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Gym Night Engages East Bay Young People

Gym Night Engages East Bay Young People

Gym Night Engages East Bay Young People 960 720 Julie Lorenz
Every Saturday night, 70-80 teens and young adults from around the East Bay gather at Pleasant Hill Adventist Academy for gym night. Around 8 p.m., organizer Wayne Ogata offers an opening prayer, and they play volleyball and socialize until midnight.

Ninety percent of those who attend are not connected to the Adventist church. They learned about the gym night through friends and social media. Many play, but others come just to watch, socialize, and eat. Food is sometimes provided by the Pleasant Hill church and others. Last week, a taco truck stopped by!

A Pleasant Hill church member, Ogata works hard to ensure that everyone gets the opportunity to play in a positive environment. He began organizing gym nights because he loves the game, but he now realizes they make it easy to engage with young people.

Ben Saechao, a young adult from Oakland, has been coming to the gym nights for years. “You go to a lot of other gyms, and it’s kind of intimidating for new players,” he said. “Wayne makes it clear that it’s all just for fun—a way to socialize and meet new friends and have a good time.”

Ogata is planning to invite participants to several pre-volleyball worship services during the holidays. However, he realizes that friendship is the best way to reach these young people. “One of them told me, ‘You don’t have to talk about church; the kids are going to ask you,’” he said. “We have kids showing up who haven’t been to church in years. You never know where it’s going to lead.”