised." On 23 September she wrote, "can I be baptised in Clacton on Sea on 17 October if possible please?"
Zaporah was Dagenham Eagles first female Adventurer. As a modern-day Anna Knight, Zaporah developed a love for Adventurers and Pathfinders at age two. Zaporah has an iron will and steel resolve, that characterized her faith.
Self-taught, Zaporah studied how to read the Bible, cementing her choice to be baptised at an early age. With the help of the Holy Spirit, grew to understand how to listen to God speaking when reading from printed Adventist literature.
Black History Month 2020 unveiled these three ordinary youths, exemplary and extraordinary, in moral courage, persuasion, and inspiration. Faced with closure of schools, exam uncertainty, these modern-day pioneers soldiered on studying their Bibles to show themselves approved unto God.
The obstacles to their faith were real. In the face of ridicule, social isolation, rejection, frustration, anxieties, without a local church, these youth were not displaced when faced with no assurance to secure a seafront baptism in Clacton on Sea.
Where man said "no", they prayed on, and God said, "go." Inspired by SEC President Pastor Osei's weekly news update, featuring Lewisham Adventist church baptisms, with moral courage these Pathfinders seized the opportunity for their dream…a Pathfinder baptism.
Dagenham Eagles Covid-19 pioneers found extraordinary faith and creative ways, with the help of Pastor Dejan to follow Jesus. As icons of faith, they are an inspiration and confirmation that young people 'reconciled can belong to Jesus, not just for 2020 but for eternity'.
Special thanks to Elder Tony Drummond, Pastor Dejan Stojkovic (BUC Youth, Teens and Pathfinder Director) in consultation with our host, Pastor Ampofo and the Lewisham Board, a venue was sourced. Special thanks to Stephen Gordon and family for live streaming, supported by the Dagenham Eagles Drum Corps.
Thanks to God for our black Adventist Pathfinder history and the Dagenham Eagles family for being enablers of moral courage.