Record Rewind: The church started by young people

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Did you know that teenagers started the Adventist Church? 

That’s right! It was a group of young people, passionate and on fire for God, who wanted to change the world! These teenagers looked for opportunities to help others and talk about Jesus and became powerful leaders. 

1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.“

Ellen White

Ellen was a gentle, shy and softly spoken girl who loved God. When she was quite young she suffered an injury which damaged her face, leaving her insecure about her appearance and struggling with ongoing pain and health issues. She struggled to concentrate in school and could not read or write without great difficulty. Not only this, but she also had to endure endless teasing from children her own age because of her appearance.1 When she was just 17 years old, she had her first vision from God. 

When she saw this vision, she was afraid to tell anyone, worried that they would not listen to her or think she had gone mad. She prayed all day long that God wouldn’t make her tell others the vision she had seen, but the more she tried to keep it a secret, the harder it was! As the day went on, she knew she needed to share this vision with others. When she told the vision to her prayer group, they were filled with gladness and knew God had spoken to her.2 Just a teenager, Ellen became a great spiritual leader for the early Adventist Church, humbly and boldly declaring God’s Word to the world.

John Loughborough

As a child, John was curious about the world around him, having a fascination for science and philosophy. He had deep questions about life and his place in it, but whenever his mother tried to persuade him to go to church, he found excuse after excuse not to attend. He came from a deeply spiritual family, but much preferred spending time with his friends. Inwardly, he felt unworthy to attend church and believed that he did not belong there.3  

But when he was 16, John attended an Advent Christian meeting and was greatly convicted by what he heard. After the meeting, he began studying the Bible and made a commitment to serve God, getting baptised. John began to preach at the age of 16, soon becoming known as “the boy preacher” as he travelled about in ill-fitting borrowed clothes to preach the gospel in new places. He would walk from house to house to offer Bible studies and hand out information about Jesus. Just a teenager, John became a great evangelist and helped win many people to Jesus.4

Uriah Smith

Uriah was a creative and innovative young person who loved reading and demonstrated great artistic talent and a gift for writing. At the age of 13, however, Uriah lost one of his legs to an infection, needing to have it amputated above the knee. This caused immense grief and pain for Uriah, but he did not let it affect his prospects in life and instead set out to study the Bible for himself. It has been said that few Adventists have ever known their Bibles better than Uriah!5

By 21 years of age, Uriah was working for the Adventist Church, writing for Adventist Review magazine. Within just two years, Uriah became the editor-in-chief! In this role, Uriah offered spiritual encouragement and wisdom to isolated Adventists through his writing. A noble man, Uriah inspired generations through his writing and shaped the Adventist movement.

Fun Fact: Uriah Smith invented the first artificial leg with fully flexible knee and ankle joints!

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