‘Hihintayin kita sa youth, ha?’ (I will wait for you at the youth group, okay?’)
I was still in elementary (junior school) when CCBC’s youth pastor at the time, Randolph Velasquez, said that to me. At that stage in my life, going to BYF (Beacon’s Youth Fellowship, the name of our youth group then) seemed like a distant thing and it had not really crossed my mind that much. But there we were and I was confronted by the idea of becoming a youngster someday. I was not particularly excited by the thought; intimidated was more like it.
My family was not well off. We spoke Tagalog at home. I did not even have Brick Game or any sort of gadget. In short, I did not feel like I would really fit in. All I had was my Christian upbringing, encouragement from my parents to be involved in ministry, and determination to give my best and enjoy the ride. So if someone said they would be happy to take me in, I would not hesitate.
That was 1995. Scene changed to 1998 and I attended my first-ever youth fellowship. It was held at the upper rooms where about thirty of us came. I cannot remember most of what happened then. All I can recall now is that it was not easy trying to make myself comfortable in a new environment and form new friendships. My story did not stop there though and thankfully so.
Years later, in 1999, Ptr Randolph invited me, together with a few others, to sit down for a talk at Blue Mountain Cafe, a hangout place opposite our church, at the ground floor of West Trade Center. There he challenged me to be part of the youth ministry team.
I did not think twice about joining. I was already enjoying serving in church. Taking on that role was just moving it a step further.
It has been eighteen years since that point in my life. BYF changed to Youth@111. From a ministry team member, I am now a volunteer youth worker. Those of us from the leadership of that era who carried on in fulltime ministry are now helping other ministry groups outside our denomination.
It was through my involvement in Youth@111 that I began to have a grasp of what it means to follow Jesus. It was there that I learnt how to look to Him as the ultimate model for life and ministry. It was there that I found a new set of brothers and sisters who would walk the same path of making disciples who love God and others and make other disciples. It was there that God deemed I would be trained to be of some use for His Kingdom. And I would not trade that experience for anything else. #
Youngsters, former members and fulltime workers gather for Rise: Youth@111‘s 17th Anniversary on Sunday, 26th of November 2017, at Capitol City Baptist Church.