Student Encourages Classmates Through YouTube Ministry
When Bryan Arvelo was eight years old, he attended a week of prayer that changed his life. The Charlotte Spanish Church in Charlotte, NC, hosted guest pastor Arnaldo Cruz. Bryan was inspired by the series’ message and intrigued by the outreach videos Pastor Cruz used for his online ministry. As the program concluded, Bryan was baptized. In addition, Pastor Cruz also installed the video editing software on Bryan’s home computer and taught him how to use it.
That was the beginning of Bryan’s new creative outlet: his own YouTube channel. At first, he mostly posted funny videos like himself goofing off on a trampoline. Gradually his channel also became a witnessing tool as he wrote sermons to share with others on topics like “How to Follow Christ” and more recently “Spiritual Lockdown.”
“My Youtube channel helped build me into the person I am today,” Bryan says. “I had a bad stutter. It forced me to practice speaking clearly and helped me develop my public speaking skills.”
Today Bryan has 12,600 subscribers to his YouTube channel, and he is a theology major with a film production minor at Southern Adventist University. At Southern, Bryan got involved with campus opportunities. He helped coordinate a program called Afterglow, which takes place on Friday nights following vespers. Afterglow’s goal is to provide students with an environment where they can continue worshipping together even after vespers is over.
Last school year, Bryan and his team worked hard to help students celebrate the Sabbath and connect to God in new ways. Every week they offered a variety of activities. Sometimes they held jam sessions where students could play praise music together. Another time they had a pet therapy area where students could play with community puppies for stress relief. Other activities included writing letters to student missionaries, creating art, and watching religious films. Every Friday, 200-300 students would attend. Bryan’s team regularly polled students via Instagram to find out what they most enjoyed and what suggestions they had for future sessions.
Due to the coronavirus, the winter semester ended in distance learning. Although Bryan really missed his friends and on-campus ministries, he has used this time to return to his YouTube roots and post additional uplifting videos.
“I’ve noticed that many of my Southern classmates tune in to my sermons,” he says. “I love to see that they are still seeking God, and I’m honored that God is using me in this capacity to help others feel encouraged and stay connected.”
— Angela Baerg, Southern Adventist University