The Deal

Fourteen years ago, I received the saving grace that gave me a big opportunity to walk a purpose driven life. It was during an intimate moment with the Lord Almighty in a place of jam-packed crowd of young people seeking changes and God's presence in their life. 

Ate: Sige na, sumama ka na sa (youth) camp na ito.  
Ako: Ayoko. 
Ate: Sumama ka na, at pagkatapos nyan, hinding-hindi na kita pipilitin mag-church kahit kailan. 
Ako: Ok. Deal. 
*Ate - big sister

I didn't go to sleep that night before the event. My heart's still hesitant for I'd be going without someone I know, or at least from our home church. I was not happy to socialize with other people. 

Before the break of dawn, we ate breakfast. I took a bath. I brought a borrowed bag of clothes and a borrowed Bible from my sister plus a pocket money. We traveled to the big church and registered. There I saw the list of things to bring and I had no utensils and own plate.

I was neither excited nor my feet were willing to ride the bus to bring us to the campsite in a nearby province. I thought I left my heart back at home.

I had little chat with my seatmates but I wasn't open for friendship. My mind was into something else - the cravings of my selfish heart. Then we made a stopover for an early lunch and I brought home my used plastic spoon and fork so I could use something for this five-day hell week. Yes, with my grumpy spirit, my mind was bombarded with negative thoughts.

Upon arrival, we were directed to the sanctuary. We started with hi and hellos to fellow campers; followed by home rules to keep in mind. There I found a familiar face, a female church mate, who was also unexcited and bored already. She was snob but since we sometimes talked at church, we tagged along. Everyone was designated to several groups called tribes. Since my church mate, J, and I were the only representatives from our church... they put us into the same tribe: Simon. And then we went to our rooms to place our things for we're to start an activity and meet our tribe mates for the week.

We met our two counselors and co-members. They seemed nice and some of the guys were really funny. Thankfully, a female team member lent me her extra plate.

Challenge #1: we were tasked to design our tribe's flag. I helped conceptualized and was assigned to be the flag bearer. A specific rule for the flag was given: we should not allow anyone from camp organizers to take that away from our team "anytime". It'd represent our soul and spirit so we must guard it with all our might. Deduction of points was enforced for every tribe that would fail to do the challenges and follow the rules.

"Okay, I'd be able to survive this week since I'm competitive and an achiever by nature.", I told myself.

I was a good flag bearer. I assumed I was a genius in hiding it. Some of the bearers suffered a lot protecting their tribe's flag from the "thieves". But I had good sleep for nights until it was taken away from me while celebrating our tribe's victory over some challenges. I was too happy and full of pride, unable to notice that the Speaker Pastor was already taking our flag out of my hands. I thought their team was at halt since it's awarding time.


What does this say about me?
When pride and success get in my head - I'd be lost again. That was totally an eye-opener.





And the most important lesson I learned from this experience:
while we're celebrating triumphs, the Enemy is not at rest, he's still there ready to do his job and devour us. That's why, we must be super cautious and prepared to defend our faith - in season or out of season.

And who would have thought that God was in business of crushing my heart and re-routing the track of my life in that summer camp?

He already prepared in mind this five-day event of laughter, tears, pain, joy, friendship, and revelations. That He would actually talk to me to convict me of my rebellion, self-seeking character, and secret sins. That I was in great need of Him and the gift of salvation but I was too shallow to understand its necessity in my life. For I was a lost sheep for so many years but He found me because He loved me first.

The Great Shepherd was already thinking about me and to every soul in that campsite during the summer of 2002. It was simply beautiful, touching and transforming.

God greatly dealt with me that week. He exposed the real issues of my heart.

Well, is He done with me yet?
No, as I've said before, I'm a work in progress. There are still issues in my heart but most of them are way different than what I had fourteen years ago.

I'm growing, thriving and not forgetting about His amazing love and sacrifice.

Because I sought Him, I found Him.
Then, He showed me how sufficient was His grace for us
and how wide, long, high and deep His love for us all.




I can still picture myself in that sanctuary on a Wednesday night of May. Pouring my heart out and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. I was comforted by the Father's love; healed and secured by Jesus' blood and sanctified by the Spirit.



That summer, I fell in love with God and made a powerful U-turn away from the lies of my youth and back to the True Lover of my soul. Of course, I came back to church as well and let Him take over my life since my freedom was paid by Jesus on the cross. Many of my co-campers became active at church and J became friendly with others. I just hope to hear from them again soon. I didn't own a cellphone during that time and sadly, I lost my address book. I pray that their souls are still in good shape and anchored in Jesus.




To this day, I'm still thankful that God used my Ate's authority over me to bring me to that life-changing summer camp. Thank God she didn't give up when I was hard to convince. Since then, we're serving God through His church together.

I pray that you'll also surrender to God's will. And if you already made the decision to live a life in Christ - I pray that you'll finish the race by faith and His grace. You must not give up, no matter how hard it is for Jesus is our strength.

A blessed day!
Love, MM