Rizza Mae O. Malalay, an RYM-Youth Minister, RYM Key Representative to FNYO, and a Missionera.
This is a reflection by Rizza Mae after the recent online National Conference of Youth Ministers 2022 and her Mission Experiences in Tacloban and Oslob, Cebu.
In one of our recollections with the Eastern Visayan Redemptorist Mission Team, we were asked to reflect upon “What is God trying to say to you now?” I shared within the group that I do not usually listen to God. Aside from I do not understand His ways, it was also really hard for me to identify His voice. So, thinking about it again, “Am I now, ready to listen?”
I joined the National Conference of Youth Ministers for three consecutive Saturdays online. It was so challenging for me because at the same time I was in Oslob helping the Cebu Redemptorist Urban Mission Team in their mission engagement there, in the most possible way that I could.
We rushed there after our mission engagement in Tacloban city. I said that it was challenging because there was no mobile signal in the area. But they have Piso Wi-Fis and Wi-Fi routers though the internet would fluctuate. I was anxious during the Conference because we had activities in between. It was too hard for me to put my focus in the meeting but then I have realized that certain things happened for a reason. I can choose to not attend the NCYM for so many reasons or attend the NCYM despite all the challenges that I have encountered. However, I chose the latter. Right at that moment it occurred to me that God wanted me to learn to turn my challenges into opportunities. That this will definitely help me grow as a youth minister.
In our calling to be a Synodal Church, in participation, in communion and in mission. I have seen that though a lot of people are with us walking in synodality, there are still more people who are left behind. After the NCYM 2022, I have reflected that me as a youth minister, should;
*Live and share my faith.
The easiest way to make people believe in you is on how you live your life. In one of our synchronous workshops that I was in, the facilitator talked about that the Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) is being considered by many especially young people as a mere activity and not as a way of life, which I totally agree. Looking back, asking myself if I am really doing something? Am I living and sharing my faith? After leaving the mission area, it warms my heart hearing that the youth continues to serve the church, not just them but the community also is continuing what we have started. If we experience God and see God in others, then we should allow others also to experience God in us.
*Reach-out and build relationship.
I figured out that we can reach out and not build relationship. However, we cannot build relationship without reaching out. I understand that the Youth in our church, they come and go. But, deep in me I cannot understand why they would go. Of course aside from those who have valid reasons for leaving. I had encountered young ones who left the ministry and changed their religion. I had also conservations with youth members who told me that they described their leaders as flying and they were crawling. This is a description of having youth leaders who do not know what to do and so members have to figuratively crawl in order to make the ministry alive. It saddened me to hear all of those because as youth ministers we are called to become God’s instruments of helping the young to grow according to God’s purpose, that we are all in one mission and God is alive in us. If we would only always reach out and build relationship with everyone, I do believe that it would be easier for us to bring Christ in the lives of the so many young people today.
*Have a listening heart
For me as a youth minister I should listen to understand and not listen to respond. It is true that the younger generation now is quite different from mine as a millennial, so I am called to listen more. I have my own biases and I easily judged the younger generation. I can sense that every time we will plan-out an activity, they become more concerned if the senior members would approved it or not or Father will be okay with it or not. They tend to be more anxious to the point that they do not want to do more because of fear of being rejected. It feels like I also somehow kill their creativity to create new things, to explore, to learn, to dream and to learn new concepts or point of view because I myself would limit them. I should be the one to encourage them to serve and to make them realize that their unique contributions are welcomed by the Christian Community.
Indeed, I will really find it hard to listen if I am not willing to listen. And it is hard for me to identify God’s voice if I am disturbed. In life, I realized that at some point I need pauses and breaks to understand what God is trying to say to me. God definitely resides in us and we can only hear Him by listening through our hearts.
I pray that I may not harden my heart if I hear God’s voice and may I continue finding comfort in His love as a young person and as a youth minister.