Tears of the Son
The year 1988 was supposed to be my final year as an engineering student at Mapua Institute of Technology. That year turned out to be a turbulent one as the prospect of not being able to graduate hit me like a sledgehammer in the face. Our family was struggling finally considering that three of us enrolled in in college at the same time. My parents were looking forward to my graduation, expecting me to at least help out with the expenses or maybe, not be an additional financial burden. But it just wasn’t meant to be.
At a loss for direction and in search for answers, my friends Richard and Noel invited me to join a meeting at the campus canteen on a Wednesday afternoon after class. I had nowhere to go then, so I thought I might as well join them. They were excited because they had two guests coming over. One was a Vietnamese American named Hugh and the other one was a Filipino, a slender young man, not much older than me. He was the “guest speaker” and my friends were excited to hear him.
I was hooked the moment he started talking. He was so certain about his challenge that everyone in the room were so pumped up.
Although what he was presenting was larger than life, his message was simple, “Change the Campus, Change the World.” His message started to stir up something inside of me. I suddenly realized that the reason I was not passionate about anything was because I lacked purpose in my life. As he went on, I started believing that I was not insignificant, that I could make a difference. I could make a difference in my campus and make an impact to the nations. However, it was the final challenge that caught me by surprise. It was a challenge for a relationship to the One who could make all this possible. It was a challenge to make Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. I consider myself fairly religious, growing up and serving in a local church as an acolyte. Thus, his message was something foreign to me.
I came into that meeting lost and without a purpose, but it didn’t stop me from believing. That evening, I responded to the challenge of being a “world changer”. I made the decision to make Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I hope I could say that the rest was history, but it was only the beginning.
I found out soon enough that for me to live out this purpose. I had to learn and unlearn, hold on to certain things and let others go. As the saying goes, “You can talk the talk, but can you walk the talk?”
On Sunday of that same week, my friends brought me to a meeting at the second level of 1881 C.M. Recto Avenue, Manila. A ragtag bunch of young people was there, less than a thousand but all passionate for Jesus. I became a part of this ministry ever since.
Through the years, we heard the familiar challenge: “Grab your Bible and pen, get your passport ready because we are going to the nations!” As a young man, I didn’t know how it will happen but I started believing. So when given the chance, I took part in various local mission trips like Tarlac, Urdaneta, San Fernando, Cabanatuan, Cebu City, Iloilo and Tuguegarao. I even accepted a job in Cagayan de Oro City so that I could stay long-term and be part of the church plant.
When our ministry started believing God for our building at the Fort, I was one of those, who were tapped to help out in raising the building fund. I had the opportunity to work with the leaders of our ministry in this endeavor to establish a facility where we could train and prepare teams to go to the nations.
When the building was into its final phase and the Auditorium was going to be used for the first time, my team did an ocular inspection of the facility. I was grateful to God for being given the chance to be part of this venture. As we were about to leave the building, I saw someone at the parking lot. He rolled down his window and called out to me, “Are you open to go to the mission field?”
We were in the thick of fundraising activities, while the building was in the final phase, but I still told him “Sure, I would love to.”
After a few words with the other person on the phone, he went out of the car and approached me. These were his words, “we’re sending a team to in a month’s time. Be ready, you’re going with them.”
Honestly, I was taken aback because all this time, I had been waiting to go to the nations, and I would at least have a few months or maybe a year to prepare for it. So I asked him if it would be alright to have some time to pray about it. His answer in so many words was that he was leaving for Hawaii that night and that I had up to the next morning to make a decision.
Everything was a blur or so it seems. I went to the Makati Cinema Square because I needed to clear my mind before I started praying. It was an advanced screening of the movie, “Tears of the Sun”starring Bruce Willis. If you’re familiar with the story, that alone was enough for me to settle the issue in my mind. But what hit me was a quote highlighted in the closing credits:
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edward Burke
That was all I needed. I said to myself, “Here I am Lord, send me!”
Then my phone rang. It was from my department head. She gave me her blessings and told me that if I decided to go to the mission field, she won’t hinder me. As I hang up, it rang again and this time it was the head of missions, he was excited to find out that I was now part of the team. He told me to bring my passport the next morning; they were sending it to the for visa application as we prepare to leave in a few weeks.
In April 2003, we left. This was to be my first international missions trip. There were 15 of us in the team and I was the last addition. We were supposed to be back in four months, but after eight months, I was left behind.
Since then, it’s been more than a decade of God’s faithfulness. I am now married to my beautiful wife, with two wonderful kids. But the same passion still burns in my heart, “Change the Campus, Change the World.”
Right now, I am back home remembering God’s faithfulness as I took a leap of faith to answer a seemingly impossible call. Victory U-Belt was where the “original fire” for missions was birthed. I believe that as I go prepare for the field, it would do well with me to rekindle the flame for missions.
As I look at the young people, young professionals and the families, who are all part of the U-Belt church, I can see the the fire in you, the passion that drives you and the grace that abounds in you.
These all serve to inspire me wherever God calls me to be.
Together, let us pray to the Lord of the harvest to send more workers to the harvest field because the nations are waiting.