Written by Valensia Bingah
Growing up a regular Sunday Catholic, I’ve always been told what to do in my prayer life. My prayer life was very irregular. The only times I would get in touch with my faith were during night prayers and family prayers, which was out of my own will and being asked to pray together as a family. I felt no desire to grow in my faith and only carried out my prayers to please my mother, who is a staunch catholic. Back in church, I was not part of a community and had no one to walk this faith journey with. I felt lost. I felt my lowest when I received my A level results back in 2020. My results were not enough to get into the courses I wanted, not enough to get into a public university. I had to learn to settle for a private uni. Seeing all my friends enjoying the benefits of a public university, I questioned God a lot – Why wasn’t He giving me the gifts that He was giving to others? At that time, I felt less and not good enough. I was especially worried about what my future holds and what He has planned for me. This took over my thoughts for most of the year leading up to the start of university. All these situations resulted in a strained relationship with the Lord, I had no certainty in my faith and insecurities engulfed my identity. This led me to seek temporary happiness from other means, just to ease this pain.
Things started to take a turn when I saw an Instagram post by OYP, calling for sign ups for Kickstart 2020. When my sister shared the very same post with me, it seemed like a sign calling me to sign up for the retreat. I don’t know what stirred this desire, perhaps it was the longing to face the unexpected? I had nothing to lose anyway. Little did I know that this would be the best decision for me to start my faith journey in my next chapter in life. In the retreat, I felt the Lord speak through the testimonies and sessions as the topics covered were so apt to what I was going through. The theme for Kickstart20 was a verse from John 8:12 that says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” At that point in my life, I was confused about what facade I should wear and what path I should take when walking into university. Through a session, I was challenged to think about where I’ll be placing God while in university. Will I be building my life upon faith as I enter university? My prayer life was also not stable during that period. However, another session on prayer helped me to realise that not only does prayer help in building a relationship with God, it also gives me space to pour out my struggles during university. Being someone who finds it difficult to open up to my closest friends, I had the assurance that God is my forever friend and is always there to listen with no judgments.
I experienced His love when I was introduced to group sharing sessions. Being able to open up to others and having the support and guidance from others in the community helped me find comfort in my faith. Another moment where I experienced God’s love was when we had a breakout room into our university communities and I realised that my friends I had met back in 2018 during Seeds of Growth were also in the community! It was definitely a full circle moment. I knew from that moment that I was not going to be alone in this journey. God has sent so many people down in my life when I needed it the most and even till now I’m grateful for that. Eventually I was introduced into my university community and met many new friends to walk this journey with. Since Kickstart, these friends I’ve made have been my pillars of support and their love felt unexplainably different from secular friendships. They have challenged me to grow in my relationship with the Lord through their testimonies and their regular check-ins. It is as though these friendships are the building blocks for the bridge towards the heavenly kingdom where Jesus is waiting for me with open arms.
John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
I can say that with the support of the community that I have found comfort in, I now have the courage to step closer to the light. I may not know where I’m going exactly but I trust that with Him and His path for me, things will get brighter from here.