The Communication and Leadership Advancement Program* began its second run of four sessions over 2 years for a group of 32 leaders from all over the Northern Asia-Pacific Division territories in March 2011 on the beautiful campus of the Asia-Pacific International University in Thailand. Since that time, our participants have been busy working on assignments over a period of 5 months before coming together again for the second session of this second run (2B).
CLAP 2B got off to an enthusiastic start on Monday, August 22 at the Central Philippine Adventist College (CPAC) on the island of Negros, despite many delayed flights for our participants on Sunday. We thank God that just before midnight, everyone arrived safely. English classes, tutorials, leadership seminars, exercise sessions kept everyone busy on a daily basis. All participants enjoyed renewing friendships forged during Session 2A and met three more new participants from China. This time, the group numbered 35 with one from NSD, 15 from the Korean Union Conference, 13 from the Chinese Union Mission, 3 from Japan Union Conference and 3 from the Mongolia Mission Field.
Our principal teacher, Mrs Erica Hole joined us all the way from Newbold College in England and an assistant teacher, Mrs Leonore Carado, from CPAC itself took care of the English classes while Drs Chek Yat and Sally Phoon handled the leadership seminars with two guest speakers from the area. Dr Amada, president of CPAC and his team prepared a very warm welcome for the group and overextended himself to ensure a comfortable stay for the participants.
Sabbath was very special for us as we divided the group into 8 teams to preach in different churches in Bacolod City and the CPAC Church. The participants came back with glowing reports of the fellowship they enjoyed with the local Filipino Adventists in small as well as in large churches.
For a number of our participants, it was a first time for them to preach or do a mission talk entirely in English—a daunting challenge but it represents another notch up the ladder in their mastery of the English language. We were blessed with the presence of Dr Jairyong Lee, NSD President, that sabbath. He held a special dialogue with the group of CLAP Chinese students as well as other Chinese students enrolled at CPAC.
Also, together with Dr Lee, the CLAP group did an outreach program on sabbath afternoon to the disadvantaged students who lived in the special cottages at CPAC. All these students value the benefits of a Christian education but do not have the finances to go through College. Hence, living in the cottages (simple living structures donated and built by local conferences/unions/missions and well-wishers) means that they can work full time as well as take one or two classes as their financial situation allows them.
They cook their own meals instead of eating in the cafeteria. Some of them stay for as long as 8 to 10 years to complete their basic degrees. NSD provided the funds to purchase rice for about 200 of these cottage students. Our participants enjoyed distributing this staple and made many friends.
After a most touching visit to several cottages, the CLAP members dug deep into their pockets to donate money to cover the tuition fees for some of these students. Before we left, we handed over USD3,000 to the business office for this purpose. However, this is not the end but just the beginning; we are still collecting funds to help these diligent and earnest students we left behind in the Philippines. It is gratifying to see the demonstration of love and compassion among our group who have been learning about leadership in addition to English. Indeed leaders are givers, carers, willing to share whatever we have with those who are less fortunate.
We look forward to our next session which will be held in Thailand from March 4 to 16, 2011. In the meantime, participants are again busy with daily assignments in an effort to improve their language skills. What a gratifying experience to see the ease with which our participants are communicating in English during this second session, evidence of their commitment to improve their skills while they are part of CLAP.
*The Communication and Leadership Advancement Program (CLAP) is designed to assist future leaders in NSD to improve their ability to communicate in English, the language of communication in the Adventist Church and sharpen their leadership skills as they rub shoulders with fellow leaders and instructors.