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8-14-14 CONVERSATION: Sam Leonor, Forever Faithful International Camporee Keynote Speaker
by Tamara Wolcott Fisher

Sam Leonor, is the keynote speaker for the Forever Faithful International Pathfinder Camporee in Oshkosh, Wisc., August 11-16. He serves as the campus pastor for La Sierra University in Riverside, Calif. He enjoys ministry that focuses on faith that engages culture deeply and emphasizes justice. Sam is married to Shelley, they have a daughter, Alexandra, age 14, and a son, Micah, age 11.

Raised in Central America, his parents worked with health care missions. Sam attended Southern College, now Southern Adventist University, in Tenn., where he earned a secondary education degree. He worked as a youth pastor in Asheville, North Carolina, before attending Andrews University where he earned a Master of Divinity.

Sam had a chance to talk with NAD communication personnel at the Pathfinder International Camporee.

NP: What does it mean to be here at Oshkosh?
SL: I am excited to be here at Oshkosh with my whole family. We have been planning this for three years now.
SL: We have been excited for many things, most importantly to meet people from across the country and across the world who share the same values. My daughter is excited about meeting kids of about the same age who are excited about the same things who have been working hard doing bake sales, car washes, to get here. We are also excited about the theme of this camporee. It is really important to us.
NP: Forever Faithful is the theme, how do you feel about the story of Daniel?
SL: Small things, food, it starts with small things.  When you find yourself in a strange place, God asks you to be faithful in the way you eat? But once you demonstrate your faithfulness in a really small thing, like food, then God gives you bigger things to be faithful with; like a message to a king who is the one holding you captive?
SL: The next level is, are you going to be faithful to be asked to worship, something that is unrelated to God?  Bow down to an image that has nothing to do with God. Are you going to be faithful in the end when you are facing these hungry animals to devour you?
SL: There are different levels of faithfulness. God rewards Daniel’s faithfulness and I am excited to talk about that to Pathfinders.
NP: Is Daniel your favorite Bible character?
SL: Daniel was my favorite story already, other than Jesus, of course. So when the camporee committee first asked me to speak and then they told me what the theme was. It was awesome.
NP: What are you hoping to leave people with?
SL: I have thought about this a lot. I thought about all the kids driving in, all the miles they have traveled, the sacrifices they are making to be here. Some of them have worked so hard to be here. They will do so much here. They will earn honors, trade pins; they will eat delicious camp food.
SL: There are different levels that I hope to accomplish. I would hope that these kids that are coming make connections—lifelong connections—with other kids that are on the same journey.
SL:  Second level. I hope that they see scripture come to life in a way that they have never, ever seen before. The dedication that everyone has put into this camporee to make it all come alive is amazing, amazing to me.
SL: The last thing I hope, the highest level, is that the ones that are committed to Jesus already will leave here affirmed, that their commitment, man it is unshakeable. I hope that this is pivotal for the kids that have not yet made a decision for Jesus.
SL: All the research, if I can talk about research for a moment, all the research says that these are the kinds of places that 11-14 years olds make a decision for God. If we can get them to make that decision here, that is my hope.
SL: I am not going to talk about being expelled from my club early on.
I loved Pathfindering.  I loved the activities, the honors, I wasn’t good at the marching but everything else was awesome. But I got to old to finish the cycle through to master guide. So, I never became a master guide. In the last year, I have been preparing myself to become a master guide, and this Sabbath, at camporee, I am being invested as a master guide.


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