by Julie Ann Despi
“Then Jesus said to His disciples; ‘If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” – Matthew 16: 24-25
On a windy and humid Saturday morning of January 24th, I woke up and prepped up early to participate in the much awaited “Free to Follow the Lord” seminar. I remember the night before how fervent were the encouragements of our Chapter leaders to get all of the BCLP 9 & 10 graduates attend the seminar. Although for some it felt like a mandatory obligation but for my case, I looked forward to the event with much anticipation. As I drove towards the venue, I said a little prayer for guidance and protection, for the success of the event, and for the well being of all the people who would be involved in the process.
The venue of the seminar was set on the top floor of a hotel and I found it elegantly setup yet cozy and solemn that takes your attention off from the hustle and bustle of the city streets. Upon reaching the place, it was such a joy to see our committed servants giving their warm greetings and refreshing smiles in spite of being busy in setting up the equipment & registration materials.
The event started off with an invigorating Praise & Worship session led by Kuya Wilbert Ang followed by the first talk from BCBP North’s very own Kuya Jourdan. The first topic alone has garnered a lot of “Ahh” reactions and FYI moments from the audience. As we delve towards examining our faith & establishing a personal connection with God, it is deem necessary to affiliate oneself to a religious community while considering the en-tailed responsibilities and its mission that we need to embody.
As the seminar continued, the talks became more interesting. We were very much privileged to have a power-house cast of speakers from the BCBP South chapter who graciously accommodated our requests to share their time and provide talks without hesitation. If I were to enumerate the contents of each topic, then this article alone would not suffice. Nonetheless, the talks were equally valuable and informative. Every topic ended with a group discussion to allow each participant to share their experience and key takeaways in reference to the talks. During lunch break some of us took time relish the venue and get acquainted with other members to know each other’s interest.
The afternoon session was equally alive and engaging in spite of the struggle to keep up and be awake. Kuya Marvin led the Praise and worship as he steered us to the second part of the seminar towards deeper understanding of the BCBP culture and our involvement in the community. The talks about Time and Financial Management of Kuya Rod Ngo became the highlight of the seminar as it greatly emphasized the importance of living a life of faith, trustworthiness and service. We are all called to be a great example of a true Christian leader, Businessman or Professionals in our own respective market places.
Towards the end of the seminar, a Holy Eucharist was offered and presided by our resident priest, Fr. Ruel Desamparado. As per Father Ruel; “It was no accident that we are here today. The wind is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, while the warm atmosphere is an indication of God’s burning passion and His presence in our midst today.”
It was indeed a successful and fruitful seminar. All of these became possible because of the unwavering commitment and support from all the organizers, speakers, servants, and participants. This life-changing event gave me more than what I have expected. I came to the event not knowing what to will happen but I came out with a new found knowledge and a deeper appreciation of the Christian faith.
Having a religion is not enough, neither does having an affiliation to a certain community. It’s always easy to acknowledge that one is a Catholic Christian. However, living a Christ-like life is a constant challenge that each of us need to face every day. Only one thing is certain, our God’s love has no bounds and He is always within us. All we need is to constantly reach out to Him and ask for His guidance and protection. Most of all, if we keep a heart of gratitude and a burning desire to serve for His greater glory, then the obstacles and trials we face would be easier to bear.