Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) young people gathered on Zoom and Facebook Live December 6-12, 2020, for the first Prayer Network Convention. Its theme was "I Will Pray.” More than 1,083 registered, over 350 attended on Zoom each night, and the videos have received more than 24,000 views over the seven days of the prayer convention. A 40-days-of-prayer event preceded the convention where young people joined in united prayer.
The young people feasted on the Word of God and the inspired words of Ellen White through several speakers from the General Conference (GC), the SSD, and the North Philippine Union Conference (NPUC). Melody Mazon, GC prayer coordinator, opened the session with a message on intercessory prayer. She emphasizes that we need to ask for God's prayer burdens. We need to be willing to be inconvenienced to pray for others, put away sin, and obey God, stay humble and hold on and don't let go.
Nina Atcheson, GC Sabbath School and Personal Ministry curriculum manager, blessed the youth during the second night of the virtual prayer convention on the theme of "Abiding in Jesus." She demonstrated how the youth can abide in Jesus through prayers and his words. She suggested that, after choosing a passage or a verse, the youth pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, write the verse or the passage, find the big idea, reflect on what the verse/passage says about God and themselves, and respond to God in prayer.
On the third night, Gary Blanchard, GC youth director, and Ron Genebago, SSD youth servant, led the youth in praying for their career and mission. Gary emphasized to cast on God their worries and burdens as soon as possible before the burdens can hurt them. Ron guided the youth on how career and mission should go together by aligning their choice of career in God's mission and in the spiritual gifts God has given them.
On the fourth night, Jerry Page, GC ministerial secretary, shared stories on how the youth can secure divine guidance in prayer. He emphasized that the key to divine guidance is spending quality time with God.
Jose Orbe, Jr., NPUC data privacy officer and an AIIAS seminary student, expounded on prayer and love. He emphasized that God is the matchmaker. He quotes Ellen White when she said, "There are thousands that are mated but not matched." He also warned pastors and others not to be matchmakers and leave this work to God. During vespers, Dr. Orathai Chureson, SSD family ministries director, focused her talk on "Prayer in the Home Circle: Reflecting on God's Faithfulness."
She remarks, "We must lead all members of our family to recognize God's faithfulness and that their prayer must be rendered with a full sense of respect, reverence, praise, adoration, and gratitude toward our heavenly Father."
After the InVerse Youth lesson review by public campus ministries students and young professionals, and the Prayer Network reports of each union, the young people enjoyed the Word of God with Dr. Samuel Saw, SSD president. He encouraged the youth to pray with passion, persistence, acceptance, thankfulness, humility, with a God-loving heart, and in the Spirit. He reminded the young people that “I Will Pray” is not an event but a process. It is not information but a transformation. It is not a subject but a commitment, a determination, a decision. It is a lifestyle, a prayer-driven life.
Responding to the prayer convention, some participants and leaders shared brief takeaways:
Gen Camato, SSD prayer network coordinator, praised God.
"The Lord has been so gracious since the time he called me to be part of the SSD Prayer Network as coordinator,” he says. “This convention taught me to be more dependent on our Heavenly Father. Three months of preparation is not easy; I experienced ups and downs behind the scenes, but that’s all part of my journey as a leader. I can testify and say that through this convention, many souls were blessed, and the messages were timely and an eye-opener for everyone. To God be the glory!"
Gen continues, "Our prayer is very important in our Christian living. Successful men and women win their battles when they surrender themselves in prayer. ‘I Will Pray’ is not just a theme but a reminder for everyone."
Yan Michael Sitanggang (East Indonesia Union Conference), Voice of Youth task force coordinator, shares, "It's easy to forget that we have a God that we can come to in prayer, but through this prayer convention, I was blessed and reminded that prayer is the number one thing that I shouldn't forget. The theme is so wonderful and relatable with my life today, and I believe that it helps to reaffirm and strengthen my connection with him. One of the many most important lessons that I got from this convention is about asking God what to pray for. It's so easy for me to pray according to my will and thought, but I was being challenged to pray according to his will, to ask for the burden of prayer. It goes with how the Bible says that we don't know how to pray (Romans 8:26). It also emphasizes one's complete surrender to God; it's one thing to pray according to our own will, but it's wonderful to pray according to God's will. This changes my understanding of prayer and helps me depend and focus on God more than on myself. This SSD prayer convention has been a blessing for me and the attendees."
Ellen Supit (West Indonesia Union Mission), prayer network coordinator, testifies, "By attending this prayer convention I learned that prayer is two-way communication, and it is the key to know God's heart. Not only to lift our petitions but be still and hear his answer. That we are to seek his heart before we seek his blessings."
Saw Htee Khy Wah (Myanmar Union Mission), prayer network coordinator, states, "As Christians, we need to develop a way to communicate with God. Praying to God is not only asking what we want and what we need but it is all about Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (ACTS). Yes, praying to God is more than speaking with him; it's having a relationship with him. 'Let God by Letting Go' is one of my favorite statements throughout the convention."
Francis Amer, Southeast Asia Union Mission youth director, describes, "It is an interactive event and an enjoyable, insightful, and spiritual program that engaged everyone on the importance of prayer. I have been blessed after attending it from the first night until the culmination program on Sabbath."
Before the end of the 2020 Prayer Convention, the delegates expressed their desire for another convention. The second Prayer Network Convention is scheduled for December 5-11, 2021. As the delegates await this, Ron encourages them to pray 7777.
He explains, "We will pray 7 days a week, at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily, for 7 new disciples for each of the 1000 Voice of Youth teams in 2021.”