COG Youth and Discipleship Conference
Training has always been a priority with Church of God Youth and Discipleship. The international ministry team training events, under the leadership of Youth and Discipleship Coordinator Tony Lane, started in 2006 with the first trip to European Theological Seminary in Germany. Since that time, these teams consisting of senior/lead pastors, worship pastors, youth pastors, children's pastors, and discipleship pastors, as well as lay ministry leaders, have traveled and conducted these ministry training conferences in Brussels, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris, Bucharest, ETS in Germany, Mexico, as well as at ASCM in Manila and also in Dasmarinas, ouside of Manila. Many have been trained in practical church ministries under the teaching of these ministry leaders on these teams. For the fourth year, Church of God Youth and Discipleship coordinated a ministry team to conduct training and ministry in the Philippines on February 6-13. The 2012 ministry team consisted of children's ministry leaders: Retta Ewell (North Carolina), Teri & Jenelle Mullen (Washington DC), Vanessa Gore (Chicago), and Trent Black (Texas). Also on the team were John Harris (Georgia), Darien Fox (New York), Randy Holdman (Florida), Jarvaris Wright (Georgia), and Tony Lane, who served as trip coordinator/leaders.
ASCM hosted the conference, where 352 were in attendance. All students attended one of the five ministry training tracks. The response was so great that there was standing room only this year. President Scott Rains expressed sincere appreciation for the sacrifice that each of the ministry team made in order to go and provide this training. He and his staff were especially excited about the many resources which the team took for distribution. 3 wireless microphones were provided for the school chapel. An external computer drive was provided for the school office. Many puppets, books, curriculum, and ministry resources were distributed at the close of the session to conference attendees. 16 countries are represented among ASCM students.
A highlight again this year as well was the giving of 18 laptop computers to needy ASCM students. Special appreciation goes to Pastor Randy Holdman, who goes each year and takes many of the laptops his church has collected for this occasion. He took 12 with him this year. The students who come from poor economic backgrounds often have to rely on the school computers in order to fulfill their obligations. This year, laptop recipients included some pastors who are serving as regional overseers of the Church of God in the Philippines, who did not own a laptop.
In addition to the training at ASCM, the team had the opportunity to minister at an outreach to children held weekly at the Pasay Church of God, the original site of ASCM, and a YWEA project in 1966. This weekly outreach, which has been ongoing for 18 years, is a ministry in partnership with Compassion International. Sister Sue, the director, testified that many of the children who have attended this ministry program are now serving in leadership roles in the Manila region. Through this ministry, they have been lifted out of their poverty and have been able to rise above their circumstances. The children are also sponsored through Compassion International. Weekly, they receive Bible study, small group time, meals, and support.
Another highlight was a visit to Gentle Hands Orphanage. This orphanage, directed by Charity Graff, cares for children from various backgrounds. Some have been found in garbage cans. Others have been discovered after abuse. Still others are there because they were discovered to be involved in human trafficking, with a price of $300. Thank God for the leadership who is providing a place of refuge and security for these abandoned, neglected, and abused children.
On Sunday, various team members spoke in churches affiliated with the Dasmarinas Church of God, under the coordination of Pastor Anthony Velasco. The Dasmas COG continues to see significant growth with current attendance of over 8,000 weekly. The music, including vocal, instrumental, and dance was a tremendous encouragement to all the team. Some of the team preached in the satellite churches. Others ministered in two of the services at Dasmas, in drama, music and preaching.
The Church of God family is an international family, stated Lane. €œIt is extremely rewarding when the family comes together to help one another as we endeavor to fulfill the Great Commission. Those of us in the United States have been given so much and it is our responsibility to share of our own resources with others around the world.
As the team left, ASCM students, as well as those in the churches where the team ministered, asked, €˜Will you be back next year? We want to see you again next year!' Relationships have been formed for ongoing training and networking via Skype, Facebook, and the Internet. Plans are being made for a return visit in 2013. A team is being recruited now. For more information about the Philippines trip or other ministry training trips or short term missions trips, contact Tony Lane in Youth and Discipleship, 423.478.7229. You can also visit www.cogyouth.org.