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A Difference to One

posted @ 6/09/2001 08:40:00 AM - 0 comments - share your thoughts

By: Bobby Quitain

It was early dawn. The sea was calm. The wind was smooth. And the air was cool. I watched the man by the seashore. He seemed to be throwing some “things” back to the sea. One by one… Starfish. One after the other. It would’ve made a lot of sense had I not seen the camouflaged mass of starfish which littered the shore. Futile. Useless. Unavailing. I walked up to him and pointed out the foolishness of what he was doing.

“ Sir, I do not mean to intrude.” I said. “But I do not see the point. Considering the number of starfish that you need to save, throwing back one won’t make a difference.”

Then I saw the smile. “Kid,” he replied as he lobbed one back to the water, “ It made a difference to that ONE.”

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. You’re right. That did not really happen to me. That is a famous story, which many teachers, sales persons, preachers and human resource trainors use in many of their lectures. As one famous senatorial candidate said: I lied (Ha,ha,ha).

Wait a minute. I did not exactly lie. That actually happened to me. To you. To us. Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon Quezon City. That was exactly how we started.

We are celebrating our one-year anniversary this June. But our story did not start a year ago. It began several years down the line. Early 1990’s. I believe that God started His work that is Lingkod –QC around that time.

College life in UP is always replete with treasured memories. Ours were not an exception. Yes, we remember our block mates. The final exams. CASAA. Frat rumbles. Yet the best memories come from Cherry Yum Yum, the little dining hall at the back of Kamia Residence Hall. Christ’s Youth in Action- UP. That was where it all began. The jokes that were shared. The stories that were told. The tears that were shed. The bond that was established. That was community life…where you get prayed over…where your jokes are considered funny…where your problems are not trivial…and your suggestions always make sense.

Community life. That was where for the first time, you realized that God made you for something better. Just like the feeling of the starfish, you fathomed the reality that you were home.

We also remember the conversions. Fresh in our minds was the frat man who embraced the cross. The introvert who preached from the two thousand year old book. The party girl who became a missionary. And our friend who eventually said “yes” to Jesus because we never gave up asking her to go to the retreat. We missed that feeling. When though our efforts seem small and the pain sometimes bigger, nothing beats the joy of seeing one turn to the Lord. We preached. We cried. We rejoiced. We sacrificed. Simply because we know that all that is not in vain. We tossed one back to the sea. We made a difference to ONE.

In 1999, many have changed. The padlocked doors of Cherry Yum Yum says it all.
I was in my second year as a law student in UP, when God placed in my heart a certain hunger for what I treasured most in my undergraduate days. Community and evangelization.

Little did I know that at about the same time, several of us from CYA were also experiencing the same thing. Jeng Aquino gave the idea. What about Lingkod?

That was when we began meeting. Jeni Servino and Ria Apostol came along. Alett Nunez who was busy with her own evangelization in law school caught up with the idea. Hanzel Estrella counted himself in. The first meeting was held in Rocky de Castro’s house in Project 8. Myself, Rocky, Hanzel, Rommel Escoto, Pom Ho, Gabby Medina, Jeng, Ria, Jeni,Miracel Juanta,Alett and Tere Gumap-as came together to pray. And just as we were about to start praying, the lights went out. Brown-out! The re-chargeable lamps didn’t work. The best that Rocky could get was a candle. And so it was. We sang.

We raised our hands. We prayed out loud. And though it was dark, within our hearts was a blazing fire, a torch that says “I miss the Lord!”. Nope, Lingkod-QC wasn’t born that night. But boy did we have fun. It was great praying with old friends again.

The next several meetings were no different. A house. A guitar. And twelve hearts that joined as one, desperately clinging on to a past that has long gone. Then the Lord added to our number. Every Friday, we come together to meet and new faces came to pray with us. It was time to have a name.

Several names were suggested. I had many favorites. But the best of all came from Rocky. “FLIP-FLOP” or Friends and Lovers Of Prayer/Friends and Lovers In Prayer. It was suggested in jest. And the funny thing is this: WE TOOK IT SERIOUSLY. We started referring to ourselves( can you believe this?!) as FLIP-FLOP. No wonder our numbers dwindled.

At the turn of the century, we realized we cannot go on forever coasting along with this prayer meeting. The Lord has been sending us people, both CYA alumni and some friends, and yet we cannot keep them. They come and they go. We felt we were doing the Lord a disservice. What started as a mere get-together is slowly becoming a mission. We needed direction. And along with it must come a new name.(Praise God!)

Jeng reminded me of Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon. Hey, that’s an option. A Lingkod branch in Quezon City sounds like a good idea. Rocky and I came to see Francis Itturalde, the National Director of Lingkod. He told us to pray about it. I told the core members to discern about it. Are we to link up with Lingkod or put up our own independent prayer group? We prayed. Went on retreat. Fasted. Walked on our knees in Quiapo. And some even went on a pilgrimage everyday in SM Megamall. Truly! WE sought the Lord! Then, it happened. In the sacred halls of McDonald’s Katipunan one evening, we made the decision. Lingkod-QC was born.

We began to look for a place. Rocky’s house became too small. Delaney Hall in UP was too nostalgic. PICC was too expensive. And Araneta Coliseum was always fully booked. And so we settled for a small but cute and homey preschool called Cradle of Joy.

Some things remained simple. A guitar. Some chairs. Our bibles. A few hungry hearts wanting to praise and worship the Lord every week. And a loving God who always meets us halfway when we pray. That was all we needed.

Several prayer meetings, a dozen planning seminars, one NLTC, a crossroads retreat, two Unity Games, two Way of Life Weekends, and two CLP’s later, we watch and marvel at the work of the Lord, not just in our community, but in our individual lives as well. We see our imperfect lives once again being molded by a perfect God. We get to be prayed over again. Trade our jokes once more. And we don’t carry our problems alone anymore. In a sense, it’s like the sea again. It’s like coming home.

God has indeed added to our number. From a handful of men and women, we now number to around forty every prayer meeting. And they keep coming. We love our new brothers and sisters. Their fun, funny, and free. The best of all was seeing them give their lives to the Lord. An atheist. A backslider. A fratman. Just like before. Different faces but the same God. He came to dwell among His people in Lingkod-QC. Result: Lives are refreshed. Fire re-awakened. Souls restored. We’ve seen it before.
We’re seeing it again. Many has changed. But our God remains the same.

On our first year anniversary, brothers and sisters, let us bear in mind that above all the stories, anecdotes and miracles, is a wonderful and loving God who took the initiative in starting what is now your community. Even if we chose not to respond to his promptings in ’99. Even if we chose not to heed the call. Even if the meeting at Rocky’s house did not take place. Even if the decision at Mcdo was not arrived at. Lingkod-QC will still be celebrating its one year anniversary today. Because if not us, it could have been somebody else. Others who had the same hunger and the same dream. Others who had the same fears and yet with the same fire. Others who, just like us, received mercy and sought to bring the same mercy to others.

Since the Lord has given us this privilege to serve Him in Lingkod, I appeal to all of us to keep on bringing the Good News to all that we meet. Just like the man by the sea shore, let us keep throwing one back to sea, hoping that our efforts, puny they may be, will eventually make a difference in the life of ONE.

(This was Bobby Quitain's First Year Anniversary Message to Lingkod QC; lifted from the Lingkod QC Newsletter, June 2001)