A Church in Faith is a Church in Action: Reflections on Caravan Ministry
By Di Ann Sanidad
As United Methodists, we believe that each of us is called for a mission. “Passion and Purpose: A Mission through Faith and Action” is this year’s theme for the Caravan Mission Program, or simply Caravan. This is a program of the youth in the Northwest Philippines Annual Conference (NWPAC). Caravan is an opportunity for the youth to grow in leadership, mission, evangelism and discipleship.
This year, NWPAC and the Pangasinan Philippines Annual Conference (PPAC) collaborated for Caravan and the School for Christian Youth Development (SCYD). SCYD is another program for the youth that is under the umbrella of the Conference Board of Discipleship.
Caravan aims to equip young people from ages 14-23 to engage in a mission experience that helps local churches, especially mission congregations. It allows youth to go beyond the usual programs of the organization by literally going out and serving the communities. For years, the Caravan program did not have any source of funds aside from the fundraising efforts of the youth leaders.
Thankfully, the Annual Conference set an amount to aid the need of the program. But it is barely enough because of many expenses such as training, transportation, immersion, food allowances and materials.
This year, the Caravan ministry received grant assistance from the Youth Service Fund. This grant allowed the program to accommodate twenty-two (22) young people, which is twice the usual number of ten (10) delegates from the past years.
Apart from the Caravan Mission trip, which took place on April 24 to May 7, 2017, the leaders of the youth in the conference planned for 3 follow up activities through June 2018. The 22 participants will continue to be engaged in these activities together with the other lay organizations of the conference.
How does the program help in the growth of youth and the church?
Personally, the caravan could have been an opportunity for me to step into the ministry that has long been in my heart. But it happened in a different way. I became a witness to the growth and passion of the youth who yearn to serve God and the people.
This is a brief story of a young person named Joseph who became involved in the church and in the Caravan mission.
He used to hang out with several of his friends who were boisterous and known in the community as young people who would drink a lot and roam the streets late at night. Some of them went to church occasionally. One day, Joseph had a bad motorcycle accident. He was paralyzed for months.
We visited him in their house and prayed for him. When he could walk again, we noticed that his life turned around 180 degrees. Just before he started walking on his own again, I saw him at church every Sunday, and he was involved in the activities of the youth.
To my surprise, he even joined the Caravan mission and decided to commit himself to the Lord as a pastor. He is now studying in one of the seminaries in our area and was assigned to a mission congregation. The church he was first assigned to is one of the seven Caravan mission points.
The story of Joseph is just one of the many testimonies of these young people who attended the Caravan. And as a leader, there is no greater joy than witnessing a life being changed in a moment of encounter with Him.
The Doing Time
A person in faith is a person in action; a church in faith is a church in action. The goal of Caravan is to open the hearts and minds of youth so that they can start seeing themselves under the service and ministry of Christ. Whether young or old, pastor or lay, we are called to serve God by serving the people around us. Every vision needs action.
We know that the Caravan mission will help in the doing time of young people in our conference and in the whole church. As more leaders are equipped through missions, more people will get the work done and more people will be transformed from being church-goers to church movers.
Di Ann Sanidad is a leader of the United Methodist Youth Fellowship in the Philippines (UMYFP) in the NorthWest Philippines Annual Conference. She attended the Young Leaders Summit in November 2015.