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Adventist youth from southern Asia-pacific region share stories from Global Youth Day

Crowded train stations, heated 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 walk 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.

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 the only thing that's emphasis on is that of love, Jesus sum up the whole law into two(Matt 12:30-31),so if you have love, you will feel, and have compassion, you will want to help. Compassion is very important and every true Christian should be able to practice it (if they believe in Christ because Christ is love and he also had lot of compassion), 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 seem 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 have blood donation 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. In addition 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 (SADYA) focused on hospitals in their area. Member JP 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 the 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 want 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 is 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. [Gay Deles]

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