Tuloy ang Laban ng Mendiola
Due to its proximity to the Malacanang Palace, the official residence of the Philippine president, Mendiola has occupied a place in the history of our country, having been the site of several bloody demonstrations in the past.
The small street that begins at the intersection of Claro M. Recto Avenue and Legarda Street and which ends at Jose P. Laurel Street, just outside Malacanang, houses campuses such as San Beda College, Centro Escolar University, La Consolacion College Manila and the College of the Holy Spirit Manila.
Its significance can never be underestimated, considering that some of these campuses mentioned have produced their own fair share of heroes and leaders in our country, like President Noynoy Aquino, Sen. Gringo Honasan, former Pres. Fidel V. Ramos, the late Sen. Raul Roco, among others.
So armed with the passion to reach the next generation through the Gospel, Lifebox-Mendiola has embraced the call by initiating the move to establish Victory groups in these campuses, while adding San Sebastian College along Recto in its target.
After countless prayer meetings and the effort to mentor students in these campuses, in less than five years, LifeBox-Mendiola, which began with just six student members grew to around 220 since. Five campuses currently have Victory groups – Centro Escolar University (CEU), College of the Holy Spirit Manila (CHSM), La Consolacion College Manila (LCCM), San Beda College (SBC), and San Sebastian College-Recoletos (SSC-R).
Maya Reynoso, the campus minister of LifeBox-Mendiola, attributed the spike in active student members and leaders to God’s move in this historical place in Manila.
“God caused the growth. He brought in the people,” said Maya.
LifeBox-Mendiola actually started in just one campus, having just one campus minister back then along with six students in 2010.
But for Maya, their size hardly mattered as she started casting the vision to these students, challenging them to believe God for students, whose hearts will be opened to the Gospel, who will be discipled and eventually become leaders.
Soon, several young professionals from Victory U-Belt volunteered also to help the leaders of LifeBox-Mendiola, serving as mentors to students in their relationship with Jesus.
By April 2011, another campus minister was added to the team in Cy Maano. At that time, there were around 20 members from CEU. Cy focused on establishing a campus ministry in SBC. Students from CEU also helped the campus ministry in SBC. It was ingrained in the minds of students from LifeBox-Mendiola that they are not just going to go and make disciples in their campus, but they will also go and help establish Victory groups and disciples in other Mendiola campuses.
At present, CEU has 42 Victory Groups, 38 Victory Group Leaders, and 155 Victory Group members. SBC has 9 Victory Groups, 9 Victory Group Leaders, and 23 Victory Group Members. LifeBox-Mendiola is currently praying for Victory Groups to exist inside CHSM, LCCM, and SSC-R.
Both Maya and Cy admitted that it was God who made Lifebox-Mendiola grow tremendously. “Honestly, we don’t know what we did. We just followed the 4 Es of discipleship (Engage, Establish, Equip and Empower) and God brought in the people,” said Maya.
For Lifebox-Mendiola, the campus ministry growth was inspired by what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:6 (ESV) “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”
The roles of a campus ministry and its leaders are to “plant” or to prepare for the growth that God is going to bring, and to “water” or to care for and nurture what God has given. LifeBox-Mendiola was able to prepare and nurture the growth in the context of teamwork and prayer.
Maya explained that when she became Lifebox-Mendiola’s campus minister, the first thing she did was to create a team. She recognized the importance of having a team. Seeing thousands of students from the campuses in Mendiola discipled can never be done by an individual. Instead, it takes a team of leaders with a vision for the future to do it.
Teamwork is visible in LifeBox-Mendiola. For instance, in youth services, when students from Lifebox-CEU meet students from SBC, they automatically introduce them to the leaders of LifeBox SBC. Ownership of Mendiola was strong among the campuses, so much so that they were able to establish strong bond over time.
“Prayer is our best strategy. That’s our mantra now,” said Cy.
He explained that ever since they prioritized prayer as a team, students kept coming in. Prayer developed within them the compassion to reach for students through the Gospel, added Cy.
The students from Mendiola hold prayer meetings regularly and organized prayer walks every Saturday morning around Mendiola.
Apoll Bolong, a dentistry student in CEU currently leads the prayer team of Lifebox-Mendiola. She said that even their prayer team experienced growth.
From just four members at CEU by the end of 2013, Apoll said her campus now has 15 committed members. A culture of prayer has been developed in LifeBox-Mendiola.
Maya acknowledges that God used prayer to build them up spiritually as individuals and as a campus ministry. Prayer constantly reminds them to depend on God.
While Lifebox-Mendiola now has more 200 students, who are being mentored and mentoring others through various Victory groups, the mission to disciple more students continues.
Just imagine, if God can grow the campus ministry in Mendiola from just six to more than 200 students today, what will happen a decade from now if these current batch of student leaders continue to disciple others?
These students could possibly become the next Noynoy Aquinos, Raul Rocos and Fidel V. Ramoses – people who will take the lead in seeing a nation that is transformed not by their own brilliance, but by the power of the Gospel.
So for 2014 and beyond, the battle cry remains the same: Tuloy ang laban ng Mendiola!