Initiative in the Philippines highlights the power of Adventist youth involved in mission.
Published on: 06-19-2021
The story of the Central Luzon Conference Voice of Youth (VOY) Ignite in the Philippines started when a group of young people did the groundwork for evangelism in the village of Kambubuyugan and Talamsi Uno in Bulacan in December 2020.
The story reveals God’s transforming power not only to the young people who participated in the evangelistic program but also to the people who accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
The Youth Department of Southern Asia-Pacific Division, headed by Ron Genebago, was behind the initiative, together with the Youth Department of the North Philippines Union Conference led by David Morado. It was integrated into the training program of Central Luzon Conference Youth Department.
Had it not been for the bravery and passion of our dedicated and committed young people who took charge of the VOY Ignite team, certainly we would not have seen and heard testimonies of love and grace from individuals who have been freed from the grip of darkness through the transforming power of Jesus Christ.
With the inspiration and support of the local church leaders in the North Bulacan 3 District, the VOY team was organized and commissioned. It followed what the groundwork group had started. Young people shared God’s word with the people of Barangay Talamsi Uno from March 28 to April 10, 2021. The team braved some of the most stubborn challenges they could ever meet: no internet, no electricity, no water, and doing their work in compliance with strict health protocols imposed by the government.
“I am so thankful that I became part of this VOY team, which allowed me to use my God-given talent to share God’s love to other people,” Mart Louie Martizano of Camp Tecson Seventh-day Adventist Church said.
“Seeing twenty-one precious [people] baptized at the end of the VOY Ignite evangelism is so exciting and fulfilling,” Orland Caliso, a church planter in the village of Kalawakan in Bulacan, said. “It has never happened in my life before. It’s such a joy. I never regretted being a part of this very energetic VOY team.”
But the story does not end there. Mauro “Mayor” Lopez, a chieftain of the Dumagat tribe in Kambubuyugan, and his whole family accepted Jesus through baptism in the Talamsi Uno VOY campaign. After the baptism, Mauro could not contain himself. He wanted to share the new truths he found with the members of his tribe in Kambubuyugan. He pleaded with the VOY team to conduct a campaign in his village.
“I want to share also whatever truths I have heard and accepted right now. I want to share with my relatives and with my tribe that God is love, and He has no favoritism,” Lopez said. “Truly, there were many religious groups that tried to persuade us, but I didn’t see and hear from them the biblical truths with a deeper impact as I did from the VOY team. They have no qualms in dealing with us. They are so sincere,” he added.
Young people happily accepted an urgent call to launch another VOY Ignite evangelistic meeting, but this time with a new group involved, the Kambu boys of Kambubuyugan. Kambubuyugan is translated as a place of many hornets, and the Kambu boys are known as the fiercest and the most troublesome youth group in the place. They are known to disrespect anyone, especially when they are drunk. No other youth dared to stand in their way. But Bible truth softened the hearts of some of them, who asked to be baptized during the second VOY Ignite evangelistic series. When they learned that another VOY campaign would be held in their place, they got excited. They offered to be a part of the group.
“I am excited to share my newfound faith with my family and with my friends,” William Gonzales, a member of the Kambu boys, said. His friend Eric Bunag agreed. “There’s a different feeling inside me when I surrendered my life to Jesus. Before, it was so natural to say bad words. I did not respect anyone, and I was hot-tempered. But thank God, I learned to become humble through the working of the Holy Spirit.”
So, from May 8 to 29, young people led a VOY Ignite evangelism campaign in Kambubuyugan. The passion and bravery of the newly baptized young people, especially the Kambu boys, was impressive. They visited and invited children and adults to the nightly meetings. They actively took part in praying, singing, and giving testimonies.
The VOY evangelistic campaign had its light moments too. While the speaker was sharing God’s Word during the first night, a water buffalo came up, seemingly out of nowhere. It created a little confusion and fear among the crowd, but it turned out to be a blessing to the attendees when someone pointed out that even a water buffalo wanted to attend the meetings.
Twenty-one precious people were added to God’s kingdom through baptism. Even though the team experienced heavy rains, hot weather, and many inconvenient situations, God rewarded their dedication. “I am really happy because my elder brother and his whole family are now baptized,” William Gonzales said.
Fernan Vicmudo, district lay association president, said the association is very proud because of the involvement of the local young people in evangelism. “It is our honor and privilege to continue supporting them. We pray and hope that more young people will join the Voice of Youth,” he said.