By Frank Joseph, NTU Catholic Students Apostolate
Hi! My name is Frank. I’m a fresh graduate from NTU and this is how community living helped me grow in my faith journey in university. I am a cradle Catholic and eldest of 3 children. Since young, my family was active in parish and tried their best to nurture our faith in our lives. I was active in parish ministry since young and would say that my faith journey was smooth sailing back then. Looking back, I saw myself as having a spotless report card, ticking all the boxes of what it meant to be Catholic.
However, it was when serving NS that I began to realize that beyond the nice picture I had painted for myself, I did not have the relationship with God I desired. This realization left a desire to know who God really was and have a deeper relationship with Him.
Although I had this desire, entering Uni brought a lot of hesitation to give God my time. Truthfully, I was very comfortable where I was. I feared that giving God my time would take away the social life I wanted. I ended up heavily involved in school and hostel CCAs. Instead of being fully involved in NTU’s Catholic Students’ Apostolate (CSA) during my first semester.
However, I was blessed to meet some seniors during the CSA Freshmen Orientation held by the Office for Young People (OYP) who stayed in the same hostel as me. During the semester, these friends would meet every night in one of their rooms to check-in on our days, build our friendships and end the day with prayer. Although I was not around the community much, these friends would invite me to pray with them. Spending more time around them, I saw their lives radiating a joy and love that could only have come from knowing God, even as they faced difficulties trying to live out the call to live as disciples in school. It was these kingdom friendships that planted the desire in me for a deeper relationship with God.
Frank and NTU’s CSA after a formation session pre-Covid 19!
Throughout Uni life, there were many times when I felt challenged to live out the call to be a disciple. But each time I hesitated to take the next step towards God, these friends would lift me up in prayer and encourage me to take the next step in faith.
Their promptings pushed me to attend the School of Christian Leadership in 2018, a 10 day stay in discipleship school held by OYP during summer break. It was here that God unveiled my feelings of unworthiness, recognizing my own brokenness and struggles with sin. Through the sessions I felt God welcoming me home, reminding me of my identity as His son. That my worth laid in Him, not how I saw myself. He gently but firmly challenged me to surrender more of my heart to Him, to heal my brokenness and take His place as king of my heart. It was not easy, but my brothers and sisters in community were there to walk the struggles with me.
As shared by a friend during the retreat, in the parable of the paralyzed man, his friends lowered him through the roof to meet Jesus and seeing their faith Jesus healed him. It was not just the faith of the paralyzed man, but also the faith of his friends that changed his life.
Faith stirs faith. Looking back, it was the faith of community that carried me to Jesus. When I was paralyzed and afraid to take the step, they were there to carry me to Him. In times when I wanted to run away, they pointed me back to the cross. Each year in Uni had its challenges, but every time I was faced with setbacks and found it difficult to keep walking, he sent brothers and sisters to walk with me and carry me closer to Him.
CSA has been the greatest gift for me in NTU, being vessels of His love and truths through these 4 years. Today I am a very different person from when I first entered NTU thanks to these friends. The Lord challenge me to desire a deeper relationship with Him and to walk with others on journey of discipleship by stepping up to leadership in the community during my final year. Our journey of discipleship is personal, but not private.
Brothers and sisters, will you allow community to challenge and inspire your faith journey?