In this interview, Natasha Dysinger, a young adult member of the GC Executive Committee, shares her thoughts on being a committee member, representing young adults, and the importance of keeping the Church on track.
ECN: Natasha, how long have you been a member of the GC Executive Committee?
DYSINGER: I was voted in as a lay member at-large by the Annual Council in 2015, so it will be three years this fall.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I had the privilege of being born into a Seventh-day Adventist family, and grew up in the beautiful mountains of New Mexico. On February 14, 2016, I married Paul Dysinger (who is the most wonderful man in the world!) and moved to Tennessee, where his family owns an organic family farm. From there we moved to Virginia where we are currently working with Pastor Mark and Teenie Finley at their Living Hope School of Evangelism. We do a lot of Bible work, health coaching, and community programs, etc. We also own an online business, teaching various agricultural methods and classes.
You are one of the young adult members of the Executive Committee. Do you mind telling us how old you are?
Well, today (March 13) is actually my birthday. So I am 27.
Happy Birthday! Although you were born into an Adventist home, there must have come a point where you chose for yourself what path to follow. Why did you choose to be a Seventh-day Adventist?
I love that question. As I tell people who I give Bible studies to, it’s not about what my religion teaches versus what another religion teaches; it’s about what the Bible teaches. I’m a Seventh-day Adventist because the Seventh-day Adventist Church adheres more closely to the Bible than any other denomination. It is a prophetic movement with a prophetic destiny. Besides that though, there are some really beautiful things that come along with the full experience of being part of the worldwide Adventist family, which of course add to my love of being a Seventh-day Adventist.
Describe some of the beauty you find in being Adventist.
One of the biggest things is just the whole experience of the richness and meaning of the Sabbath. Not only the depth of meaning found in a weekly memorial of creation and redemption, but also resting not just yourself but along with a community that is resting and rejoicing just like you are.
Another thing is being part of the worldwide Adventist family. You go to a church on another continent, and it’s still the same family. It has their cultural expression and variety, but it’s the same family, and I love that.
I also love the community that comes from being an Adventist and having some of our unique Adventist things, “family traditions,” so to speak—even little things like haystacks for fellowship meals in North America. It doesn’t have sacred value, but it’s still like being part of a close family and understanding each other in a way that others don’t.
But there’s nothing quite as special as being at the GC session and singing “We Have This Hope” with thousands of other voices who share the passion that you have.
What do you see as the purpose of the GC Executive Committee?
Because the Seventh-day Adventist Church is a prophetic movement of destiny, we are not our own. We aren’t just a denomination that some people thought up. As a prophetic movement, our very purpose is to fulfill our prophetic calling.
It’s similiar to what Jesus said in the Gospel of John. He had a prophetic calling, and in John 6:38 He says, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” And in John 4:34 He says, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”
The whole purpose of the GC Executive Committee is to keep the movement true to the prophetic destiny that we have, by adhering to the purpose for which we were brought into existence. That purpose is the proclamation of the Three Angels’ Messages. We are not here to do what we want, or to get sidetracked on any side issue of interest to us; but to do the will and work of Him who sent us, as a church in this world.
The purpose of the Executive Committee is so weighty. We are not here to do what we want, but to do the work of Him who sent us.
And how does the Executive Committee do this?
Our first and foremost concern as Executive Committee members is keeping our voting (and hence, the decisions of the world church) in line with the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy. We have a lot of light given to us in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy as to what we should be focusing on as a church, as well as what we should be careful about. We have no shortage of light, though we often need great discernment on how to apply it. It can be very challenging at times, but the principle is not complicated.
What do you see as your role, personally, as a member of the GC EXCOM?
I see my role as three-fold. First, as a member of the Executive Committee, my role is to be sure that when I am participating in these important decisions, that I’m not bringing my own will to the table—I’m laying aside my own will and seeking to be under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, following the guidance that we have from the Word of God as closely as possible in my voting and decision making.
Secondly, as a committee member who is also a young adult, I feel that it is incredibly important for young people to have their voice heard at the Executive Committee.
And lastly, I believe that I have the responsibility of making sure that the decisions of the Executive Committee are understandable to young people, and to ensure to the best of my ability that they understand the church and its processes.
That is one of the greatest burdens I have; that while we, as Executive Committee members, do our best to represent our constituencies to the world church, we also do our very best to represent the world church to our constituencies. We have the duty to create as much understanding with the world church family as possible.
Tell us more about your role representing young adults.
One of the most frequent mistakes I hear when listening to things pertaining to young people is the overgeneralization of young adults. It is important to recognize that young adults don’t think uniformly on any issue—Millennials are all over the map when it comes to many of the things we are dealing with as a church. Often, I hear young adults being portrayed as being much more uniform in opinion than they actually are, and that one perceived side gets expressed as if it is the entire will of young adults in the church; and it is simply not accurate.
With women’s ordination (WO) for example, there are many, many young adults on both sides of the debate; not just for, not just against. The one area in which they are more unified is that they are very tired of the discussion and often wish that the Baby Boomer generation would find another subject to discuss. Frankly, my impression from talking with young people from both sides is that WO is far more of a Baby Boomer issue, and Millennials are very weary of it, whether they are themselves for or against it.
I represent a fairly large group of young adults who don’t feel heard or represented at church administrative levels. During this past Annual Council, young people were watching the live stream and texting me, asking “Would you please express our thoughts?!”
I carry that close to my heart. Sometimes I feel I’m able to truly give them a voice and sometimes I leave feeling like I was not able to truly express their perspectives, depending on what happens in the whole process, the discussion, voting, etc. But it is something I always think about.
Ultimately though, our point as a movement is not to have the church doing what I, or even young adults as a whole, think it should be doing. We do need to be sensitive to young adults, definitely; but church actions need to be first and foremost sensitive to and in accordance with God’s Word and the Spirit of Prophecy.
And what to do if leaders don’t agree?
That’s a difficult question. I think it’s incredibly important that we all seek to be sure that our hearts are in submission to the Word of God; that we come, not to push our own ideas but to follow His will. But if, at the end of the day, everyone is as submitted to God as they know how to be, and yet we disagree on certain points, one thing we will know is what we should be focusing on and majoring in—fulfilling our prophetic role as God’s last-day movement.
Nowhere in the Word of God or the Spirit of Prophecy can I find that this current debate should be our central meditation. Nowhere do I see that this should be our family obsession and discussion point. Whatever we find God is majoring in, that’s where we need to be putting our time.
Do you believe it is important that Church entities follow what is voted by GC Session and the GC Executive Committee? If so, why? If not, why not?
I do feel it’s important. Why? Going back to what I say to our Bible study contacts—“it doesn’t matter what our religion says, or what our opinion is, it’s what the Bible says.”
We know that God brought this movement into existence for a prophetic destiny. We know very clearly that He led in our structure. As a part of the leadership body of this movement, we need to respect the structure that God has put in place.
Just yesterday I was reading in Deuteronomy 12 where God told the children of Israel: “You shall not at all do as we are doing here today—every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes . . . but when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord your God is giving you . . . then there will be the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes . . .” (Deut. 12:8, 10, 11, NKJV).
God was saying, “Look, I’m going to choose to put my name in a certain place. When you come into what has been prophetically promised, I want you to respect that—take your offerings to Jerusalem, not just wherever you want to put them.” In the same way, God has put His name on our church, and on what He has organized in our structure; and He wants us to respect that.
Has the Church made votes/decisions in the past that I didn’t agree with? Definitely. But it is still for me to respect the structure God has put in place. At some point the church is going to make a decision that you or I will not like. But I can honor Him by respecting the decision and seeking to work within it as best I can, not just doing whatever is right in my own eyes. I do want to study the Word for myself and His will for me as an individual, but I still respect the church structure, the organization, the system, that He has set up. That’s one of the principles we can learn from Deuteronomy 12.
How are you so convinced that God set up the structure of the Seventh-day Adventist Church?
It boils down to the prophetic nature of the church. Again, the Adventist church wasn’t just someone’s bright idea – it is a prophetic movement with a prophetic destiny. This movement is under the control of God, because prophecy will always be fulfilled.
The reorganization of the church in 1901 was God’s doing. And as such, I am to respect it, even if or when it goes against whatever is right in my own eyes.
We may be in very challenging situations now, but we can be sure that God is going to take this movement through. Do I know fully how God is going to bring deep unity into our church? No; but I do know He will.
One of my favorite parables is that of Ezekiel’s dry bones in Ezekiel 37. God asks, “Can these dry bones live?” And Ezekiel answers, “Oh Lord God, you know” (vs. 3). So, God says to the dry bones, “‘Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. . . Then you shall know that I am the Lord’” (vs. 3,5).
Some of the things we’re dealing with as a church the Spirit of God is going to have to correct. It doesn’t matter even if we were to become dry bones. God will say, “Live!” and we will be the exceedingly great army He designed us to be.
Prophecy will be fulfilled. We are in the closing hours of Earth’s history, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church will do what it was called into existence to do. We live in exciting times! God will accomplish His purpose, for His own glory.
Originally published in the GC Executive Committee Newsletter, March, 2018, accessible at executivecommittee.adventist.org/newsletter