A Diverted Passion

Each of us has our desires in life yet all of them vary from one person to the other. Despite of the so-called differences of what we want for life it is the intensity of the passion to reach such goals that moves all of us into action. Such wants are the moving force that makes us awake when all else are sleeping. It propels us up when all else are going down. No matter what it takes, no matter what happens, our goal shall be our goal- nothing can hinder it.

As early as six-years old such innate passion to succeed was beginning to manifest itself. It happened in the night when my father would usually go home drunk. Seeing the fight between my mother and my Father in front of my young mind, I began to realize that I want a different future; way different than what my parents have. In fact, the next morning, I got up early in the bed, talked to my father, and said these words," Papa, I will not be like you when I grow up. I will not drink and I will not smoke. I will be rich." I never knew that those innocent words began to rip off my father's paternal pride. To me, it was an early declaration of what I want to be in the future- I want to be different.

The years had been a battleground to me. The first of which is the peace that I had been looking for. Growing up in Manila together in under one roof with my mother's siblings isn't that easy. Everyday, I am there not just to cope up with regular parental quarrels but with the choruses of the fights among the relatives in the house. The second fight that I have to face in life is the desire to be someone else. Sickly in my younger days, I had been a focus of fun even in among my friends. I had no place. I do not know what to do. The strife going on around me made me focused to books and in an early age I invested in much reading. In fact in class, I often would finish my book before the school year ends. Yes, amidst those, troubles, I got what I want and finished second in honors under a Baptist School in my kindergarten and went on in my elementary years in Manila.

Just in time, I knew things were beginning to dawn on me, in 1986 together with the well-known people power revolution our family was struck with a financial crisis. My father's company was a Marcos Crony so the company declared bankruptcy and forced its employees to resign. That event reshaped my entire life. Now, we can no longer stay in Manila since my father cannot cope up with the living standards. So by 1987, we transferred to Pampanga, my father's home province. His separation pay was big enough to let us start but, when relatives began borrowing from them, our supposed investments to build our own house was not met. Therefore, instead of a concrete house, the family could only build a simple nipa hut with a single room far contrasting our big Manila apartment. With shame in my heart, I could not even point to friends the place where I live. My mother had to bear with me in tear since the vegetables that she cooked out from our very own garden is refused each time she will prepare it on the dining table especially for me. In this same period, my parents' attention was divided between me, and my sister, so I have to struggle not just with poverty but with my parents' focus. Again, amidst all these battering situations, I gained ground in my academics. I can never be hindered. I have to go on. I have to excel.

In this same year, my Auntie took me to World for the World and in one of my visits to Manila, I accepted the Lord when I was ten. It was indeed a breakthrough. After some time, my mother followed in accepting the Lord and such an acceptance delivered her from the bondage of the evil spirit that had been possessing her for twenty-years. Soon the rest of the family followed. That encounter with the Lord gave me a greater hope and positioned me into a wider perspective in life. It made the worst experiences change into a wonderful opportunity for Him to further mold us.

Our encounter with God as a family made me more focused to what I want in life. I want to be different. I want to be known. I want to be somebody. Finishing in the top most position in our class in elementary added the fire in my heart to reach my goal. Alongside such academic achievements, may passion for the ministry started to blossom. After a few years of accepting the Lord, I was launched in the drama ministry of our church in Pampanga. The drama ministry brought us to different provinces and ministered there. My interests in music came in and in no time I got involved as a back-up singer in the Music Ministry.

Things were getting fine with me and the Lord. At fourteen, my mom in one of my conversations prophesied to me. She mentioned a passage that she herself did not know. She was actually quoting the scriptures directly from the book of Jeremiah. The same passage was actually ministering to me before that. Immediately upon hearing that I knew I want to serve God. The next morning when I went to my Pastor, the fire to serve the Lord died when He said, that I should not be like Peter, and I have to wait since God's call is a long process and rushing to the Bible School is not the immediate solution. From then on my disappointment crept over me. Without knowing that my ambition had been consuming me down to the last drop of blood. It was a very saddening experience.

Before graduating in High School, I have to struggle to attain the first place in our school. Yet to no avail. I have done all in fact I have won so much contest yet still to no content. I remembered praying once to God and saying to Him, "God you are giving me what I do not want, I want to be on top. I don't need other things I want to be on top." I got angry with God and tried to blame Him for everything. In this very moment that I knew He wants something else for me, a new struggle came up between what I want for myself and what God wants to do for me. The battle to attain the top most place insinuated anger towards the people around me and to many other things as well.

Going to college was a tough choice. After passing the exams in the University of the Philippines Manila Campus, I knew I was heading for my ambition. I want to either become a lawyer or a doctor. With the scholarship ringing into me, my friend who happen to be taking up an engineering degree in a school nearby by opened to me about the campus ministry that he is planning to organize. He told me that I will direct my campus and he will work out for his. Since, I got tired of the ministry at the time, my anger against what I believe before as the unfairness of God redirected my attention to Baguio City, a place I had never been into in my entire life. After one of my teachers told me about the opportunities there, I grabbed it. My motive then was to hide from my ministry, to go away from my family, and to be on my own and build up my own self. All of them were for myself nothing else but for me. The passion to reach my ambition was so intense that instead of taking up the courses I went and took up an Engineering Degree in Saint Louis University. I knew I am not that proficient in math as compared to my science skills, but I saw a good opportunity there to earn faster. So in exchange of my state scholarship, I have to work, work and work to finish.

Along that my own "Kingdom Building", God once again exposed me to a ministry. I have hated ministry for several moments already. Yet upon attending Baguio Assembly Christian Center, and staying in the church dormitory, my hard heart was once again transformed gradually without me noticing it. A time came when the youth leaders would invite me to become an Emcee in one of our youth service yet I always turned them down. I still remember one point that I did not attend the youth service when they forced me to become an Emcee. A time came when I gave up to the invitation and started as a back-up singer in our music ministry, then joined the Youth programming department. That started something in my heart. A greater burden struck me when a problem in the youth ministry occurred that affected the entire church. From a swelling youth attendance in the youth service, we were left with thirty people attending the weekly youth services. Our senior pastor, Pastor Lopez, approached me and asked me to become the youth president of the church. Really God knows what he wants. He did not leave any options for me, not a singe person left in our leadership so I have to rise up from the situation.

From thirty leaders in our youth, we started picking up a few youth who are willing to rebuild the ministry. From such a number we formed the Prayer Support Group and started on our knees. Then came upon different ideas that transformed our beaten ministry into what God wants it to be. We grew up by the numbers, until the number of our youth attending the youth services were as many as the Main Service attendance.

God transformed my heart in a very natural way, redirecting my selfish ambitions, into a burden that will be used by Him to expand his kingdom. My self-centered passion became an other-centered passion. The usual thinking of what to do in my mind became a problem of what to do for God. The moments I spend about thinking for myself became moments that had moved me in what to do for the ministry.

The time of my graduation came. Again back in my high school days, God began to talk to me. This time I am faced with a struggle between what I want for myself, and what God wants for me. I was about to hold the prize of my labor as a soon coming Industrial Engineer. Yet along this excitement, God began asking my heart if I can leave the ministry just like that. That was a tough decision. Just in time I am into the launching point of my future career, that same conviction that I had ignored in my younger days was powerful than ever before.

In my last bargain to the Lord before I graduated, I got Him into a deal. I was willing, yet I was afraid of my future, for my survival, for my own life. In a time of encounter with Him, I told him that if He wants me to go fulltime immediately, He better tell my parents about it. If he did not tell it literally, I would rather work for at least three years then go full-time. I thought I got a scapegoat from God again yet in the end He did something that will be treasured in my heart forever. Two years before graduation, I actually gave up my work to actually concentrate to the ministry and my studies. Since then God had been sustaining me sometimes with an allowance triple than what I had been getting when I was working. So all throughout those years, I had been stepping by faith. After my prayer about God confronting my parents, I knew He means business. That same period when I have to pay my tuition fees, not a single penny came into the house. My mom was in distress. She did not know what to do. I have to fulfill obligations but they can in no way provide. In one of the church meetings my mom went to the altar to be prayed for, and in one solid voice, God started talking to her and said, "Give me Victor, and I will bless Him including your family." That was it, in my graduation time, my dad and her went, and they opened up their willingness to give me up to what God wants me to be. This was very contrary to my father's reactions a few years back when I used to joke him about having a son who is a pastor. Then in my father's first witness of my ministry in one of our grand worship celebration, he was struck by God and said to me that he is backing me up to what God wants to do in my life. Those words released me and I felt so happy. My situation as I jokingly do is a Divine Blackmailing (of course in a positive way).

From a self-focused future, I began laying down all my cares, my hopes and my dreams to God. He added my faith with an enormous blessing that is way above my expectations. He had opened doors for me to minister not just in my own country and for more than one-year since I went full-time as a Youth Pastor, God brought me to several Asian countries to minister among the youth. God had used me to tell them of His love. Hence, my passion was no longer on myself. As I assess things in my life now I can identify with Jesus in Matthew 9:35-38. He saw a crowd of helpless and harassed people with no shepherd directing them. As we delight ourselves to Him, God would let us see what He sees. He will let us feel what He feels. His heart will then be our hearts. As this is taking place, we would not realize that someday we are no longer thinking of what to have or what to be, but on how to be an instrument of God. From our self-focus, God will transform our desires, and our ambitions to something that money, success, or fame cannot buy. He directs our Passions to something that He can use- To become a being of His own.