By Cristina Mejos and Rosella Abenio
“They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” – Acts 2:3-4.
It rained like fire from the heavens as the young people of JECPP Northern Mindanao experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the youth conference held last April 10-13, 2017 in Cagayan de Oro City. More than 125 participants from Cagayan de Oro, Mambayaan, Manticao, Naawan, Balingasag, Lala and Malaybalay had a life changing encounter with God – a spiritual turning point that they will never forget for the rest of their lives.
With the theme “Restore,” the three-day camp aimed for a holistic transformation in the lives of the youth and for the churches as well. The activities were designed to encourage a spirit of unity, passion for souls and commitment to carry out their respective roles in the great commission. They relished a music workshop led by Pastor Jeff Ouano where they learned the basics of playing the musical instruments and choosing songs for leading the praise and worship. They also raised their respective banners as they ran, hiked, strategized and completed each task in the Amazing Race despite the hurdles that each group faced. They were quick to acknowledge the presence of God working in the lives that whether they won or lost, it didn’t matter much then.
The young people began to seek God more intimately than ever before. The early morning devotions were so strong that they praised His name with thanksgiving as they were filled by the presence of God. Each heart was blessed as they hearkened to God’s message even for the evening services.
Pastor Andrew Kwong challenged the delegates to be persons of faith. No one knows the future but God alone. However, it’s important to remember God’s word in Hebrews 11:1 that says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen.” We need not to be afraid of the future, and surely we will not miss God’s best when He restores our eyes of faith.
Pastor Roberto Padinit preached about “Guarding our loyalty to God” and reminded everyone that God calls us to commitment, not just involvement. He urged the hearers to get out of their comfort zones and participate in the great commission. As fishers of men, we need to turn our boats over to the Lord and follow Him completely.
Furthermore, Pastor Marlon Yuan and Pastor Brian Calalin shared about the necessity to restore our integrity and love for God. Those were indeed well-timed messages that stirred the hearts of the listeners. This challenged them to seek God more intimately without reservations.
Lastly, Rev. Andrew Kwong preached about “Restore Giving.” He boldly incited the young people to share their lives and invest in people. Like when a kernel falls to the ground and dies, it produces many seeds, so should our lives be as Christians as we mirror the light and love of Jesus to the unsaved. God wants us to live fruitful lives.
Indeed, the Holy Spirit is evidently changing the hearts of the next generation. They were utterly soaked in the presence of God that during every praise and worship, they couldn’t help but jump for joy, burst into tears with hands held so high to exalt the name of the Lord. Furthermore, the young people were baptized with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues during the altar call. When God moves, He shakes the seen in our lives to reveal the unseen. Truly, it was a marvelous display of His outpouring!
Little did they know, God had a greater plan of restoring their lives from the inside out. There was like rolling thunder in the sanctuary as everyone cried out for the fire of God during the last evening service. When the service was over, a young girl who was filled with the Spirit spoke in tongues and prophesied. Those who were left behind for their practices gathered around. In just a few seconds, most of them broke down in tears as they heard God’s wonderful revelation – a message of love, hope and restoration. It was so real, so vivid and so strong. They spoke in tongues and clamored to praise God with their hands held so high in repentance and in reverence for Him. At that very moment, their hearts were blazing when the fire of God fell upon their lives.
They didn’t end there. They prayed and continued to speak in tongues when they went back to the hotel and their respective homes. The youth turned back to God wholeheartedly that even when the camp was over, they were so on fire in their witnessing. Sister Mats Casimiro shared how blessed they were that her daughter, Hannah, urged her that they should share the gospel to their relatives the soonest. Now, they have boldness and joy as they share the gospel in the parks and wherever they are. They have truly grasped the urgency for the lost to be saved. They have experienced that God is real and He is sending revival to His churches!
Everyone enjoyed the finale which was held in Marvilla Beach Resort. It was very inspiring to witness the youth’s presentations in their group cheer, banner and interpretative dance. Kudos to everyone!
Through this retreat, many lives have been touched, healed and restored. It was a spiritually enriching experience that they will carry for the rest of their lives. Also, the success of this year’s camp will not be realized without God’s provision and the unwavering support of Pastora Andrew and Pastor Rowena Kwong. Everyone had nothing but grateful hearts.
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” Indeed, He is coming soon and may He find our hearts blazing for Him – restored and revived!