Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending and speaking at Campus Harvest, a student conference put together by the History Makers which started as a church youth group and grew to include hundreds of churches and thousands of students. It started in the church of Pastor Manny Santiago, who with his wife, Helen, and their four daughters, began to share what they knew about discipleship to other churches.
There were no strings attached, just one part of the body helping the other parts. That’s how the network grew.
I first encountered them when a friend connected me with Pastor Benson, a youth pastor from their network. I invited him to attend Ignite, our student conference, last May 2011. Afterward, he said, “You’ll want to meet with our pastors.” They visited our office in the Fort, a few pastors from the network, including Pastor Manny and Faythe. I was struck by the sameness of our priorities – campus ministry, discipleship, church planting. And we stayed in touch – visiting their churches, meeting some of their leaders, inviting them to our training, etc.
It is such an encouragement to us to see so many young people so committed to Jesus and to discipling their friends. Here are some thoughts I had running through my mind during the event.
1.) Young people need an encounter with Jesus.
One thing that will strike you immediately with this family is the passion of the four daughters – Faythe, Lovely, Keeneth, and Mitch (Shobe), all in their early 20s, except Shobe who’s 18. Yesterday, Shobe preached a powerful message about the power of the Holy Spirit and the best illustration of her point was her life itself. And that went for the older three also, whether it was Keeneth’s dance group, Lovely’s excellent video productions, or Faythe’s leadership and preaching.
We asked Pastor Manny over lunch what he did to get children like that. He shrugged and said, “To be honest, I’m definitely not a perfect dad. I made mistakes. But, I dunno, somewhere along the way they met Jesus and that’s how they are now.”
Young people need an encounter with Jesus. Parents, campus missionaries, teachers, kuyas, ates – our primary objective should be to connect them with him. And that’ll be more than enough.
2.) There are no “secret recipes” or “hidden techniques.”
There were encouraging testimonies from individuals and churches during the event. One stuck out in particular, by Pastor Nanding Mates and Keen (Carlo) from Word for the World in Market! Market!. I’d met them before and was thrilled to hear Pastor Nanding describe how God used their church to reach and disciple many, after being stagnant for so long.
It wasn’t a new thing he learned or somehow unlocked. He just made disciples, just like Jesus told him to. Jesus promised to build His church. Our job is to disciple and leave the results to Him.
3.) It really is a beautiful thing when brothers and sisters come together in unity.
It’s so cool, that in our movement of Victory and Lifebox we are in the middle of a series about the importance of reaching the campuses. All over Metro Manila and different parts of the Philippines, students, senior pastors, and campus missionaries are reminding people of our calling there. And while this is happening we get to witness and participate in another movement that’s doing the same thing. And I know it’s not the only one.
Luke tells a story of when Jesus caused Peter’s fishing boat to pull in a catch of fish so great that their nets began to break. They signalled the other boats to come help them and both boats were filled. In the same way, the students of the Philippines need to know Jesus. And they are also ready to serve to reach their own friends.
We need the whole body preaching the whole Gospel to the whole world.