by Meryl Dominguez and Hannah Faith Padinit


The pandemic turned lives upside-down. It closed doors and toppled big corporations. This seemingly small thing, unseen by our naked eye, changed how we lived for the past two years. Those years of constant lockdowns and people being kept away from the things they used to rile many to insanity. Though social media became a medium for connection, it plagued us with news of rising COVID cases, floods, bombings, endless wars, and inflation.


Oh, what a world we live in! These are the signs that our Lord is coming. And we, His body, should be filled with hope and enthusiasm for the mission. But how? How can we move forward and fulfil our mission when this world cripples our abilities and cages us in darkness?


After almost 3 years of battling the deadly virus, the world is recovering and rebuilding from the devastation. With the end of the pandemic in sight, JECPP Northern Mindanao held a 3-day NEXGEN Leaders Retreat at Evangel Family Church in Cagayan de Oro from October 31 to November 2, 2022. 80 church planters from all sections of Northern Mindanao were invited in hopes of equipping them for God’s work as pandemic restrictions began to be too lax.


Notably, many of the delegates differed from the ones before, reflecting change brought about by many factors. These changes could only mean that time didn’t stop even when people felt stuck and trapped in the past, a common sentiment among those who have experienced lockdowns. However, the word of the Lord assures us in Isaiah 40:31: “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” They will fly like eagles, run without becoming tired, and walk without becoming dizzy. The youth were reminded of this as Pastor Robert shared three main principles found in the life of Enoch during the first evening service.


The Holy Spirit further convicted them after hearing Pastora Lourdes’ message about faith in the morning devotional. Faith is often compared in the Bible to a mustard seed, starting small and slowly growing. At least a little faith can do things, but Christians are not just called to have little faith. Growth should be seen, not stagnation. This was further emphasized in the second morning devotional by Pastora Roselyn, where youth were reminded to pray in faith even when situations seemed incomprehensible. This kind of faith produces action—serving God and sharing His gospel boldly, which became a noble challenge to those who attended the camp after hearing the word of the Lord from a fellow volunteer, Bro. Marlon Suazo.


Also, we, the body of Christ, are called to lead others to God. As future leaders, the youths were taught by Pastor Jeff in one of the sessions to lead with a servant’s heart rather than having self-centred goals and ambitions. This is critical because God entrusted His word to us, not for our comfort and safety but to pass on to others. As Pastor Andrew highlighted in the last service, remember the Great Commission—make disciples!


With all its activities and sessions, the camp lit a fire in the hearts of the youths, igniting even the pandemic’s cold cage. Those who felt crippled should remember that Jesus has already overcome. He does not only heal the cripple but also uses them at their weakest, only if they choose to focus, fulfil, and go forward with the mission.