Note from Sean Si: This is an entry by Vincent Haoson. He is a good friend of mine from CCF. This is his testimony.
Before I start with this post, I’d like to say a very brief intro about me since this is my first time posting here. My name’s, Vincent, I’m 23, a writer/businessman/blogger. I met Sean through last year’s CCF Single’s Retreat: Now Boarding. We became friends since then and basically we got to talk about blogging and stuff since we were on the same line of work (so to speak), and well, the rest is history.
As my first post here, God has impressed me this morning that I should share my life, or rather how I got back my life after
I went of my way as a Christian. To start it all off, I’d like to say first that I was a very active Christian prior to that retreat. I had my own small group, I was part of my church’ LCD team, I was part of our church’ student ministry. So pretty much I was the typical thriving young christian back then. I was 4 years into the faith (became a christian at around ’04) and my church properly equipped me with all the doctrines and lessons that I would need to live my faith and defend myself against temptation.
However there was a chink in my armor. A desire that I ne
ver really gave to God completely, the desire to have a girlfriend, or to be more specific, the desire to have someone want me.
Of course being active in a church, Love, Courtship and Marriag
e (LCM) topics are a dime a dozen. In fact, in the 4 years I
was in that church, I got so saturated with LCM topics, that I practically knew what to do when one comes to me for advice. I was in control of myself when it comes to pursuing women. The problem was, I was never prepared for the opposite.
Who would’ve thought that someone would be interested in me.
I’m not saying that I’m handsome, in fact I would be lying if I say to you right now that I think I’m handso
me. If me and Sean were standing together I’m sure the girls would look at Sean more than me. I had self-esteem issues. I grew in a home where my mother would put me down and call me ugly (in a joking matter acc. to her, but being a kid you don’t really understand those kind jokes so you take it to heart), during my elementary days I was emotionally bullied by certain people in my class, my High school was easier but I was still harassed a bit by some of the so-called “punks” of our batch.
So you can just imagine someone with that background hav
ing a girl, and a girl that isn’t so bad looking too to suddenly have an interest in me. She was even hinting at me that she likes me too, to which I responded in a wishy washy way.
I was in trouble, no wait, I KNEW I was in trouble.
So to make the long story short, we became a couple during her 18th birthday, just after her debut.
The first few months were rocky to say the least. I even contemplated on breaking up with her bec. I knew she wasn’t a godly woman but I never had the heart to go on with it. So we worked things out. I was still leading a small group and was still playing an active role on our student center. In fact, the first few months of our relationship was good for me spiritually because I was inspired. However, things turned for the worse as our relationship flourished.
I started to compromise. It started with skipping sessions at our student ministry to be with her. After that I compromised on my personal commitments to God. Six months into the relationship, one of the biggest compromise I committed practically sealed me in the carnal trap I have knowingly stepped into.
My christian life was done for. I was on a downward spiral due to sin.
Eventually we broke up, but the residue of that relationship became my reason to shy away from God. I used my work schedule back then to skip church, and even when there was a change in my schedule, I didn’t go to church because I didn’t want to. I lost my small group since my members went to each of their own province. I became less and less involved in the student ministry.
I became so disconnected with God that I started living my life out as part of the world. I never indulged in the type of sin you would often expect from someone with this story. Well, except for sex. I started hooking up with people who I met over the internet and even some who I personally knew.
I was wallowing in my own mud, dirtying myself more and more. I was indulging on physical pleasure, I kept on asking for more. I was empty and yet I persisted in my own way. Even if I knew I God would be the one who can fill me.
But I refused to come back to Him, at least in my heart. I was still attending the bible study group I was part off in my old church and while I still give insights on certain topics we had all I was doing was providing lip service and never really putting those lessons to heart.
I was two years (more or less) into this kind of life, when my relative who was an active CCF-er invited me to join the single’s retreat where I met Sean. At first I was pretty excited since she told me she could get someone to sponsor me because I was not going to spend money for a trip like that. A few weeks later she told me she wasn’t able to get a sponsor for me so it’s highly unlikely I’ll be attending, plus, the deadline’s already past. So I took that in stride and never thought about it anymore. A week before the retreat my relative called me again and told me she was trying again to find someone to sponsor my ticket. After what previously happened, I didn’t want to hope anymore, even if it was an opportunity to meet other female singles. My heart wasn’t in it anymore and I even wanted to say to my relative to give it to someone else.
Now, I can say that I’m glad I didn’t do that and attended the retreat.
It was during the retreat that I finally realized what happened to me. It was during that retreat that I knew I had to get back on the right path and go back to God. It was there that I rediscovered the saving grace of God, the love that endures forever and the fact that he has never let me go even if I strayed.
I felt I was the prodigal son during the retreat, unworthy of his father’s love. I spat at what He did for me, and I went my own way, realizing that I was wrong, that in fact he is still there loving me each day and hurting because I chose my own will over His.
I was teary eyed and grateful for God during those days I was in the retreat. I even hugged my relative who made sure I joined. Even if I know she wasn’t really the touchy-feely-showy type I just could not express through words the relief and thanksgiving I had because God used her to bring me back.
Even as I type this I’m starting to tear up because of how God has held me for so long even if I was a stubborn child. Words fail me as I describe the feeling of being relieved, of being accepted by a God who can easily kill me for what I had done and yet has decided to accept me, cleanse me and purifying me once again.
After that retreat, I have started to tread back into His path. I have learned much during my stray, but that lesson was taught at the cost of my own purity. I can never return to my old self, but I know that God has allowed me to go down this path to serve as a lesson and a reminder for people to always be prepared. To trust Him with everything, to put everything in His hands.
I am now planning to start my own ministry, and to do that I am still trying hard to change myself as to God’s specifications. I cannot say I have completely left my past since there are lingering “demons” that are still haunting me to this day. But I know God is above everything else and He has made sure I will be able to beat the ghosts of my past.
I’d like to end this very long entry (and I am sorry about that but I felt God wanted me to give my full account– well at least most of the details) with this verse:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)
note: incidentally, the single’s retreat was God’s way of telling me that I am not ready for a relationship yet.