May 2023 Column


Mental Health Awareness

Mental health has historically been a touchy subject which is hard to talk about within certain places, and there can be a lack of awareness as to what is means as well as the impacts this has as a whole. When it comes to finding help and healing, there can be issues and stigmas surrounding it, especially with certain stigmas depending on the cultural context. Yet, we were created to be whole and God provides means and ways to get us closer to how He intended.

Since the onset of COVID-19, something major has influenced each of us individually. There has been a shift of our understanding, and a shaping of how we interact with everyone around us, as well as the world we live in. Isolation became the norm, and since life was no longer filled with the gatherings and events which kept us busy, we were able to slow down and see ourselves for who we are.

Humanity is broken, and this is reflected in each of our personal lives and struggles. There is a tendency to want to mask and hide behind different aspects in order to hide the parts of us which we want to shield and protect others from. There is hesitancy resting between vulnerability and the protecting of who we are. Time after time again, broken people have proven to break us more, but that is not always the case.

God has gifted us with people, and with hope for healing. Healing is messy, mainly because life is messy. It is a journey that calls us to confront the things which we would rather avoid and brush away, but in all reality we cannot. When talking about the topic of healing, especially in the realm of mental health, it is definitely something that gets a whole lot harder before it gets easier. It needs to be addressed and faced head on in a lot of senses otherwise, there is not a lot of ways to which we can effectively heal.

Oftentimes there is a fear of invalidation of our experiences if we choose to heal. We get comfortable in our realities, and often do not see another way to which we can experience and cherish life. Just because we choose to take steps towards healing, does not mean that the experience and the pain of certain situations goes away. Rather, this offers opportunities of freedom to come from the inside out and overall provide ways to be whole.

Questions for Discussion

In what ways can you acknowledge your mental health challenges and see them in a different light?

How can you journey alongside someone through their difficulties?

In what ways can you be a little more vulnerable and transparent in a good way with those around you?

Mental health issues manifest in a variety of ways, and the experiences we have with them change from person to person. It is important to acknowledge at times that we are not okay, and that it is okay to not feel or be okay. As we journey together through life, there will remain a multitude of ups and downs, and thus we are able to see journeys differently.


Xiomara Perdomo

Xiomara Perdomo

Assistant to the President for Mission

Kayla Goodman

Kayla Goodman

AYP Chaplain

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David Asscherick

David is a speaker/director for Light Bearers and ARISE co-founder and instructor. Since his baptism in 1999, David has traveled the globe preaching and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He and his wife Violeta are the happy parents of two boys, Landon and Jabel.

Keynote Speaker

Benjamin Lundquist, host of Rise & Lead, will headline 2023 AYP Convention.

Benjamin Lundquist is a top motivational speaker and one the leading voices for leadership development and empowerment. He is passionate about helping students and professionals see their worth and value, see themselves as a leader, and see their potential to change the world. The message he shares is motivating, relatable, and highly practical. Audiences are challenged to take extreme ownership of the unique gifts and opportunities they have. He is an international speaker and host of Rise and Lead Podcast which has been downloaded in over 110 countries providing aspiring and experienced leaders of all ages with world-class content and conversation. He frequently speaks at corporate and faith events, universities, and high schools.

Identity in Christ | Breakout Track

April is currently an associate pastor for discipleship at Keene SDA church. She is enrolled in a dual graduate program for Public Health and MDIV chaplaincy. She enjoys working with different ministries that highlight service, hospitality, and life enrichment. 

Her hobbies include traveling, reading, music, and extreme sports. An introvert at heart, she enjoys moments with close friends and in the quiet. Her and her husband, Blake Snyder reside in Burleson, Texas.

Purpose & Calling | Breakout Track

Ann Roda likes to describe her life as one long adventure with God. She began her career as a registered nurse in OB then transitioned into healthcare administration. Then, God unexpectedly redirected her path to the Adventist Theological Seminary, for an MDiv, and into pastoral ministry. She spent 15 years as a church pastor in Marietta, Georgia and Fulton, Maryland. Six years ago, God had another adventure for Ann, and called her back into the health care ministry, serving with Adventist HealthCare as Vice President for Mission and Spiritual Care. 

This position is the perfect combination of both pastoral ministry and health care. Ann is married to Jose Hernandez, a licensed professional counselor. Ann and her husband enjoy hiking, biking, and traveling.

Relationships | Breakout Track

Stephen and Felecia Lee are partners in the mission. They share a mutual passion for young adult ministries and using their talents to share the Gospel online and through speaking engagements. Stephen helps individuals and businesses function more efficiently through time management and productivity techniques. Felecia is a full-time homemaker and also the founder of the New Wives Club. 

In addition to this, she runs a program teaching women of color how to learn principles of faith through natural hair care. They live in New Hampshire and speak in different places on topics related to singleness, courtship, communication, evangelism, and faith.

Spiritual Health | Breakout Track

Shawn is passionate about generations coming together! She grew up in a four-generation family business and knows, from first-hand experience, that when people of all ages work together, everyone wins!

She has a B.S. in marketing from the University of Nebraska and is an award-winning sales and marketing professional. Her professional certifications include being a member of the John Maxwell Team and DISC Behavioral Consultant. Recently she published her first book “Strategies for Generational Inclusion at Work.”

Communities | Breakout Track

Michael Gibson currently serves as the Lead Pastor at the Keene SDA Church where he most previously served for four years as Pastor for Young Adults and lead Elevate, a growing and thriving young adult community in Keene. Michael is married to Melissa and they both enjoy the outdoors, long walks, and traveling to new, unexplored places. 

Most days, when he’s not teaching, preaching or studying, you’ll find him playing disc golf or working on home renovations with Melissa. They recently welcomed their son, Micah Eden, into the world last October and ever since, life has taken on a whole new meaning. Above all, Michael and Melissa have a passion for discipleship and telling others about the incredible God they serve. For them, the gospel boils down to loving God and loving people.