I have read about the sufferings of the early Christians, especially those accounts that were written in the New Testament. I have seen St. Paul’s long litany of difficulties and hardships and felt for him. I have thanked God for all the saints who died for the sake of the Gospel.
I did not know how comfortable and upbuilding community was until I was asked to serve a group of college students taking up a certain course in a certain university (details withheld intentionally). They were required to attend something but did not know it was going to be a half-day devoted solely to listening to strangers sing, talk and share about God. That those strangers were at least ten years older than them most likely did not help to spark their interest either.
I do not know what went on in their hearts and minds at that time, but I know for sure that I cannot judge or blame them for what happened. We cannot generalize against these students because we don’t know their side of the story. They could have just fallen prey to all the enemy’s distraction tactics. They deserve our love and prayers. It was, however, a memorable and humbling experience for all of us who served there.
I was led to reflect more why I’m still bothered up to now. I think I was the one in the group of servants who failed to hide her disappointment the most. I was hit at my three weakest points – my perfectionism, need for affirmation/appreciation, and impatience. For the first time since I started serving, I cut short my talk in the middle of the talk. I skimmed through my outline, delivered the major points, led the group into a song and ended with a prayer. The talk lasted all of ten minutes. If it were a test, I must have failed. Thank God for He gave me another chance, to address another group of students and to rely on Him for grace, strength and wisdom.
I did not know the meaning of pasaway until Saturday. We were teaching our pambato song, “Prince of Peace”, something which had always been appreciated by the youth, but a bunch of male students decided to poke fun at it and sing off-key, loudly, the women’s part. What would Jesus do, I wonder? As for Ella, give her a bunch of unruly boys who deliberately sings off-key at the top of their lungs and she would immediately lose half of her borrowed patience.
I’ve seen bored audiences before, sleeping listeners, required students, but nothing like that. People were standing up and walking in and out of the room during the talk. They were busy chatting with their seatmates and could not care less what was going on in front. Some were using their cellphone and talking loudly while seated in front.
I would like to honor Ted, Gay, Chris, James, Abby, Karreen and Marlon who exhibited extraordinary grace, patience and commitment. They stood in front and served the Lord with gladness despite the lack of interest and the antagonistic attitude of some of the students. They gently reminded me that God must have chosen us to serve those students because He was counting on us. They cheered me up with other horror stories from missionaries who served the youth ministry, to remind me that we were not singled out, and that all disciples must suffer.
I am thankful for all the lessons from that day. I hope that the next time that I run out of patience, need an encouraging nod from the audience, and wish for a harmonious rendition of Prince of Peace, I would be reminded that I am the Lord’s servant, who ought to love as He loves, give as He gives, serve as He serves.
A talk is a message of God’s love and a messenger should serve rain or shine. I could do more research on things that would interest the youth, practice using powerpoint, deliver current jokes, and such other things to prepare myself better, but there could be worse situations out there that I could never foresee. At gunpoint, threatened with death, at the sight of previous martyrs who were beheaded for their faith, our Christian forefathers never gave up and still spread the Gospel so it could reach us today. I pray that I could do my share if ever it must come to that.
It is true that we learn more from our most painful experiences. May God bless those students and the servants who were tested. May we see each other in heaven someday.