April 2, 2014

​Southern Asia-Pacific Youth Share Stories From Global Youth Day

Crowded train stations, hot streets,
chatter-filled city parks, quiet secluded shops, markets brimming with hawkers
and the noise of daily life. These became the stage for random acts of
compassion by Adventist youth in the southern Asia-Pacific region (SSD) on
March 15 during Global Youth Day.

The mission? To mirror Christ’s character
which is deeply rooted in compassion. As these young people walked the streets
of Hat Yai in Thailand, Lahore in Pakistan, cities and rural areas throughout
the Philippines and Manado in Indonesia, God’s love was shared in varied and
creative ways.

Youth from Hat Yai Adventist Church in Thailand sing to the waiting passengers at a local train station during Global Youth Day on March 15. [Photos: Hat Yai Adventist Church]In Hat Yai, the third largest metropolitan
area in Thailand, youth from the Adventist church spent time at a home for the
elderly. With bags of food and water in one hand and an umbrella in the other
to shield from the rain, the group also made their way to a local
train station to sing to the waiting passengers. Once there, they shared the
supplies and connected with the people.

For the group’s organizer, it was important
for them to be involved in Global Youth Day as part of their spiritual
development. “Compassion is sincere care which leads to a sympathetic act
resulting from profound love and humility. By showing compassion we
emulate Jesus Christ’s character—the character of heaven, our original
character,” said Ringyaomi Phungshok Shimray, who is from India but currently
resides in Hat Yai.

His comments were echoed by members of the
group. “By showing compassion to people we show to them that God cares,” added
Denelly Barrientos, a local youth leader.

“It could be all put together in a simple word
of "LOVE", throughout the New Testament one thing that's emphasized is
love. Jesus sums up the whole law into two (Matt 12:30-31), so if you have
love, you will have compassion, you will want to help. Compassion is very
important and every true Christian should be able to practice it,” said Mr.
Jeffrey Fai from Cameron currently residing in Thailand. Rangsiya
Rungtawanruangsri, a local Pathfinder director, feels that, “actions speak
louder than words and without words actions are in vain.” Inspired by their GYD
experience, Rangsiya has many new ideas. “Next year, we hope to reach out to
more people on the streets and houses in the communities and organize blood
donations and hospital visitations. We can continue to regularly visit the
elderly. During GYD most of the elderly asked us to visit them again.”

Like their fellow youth in Thailand, youth and
Pathfinders in Lahore visited the elderly as part of GYD. Furthermore, they
gave away free food to people in the streets.

In the municipality of Polomolok in the
southern Philippines, the local Seventh-day Adventist Youth Association (SDAYA)
focused on hospitals in their area. Lay member J. P. Alitao shared that they
went to the Polomolok Municipal Hospital. “The youth offered fresh flowers,
sang and offered prayer to the patients. One mother who heard us singing asked
us to include her family for a special prayer. They were so thankful for the
visit. We were blessed to became sermons at that moment.”

In the rural outskirts of Silang in the
northern Philippines, 15 youth of Munting Ilog church hiked into the pineapple
fields and visited residents there. It was a follow-up to an on-site tutorial
school recently conducted by one of the church’s youth leader, Janette Lanoza.
Many of the young people are from non-Adventist homes while others are the only
Adventists in their families. During the visits, they distributed Christian
pamphlets, told Bible stories, and sang for the local children. Raquel
Geronimo, the church’s Adventist Youth leader, shared that their youth were
“very happy to participate in this community service day and wanted more
activities like this.” In the afternoon, the group met with other youth groups
in Silang to report on their GYD activities and share their experiences. “We
learned many things from our Global Youth Day experience. When serving others
by sharing their burdens through acts of kindness even in small ways, we add
more love, peace, and laughter to our lives,” reflected Geronimo.

In Manado, Indonesia, Adventist youth were
carrying fruits in baskets to exchange with sticks of cigarettes from smokers
in the streets. Some of the youth leaders carried garbage bags to pick up trash
in the streets while another group gave food packs and clothes. Stephen
Salainti, youth director for the church in east Indonesia (EIUC) shared that
“the youth remembered the victims of the recent flooding in the city and
distributed rice to the victims.” Seeing the excitement of the youth, Salainti
hoped that “everyone who participated was blessed and encouraged.” Salainti
challenged the rest of the youth in Indonesia to demonstrate acts of compassion
in their lives.

Videos of the GYD activities from designated locations
around the world were streamed via the internet. Some of the youth were
interviewed live via Skype and social media flooded with real time photos and
video clips of the ongoing community services. A GYD app for smart phones was
available for the youth to upload photos and videos of their activities.