The unprecedented spread of the COVID-19 virus that resulted in lockdowns and restrictions did not deter the spirit of 549 people from accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior in the Philippines. Their baptismal ceremony took place after the concerted efforts of 36 Voice of Youth (VOY) teams of Northern Luzon Mission (NLM) recently came to an end.
Young people in the NLM strove to share the good news of salvation in every way possible. They did limited face-to-face VOY Ignite evangelistic meetings, house-to-house visits, radio broadcasts, and online Bible studies. They coordinated evangelistic series while following the health protocols set by local government units in their respective areas.
“To avoid a large number of gatherings, we divided our group into four, and we resorted to house visitation,” Marjurytt Salvador, of San Manuel Seventh-day Adventist Church, said.
Alpha Bulatao, from Lokeb Seventh-day Adventist Church, explained that due to restrictions, VOY Ignite meetings were done online via Google Meet. “I am amazed that it brought us 30 precious people for baptism,” he said.
The synchronized VOY efforts climaxed in an online media evangelism series via Facebook Live themed “I AM JESUS: The Way, the Truth, and the Life.” The online series was held June 16-25, 2021, by Ron Genebago, the youth ministries director of the Southern-Asia Pacific Division (SSD). In his message, Genebago emphasized that Christ is the only way to salvation, forgiveness, and righteousness. “Jesus is the Truth whereby all teachings of the Bible must be centered on, and the source of abundant and eternal life,” Genebago said.
Roseller Zamora, NLM youth ministries and communication director, said that to encourage viewers, they sent out mobile downloads so people could watch the nightly programs using internet data. “I find it remarkable that our church members are also thrilled to watch our programs with their friends using a big screen in satellite meetings,” he said.
The two consecutive Saturdays (Sabbaths) of the series resulted in the baptism of hundreds. Three ministers from other Christian faiths are among those who were baptized. One of them is Alex Calidayan, a church leader in Bulaoen, Sison, Pangasinan. He shared that on a sunny afternoon, while he was resting in his hammock, he thought of searching for a Christian-oriented program on the radio to make his nap worthwhile.
“I tried my worn-out transistor radio to find if it was still working,” Calidayan said. “To my surprise, it still was! I was hoping to find a Christian program until I heard a song with these lyrics: ‘Umay manen, Umay manen, ni Hesus umay manen’ [Coming again, coming again, Jesus is coming again].”
The song he heard was being played on 107.7 Adventist World Radio NLM. For one year, he listened to the program until the radio broadcast of Genebago’s online series reached him. On June 26, 2021, Calidayan decided to enter the fold through baptism.
The other two were Ronald Ramos and Glemark Agustin, ministers in Manalpac, Solsona, Ilocos Norte. The VOY team of Glady Pascual visited them regularly. “The two ministers had no problem accepting the biblical truths we presented to them,” Pascual said. They were baptized on July 3.
“From now on, we will worship on the true day of rest, but still we will attend the church service on Sunday because we want the brethren from our former church to know the truth we found in Christ,” Agustin said.
NLM president Marvin Diaz said that he has witnessed the desire and determination of the two pastors. “We will work it out to put them in the theology program so that someday they can be considered as full-fledged ministers,” he said.
The VOY program is one of the many ways the church is responding to the I Will Go strategic focus of the world church, regional leaders said. They believe the concerted efforts of the youth will continue to be instrumental in realizing the vision of eventually having one congregation in every seven-kilometer (4.5-mile) distance leading to a town or district.
SSD president Saw Samuel said he is excited about the new developments. “I am happy to see how the Lord is using His people in this mission, fulfilling the vision to reach every place … and preparing people for the Lord’s soon coming,” he said.