Youth, the City, Rapid Urbanization, and the Church

People are moving to the cities. It’s not just to the big cities, but also to the small cities in every province or region. Most of the time, it’s the young people–students, professionals, and workers–who are greatly affected by rapid urbanization.

This process of urbanization provides an opportunity for the church to reach out to more people who are moving to the cities. As such, the Church, particularly the United Methodist Church in the Philippines, needs to review its ministries to address the rising number of people in the cities and help young people find their place in the city.

Here are some thoughts on youth, urbanization, and church ministry. Since, I’m a United Methodist, that identity shapes the following insights.

Urbanization is increasingly becoming the way that we, humans, organize and live our lives. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) “54 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66 per cent by 2050.” The percentage of urban population in 1960 was only 34%! Continue reading

David: Fighting Giants

Ang SuperEpic Stories ay isang bagong series dito sa aking blog. I will feature stories from characters from the Bible, from history, and in our present day that illustrates the ideas and concepts in the book: “May Powers Ka to Be #SuperEpic.”

Feel free to share, use this as part of your devotion or study at para na rin matulungan ka para maging mas mabuting leader.
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Napag-utusan lang…

Bata pa si David noon. Bunso, at medyo hilaw pa sa karanasan. At kung tutuusin, parang napag-utusan lang siyang bumili ng suka. Kasi naman, his father Jesse asked him to bring bread to his brothers, who were serving as soldiers under Israel’s first king, Saul.

One day Jesse said to David, “Take this basket of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread, and carry them quickly to your brothers. And give these ten cuts of cheese to their captain. See how your brothers are getting along, and bring back a report on how they are doing.” David’s brothers were with Saul and the Israelite army at the valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines. (1 Samuel 17:17-19, NLT)

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Jesus: SuperEpic Savior

Ang SuperEpic Stories ay isang bagong series dito sa aking blog. I will feature stories from characters from the Bible, from history, and in our present day that illustrates the ideas and concepts in the book: “May Powers Ka to Be #SuperEpic.”

Feel free to use this as part of your devotion or study at para na rin matulungan ka para maging mas mabuting leader. Share it with your friends, too.

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Noong panahong nabuhay siya sa mundo, controversial figure si Jesus, lalo na sa mga political at religious leaders sa bansang Israel. Galing siya sa humble beginnings. For one, ipinanganak siya sa Nazareth. Tanong nga ni Philip sa John 1:46 “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” At na-amaze sa kanya ang maraming mga religious leaders at teachers dahil kaya niyang makipagdebate sa kanila. Continue reading

Thinking about HIV & AIDS

At work today, we had our Advent Retreat in the morning. In the afternoon, we went to different non-profit organizations to take part, albeit for only a day, in the services that they offer to the community. I’m part of the group that went to the Center for Refugees+Immigrants of Tennessee. But that’s another story for another post.

But today is also the World AIDS day and I couldn’t help but think about the HIV & AIDS situation in the Philippines, even though, I am thousands of kilometers away. The Philippines now has the fastest growing HIV epidemic in the world. In July 2015, there were 22 cases being discovered daily! And that number represents only those that are reported!

Here’s the rub. A big percentage of these new incidents of HIV infection are among young people.

Based on a news report from Rappler: “Those in the 15-24 years age group in the population also showed an 800% increase in HIV prevalence.” Think about that for a minute and let it sink.

During our Asian Young Leaders Summit on Nov 11-15, 2015, we listened to a member of Babae Plus talk about HIV/AIDS prevention. After her session, we sat down and talked about how HIV is affecting young people. And here are some of the salient points of our conversation:

HIV-Positive Young People: Matitigas ang Ulo!

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Reflections from the YPM Asian Young Leaders Summit 2015

Discipleship is really about following Jesus. While there are hundreds, if not thousands of books about leadership. As Christians, however, leadership is not just being in front of people, it is about being a servant, and most of all, being a follower.

Encountering young leaders who want to make a difference in the world is probably one of the greatest joys of my work. I’ve seen this in Ndola, Zambia last April, and this November, I saw it again in the Philippines.

While on the bus to the venue, we already experienced the warmth of Christian fellowship. Such fun!

bus

About 28 young leaders from the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia came together for five days of learning, fellowship, and dreaming.

Yes, dreaming!

Bishop Rudy Juan opened with his keynote about the connection of discipleship and leadership. Particularly, he said that as Christian young leaders, we needed to be mindful of three things:

  1. The VISION of the United Methodist Church: To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
  2. Giving VOICE to young people in the church: Speak up in a loving manner.
  3. Listen & Learn from the experiences of elders in the church, then add our own experiences to that.

Speaking of giving voice to young people, we also had a session on Young People’s Voices in the United Methodist Church, led by my good friend, Earlie Pasion-Bautista. It wasn’t a simple session by any means. It was done remotely via Skype! This is really my first time in a church event with a remote presenter. It worked out well, too!

earlie

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Strangers, Foreigners, Offering Bread and Fish

Last August, my wife, son, and I moved to Nashville, Tennessee in the United States. We came from the Philippines, halfway around the world–from the land of delicious and sweet dried mangoes, of beautiful beaches, and hospitable people.

movingboxesIt’s hot, and the traffic is really bad, and although more than 20 typhoons pass by every year, it is still home. It is where I grew up and learn how to interact with my world.

Both of my parents are pastors in the United Methodist Church. That probably explains why they gave me the name Mighty. Since they are both pastors, I have lots and lots of memories of moving from one place to another: from the seminary in Cavite, which is about 40 kilometers away from Manila, we traveled for 9-10 hours at night to move to the Northern part of the Luzon island; packing boxes, helping my parents put books, clothes, and other things into containers. After several moves, I have several boxes that I just did not open: we just moved them from one place to another.

In all of those moving, church members helped us pack our things, they even went with us to the new church and parsonage. Some members gave us parting gifts and foods. And when we arrived at the new church and parsonage, the members were eager to welcome us, helping us unload and arrange our new home, and they all made us feel part of their community.

We probably moved to around 15-20 houses in the past 4 decades. So I know what it is like to not have our own house. I was 29 when my father brought and built our own family house. I no longer lived with them, but at least, I have place to store all those unopened boxes. I suppose that in the Philippines and in a lot of places around the world, having your own house is a big sign of stability.

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YPM Kapihan (Nov 2014): Christmas Institute Edition

In November 15, 2014, I got together with several youth leaders, and youth workers to talk about the Christmas Institute. It’s easily the biggest youth ministry event in the United Methodist Church in the Philippines. On average, about 250 young people gather from December 26-30 in more than 50 Districts. That would translate to around 12,500 United Methodist youth who gather around the Philippines for fellowship, worship, study, and preparation for ministry.

We had a fruitful discussion as we talked about our own Christmas Institute experiences and how it has shaped our journeys as United Methodist Christians.

ypmkapihannov2014

On the whole, the Christmas Institute is still an important part of the journey of youth in the UMC, but we need to innovate and come up with creative ways to make the CI harvest more sustainable and effective.

Here are some of the thoughts and ideas that the group came up with.

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Young Leaders Summit 2014: Day 1 and 2

What do you get when Methodist young leaders from the Philippines, Cambodia, and Laos come together? Lots of fun and awesome learning experiences at Pranjetto Hills Resort and Conference Center, Brgy. Sampalok, Tanay, Rizal. It was in the mountains, so we really a mountain-top experience, literally and figuratively.

What’s more, Rev. Mike Ratliff, Discipleship Ministries’ Associate General Secretary for Young People’s Ministries was also there, together with my colleague from Africa, Armindo Mapoissa.

Every activity and session during the Young Leaders Summit were meant to lead to the accomplishment of the following goals:

The objectives of this Summit are:

  • To help conference leaders identify the young leaders among them and invest in their further development.
  • To establish and develop relationships among young leaders in the Philippines.
  • To provide information on leadership development including perspective from our own culture and context as Filipinos.
  • To provide an avenue for sharing challenges and successes in ministry from differing contexts in the Philippines, allowing young leaders to learn from each other (ultimately strengthening ministries in the Philippines).
  • To allow young people the opportunity to identify the current realities of their church in the Philippines utilizing a framework of the Appreciative Inquiry and Future Search processes.

Day 1

Who’s Your Mary Rose?

We started the Summit with an Opening Worship with the keynote address of Mr. Jayjay Lizarondo, founder of Helping Overcome Poverty through Education (HOP-E). He challenged young people to work towards becoming God’s agent in building the kingdom of heaven here on Earth. He shared the story of how he met Mary Rose, a young child who was going through garbage for food and recyclable things at the dump site of Taytay, Rizal.

He created a short documentary about the life of Mary Rose and the other scavengers at the dump site. Eventually, he had partners that helped Mary Rose get out of a life of scavenging at the dumpsite. Along the way, Jayjay thought that he was changing Mary Rose. But it was the other way around, Mary Rose was helping him change his perspective toward God’s mission here on Earth.

Here’s the story of Jayjay Lizarondo and his encounter with Mary Rose.

At the end of his keynote speech, Jayjay challenged the young leaders to discover who their “Mary Rose” is and asked them to make a difference in such lives.

Day 2

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Kwentong CI: Waterlogged

This video is about the individual struggles (especially with the travel) the young people who attended the first DEA wide C.I. experienced and their full emersion of Christ in the event and how blessed they were. Hopefully what everyone learned would not be left in Baybay, Leyte but will be brought and applied not just in their local churches, their family, friends but to themselves. To cherish and relive every moment that happened in the C.I., how it means to be soaked in Him, the strange yet glorious feeling of experiencing Him inside out.

Poor but rich

Ni Joy Eva Bohol

Text: Mark 13:1-2

NO ACCESS
 to clean water. The community prohibited them to have electricity. The wife’s left leg is weak, making it hard for her to walk, much more to carry a pail-full of water for a long distance. The husband met an accident from his work, disabling him to earn money. The couple couldn’t afford to pay for hospitalization, instead they use Salonpas (a muscle reliever tape/bandage) to ease the pain from the wounds and cuts the husband got from the accident, which the company didn’t take responsibility of.

Yet amid their desperate situation, true hope is found in their lives. Joy overpowers the couple’s wrinkled tired faces during our visit at their humble home, and even offered us with bottled water, which is already a luxury for them. Having met the couple showed me the Living Temple in which Jesus is the foundation; a Living Temple that would not fall down or be destructed by the world.

God is a fair God. Sometimes I think how unfair the world is because of how it defines everything in it. But seeing the couple’s faith reminded me of a life after this earth. One hundred years on earth is nothing compared to eternity—and that’s the life we look forward to when we join Jesus Christ in heaven!

Like the couple Hannah has never faltered her trust in the Lord and kept praying for a son. Though not poor in wealth, Hannah’s inability to bear a child has made her a weak woman and a target of humiliation. The couple I met is an outcast in their own village and people seem to humiliate them in any way they can. The community would not help them because of their belief (non-Christian religion) that being poor is karma that may pass to people near them.  Continue reading