Live. That summed up the message of the 17th Singles for Christ International Conference held last February 19 to 21, 2010 at the Riverfront Corporate City, Davao City.
The straight-forward call to live is anchored on Colossians 2:6-7 which says, "Since you have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, live in union with him, build your lives on him, and become stronger in faith, as you were taught. And be filled with thanksgiving".
Five thousand single men and women from all over the Philippines including delegates from other countries found their way to Davao City to experience what a life of fullness in Christ means.
For many, the immersion into a full life started on Wednesday, February 18th, during the Pre-Conference activities consisting of mini-talks and visits to Gawad Kalinga villages and an orphanage, mangrove planting and coastal cleaning, and various nature experiences.
While we see contentment as a precious commodity these days, the visit to the Gawad Kalinga villages and an orphanage in Samal Island gave us a glimpse of how it is to be content and joyful. The residents and children may be in need of more materially, even in love and care of parents as in the case of the latter, but bliss is the only thing you can see in their faces. Their joyful hearts radiate in the oh-so-genuine smiles they give you and in the words you hear from them.
Having interacted with these families and children equipped us to understand the message of the first session entitled, The Feast. Fulltime Pastoral Worker from the Visayas Bro. Jef Arong explained that God has an open invitation to each one of us to partake in a life that is filled and full regardless of our life situation. The feast that God has prepared is there waiting, with Jesus eager to receive an RSVP from us. This message was further strengthened in the joyful praisefest led by YFC Fulltime Pastoral Worker Philip Aquino, who reminded all of our Lord`s intense desire to share the Feast with us.
While it seems easy to accept the invitation, our foolish ways deter us from joining the feast. Sin garbs us in filthy clothing that is inappropriate for the feast while desire for material possessions as well as power and fame divert us to a pseudo, feast-like occasion. In the second talk, The Fool and the Full, given by SFC fulltime pastoral worker MK Guaño, SFC brothers and sisters shared how they were a fool to believe that the "counter-feasts" can satisfy their hunger and longing. They also testified that only a relationship in Christ made them full and no longer wanting.
Keeping a relationship at its prime all the time is a challenge all of us deal with. So as not to compromise, even worse is to sacrifice, the relationship we’ve built with Jesus, it is important to connect with Him all the time. Bro. Nestle Jeturian, SFC leader from Makati, talked about how we should fight for the fullness and what concrete steps to take to achieve this fullness of life through the third session, Fighting for the Fullness. This made it clear to all that the path to fullness is not an easy one but one worth fighting for, made possible for us by the power of the Cross.
The conference gave us a head start on how it is to stay connected with Jesus. The daily masses that were celebrated reminded us that Jesus is really and is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. It is a tremendous blessing to be in a nation where practicing Catholicism is a norm because tabernacles are always open and it is easy to find a Blessed Sacrament where you can kneel down and be in the Eucharistic presence of Christ.
The different workshops we had on Saturday also served as refreshers on how our relationship with Jesus can flourish even more with prayer and service. Priests, nuns and subject matter experts were on hand to conduct several workshops on growing downward (focusing on fullness of life in community) and growing upward (focusing on fullness of mission) and to encourage the SFC members to seek God and be in His presence in whatever we are pursuing.
A full life in Christ does not end in one’s personal experience of the Lord. Imitating His generosity, an SFC lives by sharing Jesus to everyone. In the final session entitled, SFC Live!, SFC Council member Bro. Bob Lasala reminded us of our vision: "Every single man and woman all over the world experiencing Christ". Being full of Christ, we are to actively live out this vision so that everyone we interact with will have a feel of God’s love. He also shared the advocacies that the community is taking on this year, that of: One Nation (Patriotism), One Life (Pro-Life), One Earth (Environmental Protection), One Hope (Poverty Alleviation). This was capped by a powerful praisefest led by Bro. Dom Apuan, reminding all of the greater things yet to come for SFC as a ministry and for each one as individuals.
A Life to the Full is not merely a promise, it is available to everyone and can be experienced by anyone. Having been shown what a full life in Jesus can be and how we can share it to others, the Singles for Christ are now back in their respective localities and countries living and loving fully.