The theme for 2021 ministry in the Nevada-Utah Conference (NUC) is “Empowered to Serve,” the logical next step to the 2020 theme of “Saved to Serve.” As one of their leaders in ministry has discovered, God often bestows that empowerment through the simplest means.
Darriel Hoy’s work is an example of how easily some of our young people can be encouraged to allow God to work through them in ministry endeavors. Hoy serves as the director of the Children, Youth, and Young Adult Ministries of the NUC. However, she remembers struggling, like many youth, through some of those “high Sabbaths” that adults seem to enjoy so much. She recalls one particular Sabbath, while some members of the congregation were encouraging the speaker with “preach on” and “take your time,” she was praying that church would end so she could feed her growling stomach.
Sister Stewart, one of the “intimidating” church mothers, took in the situation and invited Hoy to the kitchen for a sandwich—a veggie chicken salad on a croissant! Upon arrival in the kitchen, Hoy noticed that Sister Denman and Sister Morgan were already there making sandwiches. The three women smiled as Hoy took her first bite of the “manna from heaven,” the best sandwich ever. Preparing to leave after polishing off three sandwiches, Hoy said, “I heard Sister Stewart ‘whisper’ that she was too tired to make another sandwich. I was just like a fish being reeled in!” Hoy soon found herself happily making more sandwiches, to Sister Stewart’s specifications, making sure the spread went all the way to the edges of every slice of bread. These sandwiches were special, she learned. They were for “the boys.”
“What boys?” asked a curious Hoy. Soon she learned that she had just become part of the Baton Rouge Berean church’s ministry for the boys locked behind bars at the Juvenile Correctional Institute. On the fourth Sabbath of every month, these boys looked forward to sandwiches, along with cake and candles, to celebrate the birthdays in that month. Hoy remembers learning that “in spite of their life-altering mistakes, this church wanted them to know that they were loved and forgiven by a loving and forgiving God.”
Hoy recalls thinking, “I wasn’t just making sandwiches.… I was Abigail providing food for David’s hungry army. I was the little boy sharing two fish and five loaves of bread as Jesus miraculously fed over five thousand people. I felt a joy I’d never experienced before. I was given a chance to live my faith. I was empowered to serve.”
By Michelle Ward, with Faith Hoyt