by Sis. Jeanelle Lorilla

We are no longer locked in the world of facemasks, and social distancing – Leaders Retreat 2022 is audacious evidence of it.

After three years of no in-person gatherings, the Southern Mindanao Region held its 6th NexGen Leader’s Retreat last October 31 to November 3, 2022, at Rufina’s Leisure Center Hotel in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

Ninety-eight participants attended this event: Jireh Evangel Church Planting Philippines, Inc. (JECPP) pastors and church planters from Davao del Sur, SOCCKSCARGEN, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, and the Tribal Section.

Speakers and pastors graced the retreat, giving their hearts to equip everyone who attended with words God spoke in their hearts.

A workshop about pandemic opportunities welcomed the series of sessions. Sis. Micah Simpas-Lalugan shared her ideas on how to earn money amidst the COVID-19 season. She also suggested essential church decorations for Sunday services and special occasions such as birthdays and weddings. She capped her talk by opening up about her journey as she battled anxiety during the pandemic season and how she overcame it by strengthening her faith through prayer and the Word of God.

Rev. Liza Angeles talked about time management. This first session gave the participants tips on how to use their time wisely. These are the four points: prioritizing, planning, performing with urgency and diligence, and acting now. She encouraged everyone to be very careful how they live—not as unwise but wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil, as stated in Ephesians 5:15–16.

The evening service was graced with Rev. Greg Simpas, with the topic “Pass Your Faith”. Pastor Greg quoted verses from Deuteronomy 6:4–8 to emphasise his points. “Responsibilidad nato ang sunod na henerasyon (The next generation is our responsibility),”, said Pastor Greg. “The next generation is our greatest resource. We should prepare them, train them, and equip them.” He added. He concluded his message by encouraging the audience to hold on to the dreams that God has given them.

The second day started with Rev. Mivelyn Margate’s prayer and fasting message. She taught that fasting is a lifestyle of Christian life based on the New and Old Testaments and has its purposes. She conveyed the benefits of fasting that will help us break the bondage of sin, remove heavy burdens, liberate the oppressed, break the yoke, heal, and experience the powerful presence of God.

This was followed by Rev. Renante Miguel as he shared about honoring and supporting your pastor. He imparted three reasons why we need to honor our pastor: God chose them because they are God’s gift to the church, and the pastor is from the heart of God. Pastor Renante also shared three ways to honor and support your pastor: by supporting and helping them with their financial needs, obeying them, and acknowledging and loving your pastor.

The fourth session is about good stewardship with Pastor Jane Ann Polinio. She discussed that everything belongs to God and that we are the stewards. Pastor Jane taught about the signs of a good steward; faithful, trustworthy, generous, and fruitful. She challenged everyone, saying that each of us will face the judgment of our Lord and we need to give accounts of how we manage ourselves and our riches.

In the second evening service, Rev. Tony Angelias conveyed loyalty to the ministry. “Loyalty is strong support for someone or something. It also means adhesion, allegiance, devotion, faith, fidelity, commitment, constancy, dedication, and steadfastness,” said Pastor Tony.

He also included in his message the importance of loyalty, the lessons on commitment, the main things that will test your loyalty, the principles of belief, and the facts about loyalty. “The best teacher of loyalty is Jesus Christ himself. He was loyal to his father and his father’s vision. He never deviated from the line of duty. He was devoted even when it meant dying on the cross. “Christ is the person you must emulate,” encouraged Pastor Tony as he finished his message.

Rev. Rosario Simpas spoke about Church in Action in the fifth session. She challenged everyone that the church should move because it is God’s first command and first blessing stated in Matthew 28:18-20. Pastor Rosario shared that a church should make disciples and teach. This next generation should be involved; it is their time to shine.

Rev. Albert Polinio imparted about passing the vision for the sixth session. First, he defined what vision is and who the new generation is. Then, Pastor Albert taught us how to pass on the vision to the next generation. He encouraged us to prepare our new generation by training them to obey the commands of the Bible, and when they obey, they will be blessed; He taught our new generation to preach the word of God and bring them to our work, and not to forget the greatest gift we can give them is to pray that the Lord will provide them with a perfect heart.

Rev. Peter Wee adorned the last evening service with his message entitled “Samuel Generation”. He shared the story of the boy Samuel, encouraging the audience, especially the young people, to keep attending church.

“You are a “SAMUEL Generation” that God wants to speak to today!” said Pastor Peter as he inspired the listeners that just because God is not speaking to other people, it doesn’t mean He won’t speak to you. He advised that the youth must learn to listen to adults and for parents to lend their children to the Lord.

“Young people, God wants to get you to the same place as Samuel. “Here I am; speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Pastor Peter was added.

Aside from the abundance of God’s words, some candidates were conferred with JECPP credentials: for associate licensed ministers, Gretchen H. Palma Gil and Rolan V. Besinga; for licensed ministers,  Pas. Maximo D. Lasquite Sr., Pas. Joshua S. Ligaya, Pas. Juvilyn A. Ahit, and Pas. Jennelyn L. Fernandez, and for ordained ministers Rev. Fabian Q. Sumampong and Rev. Joyce A. Sumampong.

Team-building activities also assisted in familiarizing each delegate and learning more about obedience and teamwork. An open forum was set up to give advice as a response to some queries. Aside from the privilege of enjoying mouth-watering food, resting in air-conditioned rooms, and unwinding in the swimming pool, blood pressure checks and sugar count tests were also conducted to encourage everyone to be healthy.

The four days and three nights of the retreat were wrapped up with grateful hearts to JECCP for allowing this event to keep everyone’s passion ablaze for advancing the kingdom of God.