I was on a four-day trip outside Bogotá into the warm and humid Córdoba for a series of workshops on Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention among elementary and high school students in an indigenous community. Our workshops were based on four main themes: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
Share your story. Jesus did!
Assigned to lead the spiritual part, I was able to share my personal story to the youth and women. And this is my story…
I grew up in a loving environment and a very hardworking family. Although our financial earnings would define us poor, I never remember any moment in our family’s life that we lack anything.
My parents grew up outside the city. My mother’s side are farmers, while my father’s are fisherfolks. If they followed what the society dictates, they would have been a farmer or a fisherman until now and had never gone to school after elementary or high school. But my grandparents had high hopes for their children. And my parents started to dream for their selves, to become who they want to be, and to succeed in their fields. That same spirit and desire was passed on to us three kids.
In grade school, I was neither the most intelligent nor the favorite student in class. No one, including my teachers, even believed that I could do big things. But that didn’t stop me. At 11 years old I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I was in high school and was struggling to counter the social norm—money is equivalent to success. My relationship with Jesus gave me strength to be who I am today.
The world says, “Without money you are nothing.” But God says (Luke 1:37), “with Me nothing is impossible.”
I remember that my biggest dream before was to travel to the capital city. I heard many people wanting to go there and I also prayed to be at the best city in the country! In just a matter of year, while at the university, I was chosen to represent my region to the National Bible Quiz Bee held in Manila City (Philippines’ capital city). And in two years, I joined five other youths to South Korea as Youth Ambassadors, sent by the National Youth Commission, Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines. And not only that, from the five of us, I gave the case report of the Philippine delegation in front of the more than 100 youth delegates and ambassadors. On the same year, I was chosen as the first Asian to be at the Teen Advisory Board of an international youth devotional magazine. One blessing led to another. And before I knew it, I already traveled to 11 countries by God’s grace!
Looking back from a shy and insecure girl I was to a bold person I am now, I know I owe it to the God who is ever faithful in my life. For using the right people, whom I crossed path with, who encouraged me to believe in whatever I have, focus on it, and be excellent in everything that I do; and taught me to channel those graces and gifts to the people around.
We are not defined by the size and weight of our packets, not even the amount in our banks. We are defined by our beliefs and hope. The greatest resources we have are not found outside but within ourselves.
The good news is that we are given power to live now in ways that are consistent with the values of God’s kingdom. We are called to prepare the way for God’s reign of gracious love, social justice, human reconciliation and peace in our world. (The UpperRoom Ministries, June 8, 2014)
June marks my 10th monthsary here in Colombia and for the first time, I was able to share my story to a group of young women and men from a small community in Córdoba.
“We can still dream big,” one of the women from the workshop said after I shared my story.
Jesus has given each of His children the power of the Holy Spirit to testify of His kingdom. In the previous write up, we identified Jesus as every person who:
…Loves unconditionally, condemns no one, be a living testimony
…Seeks justice, loves mercy, and walks humbly with God (Micah 6:8)
My trip to Córdoba has taught me that sharing a part of my life story could be an instrument of peace, justice, and love—through IDENTIFYING WITH THEM. That if Jesus did not share His story to His disciples; His disciples did not share Jesus´ and their personal encounter with Him to others; through spoken and written words, we wouldn’t have been here, believing in the same God who transforms bad to good.
Methodist Founder John Wesley said, “A heart transformed can change the world!” He spoke this words after he finally found what was lacking in his life—Holy Spirit. John was already performing acts of piety and is even ordained in the Anglican Church. But all those time He knew there was something missing. After his “heart-warming experience” John Wesley was never the same. He was on fire as He shared that same experience to others!
We are not only Jesus’ hands and feet on earth, but also His mouthpiece. We are the “Jesus Missionary” that God calls us to be. He made us to identify with His people. You don’t have to look far to start your mission work. Maybe you just have to start sharing your story to the person closest to you: family, friends, office mates, classmates, etc.
The old man living in a push cart outside my apartment is still there. His reality is one of the injustices we see in this modern society. But God is within us to make a difference in his life. Since January I started handling him food. Right now, I am trying to talk with him even with short phrases. Little by little I could see a bright smile in his face. Those little things might not change his lifestyle overnight, but I know God is slowly working in and through him.
How will I witness God today by identifying with God’s people?
Prayer: Dear God, bring healing to the world through our witness. Amen.
Until all are fed we cry out
Until all on earth have bread
Like the One who loves us each and every one
We serve until all are fed.
-excerpt, Until All are Fed by Tommy Brown & Bryan F. McFarland