By Rosella S. Abenio
The 5th Northern Mindanao Regional NexGen Youth Conference emboldened the youth with great devotion to lead a life dedicated to Christ. On March 26-29, 2018, some 126 EFC youth from Cagayan de Oro, Lala, Naawan, Manticao, Mambayaan and Malaybalay gathered together at Evangel Family Church, Cagayan de Oro City for a 4-day conference with the theme: REIGNITE PASSION.
The conference was centered to fuel the energy of the youth to let go of the less fulfilling life and to remove their hands from the clutch of so many things in this world that caused them to lose grip on the things of God.
2 Timothy 1:6 states “For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands”. Indeed, nothing invigorates the Christian life more than keeping connected with Jesus. God wants us to live a fulfilling life and ministry.
The Holy Spirit was undeniably at work in the lives of the youth throughout the camp. Far more than just being a simple socialization experience, it became a deep and enriching spiritual ride. Rev. Andrew Kwong, Senior Pastor of EFC-CDO set the tone of the conference on the first night by expressly acknowledging the efforts of all the section pastors to bring their young people to the camp. In the same way, the young professionals who committed to join every evening after work were also acknowledged.
Upon seeing the hunger and thirst of the youth for the word of God, Rev. Kwong waited no further to share a powerful message on the love and compassion of Jesus taken in Colossians 3:12 that says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” He emphasized that God is always passionate about His relationship with each of the youth and that God has called each of them individually to take part in His redemptive work with a compassionate heart. Everyone was reminded about how loving and gracious God is in their lives.
Early on the following day, an hour of fervent prayer was spent for the morning devotion. As the youth cried out to God, prayed and spoke in tongues, the Holy Spirit ablaze their hearts. God poured out His Spirit and satisfied their thirsty souls. It was like remembering the passion they had for the Lord when they first gave their lives to Jesus. The excitement and enthusiasm they felt were revived which was evident in the entire conference.
The messages shared by Pastors from EFC CDO in each session stirred the hearts of the young people. Like a compass, every sermon shared was leading the young people to seek, love and serve God passionately. They were all ears when Pastor Jefferson Ouano shared an eye-opening message entitled “Wasted Life” and Pastor Vic Pacaña preached about the “Road to Reignite Passion.” In one of the sessions, Pastor Roberto Padinit said, “Nothing great is ever accomplished without passion.” Passion is the creative force that compels a person to do certain things. He further stressed that life is full of passion killers – things that aim to rob us of our enthusiasm and zeal. We need to learn how to handle and deal with them in a deliberate and intentional way. For passion to be reignited, young people should redefine their purpose, realign their schedule, nourish their souls, and share their faith. He ended with an encouragement that God will use and bless the lives of the participants like never before, which was received by the youth gladly.
The conference was sealed with a message entitled “Unchain my Heart” by Rev. Andrew Kwong. He exemplified the life of a woman with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, breaks open the jar, and pours out the ointment over Jesus’ head (Mark 14:3). It was an extravagant act of devotion and passion for God. He quipped that like the woman who gave it all to Jesus, God wants us to be compassionate in loving God and others. The message broke the hearts of everyone listening. After the message, the participants humbly responded, rededicated and surrenderd their lives to Jesus during the altar call. The pastors laid their hands on them and prayed for spiritual breakthroughs on the lives of the youth.
All of the young people and Outstation Church Pastors were really grateful for this experience and for the vision that JECPP imparted to them. They were thankful to JECPP’s Founding Chairman Rev. Dr. Robert Lim, Northern Mindanao Regional Director Rev. Andrew Kwong and Rev. Rowena Kwong and the rest of the church staff for coordinating the said event.
The JECPP NexGen Youth Conference was concluded but the passion to live for Christ and to take part on His redemptive work didn’t end there. Truly, the youth’s passion was reignited and everyone came out revived spiritually. Each one received a God-given desire that will enable them to make a difference in the way they serve God. As they enkindled their souls with the fire of God, they are on their way to do greater works for the Lord!
Right after the morning sessions, small groups were formed for discussions and interactions. Everyone was constantly engaged with each other and was encouraged to participate, asked questions or share their thoughts with the group.
The afternoon sessions were spent for the groups’ presentation practices. Working as a team, the participants put all their efforts, sacrificing their free time to practice and come up with the best presentation. They mingled and bonded like a family. It was a great time of encouragement, mentoring and understanding one another in spite of differences.
The Amazing Race was one of the highlights of the conference. It was designed and centered with a passion to win. As the participants went through every phase of the race, it left behind a burning desire in their hearts. In the end, they were able to connect the dots of having the passion to win souls for Christ. It was more than a competition that harbored their courage and strength they needed to reignite their passion.
God made many wonderful things and revelations to the youth throughout the conference. The last day of the conference took place at Kagay-an Lawndale Spring Resort. Five groups showcased their talents in acting, dancing, poster making and cheering competition using the theme of the conference, “Reignite Passion.” While everyone gave their best and enjoyed each performance, team Biofuel won the competition.
“This year’s youth conference has exceedingly surpassed my expectations. I saw how God touched the lives of the young people especially those who have longed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Upon hearing the younger ones shared their experiences with God, it convicted my heart. Their passion, great eagerness, and enthusiasm to serve God – all of it was contagious.” – Catherine Yapchai, EFC-CDO
“As a group, we wanted to come up with an excellent output. The passion to glorify God was the driving force that inspired us to give our best.” – The Juggernauts
“We did those things not just for the competition’s sake, but we made sure to get most out of the experience. We almost forgot about the time constraint and we just kept on witnessing Christ to every stranger we met.” – Honeylou Tabios , EFC- Malaybalay.
“My passion was truly reignited after the camp, and I believe everyone does. It lit a fire inside me to serve the Lord more passionately. I will make sure to keep this fire burning for as long as I could. I wouldn’t be here at this point in my spiritual journey without the youth conference that started it all,” – Santiago Abenio, EFC CDO