“I pray that I would still see my Dad…” she started sharing some of personal things that were going on in their family but tears overwhelmed her.  She grabbed a handkerchief but was too slow to cover her eyes as tears went streaming down her cheeks.  We were all quiet as a friend who sat next to her tried to comfort her.

This was just one of the things that was shared during a youth leadership session with 21 young people from our outreach in Norzagaray Hills Village.  Due to the Advisory Council meeting that day, we planned for these young people to come to the office for the meeting in the afternoon.

We went through some initial materials on group dynamics and after our break, proceeded to talk about some more serious stuff.  These young men and women have very difficult backgrounds and I thought it would be more appropriate to begin by addressing the intra-personal issues they may have in relation to how they think God perceives their situations to be.

We went through the material that I had used so many times with the young people in recent years.  It is entitled “Our Thinking Vs  God’s.”  This scripturally-based comparison would help a person understand what he is going through and have a glimpse of how God is looking at the same picture but with His divine perspective.  Many of us are going through our daily grind wondering if God really cares or understands what we go through.  And if He does, why is it that help is so slow in coming?

We went through those individual points and I shared some of my personal testimonies highlighting some of the scriptures.  Then I asked them “how about you?  Which of these thoughts are you entertaining right now?  Where do you need God’s word to be made manifest in your life?”

“I can’t manage..” said one young person.

“I have little faith…” another at the back said

” I am afraid…”

And the rest shared.  I asked some of them to share more according to the level of their comfort, and this young person said “I pray that I would still see my Dad…”

I challenged them to start telling themselves the words of God in their lives. I challenged them to look past the physical things and through the eyes of faith, look at how God is looking at them – not with the strict, let-me-measure-how-right-you-are-doing-your-life kind of a look, but rather, a very compassionate Father who desires to lift us from where we are and take us to where He wants us to be.

When the tears of that young person had subsided, I gathered them in a circle.  We prayed and I lifted their some of the concerns they mentioned:

– a job interview for one of the leaders

– forgiveness and reconciliation between family members for another young person

– provision for the mother of a young person whose health condition seems to be deteriorating

– provision for a medical check-up for one of the leaders

– money for tuition fee for those who will be graduating from highschool

– for all of them to do well in their studies

– for the NHV youth group to really come to an intimate relationship with the Lord.

We sang “Ang Tanging Alay” as our closing prayer.

Thank you Lord for the opportunity to minister to them.  The burdens they carry are too heavy for their young hearts to fully understand.  Give them hope. Give them your peace and your joy.  Let them see Your perspective in the light of Your goodness and grace. Let them all come to Jesus and believe.  Let them know how much You have loved them from the very foundations of this world.  Thank you for taking care of them.   I know that they are special in your sight.  They may be going through difficult times now – but they are like a bruised reed, that you would not break.

I commit all of them in the precious hands of Jesus, who loves them more than anyone else would, and could.

AMEN

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Yesterday morning when I checked my phone for any messages that were sent through the night, there was one message sitting there from one of the youth leaders that I have mentored.  His text said “thanks for prayers. Now I can buy a laptop.”

I smiled at the thought because I have told him a couple of times that I had been praying for a laptop to help him with his seminary studies.  At a Board meeting last month, he even suggested that I need to upgrade this laptop I am using and then simply hand this to him.  I thought it would be feasible, but these hard times call on us to be more frugal.  But I kept praying that God would give him the means to buy his own.

And God did.  He will be buying a similar laptop ( Dell, of course.)

Then yesterday afternoon, I checked my email and there was another encouraging email for me from another young man whom I had taken in as my younger brother.

I was really encouraged by what he wrote as a response to a quick email I sent through my cellphone last week. I was walking in Megamall and chanced to see the place where we had our conversation.  This younger brother was at that time, out of work and I was trying to be helpful when I said “why don’t you try working in a cruise ship?”

Well, he has been working on a cruise ship for more than a year now and I have not heard from him in recent months, and last week at that mall, I suddenly remembered how he was when we last talked.

Over a cup of coffee at Seattles Best in Caltex along SLEX, this young man poured out his heart.  The store was about to close but the manager sensing the sensitivity of our conversation, politely told us that we can stay for a couple of minutes more.

But this email I received yesterday was very different from how he felt as we talked last.  He was full of hope and he was beginning to understand how God has been patiently working in his life. He has grown amazed at the love of Jesus and how in his surrender, the Lord is beginning to transform him especially since he is outside his comfort zone.

He even attached several pictures and one of them showed him practicing with a worship band.  He attends Bible Studies and regular worship services.

I had to smile when he said that he would like to help out at our youth camp as soon as he gets home next year.  And he quickly added “we need to talk right away when I get back…”

It was awesome. His email made me smile and made me teary-eyed at the same time.  I was really grateful that God had not given up on him and how God had allowed him to go through some difficult times (like being mugged and beaten on his birthday last year!)

Thank you Lord for keeping him safe as they travel through the different ports.

Thank you Lord for looking after him and allowing him to benefit from the work of his hands.

Lead him away from any temptations and walk with him God through the discouraging times.

When loneliness sets in because of him being away, surround him with people who will affirm your love toward him.

Thank you for allowing us to have a small part in his life. It is a privilege to have shared a part of his journey with him and we look forward to sharing many more with him.

He ended his email with the usual “gotta go but will keep in touch…”

The last line of his email made my heart swell with joy and pride…

” I love you Kuya…”

Thank you Lord for allowing us to invest our lives on others, and in doing so, you have enriched ours a thousand times over.

I was finishing the retreat in Iloilo when I received a series of SMS from Manila concerning a  domestic problem in oneof the families back  home.

It was a case of a young 16 year old being thrown out of the house after a conflict with his grandfather.

As the people were telling me their goodbyes and appreciation for the just concluded retreat, i was on the phone trying to calm this 16 year old boy as he cried while trying to explain to me the incident.

But the family wounds go deep. Much deeper than what I could write here on this blog. He almost retaliated and boxed his grandfather when his grandfather choked him on the neck after some argument over some clothes that were left inside the bathroom.

24 hours later, I was talking to another family who was gracious enough to accommodate this young man’s need for housing.   I could not believe that it came down to this:  this young man who is basically an orphan now, was kicked out of the house mercilessly by his grandfather.

It stung deep when I realized that non-family members could be more gracious, merciful and forgiving sometimes than those who share their same blood in the lineage system.

This young man was already exasperated.  Sent a text message to his mom overseas and told her that he is leaving the house because he could no longer stand it anymore.

The wounds have gone too deep.

I do not know how anyone could start repairing the breach that had taken place, especially when violence has been involved.

But for now, at least this young man, has a place to sleep.  Behind a small vulcanizing shop, he shares a room with a highschool friend.  He may be unloved and orphaned right now – but he is not alone as he has found refuge in the home of some gracious samaritans.

Thank you for these people who did not even ask for the financial arrangement when they took in this young man.

I could hear Jesus telling them…”if you have done it for the least of them… you have done it for me..”

Lord God, be with that young man and encourage him that life does get better. Do not allow him to wallow in self-pity but in your grace, make something out of himself.  Tell him Lord that his past do not necessarily determine his destiny.

Thank you for taking care of him Lord.