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Change the Campus, Change the World

Justin Flores Sunday, July 20, 2014 // Discipleship, Youth // Comments

In the Philippines, the month of July is considered as one of the busiest and craziest months for every person of every field, age and occupation. 

It is that time of the year when the rainy season is in high gear, where just as one storm is about to leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility, another one is set to make landfall at the PRA.

Students also begin to adjust better to the new school year, while most business people and professionals adjust to their workload and work flow. 

But in the perspective of the church, July offers a wide gate of countless opportunities.

The Value of Young People

Since Victory started as a movement, reaching the younger generation through campus ministry has been one of its top priorities. It also happens to be one of the most prolific and thriving focal points, among other things. 

Being under the spiritual umbrella of Every Nation, Victory puts its emphasis in reaching the youth, being convinced that it is one of the most strategic harvest fields.

For one, the youth represent a social group, whose mind is easily cultivated and influenced.

Young people also represent the future leaders of the nation. And again, by reaching them out today, you are also reaching out to their families and their circle of influence.

At Victory U-Belt, young people represent a major bloc in its overall service attendance.

In 2005, there were only 300 students attending the youth service. But nine years later, Victory U-Belt has seen an exponential increase in the number of attendees, especially in our youth services – and all these are attributed to God’s faithfulness to His promise as well as the hard work of our volunteers and staff. 

This year, LifeBox is aiming to reach 5000 students as the 17-man strong campus missionaries work hand-in-hand with the pastoral team, administrative staff as well as the hundreds of Victory Group leaders, who are totally committed to seeing this vision become a reality.

Each year, July is always considered as “outreach month”, where leaders are encouraged to invite their family members, classmates, friends, business partners and friends who haven’t heard the of the Good News. 

This initiative has proven to be effective as we see hundreds of people come to know God in a personal and powerful way.

In celebration of Victory’s 30th year anniversary, Victory U-Belt has compiled four personal testimonies of students who were reached out during the outreach month and whose lives have been radically changed since:

Jane Catherine Villanueva, UST

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JC, as she is called by most people, is a fresh graduate of Medical Technology from the University of Santo Tomas. She is currently reviewing for the board exam. 

JC entered UST as a freshman in 2010, deeply influenced by her family’s devotion to Roman Catholicism after starting their own charismatic church community. Ever since she was young, there was this yearning inside her heart to know God more, to not just be a person who has knowledge of God, but a person who knows God in a personal way.

Everyday, JC recounted going to the UST Chapel, hoping to find what her heart was searching for. 

But one day, she was invited by her roommate and friend (who happens to be a Christian) to a July outreach series in 2010, at Victory U-Belt’s Youth service called “Eclipse”. 

Being a first-timer, she had no idea what she went to. JC initially thought it was a  mere simple youth gathering. But upon experiencing the warmth of the people, the passionate worship and just the spiritual atmosphere that prevailed during the youth service, she started longing to have that kind of an experience with God.

Her spiritual yearning intensified from there as she started attending the youth service, thinking that it would be a great supplement for her in her search for a spiritual satisfaction. 

Her regular attendance eventually moved a step further when she was finally introduced by some UST LifeBox student leaders to One 2 One and Victory Group.

Initially, she wasn’t really sold out in attending the One 2 One discipleship and Victory Group meetings. But because she was afraid to say no to those who invited her, she started attending.

As weeks turned into months, something happened: her boyfriend broke up with her. She was devastated all the more when she found out that her ex-boyfriend guy entered into another relationship just a week after their break-up. 

By then, she had a realization, “Your worth is not based on how people define it, but on what God has already done for you”. 

But what radically changed her outlook in life was the reality that Jesus died for all her sins, while realizing that Christ’s sacrifices was a clear message that “she was worth dying for”. It was also during this time when she started to realize that she doesn’t have to please others by giving in to their requests, or just to be able to win their approval.

Instead, she realized that the goodness and unconditional love of God was all she needed. God’s approval was all she needed. 

Eventually, she participated at Victory Weekend.  In 2012, she joined the church’s Leaders’ Camp. By then,  all the confusion, the selfishness and the longing for love from others dissipated. 

Her walk with Christ helped her become more selfless while appreciating God’s genuine love more. 

As she started discipling others, she started to experience a newfound love and passion in reaching out to people who are spiritually lost. She wanted them to experience the same love and life-changing moment she had with God.

And while her family initially questioned her personal relationship with God, eventually, that turned to acceptance and support. 

Today, JC is one of LifeBox UST’s fruitful Victory Group leaders, One 2 One facilitator and coach. She is also a keyboardist in the music ministry and even had the opportunity to perform at Victory’s IGNITE Youth Conference last 2013. 

Avan Tan, San Beda College

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Avan seems to be an average guy at first glance. But there’s something more to him than meets the eye. 

During his high school days, Avan used to be an athlete and a mountain biker. And like most athletes, Avan lived a disciplined life, something he brought with him when he reached college. 

When he entered college at San Beda, he experienced conflict with his block mates due to opposing interests. His block mates wanted him to join them in drinking alcohol, partying, smoking and in doing drugs, but he refused. 

Being an athlete, Avan used it as an excuse to “escape” from his block mates’ whims. But due to the rising misunderstanding between him and his block mates, and Avan not wanting to see the conflict worsen, he finally gave in to curiosity and peer pressure.

So he started doing what his block mates have been doing – smoking, drinking, partying and taking drugs. His whole lifestyle changed, becoming an alcoholic.

Growing up in a family without a hint of closeness and bond in their relationship, no one could stop him from doing what he started doing. 

But ever since he engaged in vices, a part of him wanted to withdraw from the lifestyle change, but somehow, he was powerless to do so.

Eventually, there came a point in his life where alcohol gave him that “temporary euphoria”, which he soon realized as short lived once the feeling faded.

One day, Avan got invited to the youth service at Victory U-Belt where he was introduced to Cyrillus Maaño, a campus missionary in LifeBox-Mendiola. It was their first meeting and Avan felt no uneasiness at all,  convinced that he could trust Cyrillus. 

Yet, his meeting with Cyrillus hardly changed his current situation ad he continued on his vices. When Avan got invited to become a member of a fraternity, that’s when he realized that he dug a deep hole for himself, while he felt helpless to climb out of it.

He lost his sense of identity as well as lost his sense of conviction and direction as he started following various people’s “invitations”.

Avan longed for love, acceptance and family. Deep inside, Avan was no longer the same promising athlete as he felt broken and destroyed inside. 

Fed up with how his life had spiraled down into depths, Avan took a step towards the right direction when he reconnected with Cyrillus the campus minister.  But in the course of their connection, Avan received his letter of dismissal from the school.

Still, he just didn’t want to give up and put his two-year stint in college to waste. He mustered up all the courage he had and took a leap of faith by persistently going to the office of the school’s officials and pleaded his case for 10 days straight.

Avan did everything he could, asking for recommendations from priests and organizations. Eventually, things changed for the better, so on the last day, when he pleaded for his case, he was finally approved for readmission. 

He shifted from his original course of Entrepreneurship to Marketing and found a friend to accompany him in his new course. 

Despite shifting to Marketing, his academic struggle didn’t seem to go away, though on a positive note, his regular meeting with Cyrillus continued.

One time, his classmate invited him again to attend the outreach series of the Youth service, “The Voice”. 

Feeling a sense of freedom for the first time after being accepted by a new set of friends, Avan’s life started to make a 180-degree turn.

Avan no longer felt powerless after giving up his vices. His grades got better, while undergoing regular discipleship meeting as well.

On September 2013, he went through Victory Weekend, which became the turning point of his life. Avan said he experienced true freedom in Jesus Christ. His life started to change for the better, having found his identity and security in Christ. 

And by understanding that God is for him and not against him, he regained the confidence to face the life and its challenges again.

As his personal life started to change for the better, God also started to heal his relationship with his family. As a family, they started to pray and showed their love to each other.

Today, Avan is one of Lifebox Mendiola’s One 2 One Facilitator, Victory Group leader and an Ushering volunteer in the church. 

Brian Flores, FEU

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Brian grew up in Dubai, UAE for years so when he finally studied high school in the Philippines, he was culture shocked by what he saw.  For one, he was not used to seeing an environment so different from where he came from. 

Being a product of a broken family, he started living with his grandparents in Pampanga and attended the local high school there. At such a young age, he was exposed to the wrong crowd, people who were addicted to smoking, drinking and drugs. 

Out of curiosity and peer pressure, Brian fell into their trap. Not only did he start doing vices, he was also exposed to the dangerous pleasures of sexual immorality. Time passed and he graduated high school. He was one of the few students who went to college in the capital city. 

He enrolled at the Far Eastern University in Manila, where he found himself falling into the same situation, only worse. 

However, as a college freshman, one of his classmates invited him to Victory U-Belt’s youth outreach series in 2012 entitled “Cats, Monsters and Broken Hearts”. 

At first, he had no idea that he was attending a youth service. Towards the end of the service, he didn’t take the message seriously, though by the time the pastor was challenging the people to surrender their lives to Christ, he simply raised his hand, even though he didn’t really know the reason. 

He did join the One 2 One discipleship and even regularly attended the Victory Group and other LifeBox event, but he continued to do what he did since his high school days – continuing his lifestyle of vices, and simultaneous relationships with the opposite sex.

But in 2013, everything started to change. 

During the time he was introduced to Christ, there was always a part of him that said, “let’s change”.  However, he would usually find himself bouncing back to his old ways.

But one rainy night, just as the Philippines was battered by the strong monsoon rain, Brian, along with his housemates who were Christians, was forced to stay at the house they were resting. 

One of his housemates was reading the Bible that time, and at that, he was convicted. He wanted to change, and he longed for it. Brian knew that there was something wrong inside of him – his grades were failing, he was spending his money unwisely, he couldn’t stop his vices, he would lie almost always and, he was emotionally drained and longing for real love and acceptance. 

But by mustering the courage to read and meditate on the Bible, something started to change from within. He started taking the Victory Group and One 2 One discipleship seriously. 

He also started to appreciate the people who patiently discipled him and understood him during moments that he was stubborn. He was able to overcome his vices. 

As Brian started to take baby steps to spiritual freedom, more and more, he appreciated what God had done for him, and how through His unfailing love, he was able to overcome his personal struggles. In the end, he was thankful that he became part of a spiritual family. 

Today, Brian is one of LifeBox-FEU’s most promising Victory Group leaders, a One 2 One facilitator and an active volunteer in the Ushering ministry. He has also led an event for LifeBox-FEU.    

Clarissa Galvan, TUP

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Clarissa seemed to be a quiet, college girl, who lives an ordinary life, when you meet her for the first time. 

But when you carefully examine her, Clarissa has been exposed to the harsh realities of life. During her high school days, her parents argued much of the time, leading to a failed marriage.

Her father and her brothers were also drug addicts. When Clarissa discovered that they were into drugs, she confronted them. 

Tension rose and soon, her father, during one heated moment, accidentally killed her brother. This sad event changed Clarissa and her family completely. 

In search of acceptance and love, Clarissa looked to satisfy it through someone. On her senior year in high school, she had a crush on a guy, who eventually became close to her. But she soon found out that he only played with her emotions, leaving her heartbroken.

Clarissa became emotionally drained after what happened to her family and with her guy friend. A few months later, Clarissa was then invited by a friend to attend a youth service at Victory U-Belt in March 2012.

After her very first “accidental” youth service attendance, Clarissa did not return again till the third week of July when she attended again during the series “The Voice”. 

Bitter with life after all that she had gone through, she doubted if God really existed. But through the message during the youth service, she took a bold step in accepting Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior. 

She started attending One 2 One sessions and Victory Group meetings. In the process, she started to know Christ in a personal way. All the pain, the trauma and the hurt she was harboring throughout those years were finally washed away by the peace, forgiveness and love that God provided. 

In God, she found a Father, a friend, and a comforter. God displayed His faithfulness in Clarissa’s life. In prayer, she lifted up her family, which God eventually answered as  her father and mother were reunited later on, in a harmonious and loving relationship along with the rest of her siblings. 

What had been a cold family relationship, was replaced by warmth and love, a radical turn from what she grew up with.

Clarissa has since learned to let go of all the burdens of her past and started looking forward to a brighter future in God. Today, Clarissa is one of LifeBox-TUP’s strong and fruitful One 2 One facilitators, a Victory Group leader and an active volunteer in the church. She continues to spread God’s love by sharing His word to others. 

Four students from different walks of life.  All have gone through different situations but only one God changed their lives. 

An encounter with God radically transformed their lives.

There are thousands of students out there who also need to hear the Gospel and have a personal encounter with Christ. 

This July, Victory’s outreach month, provides the best avenue for people to hear the good news and receive Christ in their lives. 

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