January 29, 2009

The Challenges of Ministering to Baptist Youth in the Asia Pacific

By Jesse Ray Porras

The Asia Pacific Baptist Youth Fellowship (APBYF) is a loose organization of Baptist youth in various churches and groups under the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation. Once every four or five years, we come together for a gathering called the APBY Conference. Our aim is to promote fellowship, be inspired and instructed on issues relevant to us, and be challenged to respond to the various needs of young people in our region.

This coming December 27-30, 2009, we will again converge for the 15th APBY Conference. The Baptist Convention of Hong Kong has accepted the challenge to be our host and the theme we have chosen is “Soar Higher!” based on Isa. 40:30-31. Many of us in the executive committee feel that this conference will help us gain new inspiration and strength to face the various challenges that we encounter in our region.The Asia Pacific Region includes more than sixty-five percent, or two thirds, of the world’s population. Thus, our cultures are as varied as the geographical features of the Himalayas, the sand dunes of Mongolia, the reefs and atolls of the South Pacific isles, and the deserts of Australia. In addition to the global economic crisis and fluctuating currency exchange rates, we are also concerned about issues closer to home such as: alcohol and substance abuse, child labor, HIV, trafficking of women and children, civilian conflict, extreme poverty and hunger due to recurring natural calamities (earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis), and coup d' tats and other forms of social unrest.

Just how do Christian young people and youth ministers live in the midst these situations? Due to the vastness of our needs and the limits of our resources, we do best when we start with the needs in our immediate community, while at the same time praying for our fellow young people to “catch the vision” and do something in their own situation. As the saying goes, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” By tending to street children or orphans in our own neighborhoods, we can make our region and the world a better place in which to live in… feeding one hungry mouth, setting one captive free, healing one ailing body, one simple life at a time.

This is going to be a long and tiring journey. The only way we can cope is by holding on to God’s promises in Isaiah 40:30-31. Together, may we “Soar Higher” in serving Him!

**Jesse Ray Porras is the Vice President of the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation Youth Department.

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