Nature Reveals God's Glory: Chronicles of Youth Adventure
Cooper City Church, Hollywood, Fla., youth look forward to nature hikes at local parks once a month. These Sabbath afternoon nature adventures hosted by Tanya Wilson, youth leader, are called Mango Lady Meet Ups.
In 2020, after observing many youth struggling with Zoom fatigue, depression, and anxiety, due to social isolation during the pandemic, Wilson began praying earnestly about the situation. God impressed her to reconnect youth to local parks to see and experience God’s power, love, and creative work in nature.
The park visits worked wonders! Many began to experience a breakthrough from the malaise. As the groups embark on trails, no one is preoccupied or distracted with texting on cell phones. Instead, there is an instinctive sense of curiosity and wide-eyed wonder as the group takes in the beautiful landscapes, teeming with a myriad of wildlife, flora, and fauna. During the hikes, youth talk about their observations in nature, share relatable Scriptures, and conclude with a group prayer.
What began with just a few participants at a local park in 2020, has mushroomed to more than 50 park tours, with approximately 300 participants to date. As news got out, more youth and families began attending the monthly park tours on Sabbath afternoons, and invited both Christian and those who are not Christian friends and families to participate.
Nature continues to be one of God’s greatest remedies to heal the mind, body, and soul. Researchers from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, found that exposure to parks, forests, and other green spaces for at least 20 minutes each day can improve your overall cardiovascular health, and diminish stress hormones.
In the devotional, My Life Today, Ellen White invites us to “Look at the wonderful and beautiful things of nature. Think of their marvelous adaptation to the needs and happiness, not only of man, but of all living creatures. The sunshine and the rain, that gladden and refreshes the Earth, the hills and seas and plains, all speak to us of the Creator’s love. It is God who brings the bud to bloom, the flower to fruit. It is He who supplies the daily needs of all His creatures.”
Florida | February 2023