Encouraging Stories From Christian Community Members - Part 5

The Passion That Drives Me

We are six kids in the family. Three of my four elder siblings died an early death. The eldest died in 1979 at the age of 37, the second in 1988 at the age of 44, and the fourth at the age of 33 in 1981. They all died of cancer. That's why when people ask me why I have so much passion, it is because I live my days as if they are my last. I know that cancer runs in the family, but what hurts more is that my elder siblings all died not knowing the Lord.

My two eldest siblings were intelligent men but none of them finished college because of peer pressure. The third brother was autistic maybe due to the stressful condition of his delivery during the war. The fourth, a sister, was severely retarded due to an accident when she was still a toddler. Needless to say, I had my share of difficulties growing up with the stressful condition at home.

These are very unpleasant memories in my life. I acknowledge them; they are very real to me. That's why just to have four good children and a sensible wife, who brought me to the Lord, is enough to thank the Lord for the rest of my life. Just to have four normal healthy children with the eldest about to finish her college is a victory because my own four siblings weren't able to finish their studies.

There is so much to thank God for. I grew up poor. My family never owned a house. We never owned a car. I went to public schools in both grade school and high school. That's why the life of the street children of Bagong Silang is very familiar to me. That was my life before.

That's why when I'm with the street children in Bagong Silang, I understand where they're coming from. I feel a kinship with our drug addict brothers who took the CLP in Bicutan as I do with my alcoholic elder siblings. That's why it is hard for me to see them, our brothers, dying, without their knowing the Good Lord.

When I was growing up, I had no friends. At 12 (years old), I became blind in the left eye because of a fall from a tree. They were treating my bruised leg, unmindful that the optic nerves of my left eye had snapped due to the impact of the fall. I am not only blind in the left eye (I had to train myself to force some usefulness out of it), my weak eye muscles make me cross-eyed every now and then too. There I was, already poor, with no social life, going to school with no shoes but slippers, bringing home no friends - if I did, the uncontrolled crying of my retarded siblings would scare them away - and my father and elder siblings always quarreling because of their group of friends. There were no CFC and its Family Ministries then.

I had a brother with whom I was very close to. We used to be 'partners-in-crime!' He couldn't understand why I joined Couples for Christ nor believed in what I was doing. All he knew was that he was separated from a brother who used to understand that it was all right to have a mistress, to gamble, and to get drunk. He's a brother that I loved dearly but had a different life and didn't get the chance to get to know the Lord until he died. If I had only known God earlier…

My other brother who died at 37 suffered for a year from Melanoma. He had four children, but because he and his wife had a very bitter separation, they were not allowed to visit him - not even when he was buried. If I had only known God earlier…

That's why I'm here. I am turning 50. Considering the medical record of my family, I do not know how much time I have left. The important thing is that I make everyday, every moment count.

I just want to thank God for my family and my community. I can never separate myself from CFC because this is where I discovered the value and purpose of my life. This is where I learned to build a nurturing environment for my children, something which I barely had when I was growing up. But CFC is not just for me. It is also for others like me.

There are a lot of drug addicts having a hard time giving up their addiction. Right now in the Center, I work with six drug addicts in rehabilitation. They need to be guided everyday; it has been 3 weeks without shabu for them. People are afraid of them yet we should misunderstand them; we are their only hope. There are about 200 of them in Bagong Silang alone whom we are helping.

There are others in the CAA compound that we could help. I was so moved when I went to CAA compound the first time and saw the #1 drug pusher transform his life; he is now a member of CFC. Many other distressed families too have changed but they all have to be sustained. There is still much work to do out of love for them.

What is God telling us as we end this millennium? Let's have a grateful heart. Thank Him for the gift of CFC and promise of a future full of hope and exciting opportunities for our children if we continue to serve Him faithfully. As told by Tony Meloto.

Continue to Part 6

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