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Trip Back Home

By

Frank Jackson, MG, PLA

   Being a Pathfinder is more than what some people think it is. It is a ministry that can bring a person back to church. It is a ministry that can bring young people into church. It is also a ministry that prepares young people with practical life skills they can use for the rest of their lives. Finally Pathfinders is a fun way to teach young people leadership skills. I pray this will be inspirational enough to young people to the point of not leaving the church. And if it brings one person into the fold then “Praise God from whom all blessings flow”.

   My first pathfinder experience I had just turned ten living in Oceanside, CA and my mom signed me up. I don’t remember the meetings but I do remember my first camping trip and regretting playing in poison oak after my Jr. Counselor told me not too. Going back to school the next day was not fun with the itching and scratching. That was my punishment for being disobedient.

   My second time in pathfinders we had moved to Santa Ana, CA. This time mom signed up my brothers and I. It was so cool. We had so many kids. We had a drum and bugle corps, and drill team. So I tried out for both of them. It was a no go for both. One I have no talent for music, and two I was still learning my basic facing movements. They were way too advanced for me. But I wanted to be in one of the groups anyway, I wanted to be just like them. So I would practice the basic drill movements. I would practice at home at school. The Pathfinder Director at the time was Bro Mullens. He truly worked those guys hard and they were sharp. In competitions there were constantly getting first or second place. By the time I was ready the kids were gone and we had a new Director Sis Lottie Bush. I remember when she gave me my card for class work. I would take the card and carelessly put it somewhere and lose it. When it was time to get invested, guess who was passed over. You got it. ME! I was so mad. But I did not do the work. Then I saw Sis Mullens get invested as a Master Guide. It was like I heard angles singing. I remember thinking to myself “I am going to make Master Guide by the next time we have an investiture service.” But I was not old enough and really did not know what I was talking about. So the next time we had Pathfinders was maybe three years later. This time when I received my class cards Sis Lottie Bush was the Director and Sis Mullens was the Deputy Director. They showed me what to do. I studied my brains out I was doing two cards at a time. I loved going camping during that time Sis Bush was the director. The one camporee I remember the most was the Indian Folklore theme. My brothers and I were into the theme so much, we convinced our father to give us Mohawks and couple of months before the event so our hair would grow. He thought we lost our minds because we went to school and church with our heads like that. At the camp site I met Danny Davis little did I know that I would meet him again a few decades later.

   I completed Friend and Companion during this same time, along with my two brothers. Then there was Brother and Sister Smalley who were part of the staff. They taught us how to can peaches. I did not get the honor but the mess we made and the fun we had was priceless. There was Sister Roney and her quite demeanor she taught me to use a soft voice. But, when needed, her voice would turn into something God fearing especially, at her son Darvin. Then I completed Explorer and Pioneer and Voyager, and was working on Guide and Master Guide when I quit. I began to think I was too old for this, little did I know.

   Quitting was the worst thing I could have done and it was the beginning of my down fall. I soon went to college La Sierra University to be exact. I did not work with the Pathfinders because I was trying to be cool like everyone else. I afraid I would be laughed at and I was ashamed that I loved doing Pathfinders. I should have studied my Bible where God says he is looking for a peculiar people. Not weird but different from the world.

   I dropped out of La Sierra and got married. And I joined the U.S. Air Force. During the drilling in the military was so easy it was almost boring. Drilling in Pathfinders got me over some serious hurdles, and being the son of a Marine did not hurt either. My marriage was a nightmare the values that Pathfinders instilled into me, along with the Biblical principles Pathfinders teach went right out the window along with the Christian lifestyle. However, I did take delight in working with the Pathfinder Club in Yuba City, while I was stationed at Beale AFB, CA. I was so happy again. I taught drill and being on the Base Honor Guard gave me ideas that were brought to the Pathfinder Club.

   I was sad when I left to go to Germany. But they gave me a Bible which I still have today and it has traveled the world with me. While I was out of the church and out of pathfinders I was really and truly miserable. My wife left me, I took to drinking, and I tried all kinds of things to make me happy. But, true happiness is in the Lord and working to expand his kingdom.

   I did a lot of traveling around the world while I was out of the church. While I was in transition from Italy to the Philippines I came home for a few weeks on leave and I was bored and my mother asked me would I mind drilling the Pathfinders in the Moreno Valley SDA Church. I was out of the house like a shot. My nephew Lamont was a member. I had so much fun. I remember Lamont telling me he was going to make master guide. I told him go for it. He made it including all the advanced classes.

   This is the turning point. One night in a bar in the Philippines and I had a beer in one hand and a cute lady on my other arm. I was getting ready to drink the beer and the Pathfinder Law popped into my head. “Care for my body”. I started to look around and a Bible verse with my mother’s voice came into mind. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” I was about to tell this lady a lie in her ear and “Keep a level eye” popped into my head. I thought this is so weird. I had just paid for this drink so I gave it back to the bartender without touching it. And the cute young lady I left her in the bar. Someone asked me what is wrong with you. I did not say anything but the Pathfinder Laws kept ringing in my ear along with a lot of other Bible verses.

   Also while in the Philippines that is when I came to the realization I had drifted so far from God. June 1991 Mount Pinatubo erupted about an hour later we were slammed with a typhoon (same as a hurricane), and two hours later earthquake began to follow. I thought to myself this is the second coming and I am not ready. I actually thought I was going to die and it scared me. I made a promise that if God got me out of this mess I would go back to church.

   I eventually came back to the states after tours in England, I went to church but I did not participate in any of the ministries they had. While in Korea I lived across the street from a Seventh-day Adventist Church and I never went. I kept telling myself next time. Folks next time never came. While stationed in Japan I went to church once and I felt out of place, I never went back. But, I kept hearing the Pathfinder law and pledge in my head. When I came back to the states the first thing I did was to look for a SDA Church.

   And it happened to be the South Hill SDA Church in Spokane, Washington. I worked with the South Hill SDA Pathfinders in Spokane, WA. I worked with their Director Kathy Marson who works in the Upper Columbia Conference’s Communication’s Department. I was truly amazed that I have never seen her lose her cool. I was amazed at how much patient she has. It did not dawn on me that I did not have Christ in my life and that is why I did not have any patience. I was truly losing my mine. I believe it was because I made a promise to God and my heart was not into it. I was not truly convicted by the Holy Spirit. I went to Saudi Arabia and in the desert where I found God again just like Moses. In the solitude and quietness of the desert is where I really had time to think about my life and where I was going spiritually. And I noticed every time I was working with Pathfinders or as a participant when I was younger I was truly happy.

   Once I retired for the Air Force I moved to Hampton, Virginia and was convicted to get baptized again. I was working two jobs when I was convicted to work with Pathfinders again.

   Now I work with the Calvary Cardinals in Newport News VA. David Garrison is the Director and I am his Deputy Director. Eric Solomon, Charles Buchanan, and Probyn Rowe gave me the courage to keep on working with Pathfinders during the difficult times in my life when I wanted to quit. This is a return home, Pathfinders played an important part of keeping me in the church it is more than camping, marching, and exercising. Being in Pathfinders is a mentoring program for the young and old, teaching them to make decisions for life. Pathfinders is a ministry for the community. Pathfinders is a place to develop speaking skills. Pathfinders is a place where sometimes you can clear your mind. Pathfinders is a place where you can really learn more about God. Pathfinders develops young people’s leadership skills. But the best part about Pathfinders is that it is Christ centered. The main thing that Pathfinders has taught me is about God and what He will do for someone who is willing to work for Him.

   There are several things I noticed working with all of these clubs: (1) The directors were fantastic to work with and they trusted me with God’s precious gifts the young people of the church even though they did not know me that well. (2) Although the kids are of different races and ethnicities they are great to work with. And will trust you if you really show them that you really care for them and show a genuine interest in them. (3) God will direct you to the club you can work with if you care about young people’s souls.

   I have a small piece of advice for young people. If you quit Pathfinders, don’t quit the church and don’t quit on God. I was blessed by having time to come back. Time is quickly coming to an end and you may not have a chance to come back. All the people mentioned had a part in me making it, and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart and may God richly bless you.


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