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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

10 Years of Community Life

it was august 23, 1996 when i and two of my best friends in college finally gave in to an invitation of a hiphop classmate to join Youth for Christ (yfc). actually, we were invited by the same hiphop classmate back in 1993, but then we hesitated for we really don’t believe in his convictions (he’s a fratman, loves girls, not sure if he’s into drugs, etc.). and so we were convinced… but before going to the youth camp, the three of us went to watch a basketball game of our school, and i perfectly remember that i was actually so tensed and tried to finish my pack of cigarettes before going to the camp. can’t remember if our school won the game, but i remember it was raining from vito cruz to mendiola. we’re driving our friend’s dad’s car.

around 6 pm, we waited in mendiola for other yfc members and their friends to gather. i already finished my last cigarette, but i remember buying a few sticks from mang henry while eating penoy and chicharon from mang roger, as if i’m gonna die anytime.

finally, time to go to claret formation center in qc. we convoyed with the rest of the troops. my emotions were mixed that time. was i really ready. will i really be good afterwards. will i meet new friends (and girls?).

reaching the place, we were amazed at how these yfc members greet each other. they were like having a secret code of tapping each others backs as their greeting. i saw the leader of the camp. he looks like a Sto Nino (he’s small, and have long curly hair). learned that he was a former drug addict and frat man (cool!).

and so my observation continues… met some girls (ahem… sisters!) from other schools. one looked like christine bersola (my crush that time!). and they were singing songs that i normally hear in charismatic sessions. i was having goose bumps that time, that i honestly wanted to leave… only that i don’t know how to go home (i don’t know anything in qc that time).

i really didn’t paid much attention to talks 1 (God’s love and His plan), 2 (who is Jesus Christ?), and 3 (repentance, faith, healing, and forgiveness). then we had to undergo one-to-ones in the afternoon. good thing my discussion group leader was so easy to talk with, we only managed to consume about 5 minutes that time hehehe. and then i went into confession. i can still remember the penance the priest gave me: read 1 corinthians 13. its about love. "why love?" i asked God. perhaps, i was too evil that time, that i don’t know how to love.

evening came for talk 4 (receiving the power of the Holy Spirit). during the pray over session, i was led by my discussion group leader to the chapel to pray. together with 2 other brothers, we prayed, as if we never prayed before. i really felt how God is touching me that time. i was so insecure, yet He comforted me. i was so angry, yet He pacified me. found myself crying hard that time. it was like my real first encounter with my Creator.

that weekend changed my life. it was a choice i never regretted. i learned to love everybody, even the unlovely.

for 3 years i served in yfc, both in san beda and in paranaque. youth camps left and right (especially during summer). retreats, school activities, weekly meetings with ubelt cluster, praise and fashion (bakit di ako nasasali dito?), club praise… there was even a time (maybe two) that i became part of a dance group (shucks, na-blessed pala ako ng gift of dancing… kaya lang di ko ginamit eh… kaya binawi Niya). it was also in yfc that i experienced going to cagayan de oro to attend the yfc international leaders conference (it was 1997).

graduation came, then i worked. while working, i was asked to serve and build-up yfc forbes makati. i was very challenged back then (considering that i was already working and live in paranaque). and i can not relate anymore to younger yfcs. and so i failed.

my failure brought me to several other failures (too personal to share, sorry). i found myself again in the darkside of the force.

good thing i finally came to my senses in february 1999, that i asked a schoolmate living in our subdivision about Singles for Christ (SFC). God is so good! there’s one in alabang, and i convinced one of my best friends mentioned above to join the Christian Life Program (CLP - entry point to SFC).

we’re shocked! 13 weeks? we asked why it only took a weekend to become a yfc, while 13 weeks for an sfc. seems unfair, isn’t it?

but then, we were determined to move on. having all the sisters in our class as our motivation (and fat tuesdays and cable car and san mig after clp), we successfully finished the clp (using the maximum allowable number of absences, hehehe). our clp classmates are still around, and i can really see how God worked in our lives.

i was asked to serve as discussion group leader in the next clp. then another clp. then another clp. these clps gave me so much brothers to take care of.

several clps after (and few pounds gained, hehehe), God called me to another service. He wanted me to go and reach out to more of His people. i was blessed to go to different parts of the country. places i haven’t been to. places where people are so thirsty for the love of God.

aside from the mission places, God also brought me to a lot of beautiful destinations during leaders conferences. been to baguio and subic several times, clark, boracay, los banos, etc.

for 10 years, God has been so good! in fact, He’s so awesome. He teaches me in ways i can never imagine. He’s my comfort in times i’m challenged, in pain, and hurting. He’s blessed me enough that i have so much to share with almost everyone. He has worked through me, to help others help themselves. He taught me to trust Him completely.

God never failed to assure me, like the young jeremiah (29:11 and so on). yes, i’m sometimes impatient, but God always brings me back to my senses.

i actually prayed for a gift for my 10th year anniversary in the community. but then, God’s ways are far better than my ways. i didn’t get the gift that i wanted. He gave me another. i just can’t figure it out yet.

i would like to end this with what the psalmist says for today: ‘the Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing i shall want’. that in all things, God may be glorified!


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