By Bro. Louie Castro, BCBP Taguig
39th National Anniversary Celebration (NAC 39), SMX Convention Center, Bacolod City
Good morning everyone. I’m honored to be here today to share my journey of faith with you.
I grew up in Tarlac. I came from humble beginnings and there were days that my family struggled to make ends meet. My parents enrolled me in Don Bosco Technical Institute, an exclusive private school in Tarlac even if they could not really afford it. Sometimes, my mother had to write promissory notes to the school just so I could take quarterly exams.
My Don Bosco classmates came from the most affluent families in Tarlac. While they were chauffeured to school, I had to ride a beat up old “aircontinous” school bus. When it rained hard, everyone in the school bus got wet. While my classmates got brand new clothes and shoes every year, I had to wait until my school shoes were smiling before my mother would take pity on me. But she would not buy me new ones, she would just have them repaired so I could use them again.
I used to get so upset whenever my parents would give money and goods to their even less fortunate brothers and sisters and their families. In my mind, we were already struggling with our own debts and daily needs. Why should we care about other people’s families when we had our own difficulties to deal with? I was so disappointed but I had to live with my parents’ decision to be generous. Until today, my parents will sacrifice their own wants just to give to other people in need.
Because of this, I grew up feeling sorry for my parents and our situation. So after graduating high school, I accepted a full scholarship to study BS Entrepreneurship at the Entrepreneurs School of Asia, now known as Thames International Business School. I had no interest in the course and I had no idea what would happen to me after graduation. I just accepted the scholarship just so my parents could avoid paying the tuition fees since money was always an issue, and I did not want to contribute to their financial burden. In my mind, I justified that it could be a good course because businessmen earned a lot of money. When I got to ESA, my former classmates from Don Bosco whom I already thought were rich, paled in comparison to my classmates in ESA.
During that time, my life revolved around trying to earn money so I could fit in with my friends. I kept questioning the Lord why I wasn’t as blessed monetarily. My relationship with Him became strained as I focused on friends, partying and trying to imitate my rich friends’ lifestyles. I vowed that the most important thing was to earn money so I would not feel the shame that I felt being part of a society that could afford all the luxurious things that I could only dream of. Even though I was able to experience the life of the wealthy, far better than what I dreamed of from my humble beginnings in Tarlac, my heart was not at ease. I was still restless and unhappy. I was always comparing myself and thinking that I was not rich enough, not good enough, that I wasn’t worthy enough.
Since my course was entrepreneurship, I had to open a business as part of the curriculum. Once again, I was put in an unfair situation because almost all of my classmates had their own family business and the resources they needed to put up a business. I had to borrow money from my parents and from another investor. Unfortunately, I lost the money that they entrusted to me because that first business failed. I had to extend one more year of school which my parents had to pay for. On top of that, I got into a car accident which wiped out my parents’ life savings and put them into deep debt and took them several years to pay.
The car was a total wreck and I had to undergo surgery to put titanium plates in my broken jaw. It took me four months to recover from the accident. I know that I should have been grateful that I was still alive but I was upset with the Lord. I felt sorry for myself. Why did these misfortunes not happen to my other classmates? Their parents would have had easily paid for their medical bills and their business losses. Why me? I was already unfortunate and still I was the one who had to experience these traumatizing incidents. I was very restless. I was unhappy.
Somehow in my heart I had lost hope and trust in the Lord. I felt He had abandoned me. But now I realize that He has never left my side. Now I understand why my parents are always provided for despite their endless generosity. Every time my parents faced financial difficulties, the Lord would always provide. All my life I thought God never heard my prayers because I did not get the things that I wanted. Little did I know that I was being prepared for things beyond what I desired.
After my accident, I was introduced to the right people and the right opportunities which brought me to where I am today. Through my second life, I was serendipitously led to the BCBP. And through BCBP, I realized that all my negative experiences had a purpose because had they not happened, I wouldn’t be here right now. A few months after I attended a men’s breakfast in Rekado’s at the BGC in Taguig, I was invited to join CLP 7 where I rekindled my relationship with the Lord.
I realized that He blessed me with a new life after the accident when I had already lost all hope in having a good future. He led me to my current business and touched my heart at the possibility of being an honest businessman. Before, I felt down, because all of my classmates were richer than me, but now I realized because they were so spoiled they could not do anything without help. Most of my peers could not run their inherited businesses properly. They seldom visit their stores. They did not know how to hire or fire people. They had no idea how employees could take advantage of them and steal their inventory. This is how I started my business consultancy company. All the negative experiences that I had, all the hard work I had put into my failed business finally paid off. I made profits from my first client and I have handled more than 20 clients since we incorporated in 2014. In fact, the one who invited me to the BCBP is one of my first clients. Coincidence? I think not.
All my life I believed that you could only be wealthy if you are selfish, corrupt, and take advantage of others. But through the BCBP, I have seen how He has worked in the lives of my fellow businessmen who do well by doing good and inspired me to aspire to be like them. I have discovered that money is great but being a blessing to others is even greater. I have now been blessed with things that I did not expect to acquire at an early age, and because of that abundance I am always encouraged to give back. I realized that no amount of money could buy the happiness that I feel whenever I share these blessing to other people.
Truly, everything has a purpose and nothing happens by accident. Everything has been planned ahead by the Lord. In Isaiah 40:30-31, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.”
God saved me and healed me, not just physically but spiritually. After my accident, it took some time, but I have now recovered in full. Having a heart filled with gratitude enabled me to see how blessed I am. I am strong and healthy. I am able to do what I want like table tennis and travelling. Looking back, worst things could have happened to me. I could be in a wheelchair right now or six feet under, but by God’s miracle, I am alive and in front of you today. It may not be the path that I would have chosen, but I trust in God’s plan in my life. In Proverbs 19:21, I quote “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail”.
I am inspired to do well and reach my goals as an honest businessman with the help of the Lord and of course the BCBP. I have also dedicated myself not just to doing well for myself & my family, but also to be an instrument of the Lord in helping others who come from humble beginnings just like me before. Somehow through everything I experienced, I realized that in the end, I am an instrument of the Lord and He calls me to serve Him in my profession as a businessman.
Also, being in BCBP gave me the opportunity to bring other people, especially in the marketplace, closer to Him. The Branch Manager of one of the companies I am consulting for based in Bacolod, whom I invited early of 2018 to attend breakfast, has finished the BCLP in Bacolod South. It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord works. One day, he shared to me how the BCBP changed his ways and his perspective. I never thought how vast a change could be made in a person’s life by bringing him closer to the Lord. Indeed, the Lord is the vine and we are the branches, if we remain in him we can bear much fruit, without him we can do nothing.
My dear brothers & sisters in Christ, I encourage each and every one of us to keep the faith and keep doing good things despite life’s trials and challenges. Remember that the Lord will always be with us and that we will all prosper in His time, because He has never and will never abandon his people.
In Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”