By Pastor Bernardo Jr. de Jesus
The converging point for this year’s ‘Empowering the Next Generation Youth Conference’ last April 14-16, 2014 was Villa Adelina Resort in Ajuy Iloilo. It was the perfect venue for our youth conference as the owner of the resort was a christian herself.
Tropical depression ‘Domeng’ had caused intermittent rain to fall for these three days, making travel difficult for most of the planters and delegates, who arrived soaking wet on the first day. But though we had rain showers for these three days, it turned out to be a blessing from God. If it were not for the rain, we would have suffered the excruciating heat of summer during the services.
During the first day of the conference, the EFC-Silay City band conducted a music seminar that was lead by Bro. Emerson Haresco and Bro. Vince Haresco. In this first session of the day, the Silay band led us in a wonderful time of praise and worship through songs that fit the taste of today’s youth. After this, Bro. Emerson taught the young people important spiritual principles aspiring song leaders must uphold, if they are to lead God’s people in worship. Then Bro. Vince taught how a worship team should prepare itself spiritually before they lead God’s people in worship. After these initial talks, the young people were divided into different groups based on their music interests, be it base guitar; electric guitar; keyboard; drums; and song leading. Then the members of EFC-Silay band imparted their music skills to the young people, using the music instruments at hand. Pastor Benjie Chavez had envisioned this music seminar for our conference in order to help aspiring musicians and singers under the various churches in Western Visayas.
The second session for the first day was under Pastor Benjie Chavez who shared the topic: “Mindset for Ministry.” Before delivering his message, Pastor Benjie showed us a short film clip that featured ECME, our mission’s school in Manila. It was a good time to present our Bible school to the young people as some of them may have sensed the call of God in their lives. Pastor Benjie stressed in his message that every member in the body of Christ has a part to play in the propagation of the gospel, and that being a mere spectator in the church is not God’s will for every Christian. It was a very convicting message for those young people who are so engaged in worldly pursuits while neglecting their responsibilities in the church. Pastor Benjie also stressed to the young people that they should base their identity on serving Christ, for if they do, they would discover the meaning and the purpose of their lives.
By the second day, the first session was under Pastor Bernard de Jesus Jr. who shared a message titled ‘Cutback.’ Pastor Bernard first showed the young people a short film clip on the sport of surfing, wherein surfers perform a maneuver called a cutback. According to Pastor Bernard, a cutback is a maneuver that enables the surfer to ride the power of the wave. It will enable the surfer to go along with the momentum of wave and not against it. The emphasis of this message was about accepting God’s plan for your life, and to choose not to fight against it. Pastor Bernard emphasized that the Christian life is just like surfing. The surfer symbolizes the Christian, and the waves symbolize the plan of God for his life. As a surfer does not go against the momentum of the wave but goes along with it, so the Christian must not fight against God’s plan for his life, but choose to go along with it. Pastor Bernard further stressed that according to Jeremiah 29:11, God has it all figured out about our lives and that He has a plan for our lives, and if there are areas that are not aligned with those plans, then a spiritual cutback would be necessary to change the wrong course taken. At the closing of the message, Pastor Bernard showed the young people a music video of the movie ‘Grace Unplugged,’ a movie about changing the course of one’s life in pursuit of God’s direction.
During the evening service of the second day, Pastor Virgilio Fabales shared on the message titled: ‘Who is this Man that turns this City upside down?’ The emphasis of the message is about the kind of men that God uses to make an impact in the world. Pastor Virgilio stressed from several Old Testament characters like Abraham and Jacob that the men God used to make an impact in the world were imperfect and weak, yet in their weaknesses, God’s power was manifested. Pastor Virgilio challenged the young people to be available for God’s service even though they may have weaknesses, because God’s power is made perfect in weaknesses.
On the first session of the third day, Pastor Bernard was again the speaker. This time his message was titled: ‘Do Not Invest your Life on the Temporal.’ Pastor Bernard stressed that we invest on what we believe is the real deal and not the raw deal. But the sad thing is that we have a tendency to invest our life on temporal things because we think they are the real deal, and that eternal things are the raw deal. Pastor Bernard stressed that Jesus taught us not to waste our lives on this fleeting world, and think that there is no far better world beyond this physical world we see now. We also must not think that life consists only of acquiring more things before our short life on earth comes to an end. In closing, Pastor Bernard emphasized that there are only two things that are eternal: The Word of God and People, so the young people better invest their youth on these two things.
After the first session, we had our open forum with the young people wherein we handed out a 2-page questionnaire titled: ‘Ungodly beliefs about Myself and Ungodly beliefs about Others’. At the start, Pastor Benjie felt that the young people needed an open forum to resolve several issues of the heart that are suppressed inside of them. The purpose of the open forum was to draw out these heart issues, so that we could counsel them using God’s Word with regards to these issues. We were surprised that such an open forum could effectively draw out these heart issues and move many of the young people to tears while the pastors counseled them to the best of their abilities. We thank the Lord for speaking to Pastor Benjie to include this in our conference.
Before our second session in the afternoon, we had our ‘Battle of the Bands’ wherein four groups competed against each other. With each group performing by using their own styles, we were amazed to see how talented these young people are. There were young people who were encouraged to join the contest beforehand, but since they were nervous about the idea of being on stage, they declined. But after they saw the four bands having fun on stage, they became envious and vowed to join the battle of the bands next year. The battle of the bands was not just a competition. It was Pastor Benjie’s intention to use this program in order to arouse interest in music among the young people, and truly it served its purpose. After the competition, due to insistent demand from the young people, the pastors gave a sample of their own talent in music. A band was hastily formed with Pastor Benjie Bachoco as the lead guitarist, Pastor Jon Jon as the bass guitarist, Pastor Regie as the drummer, Pastor James as the keyboardist, and Pastor Bernard as the lead vocal. The Pastors jammed to the tune of ‘One Way’ to the delight of the young people who were jumping up and down including our judges Bro. Emerson and Bro. Vince. The young people were so fired up that even during the praise and worship of the second session, they were jumping up and down for joy on the altar.
On the second session of the third day, Pastor Benjie’s message was about ‘Making Christ no.1 in our lives.’ Pastor Benjie began his message with an illustration about a dog that was chasing a rabbit. The dog was barking loud as it made the chase, attracting other dogs to go along with the chase. Halfway into the chase the other dogs broke off the chase, but this dog kept going. Pastor Benjie explained that the reason this dog kept on going was because it saw the rabbit, but the others did not. The other dogs were only drawn into the chase because of its barking. Pastor Benjie stressed that this is similar to the Christian life. There are those who tenaciously follow Jesus Christ regardless of the circumstances of life, because they have caught a vision of who Jesus is, while others falter halfway because they have not caught this vision. In closing, Pastor Benjie said, “A life without following Jesus is a life of cheap grace.”
The most memorable part of the conference was when Pastor Jocelyn Bachoco was brought to the altar during the last day to be prayed for by all church planters. Since the first day of the camp, she was suffering from severe body pains due to her condition. She could hardly walk to the pavilion without someone giving her assistance. But after being prayed for, she testified to Pastor Lina that all her body pains were gone, and that she could move her arms and legs without any pain whatsoever. The owner of Villa Adelina resort was surprised to see her walking the next day without assistance. She told Pastor Benjie that nothing like this has ever happened in the resort. She even asked if she could print out this article from our website so that she could pin it somewhere in the resort, as a testimony that a miracle had happened in Villa Adelina Resort. Praise God!
We would like to extend our sincere thanks to our Regional Director Pastor Benjie Chavez and Pastor Lina Chavez, including their church members for their labor of love in making this youth conference a success. Special thanks also to Pastor Franklin Margoma and Pastor Jerome Gimenez along with their team in the kitchen, for cooking for all the delegates for these three days. All of you are highly appreciated! Thanks to all the WV planters and all the youth delegates for their sincere cooperation. Thanks to the EFC-Silay City band for imparting their talents to our young people. Above all, thanks to our Founding Chairman Rev. Dr. Robert Lim and all the spiritual leaders who have envisioned this youth conference which had such a profound impact on our youth that they are again ready to go for NEX GEN 2015!