As we prepare for “ALIVE: Experiencing the Unchanging God in Changing Seasons” on November 1-3, may this testimony bring so much encouragement to you. This blog entry was posted with prior permission from Ms. Bernice Pinol, one of our campers from last year’s CrossDriven Young Adults Camp.
Written by Bernice Pinol
My waking moments are usually spent on sipping a cup of coffee and reading my Bible. I do this while staring at the sky from time to time and breathing out prayers of gratitude to the God who is looking down on me. This scenario seems dramatic but I can’t help to be so. It has only been a year from the time when my days were dark and mornings were a constant struggle to fight depression. The year 2012 was utterly ruthless. Everything that I held dear was stripped away from me and the most important relationships were in complete ruins. My identity, all of my hopes and dreams and my best laid plans came crumbling down and reduced to nothing. Months would pass and hot tears would still stream down my face. I was lost, confused, heartbroken, and defeated. It was an impossible season for me.
One of the things that made life even more difficult was my move from Makati to Alabang. On top of all the relational drama I was going through was the heartache of being “kicked out” from my dream school, Ateneo Law. I had to wipe my tears dry, force myself to get out of bed and start taking entrance exams in other law schools. I ended up in San Beda Law Alabang. Three months after enrolment, I finally decided to leave my life in the North and start anew in the South. I also left the church that I have served and loved. It was practically an overhaul and an excruciatingly painful one. There seemed to be no end to the heartaches. It felt like God’s strong hand, which has held me up all my life, is now crushing me unmercilessly.
Before me now is an unfamiliar world and a completely different life. After praying for months, I decided to become part of GCF South Metro. I desperately needed a community where I can plant my feet in and the Young Adults camp seemed to be the best opportunity to do this. My yearning for God was also gnawing at me. I wanted to experience Him and know Him deeper. I longed to be healed of all my hurts and be made whole again. I needed to know that in the midst of all my troubles, putting my faith in God was not a futile exercise. And so I went to Cavite along with 50 others because I was determined to “chase” God. Three days later, realized that God was the one chasing after me.
During the camp, I was made aware of the fact that God has never abandoned me. Even when I was in the darkest pit of despair, He was with me. Psalm 139 became so real at that point because in my brokeness, I was relentlessly pursued by my Savior and there was no escaping Him. As we studied the life of David, I began to experience a restoration within me and hope flooded my heart. It became so clear that the waves of hardships that came to me that year was lovingly allowed by God for my own good. He broke me severely so I can be rid of my pride, religiosity and self-righteousness. He took everything from me because He wanted to show that He alone is all-sufficient. He used the consequences of my own sins and other people’s mistakes to display His unfailing love. My weakness and the weight of the world on my shoulders brought me to my knees. There, God’s presence hovered over me and I am left undone.
Every session, worship time, and even our fellowships were powerful encounters with the living God. It was also a very heartwarming blessing to have met people who fully accepted me and embraced all the baggage I carried. They showed me the beauty of grace and forgiveness. Through our small group discussions we sorted out personal issues and encouraged each other to press on with our faith. It was truly liberating. The camp was the starting point of a completely new life for me. It was there that I started laughing and smiling again. The months that followed were amazing. God not only drew me closer to Him but began restoring what I lost the past year. Every aspect of my life is being redeemed and I can’t even begin to describe the joy that I have now. My story is a story of RESTORATION and REDEMPTION, and a God who pursues. It is about my weakness showcasing God’s strength. It’s about the cross and how it can free someone from the clutches of sin, defeatism, depression, and hopelessness. It speaks of a LOVE so powerful that it can transform a grieving girl into a radiant and happy woman. It’s about JESUS who, even when everything else is taken away, is the all-satisfying joy of the heart.
I am grateful for the CrossDriven ministry and the hardworking people behind it. I know so many lives have been changed and hearts revived through the camp. I can only imagine how much more exciting the next one is. God has used those three days to create in me a new heart and renew a steadfast spirit within (Psalm 51). He set out a beautiful path for me and it all started with a single step – the decision to surrender everything and well, sign up for the camp. I really pray that you would do the same.