Youth Conference in Mindanao, Philippines
– by Aiana Dalangin
Decades ago, passionate, young missionaries brought Christ’s Youth in Action (CYA) to evangelize the youth of the second biggest island in the Philippines: Mindanao. Since then, the seed grew and bore fruit, taking its root in different cities all over the island. Today, CYA exists in 8 different cities in Mindanao, and another one from its outreach in Cebu. All of which gather for an annual conference called the Mindanao Conference (MinCon).
Young people look forward to MinCon because of the fun-filled activities, exuberant worship, presence of brothers and sisters thriving in following the Lord, and because it is an avenue where God speaks and equips his young people for the mission.
Fixed, Fight, Finish
This year’s MinCon which happened in May 24-28, 2017 is the 16th of its kind, hosted by CYA-Butuan Chapter at Balanghai Hotel, Butuan City. A day before the conference started, terrorist attacks in some places in Mindanao threatened the hearts of the participants. Even though there were a few who could not make it because of the peace and order situation, the harassment only strengthened the brothers and sisters in faith and brought more meaning and personal conviction to the theme- Fixed, Fight, Finish which was taken from Hebrews 12:2 “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.” With the observance of security precautions and a lot of prayer- the conference indeed pushed through, with 215 participants, students and youth workers alike.
Young people alive
Anyone who says that Christianity is boring only need to see MinCon and think otherwise. The conference was filled with activities that hyped up the youthful vibe of the participants. Everyone who engaged in Balanghaian War Games gave their all to obtain the championship, rain or shine. Brothers and sisters also sang and danced their all in worship during the Praise Jam. Everyone’s crazy side was also revealed during the “Crazy Night” where people wore funny costumes, whilst showing off their talents during the Entertainment Night. The participants were also divided into different tracks namely; Evangelization, Bible Study, Youth Workers (Staff), Music and Leadership track which aims to equip the brothers and sisters in different service as they go back to their mission fields.
Plenary- at the heart of MinCon
The plenary session took off with the exhortation of John Rey Bajuyo, a CYA staff, saying that in this world people will try to chase after the wrong things. The enemy, too, will try its best to distract us from our focus through problems, emotions, worldly pleasures but the antidote to all of this is fixing our gaze straight into Jesus.
It was also supported by another CYA staff, Totit Salapang who gave the plenary session the next day. He reminded everyone that as we fight the good fight of faith against sin, against Satan, we are not alone. We fight with our MVP- Christ Jesus himself, and tapping on Him, we will have the power to overcome.
Jerome Quiring, from Servants of the Word, gave the third plenary sharing. He encouraged everyone that what gives us hope in running the race of Christian life and enduring the hardships that come with it is the promise that awaits in the finish line, where Jesus is our reward and we come in perfect worship that never ends with angels and saints, side by side with our brothers and sisters.
Sector head of CYA, Franz Quiblat also gave an encouragement to all about true zealousness, which is not based on mere emotions and enthusiasm but based on a decision to follow Christ. This caused participants to realize that by choosing to decide to follow the Lord daily and entrust to Him everything, one can be steadfast and firm in conviction to his/her commitment.
The conference reached its climax during the Prayer Meeting which happened after the mass and Celebration of the Lord’s Day. Young people came into passionate worship, actively using their spiritual gifts, and brothers and sisters sharing of their personal testimonies. Jonathan Belen, Kairos Mindanao Director shared about Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us.” He exhorted that having brothers and sisters side by side, our “cloud of witnesses”, we will endure. He encouraged everyone to go on mission fields, expand the territory of the Lord, and win more souls for Christ. Brothers and sisters were even more strengthened through the praying over each of them that was done towards the end.
The last day was filled with mixed emotions- of sadness, whilst saying goodbye to each and everyone, of excitement for what lies ahead of us, and of hope that building God’s kingdom here on earth is made possible by the power of the Holy Spirit. Carrying our baggage in our hands, and an indescribable zeal in our hearts, we made our way to the cities we came from, knowing that the conference may have ended, but the mission continues.
Diana Dalangin is a Staff worker at Christ’s Youth in Action (CYA) in Cayagan de Oro, Mindanao.