For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
It was an early Tuesday morning on October 31, 2017. The sun was out and 39 youth rode vans and buses going to the fascinating beach and beautiful resort located in Cuarto Hotels Dive Resort – Punta Engano Mactan Cebu Island.
Different personalities coming from different backgrounds with different stories came together with hearts ready to experience and encounter the Lord.
The idea came about late over dinner when one of the facilitators of the youth ministry had a strong conviction that we must have an activity where the youth can truly experience the greatness, faithfulness and majesty of the Lord, where they can experience the presence of God and encounter Him. We were excited when the theme "Unashamed" was introduced. We were excited to be away from the world and focus on the Lord.
The first speaker was Dr. Anthony Ang who shared about the experience of some Christians who are ashamed of expressing Christian beliefs and practices. He also explained to us the gospel and its importance and power. He shared to us his personal testimony on how he became bold in sharing the gospel. It made us realize that God was not ashamed when He died for us. Jesus endured every step, every blow, every whip, every mocking word, every piercing nail that we might be redeemed from the power and penalty of sin. Such is the greatness of His love for us and Jesus Christ died in public so we should not live in private.
The second session was led by our own youth pastor, Pastor Edmar Erwin Pateño, where he shared three important points. When we submit our lives to Christ we are a "new creation" (2Corinthians 5:17), "Jesus is the center of our lives" (Galatians 2:20), and "the importance of obeying Christ" (John 14:21). The meaning behind these verses is mind-blowing. We are a new creation. He not only forgives us of our sins, but He also fills us with His Holy Spirit and He gives us an entirely new nature that we might live for Him.
The speaker encouraged us that when Jesus becomes the center of our lives, we become followers of Jesus, we are then able to make the decision to die to ourselves and live for Him. We die to our sin, our self-centeredness, self-effort, and self-righteous. Indeed He transforms everything in our lives. Our reason for living changes. We now want to glorify God in the way we live our lives.
Pastor Edmar ended with an encouragement to walk in full obedience to Christ. Jesus is the All-sovereign Lord who deserves our loyalty and devotion. Jesus Christ is worthy of total abandonment and worthy of total adoration. We ended the night with songs of praise and worship to our Living God.
The third session was led by Pastor Hank Baduel. He enlightened us on how to be fearlessly unashamed of sharing the gospel to our friends, classmates and relatives. He emphasized that the gospel of grace is too good to keep to ourselves. We need to open our mouths to share the gospel and be confident of its power that Jesus can change hearts. He ended his preaching by sharing to us a creed called the Fellowship of the Unashamed:
I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit's power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made-- I'm a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean in His presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and I labor with power.
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear.
I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed.
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifices, hesitate in the presence of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won't give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus.
I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And, when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My banner will be clear.
Each session highlighted the gospel and the role it plays in the Christian life. The retreat gave us time to be alone with God. It gave us the time to pause and meditate on His Word. It gave us the conviction that it is already time for all of us to step out in faith and share the gospel to everyone. It is time for us to remove our fears and get to work and rest in God’s promises.
As I end this article my prayer for everyone is that we will unite together as God’s children who will live fearlessly unashamed of the gospel. The great commission is not a choice, it’s a command for us to obey. The glory of the gospel is that the God of the universe reaches beyond the hardness of our hearts, overcoming our selfish resistance and sinful rebellion to save us from ourselves.
We are part of a people who are gladly sacrificing the pleasures of the world and every earthly ambition for the advancement of His kingdom. As Jesus transforms our minds, our desires and our hearts, He gives us the conviction that people need to hear the gospel. The gospel did not spread through extravagant preachers but through everyday people whose lives had been transformed by Christ. Let’s continue to tell people around us about God as Creator, Judge, and Savior in our everyday conversations. The gospel of Jesus Christ alone is the power of God unto salvation. To God be the glory!