[Photo courtesy to SSD Youth Department]
Philippines | Pastor Ron Genebago, SSD Youth Director

Themed “Stand in the Gap,” the Prayer Network of the Adventist Youth Ministries (AYM) of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) conducted its first onsite convention since the pandemic on December 7–11, 2022, at the 1000 Missionary Movement headquarters located in Silang, Cavite, Philippines. The first two conventions were conducted via Zoom in 2020 and 2021.

The convention has the following objectives: (a) to bond the Prayer Network coordinators and Youth directors of SSD; (b) to strengthen the Prayer Network of each union, conference, and mission; (c) to provide creative, interactive prayer experiences for all attendees to empower them to stand in the gap between the church and the community (SSD and beyond); (d) to pray for the unreached cities and territories of SSD; (e) to visit and pray for the nearby institutions: 1000MM, Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS), SSD, Philippine Publishing House (PPH), and Adventist University of the Philippines (AUP); (f) to submit all the AYM plans to the Lord; and (g) to give God the glory.

Quoting Ellen G. White’s Messages to Young People, Elder Roger Caderma, SSD president, welcomed the delegates. He stated, “‘Amid the perils of these last days, the only safety of the youth lies in ever-increasing watchfulness and prayer.’ James tells us that ‘the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective [James 5:16, NIV].’” 

He continued, “In the book of Ezekiel, God specially mentioned that [a] faithful man may “stand in the gap.” Who is that person who can stand in the gap? Can I stand in the gap? Yes, you may! Any of us can be that person. We do not have to have amazing leadership qualities; we have to humble ourselves to God, His Word, and be willing [see Isaiah 58:6–12].”

In his welcome remarks, Dr. Ron Genebago, SSD Youth director, emphasized the importance of prayer by quoting Ellen White: “If there were more prayer in the councils of those bearing responsibilities, more humbling of the heart before God, we should see abundant evidence of divine leadership, and our work would make rapid progress [Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 238].” He added, “Thus, if we want the work of God to progress rapidly and to see divine leadership in the youth ministry and the church, we need to pray much. We desire to see prayerful leadership in SSD AYM.”

“The Man in the gap is Jesus. We can intercede for others because Jesus is in the gap for us. When you are tempted and find yourself in a difficult situation and wonder if God is with you, remember who is praying for you. Remember that Christ is our mighty prayer warrior. Have faith and persevere in prayer,” Dr. Abner De los Santos, GC vice president, emphasized during the convention. He also invited the delegates to pray for others like Jesus does.

“The convention was a breath of fresh air after only going through online prayer sessions via Zoom. Seeing the people and praying together is a much different experience altogether. The breakout sessions have also proven to be a much-needed blessing. I have come to realize that not only am I called to pray for the lost, the broken, and the sick, but I need to know my Jesus through earnest prayer as well,” said Michael Jan C. Fuentes, prayer coordinator for the West Visayan Conference (part of the Central Philippine Union Conference).

Other plenary speakers dealt with other related topics. Pastor Mamerto Guingguing, SSD associate executive secretary and Human Resource Management director, shared the message “Stand in the Gap like Nehemiah.” Dr. Abner Dizon, director of Interfaith Services for Muslim, Secular, and Postmodern Ministries, focused his plenary session on the theme “Stand in the Gap for Unreached Cities.” 

Pastor Glenn Lagabon, associate pastor of the Manila Center Church, led the delegates regarding the importance of music in prayer and how to turn prayers into music through his lecture “Stand in the Gap through Music and Prayer.” Dr. Genebago presented on the inner-biblical study of the Roaring Prayer of David and Jesus: “My God, My God, Why Have you forsaken me.” 

Elder Jacinto Adap, SSD treasurer, encouraged the youth through Ephaphras’ example of interceding for others. Ephaphras constantly labored fervently for the church members in prayer, that they may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God (see Colossians 4:12). During the commitment service, Pastor Felixian Felicitas, College of Theology dean, led the delegates in a study of “Standing in the Gap Until There is no Gap.”

On top of the plenary sessions, the convention also featured breakout sessions with the following topics and speakers: (a) “How to Pray for Healing” by Pastor Edgar Bryan Tolentino, Ellen G. White Estates associate director; (b) “How to Pray for the Depressed and Despondent” by Sister Jo Ann Amparo, SSD Adventist Healthcare director; (c) “How to Blend the Scriptures and Prayer” by Brother Bing Alabata, itinerant evangelist; (d) “How to Abide in Jesus Daily through Journaling” by Sister Jazel May Diaz, university chaplain; (e) “How to Effectively Pray for the Lost” by Pastor Elexiz Mercado, Adventist World Radio assistant manager; (f) “How to Overcome Addictions and Live Victoriously” by Dr. Jan Cabungcal, neuroscientist; (g) “How to Organize, Grow, and Sustain a Prayer Network” by Gen Camato, SSD Prayer Network coordinator, and Ivan Mae Flores, South Philippines Prayer Network coordinator; and (h) “How to Pray for Financial Growth” by Davin Bennett, missionary pilot.

Some of the delegates shared the blessings of joining the convention. Abby Villones, Negros Occidental Conference Prayer Network coordinator, said, “I immensely feel His Spirit, especially during the SSD Prayer Network Convention, and I have two reasons: First, I felt the Spirit when I got to be in a circle of believers unitedly praying, praising, and thanking God in person—something we'd been praying and hoping for; and second, I feel His Spirit through His wisdom as we apply every lesson we learned during breakout sessions and plenaries.”

Villones concluded, “Looking forward to [learning] more about Him and opportunities to know more about Him as I continue to stand in the gap.”

“Attending the ‘Prayers for Healing’ breakout session by Pastor Bryan Tolentino was a blessing to me. I realized I was not alone in my struggles. The convention has encouraged me as someone who is approached by many for counsel as a youth leader. I am reminded to include our leaders in prayer continuously and empathize with them in their most vulnerable condition,” said Jasper Yubal Bagdoc, East Visayan Conference Prayer coordinator.

Glenn Mark Paragoso, Central Mindanao Mission Prayer coordinator, said, “During [the] prayer convention, I'm so blessed; I feel God is in our hearts. I didn't expect that I could join, but God is very good to me. He knows that I need him the most. I was also blessed by the breakout sessions that I attended. God is God to me and all of us. Thank you!”

Camato has been thankful to God for those who had been instrumental in making the event possible. “I praise the Lord once again, for He made it possible to transition the prayer convention from a virtual to a face-to-face prayer meeting. I praise God for all those who worked behind the scenes: the SSD Prayer Network staff and media team, youth directors, speakers, parents, and delegates. My only prayer is that the prayer network continues to be a powerhouse of every Adventist Youth Ministries throughout the Southern Asia-Pacific Division. To God be the glory!”

The original version of this story was posted on the Southern Asia Pacific Division website.