Meet the Newest Executive Committee Member
Christina Ivankina is the newest member of the Columbia Union Executive Committee. Ivankina, an eighth-grade teacher, is also active in Pennsylvania Conference’s Shamokin Mission in Shamokin. Read our interview with her to see why she’s excited to serve.
Visitor: How long have you been active in your local church and other church-related projects?
Ivankina: I’ve been active at the Shamokin Mission since I started attending, for almost two years. Before attending the mission, I was an active member of the Milton church in Pennsylvania, since the church plant started in 2000.
I also help lead out our monthly Cool Camp parties. Each month we hold a party for community kids on Sunday afternoons. At each program we include a spiritual lesson highlighted with games, activities and crafts that go along with the theme. This is a continuation of Cool Camp, a weeklong program run by the Pennsylvania Conference.
I also worked with Javier Mendez this past summer as his assistant promoting Legit Ministries. We traveled to New Mexico and New Jersey to train and equip local church members to hold small groups and monthly programs for their community kids.
I’m also hoping to start a Bible study group with some local friends.
Visitor: Were you always this active?
Ivankina: I have been active since I graduated from high school, especially since I attended a church plant. Even though I grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist church, I did not really give my life to Christ until I graduated from high school and really started my relationship with Him after reading the Bible and other events. However, in 2010 I went through a separation and divorce that led to a time of stepping back. This was the hardest time in my life. There was a lot of emotional pain that really brought me down and made me feel so unworthy. At times I questioned if God still loved me and could even use me. Through this pain and doubt I refused to let go of God. He was my only hope and all I had. God never left me and made sure to let me know that! Through friends and situations He showed me quite the opposite.
He had big plans for me. He could use me and the pain I experienced to reach out. He opened many doors and brought me to the Shamokin group, helped me meet Javier Mendez and involved me in the cool camp and Legit ministries. I learned that through my difficulties, mistakes, pain, heartache and weaknesses He made me strong and showed me how I could relate to others.
Visitor: What sparked this interest?
Ivankina: The Spirit sparked my interest in ministry. My love of teaching the public school kids in Shamokin gave me the passion that connected me with Cool Camp. My friends and my life situations also help spark my desire to reach out and just love others. Through my own journey I have realized how much we all can relate and just need someone to listen and sincerely care. As a Christian we have hope! Isn't the purpose of our life and Christianity to share the hope we have?
Visitor: What would you say to young adults who have left the church or aren’t interested in participating any more?
Know that God loves you and He is the one and only thing that can bring you peace and hope through your life. I would say pray and ask God to use you. He will open doors. Most young people want to have a real and authentic relationship with God. Unfortunately, sometimes the church is not ready for this. As a church we need to be open and provide the young people with opportunities and be willing to do things that might be different than how we are used to doing them. We need to be ready to have open and meaningful conversations and be nonjudgmental. We need to open our arms out to those who struggle with sins and temptations and do not know how to overcome them. And we need to befriend the people and meet them where they are.
Visitor: How do you think your life experiences impact your service on the Executive Committee?
Ivankina: I trust that I can be a voice for God. I'm just an ordinary person who loves God and desires to spread His love and hope to others. I have many close friends and family that are Non-Adventists. I guess I can offer guidance to reaching those who are not churched or who have left as well with those who have been oppressed and struggle to feel God's grace in their mistakes or struggles.