By Eloisa T. Tamundong as told to Ems Sy Chan
I couldn’t look straight into the eyes of the male stripper in front of me. I was ashamed of what my friends and I were doing in a gay bar at 2 o’clock in the morning. That was just one of the adventures I had when I was 26 years old.
I grew up in a religious family. But when I was in my late 20s, I moved away from God for almost a year. I stopped praying and going to church just because He didn’t answer my prayers with the only answer I knew of then — “yes”. I didn’t know God also answers our prayers with “wait” and “I have something better for you.” I was too proud and thought I didn’t need God in my life. I wanted to be in control of my life. As a result, vices took over and made me its captive. My mischief started when I worked with the firearms and ammunitions division of a military camp. Money was good, so I was able to go to bars twice a week after work. I smoked and drank with my colleagues.
The gay bar escapade was a one-time big-thing experience for me because I knew deep down going there was wrong and against my values. At the camp, I’d often take early lunches with my colleagues so we could gamble. After gambling at work, I resorted to gambling at the casino. When my father discovered my vice, he asked me to stop, so I did. I found one replacement after another for my vices. I tried shabu with my friends. We did this for three months. When I stopped, I didn’t experience any withdrawal symptoms. I just lost my true friends because they didn’t like what I was doing with my time after work.
My Turning Point
In 2005, I took a job as caregiver in Singapore. After a one-year stint, I went back to Manila. In February 2009, I ran away from home after my father aimed his shotgun at me when we had a terrible fight.
In July 2009, I chanced upon Kerygma magazine. There, I saw the ad for Kerygma Conference. I bought a ticket as a birthday gift for myself plus four tickets for my mom, two cousins and a friend. And it turned out to be the best birthday gift I ever had because I got to know The Feast through Kerygma Conference. By January 2010, I started attending The Feast Alabang and, touched by the teachings, I decided to reconcile with my long-time friends. I took my Light Group (LG) head’s instructions seriously that I should confess my sins and reconcile with my friends before the Jesus Encounter seminar to be more open to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Two years after I attended my first Feast, I found myself serving both with the Intercessory and Send-off Ministries. Aside from that, I now handle my own LG. With my renewed spirituality, I patched things up with my friends. In August 2011, when I was already serving in the Awesome Kids Ministry (AKM), I finally reconciled with my father. I went back to live in our house as a birthday gift to him. He welcomed me with open arms. My last reconciliation was with God. I realized He did not abandon me in spite of my wrongdoings. It was I who moved away from Him.
Finding My Way Back to God
I’m on my way to becoming a PLW (Prayer and Life Workshops) Guide. I’ve been attending its School of Formation. I aspire to be a person of prayer and to teach people, especially the unchurched, how to pray. Through The Feast, I gained a deeper understanding of my Catholic faith and learned to apply its teachings to my life. I can finally say that I’m home for good now — back where I truly belong.
Lifted from Kerygma November 2013 issue. Printed with permission from Shepherd’s Voice Publications.