The devastation of Typhoon Glenda was seen by Young People’s Gathering participants. Photo courtesy Matthew Landry

MANILA, Philippines – It was such a great blessing for me to travel to the Philippines in July after a wonderful week of serving with our mission team from First United Methodist Church of Winamac in Guatemala. I had the opportunity to travel to the Philippines to represent the Indiana Conference and the North Central Jurisdiction at the Third Global Young People’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly that gathers young United Methodists (35 years and younger) from around the world. This gathering takes place every four years in locations around the world.

We worshipped together, learned from workshops, and voted on legislation that could affect the entire United Methodist Church.

We were welcomed to the Philippines by Typhoon Glenda. I flew from Tokyo to Manila just before the typhoon made land fall. Late on my first night at the conference center in Tagaytay (two hours South of Manila), we were awakened to head to a safe place. The roof of our dorm was torn off and many windows were blown in because of the strong winds. It was the worst natural disaster I have personally experienced. There were winds between 150 and 200 mph and destruction like I have never seen before. Homes were completely destroyed and around 50 lives were lost.

After a day of being in one room with more than 200 other delegates with one toilet and power that went in and out, we were eventually moved to another location closer to Manila, capital of the Philippines. That is where we continued our legislative work and worship. It was an amazing experience to meet young United Methodists from around the world who are so passionate for the church and service.

Legislation

The body of young people from around the world voted on ten pieces of legislation that were brought forth by delegates of the convocation; some were related to the The Division of Ministries with Young People (DMYP) and to the General Board of Discipleship. The body voted in favor of legislation that called on the General Conference to divest funds from companies that are being utilized in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, plus one related to environmental care.

The greatest portion of the assembly was related to issues of human sexuality. Amid talk of schism resulting from debates over human sexuality, United Methodist young people from around the globe have urged church leaders to “seek solutions that promote our global unity.”

After a long night of legislation, delegates gathered on Sunday morning to travel to various United Methodist congregations around the metro Manila region. Sunday evening brought closing worship at Central UMC in Manila, the first Methodist church in the Philippines.

Aftermath

Following the convocation, I stayed in Manila and served as a missionary with the Roman Catholic Brothers of the Missionaries of the Poor. I served the homeless and children who lived in the slums of Manila with the brothers. It was a powerful experience to talk with the homeless men and learn about their lives. It was the worst poverty I have ever witnessed in what the Brothers call the “slums.” My mission was simple for the week. I helped clean the shelter where homeless men stayed, got to know the men, and played games with the kids that came to the monastery to play in a safe place.

It was a two week journey that was beyond blessed. I had the chance to serve our global church and serve as a missionary in the one of the poorest places I have ever been. It was in that place that I saw most clearly the face of Jesus Christ in the children, the homeless men I met and the Brothers I served with. Jesus himself said in Matthew 25 that we would see him in the hungry, homeless, stranger, prisoner and the poor. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve around the world and share God’s love in Guatemala and the Philippines.

The Rev. Matt Landry of First UMC in Winamac, Ind., with the Rev. LeKisha Reed of the Indiana Conference and staff member of the General Board of Global Ministries.

Matthew Landry serves as pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Winamac
and serves the Indiana Conference as chair of the Indiana Conference Social Advocacy Team.