In Majuro, most of these 19 young people that stood up for baptism last September came from non-SDA families. Recalling their stories, they admit that at first they were scared to enter the SDA campus. They had never stepped inside the church gate. But everything changed when they received an invitation to attend Vacation Bible School last summer. They enjoyed the VBS program and hanging out with me in the Pastor's Office, where they would sit in the bouncy couch and became engaged in Pathfinder and Adventurer activities. Every Sabbath afternoon, Ms Engie Wales and Ms Sunshine Gavino led these programs, assisted by Ms. Leonora Intong. That was the start of attending church and joining the Pastor’s Bible Study group. At first, we studied every Sunday, but soon it became every day until they were baptized on September 26, 2020. Now they are active in church activities, rendering special numbers during Sabbath main service, and even naming themselves the "Bible Study Club."
Fifteen of them attend the Marshall Islands High School and Marshall Islands Middle School while four are students at the Delap SDA School. They are all very active in Pathfinders, AY Programs, and come to church regularly on Sabbath. What is inspiring, as they related their experiences after baptism, is that they are sharing verses that they have learned from their Bible studies to their families and neighbors. Some of the youth are planning, in right time, to invite me to give Bible studies to their families and friends in their own homes.
We must strengthen the Youth and Children Ministries in the church to keep these young souls that have been won for Christ. As we nurture them inside the church through these ministries, the church will surely grow. Read on as Youth Leaders from Guam and Palau describe the way God is working on the hearts of the youngest members of the church.
-Pastor Selvin Intong, GMM Youth Ministries Director
The Happy Family Youth have found the challenge of COVID-19 to be an opportunity to reach each other online. Our Guam Micronesian Kingfisher Pathfinder Club had met during lock down online via Zoom conferencing. When we were able to meet at church, we masked and came to work on our Christmas Concert videography on the story of Christmas. Through hikes around our beautiful island in the fresh air of God's creation, the youth were able to distance and work in family groups to relate the story of Jesus's first coming - Emmanuel (God is with us). We posted our special sharing of Christmas along with other special family music on the Happy Family Facebook page. We also celebrated a baptism of one of our Junior-Teen Pathfinders in July. God is blessing and we have another teen member who expressed her desire to be baptized during our Happy Family sponsored meetings on Zoom - "Digging up the Future" with Pastor Mestik Idechong. Praise the Lord for his leading during this challenging time.
Bertha Saladier, Guam Youth Leader
The year 2020 has been an extremely disruptive, intensely defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to global social and economic disruption, mass cancellations and postponements of events. While everyone is in quarantine, using social media is a way of connecting the world as this pandemic has restricted physical gatherings. Yet Palau has been COVID-free since its outbreak. We praise God! Palau, being free from coronavirus, has meant all church activities can still be done in person.
Week of Prayer was the highlight of our activities this year. From September 12th to 19th, through the leadership of the AY Department and active participation of the Children’s Ministry and strong support from the church, Palau-Filipino SDA church was able to carry out its first Youth Week of Prayer with the theme “The Embrace: Forgiveness and Reconciliation” from NAD. By God’s grace and guidance, it was indeed a week of spiritual refreshment; the sermons, the songs, the prayer bands and the new life received after learning the significance of forgiveness and reconciliation that started in Jesus.
The joy in serving God is seen in the smiles of these kids as they led the singing each night. Being a part of God’s work is their way of showing their love to Jesus. It’s the willingness of the heart that matters most. Jesus wants our hearts.
The theme focused on 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 which says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
The sermons each night were so powerful, it penetrates the heart. And at the end of each sermon, we prayed together in groups of three and four. God is at the place of prayer, and as Ellen G. White wrote: “The hour and place of prayer are sacred, because God is there; and as reverence is manifested in attitude and demeanor, the feeling that inspires it will be deepened…” (Gospel Worker, 178)
Prayer is the breath of the soul. It is the secret of spiritual power . . . The greatest blessing that God can give to man is the spirit of earnest prayer. (The Review and Herald, October 20, 1896.) (Messages to Young People, 249, 250.)
This pandemic has taught us to be grateful for the things we have at present. Online social gathering is challenging. Palau, despite being surrounded by countries with a lot of COVID cases, God has blessed this place to be free from it. We’re not deprived from gathering physically, giving us the opportunity to keep on reaching out to the people around us, particularly to our young generation; the future leaders of our church. I do believe that the youth is the hope of our future. We need to include them always in the work that God has called us to do and make them feel the sense of belonging; that they are young disciples of Jesus.
Praise God for His grace and love in times like this.
Christelle Valdez, Palau-Filipino SDA Church Youth Leader