As we celebrate OYP’s 7th Anniversary, we look back on the wonderful things that the Lord has done in the lives of our beloved young people and express gratitude for how the Lord is indeed raising up a generation for Christ. We share one of their stories here with you.
by Joanna Chng, OYP staff
I first encountered OYP as a university student when I attended the first School of Christian Leadership (SOCL) in 2014. During the school, I had my first and most significant encounter of the Risen Lord that changed my life forever. Before attending SOCL, I was generally dissatisfied with everything around me. I went to Church and was active in the campus community because others had asked me to be. It was not something that particularly I desired for myself or found meaning in.
At SOCL 2014, I experienced many firsts in my faith and am grateful for them. It was the first time I was introduced to the Blessed Sacrament, the first time I understood the beauty of praising and worshiping God with my voice and actions, the first time I shared with anyone about what was going on in my life, and the first time I recognised the Lord in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and felt welcomed home into the arms of my Father.
At one of the sessions aimed to help us reflect on and prepare for the sacrament of reconciliation, I remembered being extremely unsettled and unwilling to go for the sacrament. I paced the grounds of OYP and found myself praying, “Lord if what all these people are saying is real and you desire to save me, then you need to send someone because I cannot do it myself”. Jesus sent me someone almost immediately and as I spoke and shared with her, I found myself telling her things I had never told anyone. These were things that I was not proud of, things I believed nobody could love me for. But she looked at me with love and spoke a simple truth that helped me to open my eyes. After which, she prayed for me and encouraged me to go for the Sacrament of reconciliation.
At the Sacrament of reconciliation, I managed to confess everything that kept me away from the Lord, half-expecting the priest to judge me. But he also looked at me with love and shared a truth that made me realise that, yes Jesus is present in my life and He is walking with me. I have a place in my Father’s house and He welcomes me home. Like Peter, Jesus will not hesitate to pull me out of the waters when I find myself sinking. I just need to have faith and trust in Him.
This experience awoke a deep thirst and desire in me to want to know more about God and the Catholic Church. I took ownership of my faith and began to take my walk with Jesus seriously. It was also from there that I began to desire for young people to encounter this same loving Father who waits to welcome them home. I began to dream of a future where every young man and woman no longer live like orphans but can claim their identity and place in the Lord. That each person becomes like the friends of the paralytic, carrying others to Jesus.
I have come to see that there really is nothing impossible for God. Through OYP’s various programs, I have seen hardened hearts broken for the Lord. I have witnessed people turn their lives around just because they have encountered Jesus. I have seen people who wanted nothing to do with the Church become passionate for Jesus. All these and more has helped me to recognise that really there is nothing impossible for God. I just need to believe.
Through OYP, I have realised that Jesus always has more in store for me. OYP has challenged me and helped me to see that the Lord is never done with me. The same truths that I have heard a thousand times is still relevant in my life today. The wounds that I thought have healed can still be healed further. There is a greater freedom, a deeper joy that Jesus has in store for me and I should never remain complacent. OYP has also challenged me to see that my faith is not only about myself. Through the lives of the staff, and their hearts for the service of others, I have been challenged to widen my horizon and see that the world does not revolve around me. They have helped me to recognise that there are others who are also in need of Jesus. I need to play my part to bring Jesus to them, or them to Jesus, because there is no greater joy than the one Jesus gives. Amen!