Last week, 23-year Army Chaplain and award winner Dick Stenbakken enacted six key elements of the Gospel story every night for Campion Academy’s Week of Prayer. Throughout the week, he told the stories of Jesus through the Gospel John, Peter, Judas, a leper, a blind man, and finally, a Roman Centurion. The main purpose of these meetings was to help students better understand Jesus’ character through the experiences of first-person presentations.
“I’ve never seen Mr. Stenbakken’s performances before,” commented Haley Beckermeyer, sophomore. “They personally made me look at my life in a whole new light. They showed me how to see the Bible characters from their point of view rather than just reading the story. I felt like I could really experience the characters, like we lived in the same time period.”
Although never being trained in it officially, Stenbakken pointed out that all preachers and teachers have to “dabble in drama” at some point in their lives. “I’m a visual learner, and many other people are too. So when you see the character, the hammer, the nails, and the leprosy spots, it makes an impression that just describing it can’t do,” he explained.
Kylie Wehling, a junior, said, “I think it was cool to see what the characters in the Bible might have actually looked like. It was very interactive, relatable, and Mr. Stenbakken really captured my attention with his presentations.”
Not only are these drama performances influential to the audience, but he continued to describe how the presentations have changed his own life very deeply. “In order to develop a character, I need to get the story behind the story. I have to dig way deeper into the biblical text, as well as the historical and cultural background. As I immerse myself in the character, the message that character has comes alive. When it comes alive to me, then it does the same for the listener.”
In order to continue growing from this Week of Prayer, Stenbakken advised students to, “Study the Bible, and enter into it as an actor of the story, then read it again from a different point of view. Suddenly the story will become very real and personal, instead of something on paper. That’s the ultimate way of encountering God.”
Sami Hodges, Student News Team
Last Monday evening began the first week of prayer for the second semester of the school year. The first three nights, students shared their personal testimonies. The final three days, members of Coming Out Ministries gave their testimonies as well. Each night the speakers shared personal stories on how God has worked in their lives and what God has done for them.
The theme song for this week of prayer was “Scars” by I Am They. The song had an overall theme of embracing the hard times you go through, and using the scars to get closer with God. This theme was also carried on into the messages of each speaker. Each one talked about their scars, and how they brought them closer to God.
Eddie Camacho, a senior, was the first speaker of the week. Eddie started off the first night with a relatable story about growing up Adventist, but learning the importance of finding God on his own is the only way to have a real relationship with him. The second speaker, Delanie Kamarad, talked about the importance of leaning on God and family when times are tough. Jayden Anggormas told his story while paralleling it to the biblical story of Samson. He talked about what his “Delilah,” or temptation, was and how God helped him overcome it.
“The students' testimonies really had an impact on me. I could really relate to some of their stories and it really helps in my own life to see what others go through and how God can help them through it,” reflected Lindsey Smith.
“The students had a lot of courage to stand up there and share what they had gone through,” noticed Lizzie Pearson. “It showed me how blessed most of us are to be where we are in life”.
Over the last three days, leaders of Coming Out Ministries gave their stories. They shared their scars: from homosexuality, to being transgender. Their message focused on sexual purity and overcoming through the love of God. They wanted everyone to know God can work in you no matter where you are in your walk with Christ. “I was heavily impacted by the openness of the speakers. Their testimonies encouraged me to develop a deeper relationship with God so that when hard times come, I can fall on Him,” shared Madi Jordan.
The end of the week of prayer was closed with Vespers Deluxe which is a special monthly Friday evening worship that is open to the community and includes an afterglow of doughnuts and praise time in the tower. Many students were in tears as they sang, being moved by the Holy Spirit.
“God works with people, and He molds people, and He fixes people.” Last night Chezney Barry, a senior, shared a message concerning health. She started off by pointing out that sometimes we think that being healthy is on a checklist of requirements to get to heaven. It’s not. God encourages us to be healthy because “we are God’s masterpiece,” and he wants the best for us.
“How we take care of our body,” Chezney says, “relates directly to how we think.” God wants us to have clear minds because He loves us. He isn’t trying to take the fun out of eating or put us behind bars by restricting us.
Chezney introduced the second part of her sermon by pointing to Ephesians 5:18, which states, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” She told us of how, when she was six, she was in a car accident involving her mom and brother when her mom was under the influence. Addiction is something we link to drinking and drugs, but addiction to things like sugar and caffeine are just as real.
She finished by reminding us that God looks at all sin equally, and addiction to unhealthy food is something we need to own up to and take charge of.
For someone who was joking around earlier that evening about how unhealthy I was, Chezney’s sermon put me to shame. Health isn’t something that we should just be obligated to watch. It’s a gift of will. I’m young, so I can’t see the effects now, but I know they’ll come around. I’m glad that God gave Chezney the words to take off my rose-tinted glasses and view my health in a new light.
Cassie Fazio is a senior at Campion Academy
Senior Gabrielle Williams spoke with passion and clarity to a full tent of students and visitors Friday, May 6, for the opening night of Wildfire, Campion's week of prayer and evangelism. Is God Real? "Yes," she shared, "and He loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life." Our part is to accept the salvation He offers. Of all the different religions, Christianity is the only religion that believes we can't save ourselves: we need a Savior.
Gabrielle went on to explain how God sent Jesus, His one and only Son to save us. Even though accepting a Savior should be easy, since we are unused to free things, acceptance can be difficult. To prove her point, she asked for a volunteer to come up to the microphone. After a long pause, a fellow student reluctantly came forward to discover he was the recipient of $20 cash.
Campion senior Alyse Maxwell said "Something that stood out to me is that even though we don't feel accepted, that doesn't mean that we aren't. You can't allow your emotions to control your faith."
Freshman Joe Philpott gave his heart to the Lord and was baptized at the end of Gabrielle's presentation.
Rayna Williams said "I was touched by just about everything she said tonight, especially when she brought out the point that God uses His strength to overcome our weaknesses. God is definitely not dead."
Is salvation really as easy as accepting a gift? Come and hear what teenagers are saying about some of Christianity's toughest questions. Seven students will be preaching over the course of the next week, after weeks of preparation and coaching from local Adventist pastors. Not only are Campion students attending these meetings as part of their week of prayer, but the community has been invited as well, through flyers and personal invitations. Between 8-12 non-Adventists attended the first night.
Location: big tent on the lawn of HMS Richards School
Time: 7-8:00pm May 6-13 (no meeting on May 8, Mothers Day)
Wes Carle and Jennifer Sigler
photos: Bryant Oei and Jennifer Sigler