Many times in the past few months, friends would ask me, why invest your life, your time, and your resources on a bunch of sometimes sniveling, sometimes naive, and sometimes hardheaded set of young people? I always tell them, because I’ve seen what can happen down the road. I’ve seen it in my own life.
There are many stories about great people who are fruits of the campus ministry. Personally, I’m privileged to know at least three.
Reunion with college flatmates. Doc Debbie in yellow (rightmost)
The first one is Dr. Debbie Liao. Debbie was my roommate during my time as a student at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños. She’s one of those quiet, studious types, but I know that she has nerves of steel. She would silently aim for a goal and strike it methodically. In our junior year, she gave her life to Christ (probably amazed that her arrogant roommate suddenly became such a goody goody).
What’s astounding about her is that she really has a heart for public health and she really pursued her passion despite people saying it was an unwise move. She participated in the Doctors to the Barrio (DTTB) Program. Her assignment was in Gamay, Samar. Her trip from Manila included an hour flight to Catarman, Samar and another hour and a half trip from Catarman to Gamay ON A MOTORCYCLE on roads that are sometimes non-existent in some areas. After her two-year assignment, she stayed on to be the municipal health officer, despite her being away from family and from church (thank God for podcasts!) for long periods of time. But she is committed to see the attitude towards public health change. Our best conversations would revolve around plans for disaster relief and how to best use the very limited resources available to save as many lives as possible in her area. She is an unsung hero and it is my privilege to be called her friend.
Winning the Philhealth partner of the year award. Doc Debbie at the center
Doc Debbie was reached in the campus and is fully supportive of campus ministry.
The second one is Ria Mae Borromeo. I first met Iya when she was a sophomore computer science student at UPLB. She was my student in basic programming and I am ashamed to say that I embarrassed her on the first day of school. She came in a bit late and I said (in front of the class… how insensitive!), “Ms. Borromeo, you are late. Nakakahiya, ka-tukayo pa naman kita (It’s a shame since we have the same name).” She avoided me as much as possible the rest of the semester and just did her best in her assignments and projects. She eventually got a very good grade, but I guess the faux pas I made stuck with her.
Computer Science students small group in 2006.
But God is faithful. One semester after that, I was visiting the youth service at Victory Alabang, and lo and behold, when the prayer for those who want to surrender their lives to God came, who would I find behind me raising her hand but my tukayo (person with the same name)? I apologized eventually for embarrassing her in class (I forgot about it already after that first meeting, but she didn’t!) but the most important thing was she forgave me and I was privileged enough to lead her to Christ.
Now Iya is in Japan for her PhD in Computer Science but her heart is to serve the country by coming back home after her stint and serving the state university as one of the long-distance education professors. She could have chosen to work abroad, but she believes in uplifting the nation’s educational standards. We could talk about geeky and girly stuff for hours, but we could also talk about how technology could further the aim to bring education nearer to those who are unable to attend university regularly.
Iya with Every Nation Grace Tokyo church friends
Iya was reached in the campus and is fully supportive of campus ministry. She is also helping to start a discipleship culture in Keio University by helping the Christian student organization in the campus and connecting them to a local church.
Finally, there is Jerome Revilla, Iya’s batchmate. I met Jerome in his junior year as a computer science student. I was their teacher in software engineering. Jerome was such a brilliant student that despite not having a computer of his own, he was able to successfully finish assignments and projects with flying colors due to diligence and discipline. Since I was also assigned to take care of students who were running for honors, there were around fifteen from their batch that I built relationships with (including Iya). This became an avenue for me, my friend David, and a handful of other students who wanted to build a culture of honoring God and making disciples among computer science students, to lead those who are open to have a relationship with God. Honestly, I thought Jerome would be one of those guys who would become nice and smart professionals but who would not really be committed to Christ (sorry Jerome).
Jerome with men from Every Nation Cyberjaya, E.N. Malaysia’s newest church plant
God proved my judgment wrong as Jerome moved to work near his family and minister to them, as well as to have more time to go on short-term missions trips to Cambodia and Vietnam with teams from Victory Muntinlupa.
At the beginning of this year, Jerome was re-assigned to Malaysia by his company. Now, he is actively helping the church plant of Every Nation Cyberjaya. Two weeks ago, he went home to celebrate his parents’ water baptism and Victory Weekend at VCF Muntinlupa.
Jerome with his parents during their water baptism at the latest Victory Muntinlupa Victory Weekend
Jerome was reached in the campus and is fully supportive of campus ministry.
Sometimes, when we look at the students in the campus, in our short-sightedness, we cannot imagine God’s destiny and purpose for them. But we continue to lead them to Christ because discipleship will determine if they will simply be good men and women who profess to follow God but are afraid to change the status quo in their respective fields or if they will become disciples of Christ who are so captured by His heart that they become movers and shakers in this nation and beyond.