“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”” Isaiah 2:7
Seven years in Christianity and I thought I knew it all. My name is Katrina, and this is my testimony of being reborn again. I was asked if I’d like to volunteer for Friends Retreat and I thought, “Yes! This is it.” Until they told me “I cannot be a facilitator because I haven’t been to any of the previous ones.” My thoughts were like, “I served from the previous ministry so what is the difference? I’m also part of an active D-Group, I have gone through the one on one session from another church, I attended the Victory Weekend, was already baptized, and I believed in myself that I am capable of being one.”. Little did I know, God is working His way to my proud heart.
A week before the registration ends, my friend Irene mentioned she wants to join Friends 10 Restart, and somehow it stirred my heart. Just to give you a background. Lately, my walk in Christ became lukewarm, complacent and hopeless. I was in a state of you could say depression. Isolating myself and the feeling of GOD being absent in my life. Going back, I told my D-Group leader Che that I was thinking of attending the retreat, and she shared her experiences, and it made me long for the kind of refreshment she had when she mentioned the CROSS of Christ. Also, one of my close friends who is from my D-Group, Hennie, said: “Join ka na, it’s a formality of welcoming you into CCF.” Right there and then my desire even grew stronger, God’s been tapping me to join and just before the last day ends I registered.
Humbled, refreshed and hopeful. All because I obeyed God the moment I said yes. I am humbled by the experience as a participant because I’ve never been to any retreat, I enjoyed the praise and worship, mingled and got to know others despite the lies of the enemies filling my mind and finally I was able to pour my heart out when I had that quiet time with the Lord. There was a room allotted for prayer, it was the highlight of my retreat. Also, it taught me a valuable lesson: “In every situation of life, the Lord makes sure one is prepared to take that step. He loves His child enough to make him/her wait because He knows it’s not yet time, He continuously molds characters, He humbles the proud and strengthens the weak so that when the right time comes, they are ready.” I wasn’t really ready to be a facilitator or volunteer because I would’ve missed savoring the moment of being one of the participants. In short, I wasn’t equipped of the responsibilities ahead, and I trust Him that one day on His timing He will entrust me with such.
I also took a leap of faith by being baptized again. Back in 2010, I didn’t really understand the meaning of baptism, so I just went through it for the sake of being a Christian. Just as the theme of the retreat – RESTART, I knew that I had to be REBORN again. It was the night before the baptism that made me decide that I will go forth. A Cross of Christ was built for a particular program that night which eventually led me to think thoroughly how shallow my walk has been most of the times. We were asked to write down the things we needed to let go of as well as the bad habits that are blocking the way of faith. Indeed, it’s time for the LORD to RESTORE a new heart in me, for me to retake the passenger seat and let JESUS CHRIST take the wheel.
Christianity may seem to be just a one-time thing, yet it never is. It’s daily perseverance to walk in Christ especially the road ahead is more stringent and more difficult. We live in a fallen world where regular attacks like our sinful nature hinder us from doing the will of GOD. BUT as Jesus Christ said, “Fear not! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). Despite the constant battle, the LORD promised one thing, “I AM WITH YOU, ALWAYS.” You can take HIS word seriously. Yes, HE is faithful, and it’s safe to say “YOU can trust HIM.”
Lastly, I’d also like to share my friend Kelvin’s experience. Out of all people who have been refreshed by the retreat, his was one of the memorable ones. He had no idea at all how the retreat works, also, he isn’t the type to share much about faith nor listen to a Christian song. But at the end of the retreat, Irene and I were amazed by how the Lord is slowly putting the right perspective of faith in his life. He shared his experiences and told us “Yung mga sessions (talks), parang patama sakin lahat.“. Not only that, Kelvin said how intentional his facilitator was and patiently walked through them with their booklets during breakout sessions. And mind you, on our way home since he was the one driving, he played the song “Beautiful Savior” by Planetshaker. Praise GOD, indeed.
I am beyond grateful to the people who pushed me to attend, it was perfect timing in my life. To my mother, of course, who is very supportive of what I do. To Che and D-Group for being encouragers, also to Kris and Jeff, who were soaking wet in the rain to take the baptismal photos and videos. To pastor Donn and especially achie Tiff (Pastor’s wife) for she took time to meet me in her busiest schedule at the retreat. I am beyond blessed by her heart and wisdom. Also to one of my good friends, Bettina, who is very accountable and for accompanying and praying for me during baptism. To her partner, Bernard, who willingly prayed for Irene and I while we were at the prayer room. Thankful to the people whom I was able to meet at the event, like my roomies, for the laughter we shared. And to Irene, who manages to make everything light, I am in awe of how GOD is working in your life, you are a blessing in disguise. To all the volunteers and speakers, these people were instruments into bringing people to GOD. Blessed by their hearts.
Finally, I thank my GOD for He showed great mercy and faithfulness in my life. During the state of my depression, I thought He’s tired of me so I distant myself from Him and from a lot of people. And sad to say, my fear was higher than my faith. I was scared to be abandoned or left out by anyone, so I always have this mentality, “Don’t cling too much, leave first before they leave you.” I was abandoned by my father when he suddenly died, abandoned by the previous relationships for another girl, left by people who no longer need me, and the list goes on. And with this retreat, I realized the LORD’s right there from the start just waiting for me to go back to HIM. As it says in Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Don’t be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your GOD will be with you wherever you go.” Sarah Young wrote, “The choice to be bold rests on your confidence that GOD is with you and for you.” I praise GOD for HE is ultimately good and sovereign. He brings out the best in each and every one of us even in the times of unwanted circumstances. Life in Christ isn’t all that bubbly and endearing, but it’s a choice of fighting the good fight of faith. I hope one day when I meet my Lord Jesus Christ, He’ll be able to utter the words “Well done, my faithful servant.” To GOD be all the glory and praises, always.