Virtual NYC attracts nearly 500 youth from Philippines, Micronesia
The Philippines-Micronesia Field gathered through Zoom for a unique Nazarene Youth Conference (NYC) 29-30 May 2020. Nearly 500 youth participated in the virtual event, which was originally scheduled as an in-person gathering in April.
According to Leody Echavez III, the Philippines-Micronesia NYC coordinator, youth and leaders alike were disappointed when the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the national Nazarene Youth International council met and decided to create an online NYC event on Zoom since many of the youth had been already using it.
The organizers did not expect nearly 500 participants to register. The Philippines-Micronesia NYC 2020 theme became “Move. Reboot.”
Echavez said that because of the pandemic and lockdown, the youth had started asking difficult questions such as “Why is this happening? Did God cause this?” The team decided to promote introspection and help attendees make sense of what was happening around them. They also wanted to engage the youth and help them think of what the Christian response should be.
Some of the conversations and heart-to-heart talks included “COVID-19 & I: My Response,” “Responses of the Church,” “The Questions I Am Afraid to Ask,” and “The Questions and Answers the Church Must Respond To.” Other workshops on compassion, discipleship, worship, and several other topics were also available.
Stephen Gualberto, Philippines-Micronesia Field strategy coordinator, challenged the young people to respond radically in their faith to Jesus. He affirmed his belief in them as the future of the church, saying, “We believe in you, young people. God has a special calling and purpose for each of you. Honor what the past and current church leadership have done for the church. If we made mistakes, be gracious to us. But, young people, take the church to the next level. Never give up on the church.”
He also encouraged them to create effective discipleship movements characterized by compassion, courage, servant leadership, and a radical incarnation of Jesus into this broken world.
Angeline Joy Cabatingan, an attendee from Metro Manila District, shared what she learned from the event.
“Even though I don’t know what will happen [in] the future, I should trust in the Lord,” she said. “There are a lot of things that we can do to reach young people, so we should not be shy. We can help other people through compassionate response. We can pray for other people who are in need and we can cry or lament for our nation. And lastly, we can use this opportunity to grow spiritually and physically.”
Leianne Joy Gura from the Metropolitan Luzon District was happy to connect with other youth.
“Worship and fellowship with other young people from different districts are not limited to face to face interactions,” she said. “The Holy Spirit is still moving among us, even though NYC was only on Zoom… Being isolated is not being lost. I believe that this lockdown is a way of God for us to find Him more and have a deeper relationship with Him. It is a way of God to help us find ourselves more and our true identity in Him.”
Though there were difficulties with the internet connection in the Philippines, many of the youth tried their best to participate and worship together. They engaged in conversations through the 20 breakout rooms, where they responded to the heart-to-heart talks presented. Bible quizzing games and raffle prizes also added to the excitement of the two-day gathering.