It was a quote I read in Sister White’s writings that confirmed my call to work with young people.
by Dennis “Azariah” Anderson
“What are your thoughts about dating in high school?” My student’s question caught me by surprise. He explained that he had been struggling to separate his feelings from his logic. As he opened up, I asked him some pointed questions, sharing the inspired principles I had learned and studied at Hartland.
When I first came to Hartland as a pastoral evangelism student, I wasn’t sure of my calling in life. I just knew that I needed to learn more about the Bible. But when I worked as a counselor at Piedmont Valley Youth Bible Camp, I began to see that God was calling me to minister to youth. After that, I kept finding myself in situations working with young people. People would ask me, “Are you planning to be a youth pastor? You look like a youth pastor.” But what really made it click was a quotation I read from Sister White’s writings: “Preachers, or laymen advanced in years, cannot have one half the influence upon the young that the youth, devoted to God, can have upon their associates.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 511. That quote was hands-down confirmation. Now I knew—my ministry was youth.
That’s why I ended up at Shenandoah Valley Academy. I completed my internship here, and I now serve as assistant boys’ dean and Bible teacher. I also teach a youth class at the New Market SDA Church on campus.
I recently had the opportunity to share my personal testimony for a vespers service. A student came up to me afterwards and said, “I also have a story to share, and I think that you’re the person I need to share it with, but I’m not ready yet.” Over lunch one day, another student shared with me his struggles with suicidal thoughts. “I think I should speak to you more,” he concluded. As I interact and mingle with the students, I’m reminded over and over again that God has brought me here for a purpose—to plant seeds that God will water.
I thank God for the lessons I learned at Hartland—lessons of submission, of being intentional and prioritizing, of opening up and being vulnerable with others, of taking advantage of the opportunities God gives us. These have made me who I am today, and now I’m able to share these same lessons with my students.