By Gary Jay Engcoy
“… but to wait for what the Father had promised, which,” He said, “you heard of from Me… you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses… even to the remotest part of the earth.” – Acts 1:4-5, 8 NASB
And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
Acts 2:3-4 NASB
IGNITE!, the Young Adults (YA) Ministry retreat, which was held last April 21-23 at the Asia-Pacific Theological Seminary (APTS) in Baguio, was a great experience for everyone who attended. Being away from the business of life and in a place of solitude with God is a wish come true. Indeed, it was a chance for all of us to encounter God in different ways. leaving the place remarkably impacted by the Holy Spirit.
Fire, throughout humanity’s history, has been an integral part of our lives. It has proudly crackled in the midst of royal gatherings. Its humble flicker has inspired poets, writers, and leaders in their solitude. It has ravaged cities and yet has helped bake the very blocks to rebuild them. It has led armies into battle and has guided them home. Around a warm hearth stories, odes, and mysteries have been passed on to children, grandchildren, and great grand children. Legends were born under its watchful glow. It has been a symbol of destruction as well as a symbol of hope.
So now ask a very basic question: “What starts the fire?”
Ignite – to cause to burn, to set fire to, to subject to great heat, to arouse the passions of, to excite.
So often in the Bible the Holy Spirit is associated with fire. In the words of John the Baptist:
“John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I cometh, the latchet of Whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” – Luke 3:16
The Holy Spirit was likened unto fire at Pentecost. “And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.” – Acts 2:3
Clearly, fire has been chosen to symbolize the Holy Spirit, no doubt, because of what it does – Fire burns out the dross. Fire gives light. Fire gives warmth.
Oh, to be on fire for God!
Every engine needs an ignition to start it up. Every blaze starts with a spark. One match stick is enough to set a forest ablaze.
In YA, our vision is to produce best professionals; sharp, skilled, biblically founded, prayer driven; people who are spiritually empowered, excelling in their workplaces and inspiring people to know Christ; burning in the Spirit and, by that same Holy Blaze, igniting the whole world on fire.
We encountered God more than we expected. We pray that ICS, in God’s perfect time, would see its community ignited by His Holy Fire as well.
Reflections – Two campers share their insights after the camp
I realized how selfish I had been for keeping myself to myself. I did not belong to myself. I belong to Him. I belong to His people.
A few days after the retreat, I still found myself very much overwhelmed with so many realizations in my life – a sudden realization that my life, the rest of it, or at least at this point in time – could be much different than its beginning. It came to me so suddenly, so clearly and completely that it brought me to tears. Honestly, it scared me.
My prayer was very simple – to feel His presence and to have an intimate conversation with Him – how to manage my life better and talk about some priority issues as well as my unfulfilled commitments to Him a year ago. I was very emotional when my turn came to share some of these with my fellow YA’s. As much as I wanted to, I was not able to contain the cries of my heart. I was pouring it all out and didn’t really care.
It was a beautiful afternoon just worshiping God and feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit. I decided to take a walk around the place; breathe some fresh air and be still. It was in my stillness when I felt Him close to me… comforting me.
As I opened my bible to refresh my spirit, I came across this beautiful passage from Isaiah 52:13-15. I’ve read it several times without really understanding its essence; I’d bookmarked and forgot about it before. But now, but now it was different.
Hours after the “Empowerment” session, I took time spending the last night being silent and intimate with Him. I found myself sitting in front of two lamp posts. When I opened my eyes, I noticed one of the posts was busted. “The owner would be sad seeing this post not working, not serving its purpose,” I thought. “These posts were created for a reason: TO BRING LIGHT. I can’t imagine myself walking in darkness without a light.“
My thoughts progressed. “What would the owner do to his busted lamp post? Destroy it? Replace it? Or just not mind it? As a responsible owner, he would call a technician first, the best technician he knows to repair it.” As I related it to myself, I realized that I could be that post. That there was a beautiful plan in my Creator’s mind for creating me. That I was born for a specific reason, not just to live. “
I went back to my Bible and read the passage that was revealed to me. The passage had a solid message for me, to my surprise. All the realizations and my encounter with Him that night started to make sense. It said:”You are here on this Earth to pursue this aim in your life. It is your purpose. That is all you are here to do. It is why your soul reached out. It is your destiny.”
Now, I feel so loved. I’m amazed how God works, how He answers my prayer and how things unfold in such a beautiful way. And so I pray, “Yes Lord. Prepare me. Lead me. Consume me. I belong to You.” – Lovely Rose Magdayao, Entrepreneur
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened,” Matthew 7:7-8
This was the promise that God carved deeply in my heart before heading up Baguio for IGNITE. I knew for sure something special and extraordinary awaited us. I kept holding on to His word and expected great things to happen. Personally I desired to be baptized and filled again by the Holy Spirit.
From the opening session, God was showering me His Presence – I felt the Holy Spirit throughout my body. I tried to contain Him as much as I could as the “empowerment” session wasn’t until evening. My efforts were futile. The Holy Spirit’s presence was so powerful; a gradual tremor as unto a volcano on the verge of eruption. My whole body trembled to the point where I couldn’t contain it any longer – I erupted. I yielded. I let go.
The next thing I knew, I was in one corner; kneeling, weeping, conversing and encountering God in my own intimate way. An unforgettable and wonderful experience it was indeed – beyond expectations, beyond imagination. Words can’t express how awesome it is to be in God’s presence.
Being baptized by the Holy Spirit doesn’t stop there. To quoted Pastor Abe Visca’s sermon, we are a “lion chaser”. Now that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit, it’s time for us to let God use our lives to empower those who needs to be empowered – Dr. JJ Mendoza, M.D.