Update (8-14-11): Before proceeding I would just like to say that the following contains explicit material on personal faith and convictions. It was written way back in 2008 when I became so involved with a radical youth ministry in our campus.Though my present convictions have obviously changed thru the years, I can't help but not to delete this one that catapulted my search for the Big Guy :)
My classes have already started two weeks ago and I know it's too late to be saying this but I guess I should've prepared my farewell letter much earlier for what seemed to be the longest summer I've ever had. Well, my summer was fun while it lasted. I’ve learned and experienced so many things so fast I have not had the time to reflect on some of the most significant highlight and events of this break, which is my spirituality.
Well, I almost left everything behind to go in search of God.
I almost joined a religious sect not realizing that He was (and will always be) present in my daily and personal experiences, that He speaks all languages, and that He moves and penetrates us in the most unusual and unconventional, even mundane ways. I almost got myself brainwashed into thinking that poverty is a curse (or a spirit) not as an opportunity to help the poor, that God promises to give us luxurious cars, houses and lots and corporate jobs if we involve ourselves in the effort of brainwashing other people (whatever happened to living a simple lifestyle and solidarity with the poor), and that it is right to condemn everyone but feel sorry for them at the same time, since they are destined to go to hell for not subscribing to the God I worship. I almost got myself stuck in a ministry that thinks they are better than other sects when like any other religion or way, they are unconscious that they are extremely self-centered and that they are as well stuck in an ongoing state of mind, not even caring to take a look at other angles and perspectives nor even respecting other people's beliefs and faith.
Paulo Coelho, one of my most admired author, was right when he said in a novel that,
"A person who goes in search of God is wasting his time. He can walk a thousand roads and join many religious sects - but he'll never find God that way.
God is here, right now, at our side.
We can see Him in the mist, in the ground we're walking on, even in my shoes.
His angels keep watch while we sleep and help us in our work.
In order to find God, you have only to look around."
The above statement clearly reminds me of my previous musings regarding my daily experiences before I started to look for God in this ministry which later convinced me that I haven't really experienced God's presence. Before, I used to see God in the eyes and helping hands of my loved ones, in the ethereal beauty of the night sky, or even in a small white butterfly. I used to feel His presence in the middle of an oppressing silent afternoon, on a playground laden in children's laughter, and even on a cold breeze brushing against my skin. God is wherever we allow Him to enter, but it was something I completely forgot or rather, robbed off of me after I was overwhelmed with the excessive use of the Scriptures, their sound doctrines, and their prosperity gospels.
I'm not saying it's a bad thing though. And mind you, I really don't have anything against this ministry. In fact, I tried my best to embrace the whole 'Ladder of Success' thing and the whole G12 Vision. It's just that I really hadn't had the chance to entertain my concerns after all the time I was convinced that they were Satan's arguments trying to lure me out of my spiritual growth inside the ministry. But I guess I was wrong. It's not Satan's voice; instead it's a completely different one telling me to see everything in a different way. To see that spiritual experience is not about how others deemed it to be.
Traditional religious practices are very important in the communal experience of adoration, worship and prayer. But it's in the practical experience of love in our everyday life and it's in the ordinary things can we really witness the extraordinary.
After leaving that ministry, and after my great depression that almost took my faith away, I finally found the right words to describe this unknown feeling welling out of my heart.
I was spiritually abused, emotionally blackmailed, brainwashed, manipulated and indoctrinated for the sole purpose of propagating someone’s religion. My leader that I took as my 'spiritual father' for some time finally lost his luster on me. Right now, I can only see him as a thorn from my past haunting me from time to time.
I still have my faith in my prayer and in my devotional time with the Lord. I'm not an embittered believer as what this article may have suggested, nor possessed by a rebellious demon as what people from that ministry may have had in mind. I just realized that I'm only doing things to please my leader and my superior, but not really my God.
For more G12 experiences, try clicking the ones below:
G12: Control, in Order to Better Reign by an Ex-member of a G12 Cell Group