I have received invitations and attended occasions and events in the past, but nothing is greater than the experience of being invited by the Lord on the 20th SFC International Conference last February 15-17. This is a late post but as cliché’ goes, “better late than never.”
8200 delegates from all over the world gathered to witness and proclaim the greatness of the Lord. The 20th SFC International Conference is over; all that’s left are memories of God’s awesomeness and generosity behind all the stories and talks that we heard on that conference. As for me, the fulfillment and joy that I felt while serving the Lord on that conference still lingers.
Let me tell you my experience of this great Invitation.
The feeling of excitement and anxiety battles in heart when I set my feet at the World Trade Center that Friday morning. While the Logistics are setting up, we practice the opening production on the side clueless about how we will place ourselves on the stage, we were excited but at the same time anxious if we will ever have time to rehearse on the stage as it is not yet done. Hours later, we were told that we will not be able to dance on the stage so we have to position ourselves down the stage. Praise God for giving as great choreographer in Donald, with the help of other choreographers Divine and JR, we change some of our blockings and practice the dance 2 hours before the gate opens. That moment, I was humbled; I know that the spirit of God led us to obedience. Our choreographers and my brothers and sisters on the Dance Min humbly accepted the changes; surely the Lord wants us to dance closer to the delegates, the people He invited to see His greatness and the magnificence of His works – including the talents that He blessed us with. Just in time for the people to enter, the stage, the lights, sounds and the chairs are all set up; we have been given a considerable amount of time to set up and practice. Minutes after, I saw the numbers of delegates coming in; more than 8000 delegates filled the place. That instance, I can’t help but thank the Lord for allowing me to witness and experience the miracle of setting up and preparing for that biggest event. I can hear Him whisper, “My child, you ain’t seen nothing yet”. Truly, the Lord is bigger than any challenges that we faced prior to the event, He is God and He will always work wonders through His people.
I joyfully dance for the Lord amidst the fear of forgetting the steps and the thought of dancing in front of 8200 people. The Lord comforted me and true enough, He is the only one I see behind the lights and gave it my best performance.
Our God is a really personal God, the conference kit looks like a wedding invitation (that’s my initial thought when I saw it). But, who’s wedding it is? My question has been answered during the first session entitled “Invitation”. God invited me to a wedding, to an eternal union with Him, to a constant and intimate exchange of love with Him. It was marriage between Jesus Christ and us – His church. Nothing can be sweeter than singing songs of love, praise, worship and adoration to the one who loves me the most. It was a heartwarming experience and it was just the first day of the conference. Wow!
The second day of the conference made me appreciate being a Christian and learned what it means to have a Catholic faith. From the 1st workshop given by Bishop Bacani, I experienced how to profess the faith through Nicene Creed in a deeper sense, I have learned that faith is Believing, Trusting and Obeying. To have faith is to be Single Minded for God, to be a Singles for Christ. The 2nd workshop entitled “Witness” reminded us of the metaphors that Jesus used on the Sermon on the Mount, we are called to be like Salt, however so many Christians today has lost its taste thus we are reminded to go back to the cross and go back to Christ. On the evening session, powerful talks about being Empty and Transformation was given by Kuya Rob Escano and Tito Melo Villaroman. Kuya Rob defined emptiness as the space between the heart of God and our own hearts thus being empty allows us to choose God again and fill the emptiness with God and His Love. That session affirmed me of how God can satisfy my deepest longings and desires; I just need to choose Him every minute. Tito Melo’s discussion about Transformation hit me when he mentioned what Father Robert Barron once said, “We try to satisfy the hunger for God with something less than God.” We feel empty because we ran away from the main source of love which is God himself. “Do whatever He tells you”, this is what Mama Mary told the servants before Jesus transform the water into wine and this is also the same tip that she tells us. There are examples of miracles and transformations that have been preceded by obedience, Tito Melo said. Obedience is the key to Transformation, this I know is something that I should bear in heart and mind. I must be thankful to the people who have been an instrument of God’s transforming love in my life, my family and my brothers and sisters in this community. To cap the night, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle celebrated the Eucharist and reminded us to be close to God and choose the path of the cross though it’s hard and not resort to any short-cuts. He mentioned that even the devil can present reasonable plan but if our hearts and minds are one with God, we will not be easily swayed. What a beautiful way to end the night with the highest form of worship.
The last day of the conference allowed us to declare that indeed we are all WITNESSES. Bro. Shok Arriola challenged us to be a Witness of God and shared 3 things to become a witness, which are Invitation, Response and Effect. At this point we are all reminded of how God invited us to a relationship and service with Him, how we responded certainly affected the life that we live and of the people around us. The memories of my own journey when I said YES to him came into mind, there are hardships but there are countless joys. If I go back to my first experience of his invitation, I would likely to say Yes again because I believe that it is nothing but the best. As Kuya Shok said, “Every Yes is challenging but the Lord will bless us a thousand times more”. So if you are experiencing hardship, just keep going!
This ICON is indeed special and really personal to me. I thank the Lord for the privilege of being invited to this event, not just to attend but to also offer my talent and service to Him. To all the brothers and sisters in SFC Dance Min, I have found a new family and I really honor each and everyone in the group for the untiring effort to master the dance especially to our choreographers who had been really patient with us. To the Exhibit Team, especially to our heads Kuya Jep and Ate Niña who both understand whenever I miss our meetings because of dance practice, I honor everyone for being so patient and optimistic despite the technical problems that we had encounter. Thank you to the foreign delegates (FTW trainees) for serving with us joyfully in the team and to my MV Aspirants family (King, AJ, Joy and Ate Cel). Thank you to my Household (upper, lower and former), my BFsGFs barkada and my SFC WestB1A family for sharing this awesome experience with me. Praise God and See you all again next year in CDO!!!!
SFC ICON 2013