by Jeanelle Lorilla

With the serene beauty of Tagum City setting the stage, the Jireh Evangel Church Planting Philippines (JECPP) recently concluded its Southern Mindanao Regional Youth Camp at Rufina’s Leisure Hotel. From July 17 to 20, 2024, the event unfolded under the theme “Empowered for Harvest,” serving as a catalyst for transformation among young people and pastors from the Evangel Family Churches scattered throughout the region.


“While one walks with God, separation from Him is impossible; they become His treasured possession, useful in His kingdom,” proclaimed Rev. Greg Simpas, the speaker of the first evening service, delivering his message entitled “Cleaving to God.” “If a Christian becomes detached from God, life loses its purpose and hope.”

Rev. Simpas urged the youth to steer clear of distractions, such as mobile phones, which hinder their relationship with God. He emphasized the need to prioritize spiritual practices like praying and reading the Bible. Moreover, he highlighted the crucial role young people play in the church’s future, underscoring their immense potential and significance.

“Before God empowers them for the harvest, He desires change tonight,” shared Rev. Tony Angelias during the second evening service on “How Can I Live an Above Average Life.” He encouraged the youth, stating, “They do not have to let their past determine their present or future. When someone undermines them, do not listen to those lies. Choose to live a life above average.”

Rev. Angelias inspired the participants with the story of Jabez, who asked God to bless him despite his negative past, turning his pain into gain. He urged the youth, especially those grappling with identity crises, to surrender their struggles to God. He emphasized living a life honorable to God despite painful beginnings, reminding them that their hope is in God.

“Jesus did not pick the greatest man in Israel to be his disciple. He simply chose ordinary people. Jesus did not choose them because of what they are, but because of what He can make them,” expressed Rev. Peter Wee during the last evening service titled “Who Jesus Calls He Equips.” “Jesus makes them valuable. God wants to take ordinary people to do extraordinary things through them.”

Rev. Wee also emphasized that Jesus imbues value into every zero. “We are all zeros, and Jesus is the number one. When they come to Jesus, they discover their worth because when One (1) is coupled with a zero, it becomes ten (10). Apart from God, however, zero holds no value. Whether one feels like the last zero, it still retains significance in numbers like 100, 1000, 10000, or even millions. The key lies entirely in Jesus.”

During the first morning session, Rev. Liza Angelias delivered a message on the profound meaning of love, focusing on the relentless love of God. “It is sacrificial, ceaseless, remembering, joyful, and sustaining.”

“God loves them. They deserve genuine love. God calls them out of darkness. They are already set free; they shouldn’t return to what they were before,” emphasized Rev. Angelias. She outlined five points on where true love should be directed, using the analogy of the five fingers on their hands: God, oneself, others (including family and friends), future spouse, and future children.

The session also featured the True Love Waits Workshop and forum, with Bro. Jhonnie Kelvin Manongdo discussing “second chances” and Sis. Jeanelle Grace Lorilla addressing “how to wait.” They focused on purity and abstaining from sexual relations until biblical marriage. Participants committed to waiting for true love as guided by the Lord by the workshop’s end.

In the following morning session, Rev. Rosario Simpas delivered an insightful message on “Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork.” They emphasized the effectiveness of teamwork and encouraged active involvement and commitment.

“Don’t isolate oneself; faith grows cold alone. We are a church, a team. Consider your contribution: prayer, studying Scripture, worship, fellowship, evangelism, practicing tithing and offering, and honoring God through pastors,” urged Rev. Simpas.

The camp program was packed with engaging activities, including worship sessions led by EFC Kidapawan and EFC Tagum worship teams. Interactive workshops like Sis. Lovely Delos Santos’ Prayer Devotion Journal taught young attendees how to pray and read the Bible effectively.

Outdoor team-building exercises added fun, with participants divided into 12 tribes of Israel. Icebreakers, games, and a cheer competition fostered excellence and camaraderie. Each session was meticulously designed to encourage personal reflection, collaborative learning, and spiritual rejuvenation.

“This experience has changed their lives,” shared Micah Lalugan, a participant and leader from Tagum City. “They have a deeper understanding of their faith and renewed purpose in serving others. The connections they’ve made here are invaluable.”

Looking forward, there was optimism about the enduring impact of the Youth Camp. Many anticipated continued spiritual growths, strengthened fellowship bonds, and a renewed passion for outreach and service among young Christians across Southern Mindanao.

As the sun set over Tagum City, resonating with songs of praise and testimonies of transformation, the Southern Mindanao Regional Youth Camp concluded, leaving behind a legacy of faith, unity, and hope for a brighter future in God’s service and community outreach.