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#039;Walking flashlights#039; come to Troy

Youth who participate in Scott Dawson's Pathfinder Missions are often called "walking flashlights" because they walk door to door sharing their faith in Jesus Christ with others.

Over the next three days, Troy neighborhoods should be all aglow as this year's 250 participants canvas the area.

Youth groups from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Ohio checked in Wednesday afternoon and settled into their dorm rooms at Troy State University.

Today, they begin the evangelistic experience of their mission.

Reid Ward, a youth minister at Fairhaven Baptist Church in Demopolis, has been to every Pathfinder since 2000.

He said that Pathfinder Missions works because it allows youth to share and learn at the same time.

"On mission trips, they don't get fed (spiritually)," he said.

"The trips are so focused on service there's really nothing for them.

But with camps it's all about them and they really don't get to put anything into practice."

Ward also said the mission allows young people to realize that God can work through them and one person can make a difference.

"God can use them," Ward said.

"So many think they're just average kids but this allows them to see God can use them in his work."

First-time leader Jordan Knoten from Sarasota, Fla., said he is expecting to see God work through the youth in this area.

This is his first time at Pathfinders and even though he is a leader, he said he will basically be doing the same things the youth will be doing.

"I want to see our youth-the kids we brought here-learn that God is not something for just Sunday or at night on Wednesday.

You have to live everyday as a light to everyone around you."

He hopes his youth will realize that the witnessing they do and the growing they do can also be done at home.

Andrew Gay, Nichole Capers and Staci Waters made the trip with their youth group from Tallahassee, Fla.

Although none of them have been involved with something like Pathfinders before, they said they aren't nervous and they seem to know what to expect.

Walters said her youth group has been on mission trips before and has done similar things in their own communities.

Capers and Gay said the key to witnessing is being able to talk about anything.

"The key is being able to find common interests," he said.

"And you have to be able to talk about things they're interested in, not just the stuff you're interested in.

Really, you need to just be an all-around people person."

Walters said she isn't nervous about sharing her faith with people she doesn't know.

"You just have to know that God's there with you and that you're doing his work," she said.