Initiative Results in 23,000 New Members in 2022

Voice of Youth Expand is leaving its mark across the Southern Asia-Pacific Division.

Petronio Genebago, Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and Adventist Review
<strong>Initiative Results in 23,000 New Members in 2022</strong>
One of the more than 23,000 new church members who were welcomed during 2022 in the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, thanks to a regional youth initiative. [Photo: courtesy of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division Youth Department]

Through the Voice of Youth Expand (VOY EXPAND) initiative, Seventh-day Adventist youth leaders in the Southern-Asia Pacific Division (SSD) have helped equip 1,215 Voice of Youth (VOY) teams with 32,326 young people to reach out to communities for Jesus. The work of VOY EXPAND has led to the baptism of 23,154 new believers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Philippines, Myanmar, Malaysia, and the Southeastern Asian Union Mission (which includes Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam).

In 2021, the young people were ignited; in 2022, the Holy Spirit increased their involvement in local churches.

Although Kenneth Dave Villahermosa was not yet an Adventist, Roldan Jay Bersonia, one of the VOY team members, invited him to join his VOY EXPAND team. The squad was tasked with visiting the severely flooded areas of La Flora, Talacogon, and Agusan del Sur in the Philippines. Despite the flood, Bersonia and Villahermosa remained in those towns because they were committed to spreading the gospel there. They used boats to visit people as they moved between homes. 

The team appealed to the villagers to accept Christ as their Savior and conveyed the truth of God’s Word night after night for two weeks. Bersonia specifically requested that Villahermosa be baptized alongside the other attendees. Despite the waters that swamped the town, Villahermosa was baptized at the end of the series, along with 42 villagers.

South Philippine district pastor German Ramos discussed the effects of the VOY EXPAND campaign in his district. “I am really pleased and joyful to see our young people carrying out God’s job,” he said. “I have observed how our young folks are growing spiritually. In my district, I’ve seen an improvement in the relationships or bonds between young people. I also see how committed our young people are to using their abilities, resources, and time for the glory of God.”

SSD president Roger Caderma agreed. “The youth are the church of today,” he said.

The initiative for 2023, named Voice of Youth Unstoppable, has been given the go-ahead by the SSD leaders, under the direction of Caderma. “The initiative seeks to include all local churches in community outreach to carry out the great commission,” leaders reported. “Unstoppable” in the name of the new initiative stands for “UNtiring Spirit-led Team Outreach, Preaching, and Church Planting through Adventist youth Bible-based Living and Literature Evangelism.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Southern Asia-Pacific Division news site.

Petronio Genebago, Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and Adventist Review