Sharings From Our Christian Brothers and Sisters

It’s Mine To Give

It's almost 2 AM and I am still awake. Today I went to see our Bagong Silang youth perform and compete against the best of the other sectors in Metro Manila. God never ceases to amaze me. This year it was the BS youth themselves who choreographed the dances and arranged the songs… and they won!

No group deserved to win more than they did … not so much because they were extremely talented. They deserved to win because God knew they would value their victory more than anyone else would. It was incredible! With this victory, everyone in Bagong Silang now know who they really are … Bagong Silang … Newly Born!

Our four most notorious drug addicts - Mer, Bunso, Abnoy and Saging - finally joined the cheering competition. Their gang is known for various stunts and tumbling techniques. Who would have thought they would use it to cheer for the Lord? And to think I used to cry because they wouldn't attend the assemblies. God's delays are never His denials … the Hound of Heaven eventually caught up with them.

And our dancers! How can I describe how much that victory meant to them? It was a difficult road towards that victory … walking everyday for thirty minutes to the training center just to attend the practice … sweating in practice for three hours … not having enough money to eat dinner after the practice … and then walking back home knowing there was the risk of being hurt by other gangs as they crossed territories.

Our chorale? Mostly they conquered a mindset - a mindset that said only the best trained could win the chorale competition , a mindset that dictated that only those who hired a professional trainer could win, and that you needed expensive costumes to make it. Well, most of them couldn't sing too well at the start. Trust me, I heard them the first time. But they practiced every night, watched other groups perform, and armed with nothing but a steadfast heart and a conviction that they were there to do their best, they won the competition!

A few minutes before the competition started, I asked them if they were ready to win. Maque, one of the dancers, answered, We will give our all for the Lord. A prayer like that cannot be left unanswered. For the second time in a row, Bagong Silang will have a chance to represent North Manila in the coming YFC International Leaders Conference in Cebu.

God willing, and with the help of generous people, 35 youth from Bagong Silang will go to Cebu for the conference. Most of these kids have never seen a world outside of Bagong Silang. The chance to travel to Cebu is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of them. For gang members and the like, this might just be what they need to realize that there is a God who believes in them, if they only learn to believe in themselves.

I cannot explain how I feel now. It seems I have screamed my lungs out and jumped until my feet hurt, but the excitement hasn't ceased. I will have trouble sleeping tonight because my heart just won't stop. For many of us who have fallen and have risen to our feet with God's help, the ecstasy of the youth of Bagong Silang is not so hard to imagine. Many thanks to the God who loves the fallen! And so tonight, with the Bagong Silang youth, I look upon the heavens and say, “O God of second chances and new beginnings, here we go again.”

Many years after this, I am certain I will look back with much gratitude for the poor I have met in my life. They have given me so much more than I could ever give them.

The Bagong Silang Youth did go to Cebu for the Conference and came home second place winners, losing to Lucena. They were also adjudged Best in Choreography. By: Issa Cuevas

One Fruitful Experience

wasn't really all that willing to serve at the Bagong Diwa Christian Life Program. The thought of driving to Bicutan to facilitate at the CLP for the detainees every Monday and Friday didn't excite me all that much. In fact I looked at it with something akin to dread.

My plate was full. I felt that I could not spare any more time and energy to volunteer for this service.

I work as a van salesman for a milk manufacturer, handling institutional accounts. I cover an area that stretches from Manila to Cavite. I spend most of my day driving and getting stuck in traffic, which leaves me tired and spent when I get home. At that time I was also serving as a facilitator for a CLP in Las Pinas on Saturdays. Add to that my weekly household meetings, plus my duties as a father to two toddlers with perpetually soiled diapers, and I think you would understand the reason for my reluctance.

But when my father asked me to serve I could not Say no. I understood the enormity of his task in organizing a CLP for 554 participants. So how could I say no to a man who was in charge of a desperate situation and yet was willing to face up to the task at hand with a ready smile and without any anxiety?

I thought I would simply sit there and listen. I thought it wouldn't take too long anyway since the sessions were twice a week and the talks would only be up to Talk 10. That meant I would be free after 5 weeks! How little I knew! As usual God had other plans.

I thought I would have a lot to teach my group of five young men (all of them younger than my 26 years) but as it turned out, they taught me. After every session with them, I felt my heart would burst from the compassion that was released, unbidden, by the stories they had to tell. One had turned to snatching to support his habit, another had joined a criminal gang and he had actually killed someone! All of them told of an utter lack of love in their homes, of feeling abandoned and unloved. How hungry for love they were and how little it took to make them happy!

The five weeks did pass quickly. Under the program guidelines, we were not allowed to establish any personal contact with them so I do not know what happened to these five young men. They are most likely out of there since the rehab program is only for six months. I pray they are well and that my time with them, no matter how inadequate, had planted the seed of faith in their hearts. And me? I have not remained unchanged from the experience. I count my blessings often now. I am more patient with my wife and my children, even with clients who are sometimes rude and insulting. I am quicker to say yes to the Lord's service now. In fact, my wife and I just began a CLP for singles, more specifically for ex-YFC members who are no longer eligible, age-wise, to remain in YFC. We are the team leaders, a job I would have hesitated to accept in pre-Bicutan days. I look at the young men attending the CLP now and I know God has found a way once more to touch me. If I can make this CLP meaningful for these young men (and women), then I would have paid forward the lessons my group at the drug rehab had taught me. By: Lion Gimenez

A Journey With A Purpose

As I walk this lonely road, walking staff in hand, I realize I am on a journey of life. But where is the road leading me?

Why am I on this road?

As I walk on this road, I see that it is sometimes wide, sometimes narrow, sometimes along hillsides, sometimes in deep dark forests, sometimes along bubbling brooks or by the river. I realize these are the pleasures, joys and happiness of my life.

As I walk on this road, there are sand cracks and pebbles that make me stumble, caves that magnify my fears and rocks and even fallen trees that block my way. I see that these are my sins, shortcomings and faults that block my view of you.

As I walk on this road, I see days and nights that are cloudy, rainy, stormy but I see also days and nights that are cloudless and bright. I reflect that these are the moods, feelings and conditions that I go through in this life.

As I walk on this road, I meet different kinds of animals and plants, great and exciting in their diversity. These are the people I meet on this life's journey - the friends, the loved ones, even those that are hard to love.

As I walk on this road, I see the rays of the sun in the distance and I feel its warmth. I know that represents the hope that guides me on this journey, that allows me to draw strength to continue because at the end of this journey, I will soon be with you.

I look back on this road and I marvel at all the things, good and bad, that you, Lord, have allowed me to see. I realize that without your grace and mercy, I wouldn't have been able to travel this far. I know now what this journey means - it is a calling to live a life of holiness and simplicity, but most of all , of service and love. By: Jose Jay Victor N. Santos

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