Shellie Anne Javier, 26, married, holds a diploma in Information Technology.
She lives in Mandaluyong City.
Shellie got married on May 8, 2016, one of the best blessings she has ever received after being unchurched throughout her young life.
I WAS baptized a Catholic but I was what you might call unchurched— because I hardly attended Mass.
There are two reasons I didn’t practice my Catholic Faith.
First, attending Mass was not part of my family’s life. We just didn’t feel like going to church because well, it was hot and humid there. Yeah, such plain and simple reason.
Second, when I was in my teens, a relative who used to be Catholic but who converted into another Christian religion, pointed out to me “wrong” Catholic practices. So I did not appreciate being a Catholic.
Although I was unchurched, I can say I was not at all a bad girl. Though we didn’t go to church, we kids imbibed desirable values from our parents— such as kindness, honesty, responsibility.
Although I was not a practising Catholic, I somehow felt a need for spiritual enlightenment. This longing started one day when I was in fourth year high school. I saw on the desk of a classmate a book titled The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Curious, I reached for the book, and as I got to hold it, it flipped open on the first page. I started to read the page, but my classmate pulled the book from me, as she was not yet done reading it.
What I remembered reading was something like, it was not an accident that I got to see the book— that there was a purpose for it.
Since then, I began to think about this purpose. What could it be?
Also at this time, through another friend, I got hold of a book titled Simplify by Bro. Bo Sanchez. Impressed by what he wrote, I wished I’d meet him someday.
But I was not able to pursue this quest for my purpose. Life became hard as my parents faced financial troubles. Although still studying, I took a part-time job to help lighten my parents’ burden. I so focused on surviving life, I forgot all about finding my real purpose for living.
Finding The Feast
By sheer determination, I finished college and began working full time. I hopped from one job to another. In one company, I met Kevin who talked about The Feast, the prayer gathering of the Light of Jesus Family where, he said, the main speaker was Bro. Bo Sanchez.
Hmmm, I wished I would meet Bro. Bo, didn’t I?
Kevin invited me to attend Feast PICC, and I readily accepted his invitation. At The Feast, I got to listen to Bro. Bo Sanchez and well appreciated his talks.
But my focus was still financial success. In the next two years, I got so busy with my job I skipped attending The Feast.
In my busyness, I didn’t notice my life was already a mess.
One day, I just found out my parents had already separated. I was so busy, I hardly spent time with my siblings. They had grown fast —without a close relationship with me.
Then, I lost my regular job. At the peak of my career, I spent my money as fast as I earned it. Until by the time I lost my job, I realized I had no savings.
And I still was not clear what I was really living for.
I was empty inside out.
Back to The Feast
On hindsight, I now thank that I was drained of everything that mattered to me. For then in my emptiness, God was able to come into my heart.
Needing relief from my woes, I went back to The Feast. I went there to ask God what’s going on in my life, to cry, to rant, and yes, to surrender. Every pain, I gave it to Him.
It was already 2013. I attended The Feast regularly and became a member of the Light of Jesus Family.
In 2014 I began to serve as writer for The Feast bulletin.
Hearing Bro. Bo’s talks on establishing close relationship not only with God but with our family as well, I began to spend time with my siblings, and my parents
By this time too, I had already found a job in an Information Technology firm. Everything—my family relationship, my job, my ministry— seemed to fall into place for me.
And I grew closer and closer to God. Yet, I learned that even as you have a close relationship with the Lord, you are not exempt from challenges in this imperfect world. For it is in the time when you are in deep trouble that you realize God’s Power and His Amazing Grace.
One day, my father lost his job and I had to stand as sole breadwinner in the family. In the past, my knees would have buckled with fear over such heavy responsibility. But hearing Bro. Bo’s talks about God’s abundant provisions, I didn’t lose hope. And indeed, I saw how God move in my favor.
First, the talks so fortified my faith that I did not leave The Feast as I did before.
At this time, I lived in Laguna. It cost me P70.00 for a bus ride from my place to the Vito Cruz area, plus P8.00 for the one-kilometer jeepney ride to PICC. In sum, the round trip cost was P156.00 I figured I would save the P16 I spent for the jeepney ride if I just walked. So I walked— a total 2 kilometers—to The Feast and back to Vito Cruz, Sunday after Sunday. And happily, I added the money I saved to my tithe for each Feast Sunday.
Second, God provided. It is often said that God will not be out-given, that He will return whatever you give Him a hundredfold. True.
Also in 2014, the Light of Jesus started a project to build an online library and called for applicants for the post of researcher. I applied for the post which gave the salary I hoped for, and now I serve as Information Technology (IT) resource staff of the Light of Jesus Library Ministry. Wow, what could be a better job than working for my faith community!
Third, I found my one true love. I met Ronald in one of my jobs when I was 19 years old. We became good friends and in 2013, when I went back to The Feast, I invited him to attend too. Ronald in time became my boyfriend. He was kind and caring and fall inlove with the Feast too. So, I realized he would be the man I would marry.
On May 8, 2016, we got married in a beautiful wedding that gathered together my dad and mom, my siblings, and all the persons who matter to me, including Ronald’s family, relatives, and friends.
After our wedding, Ronald and I flew to Bali, Indonesia, for our honeymoon.
Finding The Church
The first time I made the Sign of the Cross was when I was 7 years old. Back then, my dad brought me for an overnight visit with my godfather Rico, in Batangas.
In the evening, before we went to bed, my ninong’s sister, Tita, taught me to pray, starting with the Sign of the Cross.
Then, Tita encouraged me to talk to Jesus. Young as I was, I felt good, peaceful, even.
After our prayer, Tita turned off the light. In the darkness, I saw something luminous on her altar.
It was a rosary. It was the first time ever in my life that I saw a rosary— the first time I learned about Mary.
After that visit, I began to be conscious about God. I started to pray at night.
But it was such a wobbly faith, barely nurtured because my family was so hard up, we just focused on surviving the daily grind.
When I was in high school, my classmates and I went to church— when there was no Mass. We went there just to hang out. I did not like attending the Mass because it was noisy throughout the service. I could not hear, much more understand what was going on.
Now, at the air-conditioned PICC, and with the good sound system, it is so pleasant to attend the Mass. I well understand what the priest is saying throughout the various parts of the Mass, the readings, and the priest’s homily.
Hearing teachings about the Catholic Faith, I’ve begun to appreciate the Sacraments.
I went to confession for the first time in our parish church. I was already 24 years old, and I confessed to the priest that it was my first time ever to go to confession.
The priest told me, “Welcome home, my child. Heaven is rejoicing because you are finally home.”
Those words so moved me, I began to love attending Mass not just in The Feast but in my parish church as well.
Once, I was unchurched. But now, as staff of the Library of the Light of Jesus Family, I pleasantly conserve materials that define my faith community’s role in Church history!