By: Gerlyn de Jesus
Director, BCM Philippines
The second Asia Pacific Youth Congress (APYC2), held in Bali, Indonesia, from October 17-20, 2016, brought together youth leaders, mentors, and children’s ministry directors from twenty different nations across Asia and the Pacific. Among its seven hundred-plus participants was a team from BCM Philippines. The event’s objective was to raise up Christ-like nurturers who will disciple the next generation. Why? Because discipleship is the only plan. There is no plan B!
I myself grew up in a Christian family. My parents served as ministers in a local church in Zamboanga City, Philippines. I was privileged to have access to God’s word and to someone who could help me grow in my relationship with Jesus. I came to know Christ at the age of five, committed my life to serve God at age twelve, and served in both music and Sunday school ministries in my local church since my high school years until I finished college.
From 1991 until the present, I have been serving God fulltime in the country of my birth with Bible Centered Ministries International. Through BCM, I trained to become a lead trainer of In Step with the Master Teacher (ISMT), an effective training tool for children’s workers, church leaders, and pastors. This training rekindled my passion for reaching and helping children, but also for training children’s and youth ministry leaders to become effective agents of the transforming power of God’s Word. Making disciples of the next generation is an urgent priority, if we do not wish to lose them.
For this reason, BCM Philippines works in cooperation with other Christian organizations that focus on reaching children and youth, especially within the 4/14 Window (the time period between ages 4-14 when 80% of Christians accept Christ as Savior). So when I was asked to represent BCM and promote ISMT at the Asia Pacific Youth Congress 2, I said yes without a second thought.
Three young volunteer leaders from three different BCM Philippines (BCFi) churches, Shekainah Dimanlig, Pauline del Rio, and Mark Timothy Aldaya, rounded out our delegation to APYC2. Highlights of the conference included keynote speaker Mark McClendon, who laid out technology’s impact on the future church, when virtual realities will have become mainstream, and the internet will be the loudest voice in the room. Another keynote speaker, Dr. Bambang Buduanto, emphasized that discipleship is not an option, but the only plan to reach the entire next generation.
“If we don’t disciple, we are going to die. If we don’t disciple, they will die, and the whole generation will be lost. To what degree are we willing to die? Why should we disciple? And what should we die for? For transformation to take place.”—Dr. Bambang Budijanto, Compassion International, Chairman 4/14 Windows Movement
But the conference was not just a time to listen to inspiring and encouraging keynote speakers. Nor was it just a time to gather in breakout sessions for a discussion of what is in God’s heart for this generation. It was also a time of reflection. A time to renew our commitment to discipleship. A time to be challenged and be impacted. And a time to meet new friends from other nations who share the same dreams and passion, along with a common impulse to take home what God has taught us at this conference and share it with everyone.
For me, it was a time of sharing what God is doing through BCM. How we are reaching and making disciples of children. How we are training leaders and children’s workers through In Step with the Master Teacher. At our BCM display table, we exchanged contact information with other delegates so that we may stay connected and help each other build God’s kingdom by becoming nurturers of this generation and the generations to come. We also considered what initial steps to take once we arrived home to implement what we’ve learned.
As we return now to the reality of daily life and ministry in the Philippines, we take a moment to consider the commitments we’ve made to the Lord, making prayer our top priority. The three young BCM delegates who participated in APYC2 were greatly impacted by the conference. They have committed to be a part of the 4/14 Window movement within the Philippines through discipling the next generation to become faithful followers of Jesus as well as by rallying other young people to catch the same vision.
“Because children are the cornerstone of our future. They are the solution of our global crisis and the hope of our nation!”—Keith Cote, Vice-president Lead222
Shekinah Dimanlig, age 19, shares her APYC2 experience: “As a third year college student, taking up a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education at the Philippine Normal University, I didn’t understand what my purpose was, why God permitted me to pass the [entrance] exam and why I was placed in that field. Every term was a struggle, and I didn’t know how and why I was surviving it. Not until I attended the 2016 Asia Pacific Youth Congress. It was my first time to attend an international congress or leave my country. My emotions were mixed from excitement to curiosity to being scared. But from the moment we left the Philippines, I could feel God’s presence and His favor upon the four of us. Every day and in every session, God revealed so many things. In fact, He revealed Himself and what He can do in our world through us.
“As I said before, I didn’t know why I am in my course and even in my school. However, upon attending APYC 2016, I’ve learned that God placed me there for such a time as this. I believe that God is going to work in children’s lives through me. I now know God’s clear and exact plans for me. Going back home, I am burdened to disciple the children and the youth of our nation. I came home with a vision that God has instilled in my heart, and through His power, I know He can use me to transform this generation.”
As God’s vision for the next generation becomes our vision, let us say all together with deep conviction, “Disciple or Die!”[hr]
Originally Published in BCM World December 2016