The Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) Adventist Youth Ministries launched its Voice of Youth (VOY) Ignite January 15-16, 2021. The event sought to involve young people to support the “I Will Go” initiative of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
VOY Ignite 2021 envisions young people empowered to fulfill the gospel commission in the power of the Holy Spirit. Its mission is to equip 1,000 church-based VOY teams with 12 young people in each team (total of 12,000) with the prayer goal of seven new disciples for each team (7,000) and 100-percent retention.
To achieve the vision, mission, and goal of this initiative, members of SSD youth ministries, through their prayer network, fervently prayed for it during the Prayer Convention held in December 2020, the prayer and fasting day on January 2, 2021, and the Ten Days of Prayer held January 6-16, 2021.
On top of making prayer a top priority, practical strategies have been laid to ensure its success. VOY Ignite is divided into four phases: Phase 1: Voice of Youth Formation and Launching (Jan-Feb); Phase 2: Voice of Youth Certification (Mar-June); Phase 3: Voice of Youth Ignition (July-Dec); and Phase 4: Voice of Youth Celebration during Prayer Convention (Dec 5-11, 2021).
During its launching on January 15 and 16, 2021, all the union directors with their youth directors in missions and conferences and VOY Coordinators (selected young people) gathered to pray, be equipped, and be certified to implement the initiative. More than 190 registered, covering the entire SSD territory, and around 150 attended during the private Zoom meeting.
During the opening, SSD youth director Ron Genebago presented the Christian Life Cycle each Adventist youth needs to experience. He discussed four components of the cycle: bringing them to Christ; building them up in His Word and spiritual disciplines; training them how to use their spiritual gifts; and sending them out to fulfill the gospel commission.
Additional presenters included Francis Amer, the Southeast Asia Union Mission youth director. He shared about the biblical, prophetic, and historical foundations of youth evangelism. Youth leaders David Morado and Von John Sanchez also presented, as well as Adventist University of the Philippines president Francisco Gayoba. Gayoba challenged both the youth and directors to follow Jesus’s method of recruiting His disciples. He derived the principles from Jesus as follows: church elders identify the more spiritually mature and committed youth; spend time and train this leadership core; build up their spiritual commitment; train them in the essential skills; and ask them to recruit others. He then concluded, “Jesus’s method is always the best. The simpler the method, the more effective it is.”
Afternoon sessions included sessions by church leaders Abner Dizon and Bienvenido Mergal and ended with a commitment message from SSD executive secretary Rudy Baloyo.
The participants’ feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
Jade Bandao, VOY Task Force multimedia editor, shared her joy of being a part of the VOY Task Force. She said, “Being part of the VOY Task Force reignited my motivation to reach my goal this year, which is to proclaim God bolder, to serve better, to use all my talents and skills, small or big, for the advancement of the work, and be a more committed instrument of His love towards others.”
Myrtle Ashlei Vasquez, Northeast Mindanao Mission VOY coordinator, said, “The VOY initiative anchored on the Christ-discipleship method, building relationships, empowering the youth through utilizing God-given gifts, and reaching people whoever and wherever they are, is a blessing one should never dismiss.”
On the other hand, Renie Ubara, Peninsular Malaysia Mission youth director, celebrated that “for the very first time, we see a systematic organization and a holistic approach of implementing the Voice of Youth efforts . . . , a very mission-oriented ministry.”
For Geronimo M. Viernes Jr., Central Luzon Conference youth director, what happened that weekend was just the beginning of things to come. “This, undeniably, is a crystal clear indication that our young people are now ready to go and be used in proclaiming God’s message,” he said.