Pathfinder Baptism for Three Modern-day Pioneers

The obstacles to their faith were real. In the face of ridicule, social isolation, rejection, frustration, anxieties, and lack of a local church, these youth were not displaced.

Dagenham Eagles Pathfinders and their leaders were buoyed up to celebrate and recognize three events: the 25th anniversary of Women's Ministries, Black Adventist History, and the 70th annual Pathfinder Baptism and Investiture Celebrations.

Kerina Jean Pierre, mother of three and a Master Guide in waiting, in her keynote message entitled “Reconciled—Where I Belong”, shared, through the lens of her personal story as a black single parent, her challenges and how she overcame, not only speaking truth to uplift herself but also empower others to be “reconciled” with their past, present, and future.

Quoting a prolific writer, Kerina asserted:

"In reviewing our history, having traveled 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 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 homeschool teacher and the founder of the Dorcas Society (later renamed Community Services). Each of these Adventist pioneers was contrasted to three modern black pioneers that may have been hidden from 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 a 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 labor. 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 the lockdown and later became a co-founder of a community group called “Talking Point”. Resourcefully, Naomi, also an Adventurer and 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 baptized." On 23 September, she wrote, "Can I be baptized in Clacton on Sea on 17 October if possible please?"

Zipporah was Dagenham Eagles’ first female Adventurer. As a modern-day Anna Knight, Zaporah developed a love for Adventurers and Pathfinders at age two.Zipporah has an iron will and steel resolve that characterize her faith.

Self-taught, Zaporah studied how to read the Bible, cementing her choice to be baptized at an early age. With the help of the Holy Spirit, she 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 the closure of schools and 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, and lack of 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 {First name} 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.”

With 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 also to Stephen Gordon and his 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. 

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