Themed “Stand in the Gap,” the Prayer Network of the Adventist Youth Ministries (AYM) of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) conducted its first onsite convention after the pandemic, December 7-11, 2022. The event took place at the 1000 Missionary Movement headquarters in Silang, Cavite, Philippines. The first two conventions had been held by videoconference in 2020 and 2021.
The convention’s objectives included: to strengthen the prayer network of each church region; to provide creative and interactive prayer experiences for all attendees; and to pray for the unreached cities and territories of the SSD.
Quoting Ellen G. White’s Messages to Young People, SSD president Roger Caderma read, “ ‘Amid the perils of these last days, the only safety of the youth lies in ever-increasing watchfulness and prayer’ [p. 247]. James tells us that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16).”
He continued, “In the book of Ezekiel, God specially mentioned that a faithful man may ‘stand in the gap.’ Who is that person who can stand in the gap? Can I stand in the gap? Yes, you may! Any of us can be that person. We do not have to have amazing leadership qualities, we have to humble ourselves to God, His word, and be willing.”
In his welcome remarks, SSD youth director Ron Genebago emphasized the importance of prayer. He also quoted White: “If there were more prayer in the councils of those bearing responsibilities, more humbling of the heart before God, we should see abundant evidence of divine leadership, and our work would make rapid progress” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 238). Genebago added, “Thus, if we want the work of God to progress rapidly and to see divine leadership in the youth ministry and the church, we need to pray much. We desire to see prayerful leadership in SSD AYM.”
Abner de los Santos, a General Conference vice president, emphasized that the Man in the Gap is Jesus. “We can intercede for others because Jesus is in the gap for us. When you are tempted and find yourself in a difficult situation and wonder if God is with you, remember who is praying for you. Remember that Christ is our mighty prayer warrior. Have faith and persevere in prayer,” he said.
“The convention was a breath of fresh air after only going through online prayer sessions via Zoom,” West Visayan Conference prayer coordinator Michael Jan C. Fuentes said. “Seeing the people and praying together is a much different experience altogether. The breakout sessions have also proven to be a much-needed blessing. I have come to realize that not only am I called to pray for the lost, the broken, and the sick, but I need to know my Jesus through earnest prayer as well.”
On top of the plenary sessions, the convention also featured breakout sessions with topics ranging from how to pray for healing and how to pray for the depressed and despondent to methods for blending the Scriptures and prayer. It also included how to overcome addictions and live victoriously; how to organize, grow, and sustain a prayer network; and how to pray for financial growth.
Some of the delegates shared the blessings of joining the convention. Negros Occidental Conference prayer network coordinator Abby Villones shared that she felt God’s Spirit present. “First, I felt the Spirit when I got to be in a circle of believers unitedly praying, praising, and thanking God in person, something we'd been praying and hoping for. And second, I feel His Spirit through His wisdom as we apply every lesson we learned during breakout sessions and plenaries,” she said.
East Visayan Conference prayer coordinator Jasper Yubal Bagdoc agreed. “Attending … was a blessing to me. I realized I was not alone in my struggles. The convention has encouraged me as someone who is approached by many for counsel as a youth leader. I am reminded to include our leaders in prayer continuously and empathize with them in their most vulnerable condition,” he said.
SSD prayer network coordinator Gen Camato said she was thankful to God for those who had been instrumental in making the event possible. “I praise the Lord once again, for He made it possible to transition the prayer convention from a virtual to a face-to-face prayer meeting,” she said. “I praise God for all those who worked behind the scenes.... My only prayer is that the prayer network continues to be a powerhouse of every Adventist Youth Ministries throughout the Southern Asia-Pacific Division. To God be the glory!”