The Eastern Shore peninsula, also known as Delmarva (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia), is one of the largest geographical (5,454 square miles) areas within the Chesapeake Conference. It’s culture, heritage, and community atmosphere set it apart as an exclusive people group within a larger society. These factors make traditional evangelism a challenge due to resident’s deeply established and historical views on religion.
Understanding the unique mindset of Eastern Shore has helped us tailor our Youth Ministry initiatives. Over the last seven years, FLAG (Fun Learning About God) Camp ministry during the summer months in Delmarva has made positive inroads for community bonding and service recognition with a goal to introduce children and youth from each community to a Christ-centered recreational experience. The parallel objective is to bridge the young people into our local churches, schools, VBS programs, Adventurers, Pathfinders, and Youth groups for further discipleship.
To assist in the overall youth ministry, a two-step approach was adopted. First, a support system called the Eastern Shore Youth Advisory was implemented. A representative of each church is asked to serve in a planning committee to help organize yearly events. The committee helps the local churches to work together for our young people, while providing wholesome recreational and spiritually focused activities. Second, a 55-passenger bus was purchased, and several bus drivers trained, in order to transport the young people to different recreational and spiritually focused events.
Recently, a special grant allowed us to add a third element to our methodology. We hired a youth pastor, Rosangpuia Fanai (“Puia”), under a one-year contract, to help with all youth evangelism efforts and follow-ups. The funding comes from a three-part partnership— the North American Division, the Columbia Union, and the Chesapeake Conference. Pastor Puia will work with the youth advisory committee and the local pastors to foster growth and the spiritual development of our young people. –Carl Rodriguez, Youth and Young Adult Ministries Director