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Youth in the Southern Asia-Pacific region dedicate One year in Mission and compassion ministry

Showing Heart
 
The heart-shaped hand gesture has been popular among young people across countries exposed to international media and entertainment. While a giant search engine company or a famous celebrity may claim patent over the famed gesture, it has taken a different meaning for a group of Christian youth who are making a difference in their communities.
 
At the second half of 2014, twelve youth leaders from the southern Asia-pacific territory (SSD) of the Adventist church have started phase 3 of the Adventist church initiative called One Year in Mission (OYIM). This program empowers youth to creatively share Christ’s character in the context of an urban setting. It started as a movement but has now crept  into the lifestyle of these young church leaders in SSD and hopefully into the lives of the people they touch.
 
Tony Stanyer, OYIM coordinator for SSD, explained that during the 2013 launching of OYIM phase 1 in New York, they were looking for a statement that would trend among the youth. Upon the suggestion of Pastor Jose Cortes Jr, youth director for the Adventist church’s Atlantic Union, the hand gesture was readily accepted. The art for it was quickly designed in New York and since then it has become a binding language for Adventist youth across the world.
 
It’s the perfect symbol for the meaning of compassion and a symbol of inspiring others to do the same, said Stanyer. The OYIM-SSD team uses a new design, by Mike Varona, for all its t-shirts so that Adventist youth can be readily identified when participating in community service. Based on social media posts, it’s definitely getting attention and making a huge statement both online and in the communities served.
 
Batangas City, Philippines
 
John Michael Docot, OYIM-SSD coordinator for the church in north Philippines (OYIM-NPUC) led a small group of volunteers who responded to the families affected by typhoon Glenda on July 16 2014. Docot, who hails from Batangas City (south-central Luzon) described that damage the typhoon brought to his hometown: “We experienced strong winds and heavy rain… the long bridge in Batangas City collapsed, and many people lost their houses due to the strong force of water….” After the storm, Docot and OYIM-NPUC volunteers with the help of sponsors like the Batangas Advent Multi-Purpose Cooperative, distributed cooked food and bottled water in one of the evacuation areas. Some of the OYIM-NPUC volunteers helped in the city cleanup after the storm.
Reflecting on the experience, volunteer Tindale Abalos said in his Facebook account, “Sympathizing with people in their situation makes you realize that you have something you can give to them no matter how small and simple…”
 
Docot continued his mission as he led the OYIM-NPUC volunteers to visit indigent patients at the Sagip Buhay Foundation in Batangas. Armed with white roses to give away, the group fed the elderly and sang songs to them. To give back more to the community, Docot’s team made encouragement signs, displayed them at a jeepney and bus terminal, gave away religious pamphlets to eh passengers and offered them a prayer before their ride left. To serve those working in local government, the team gave a five-day health seminar at the City Budget Office including a cooking demonstration during which they shared the meal with the employees.
 
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Sophal Sen from Cambodia, Keiko Le from Vietnam and Kham Phouliphan from Laos represent OYIM-SSD in the church’s southeast Asia territory (SAUM) which also includes the countries of Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei. At seven in the morning on August 24, more than 50 Adventist youth lined up at a main street of Kota Kinabalu to start a Compassion Walk through the crowded Desoka Sunday market at Gaya Street, a business and tourist center of the city.
While traipsing the streets, the OYIM-SAUM youth would every now and then break from the line and hug a person, sharing an encouragement card or a compassion flag to decorate their vehicles, greet a market vendor or a tourist and send them off with blessings for the day. 
 
Makassar/Manado, Indonesia
Alvianus Salepang, OYIM-SSD coordinator for the church in east Indonesa (OYIM-EIUC), led a group of youth volunteers to turn an ice cream parlor into a center of influence where they make friends and connect with customers mostly composed of youth and young professionals.  They also invited a hundred youth to join in a compassion movement during which they later interacted with random strangers on the streets, giving them food and happy cards.
 
Ormoc/ Leyte, Philippines
Before the launch of the OYIM-SSD initiative in the Adventist church’s territory in central Philippines (OYIM-CPUC),  OYIM-CPUC coordinator Ephraim Arriesgado,  was already spearheading compassion project for s fellow Adventist youth in his hometown in Ormoc.  The young group has contacted the local social development center (DSWD) and has started a monthly program to benefit underprivileged children who were taken under the center’s care. To extend this kind of service to others, the team grew larger with over 70 youth and church members who visited the Ormoc District Hospital where they visited the patients. They offered prayer, balloons, cards, roses and magazines and also distributed food to at least 200 patients and non-patients.  In addition, Arriesgado’s team of OYIM-CPUC volunteers hosted other programs for the church and community to promote the importance of good health. For instance, they gave free blood pressure check-ups and blood sugar tests to almost a hundred Adventist members in the Ormoc City Adventist Center Church. The team also went to Alta Vista Elementary School to serve 280 students in a feeding program.
 
 
Compassion grows
 
Other similar stories of compassion expressed in deeds and led by youth are becoming part of the church culture in the SSD. The activities are all unique to their areas but every event seems to have a heartwarmingly similar group photo at the end that gives a glimpse into what OYIM is all about. It’s a sea of happy youth in OYIM compassion shirts surrounded by the smiling faces of people from their local communities, all with hands upraised in the shape of a heart.
To learn more about the compassion activities in SSD or in a place near you visit http://www.oyimssd.org/ or watch videos on www.youtube.com/user/OneYearInMissionSSD and help us promote #CompassionMovement #CompassionInAsia
 
(Gay Deles)
 
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