“Reach Up, Reach In, Reach Out with God” Youth Alive Training Sessions at Asia-Pacific International University, Thailand
by Cassandra Morgan, BA Applied Theology, 2018
Youth Alive is a positive peer prevention program, jointly sponsored by the General Conference’s Health, Youth, Education and Family Ministries. Asia-Pacific was glad to host the division-wide core group trainer’s conference, held September 8-12, 2016.
Pr. Jobbie Yabut, Director of Youth Ministry for the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, gave the opening speech, presenting the theme of “Reach Up, Reach In and Reach Out with God.” He shared how the theme represented the strategy for youth leaders. Pr. Jobbie said that we must first have a connection with God (Reach Up) before we can minister to youth in the church (Reach In), and also reaching out to the community (Reach Out with God). He also used an interesting example of teamwork in the relay races of the Olympic Games, and how as spiritual leaders focusing on teamwork, we can have a faster race time than simply running alone.
The Youth Alive program originally began in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s as a drug prevention program aimed at serving young people below the age of 30. Over the years it developed more towards evangelizing young people through a health focus. In the Southern Asia Pacific Division (SSD), it began in 1994.
Youth Alive training and its content has grown over the last 20 years. SSD Health Ministries Director, Mrs. Lhalaine C. Alfanoso, DrPH, said, “20 years ago, the only staff for Youth Alive was Pr. Abraham Carpena (former Health Ministries Director), Joe Rey Dayahan (Youth Alive trainer), and I.” Mrs. Lhalaine shared that some of the issues in the SSD for youth are suicide, low self-esteem, peer pressure, and teen pregnancy. She explained that Youth Alive incorporated “friendship groups” (aka. care groups or small groups) which use both health and spiritual related materials
At the Youth Alive training sessions, it was explained how to form and utilize friendship groups in local communities to develop positive, peer bonding that also encourage youth to form healthy relationships with Christ. Friendship groups are comprised of no more than twelve members and are maintained for a minimum of one year. The goal of forming a sturdy, personal foundation with Christ in each youth helps them to make decisions that glorify His name and build them up in God’s Kingdom. Helping young people lead healthy lives will also inspire others around them to do similarly. The friendship groups also encourage youth to stay away from at risk behaviors that could potentially damage their health or that of those around them.
Core group training took place on campus all weekend long in the Fellowship Hall. Where lectures, instructional presentations and workshops were given to all the attendees. There were also fast-forwarded activities that gave the core group trainers hands-on experience with some of the games that should be used in local groups.
There has been discussion of the future of Youth Alive to have “Wellness Summits” which would be like conferences for youth leaders, friendship groups and youth in general to attend and learn about physical and spiritual health. Youth Alive uses the method of Integrated Evangelism Lifestyle (IEL). This is a method which presents both health and spiritual principles, and ultimately, Christ as our Healer and Savior. May God bless the Youth, Health and Youth Alive ministries as they work together to serve the youth of the Southern Asia Pacific Division.