by Ryan Nacario
I am Ryan Nacario, and I have a story.
In my early days in the community, before starting in my service, I was okay.
Grades were okay. I wasn’t a consistent top 10 student in my classes, but I was okay. My life was okay. My family, my friends, were all ok. I was even part of the basketball varsity team then.
Everything was okay.
Turning point #1, I learned to play computer games.
At first, I did it just for fun, to hang out with classmates at Shang after class.
Then I got hooked. I got addicted.
It got worse. My responsibilities as a student, my tasks as a servant, my values as a person, they were all forsaken. They were all forgotten. I forgot who I was.
I was lost. Imagine this, I was still in high school, but I reached a point where I didn’t even bother going to class. At first I just cut a few of my subjects, but it came to a point where I didn’t even go to school anymore. My mom would ask me to have my notebooks signed by my teachers as proof that I went to class. I forged those signatures. My studies? Trashed.
I was already serving then and I was ditching my service! Imagine, I was head of the Media Ministry then. And I wasn’t showing up because I was out playing DotA instead. My service? Thrown away.
I disappointed my mom. I made her feel that she was doing a really bad job as a mother. My family? Tossed out.
There was this one time when I went on a 4-day gaming marathon. I stayed in the computer shop. I slept there. I brought a toothbrush, a toothpaste and extra shirts. I didn’t go home for 4 days. And when I did, I saw my mom, and it was as if nothing happened. We went to mass together, we talked for a while, ate dinner, then that was it. Life proceeded as it normally did.
And then one night, turning point #2, I went out of the house to throw the trash. I was shocked. 2 cars came my way. The cars were eerily familiar. They were the cars of Kuya Paolo and Ate Cookie (Kuya Paolo’s the overall head of LOJ Youth and Ate Cookie was my CG head). And the passengers of the cars were my CG-mates. My friends who never gave up on me, friends who never stopped thinking that I was truly worth more than what I was doing, friends who never got tired of trying to lift me up. You can only imagine the shame I felt then. I was the one who went away, I was the one who hid, I was the one who chose to forget my responsibilities but they were the ones who actually initiated to visit me.
That night, we went out, ate at a nearby fast food restaurant. We ate for a while, then they asked me how I was. I dutifully answered. After a few exchanges of questions and answers, Kuya Paolo asked me: "Have you given up on your dreams?" I immediately answered: "Nope." But at the back of my mind, I knew it was a lie. I had already given up. Somehow, I convinced myself that there was no getting back up anymore. That where I was standing, there wasn’t even the tiniest sliver of hope to get back into life.
After the chitchat, we went home. When I got back to bed, I couldn’t sleep. The image of the 2 cars approaching me kept on playing in my head. They never gave up on me. My friends, my mom, my God. They were all there. Through it all.
So before I went to sleep, I decided to make things right. Nagdecide akong bumawi.
“Who am I to give up on myself when the people around me, my friends and my family didn’t?”
Now, I've achieved what I thought then was impossible.
I am now:
• Music Ministry Head of LOJ Youth PICC
• member of Feast Manila Music Ministry
• part of the creatives and production team of the big events of LOJ
• Back in school, and loving what I'm doing
• Despite the temptations that I face everyday in the form if the plethora of computer shops around Mapúa.
• more passionate for life than ever before
• more intimate and closer to God
'Di lang bawi eh. Bawing bawi talaga.
Through God’s love that manifested itself through my CG that night, I was assured by the Lord that His love is indeed unconditional and unending. He makes all things new. His arms are always open for me.
He loves me.
I am Ryan Nacario. I am proof that CGs or connect groups can really change lives.
And this is my story.
I was super duper mega ultra electronically blessed and touched by the Youth CG's because it helped me to be more active and outgoing. I came to know more about my faith that there's another side. The fun side of course!
Back then, when I first attended the Youth CG's at the Feast PICC, there was only 1 group. I was so shy and anti-social I didn't talk much to anybody. Before, PICC had free wi-fi so I would just use my phone or PSP to play games or surf the net. I was a user just taking advantage of the wi-fi. Haha. Yet the people there were so welcoming and open they still accept you no matter where you came from.
So there I was with our very first CG head, Kuya Lui and other people from different walks of life. I didn't know them and there we are just talking, sharing our blessings, and praying for one another like we know each other so well.
After, I decided to go on my own 'coz before my mom just forced me to sign up and attend there. But after I came back we had activites playing tag and other icebreaker games which slowly took away my shyness. We would play agawan base, tamaan-tao at the bridgeway and other games that makes you active. It really helped me to become more active and mingle with people I don't know.
Then I met Ate Keren, my ever loving spiritual ate-- that no matter how many times I refuse to attend CG's outside the Feast she would find ways to let me attend. She doesn't take my no for an answer. She always pushed me to join and be active to really be filled with God's presence and love.
Every week, it's just amazing to attend the CGs because the people were so loving and ready to listen no matter how deep your problems and wounds are, no matter how dirty you are with the stench of sin they won't judge you and just simply show love. I found my 2nd family in them. My Spiritual family that always has my back. The people who helped me to grow, glow and go in God's love.
The CG's is not a momentary thing, not just an event, not just a simple get together but an experience of God's love through others. Experiencing that loving God can be fun and exciting in many ways than you can imagine. The feeling that you are happy and ecstatic because you are doing the right thing in God's eyes. It changes you, it molds you and it helps you realize you are not alone in this world and that you are God's child and He just doesn't want to be with you, He wants you entirely! And this experience is the fun side of loving God. Loving each other, touching other people's lives and making them feel that same love that other people made you feel. I wouldn't be who I am right know if it weren't for the people who touched my life and never gave up on me.
by Adrian Nathaniel Castillo, Sucat
CGs? It let me open myself to others in a sense that I was able to tell and share my stories, problems, and how I was able to conquer it and turn it into a blessing. I felt that through sharing, God showed me how powerful He is and what He can do in our lives if we just surrender to Him. I never felt loved and cared for as much as today and before I joined this community. I believe that the love of God poured out unto me and it over flows, and that is why I can now spread love to everyone. “We love because HE first LOVEd us. – 1 John 4:19”
Ako si Timothy Toledo. Halos apat na taon nang nagsasayaw at nagse-serve sa feast at sa LOJ. Isa akong LOJ baby. Ano yun? Mga batang di pa pinapanganak, nasa LOJ na. Posible ba yun? Ang magulang ko member na at active na sa pagseserve sa Feast. So nung pinanganak ako, lagi na akong kasama, may service man sila o wala. Di ko pa alam ang nangyayari noon kaya naglalaro lang ako sa canteen ng Camp Aguinaldo (dun pa ang Feast dati :D) Pero kalaunan, nung lumaki at nagkaisip ako, nagsimula ko rin maintindihan ang ginagawa nila Dadi. Pero nang mapasama ako sa dance ministry ng Quezon City Feast, dun nagsimula ang lahat.
Second year High School na ako nun. Noong una ay para lang makasayaw at para magkaroon ng mga kaibigan sa Feast. Hilig ko kasi sumayaw at nagkataon na naman na council na rin ng QC Feast si Dadi kaya medio pinilit na rin niya ako. After several months, nabuo na rin ang Youth Ministry, na mainly is members ng Dance Min lang din ang laman. Nagkaroon kami ng mga activities na kasama ung ibang youth sa Feast. Di naman kasi lahat ng bata sumasayaw, ung iba naman mahiyain din so nilalapitan namin. Di nagtagal nagkaroon na ng camp at sobrang dami kong nakilalang kabataan. Sa mga panahong yun naintindihan ko ang pagseserve. Di lang sya para masabing may ginagawa ka kung hindi dahil gusto mo maggive-back kay God at maisama pa ang ibang tao, specifically ang kabataan, kay God. Naramdaman siguro ng aming youth head noon na handa na kami para mag step up at maging isang youth leader.
Maraming ups and down ang pagiging youth leader. Maraming ginagawa at minsan pakiramdam ko noon ay dun na lang napupunta lahat ng free time ko. Pero ang bottom line is: masaya ako sa pagse-serve dahil ginagawa ko yon hindi para sa sarili ko pero para kay Lord at para sa ibang tao. Iba ang fulfilment na makakita ng isang tao na nakangiti at nagpapasalamat dahil natulungan ko sila mapalapit kay God. Kaya hanggang ngayon, kahit mas busy pa para sa ibang gawain, naglalaan pa rin ako ng oras para makapagseve at para maka bless pa ng ibang tao :D
by Patmee Tacay, Davao
At first, I thought this so-called “ministry” is boring and super corny. I thought that this is just a joke, that it won't affect me… even a single bit. But , I thought wrong. When I joined, I told myself that I wont let this so called “ministry” get to me. But, when I really put myself out there. It honestly stole my heart.
I don’t know if it was the way they (my youth friends… shout out) treated me or the way the music plays or was it just the warm -hearted welcoming they gave me. All I know is that the feeling was so amazing and I felt more loved than before.
Now, I don’t even want to leave the ministry or the ministry to stop. This is the place that holds me up, and makes me feel loved, and I don’t want to leave this or throw the love out the window because of a simple something. I love the youth ministry and at a young age of 13, I tell you, I really feel God’s love and everyones love for me. And, this is how my ministry stole my heart.