Annie, 29, single, is a high school graduate.
She went through a series of challenges in life, beginning from when she was born.
She kindly shares her story especially to those who also went through her struggles to give them hope that despite its imperfections, life is still worth living.
To protect her and the privacy of people involved in her testimony, we decided to withhold her name.
I am Annie.
I used to believe I was an unwanted child.
My mother got pregnant with a man I haven’t got the chance to meet— to this day. Right after I was born, my mother got married to another man. I had grown to believe that my mother’s husband was my biological father.
My mother almost believed she had finally met the right man for her. They had a baby boy a year after their wedding.
Yet, I guess my mother must had not been happy with her husband — or our family. When I was 4 years old, she left us. So as I grew up, I never really knew how my mother looked like.
Shortly after my mother left, three aunts adopted me.
My half-brother lived with his father and we saw each other only three times a year— my birthday, his birthday, and Christmas day.
When I turned 10 years old, I discovered that the man I’d known to be my father was just my foster fa-ther.
My aunts raised me to be a strong kid— a fighter. Little did they know, I was terribly weak deep inside.
Abandoned by my parents, I felt bitter, to say the least, and I couldn’t help searing with anger.
I unleashed my wrath in school— becoming the teachers’ Enemy Number 1, and one of the most dreaded bullies of my classmates.
Since I grew up being the only kid at home, I hated being alone. It was going to be either I would give treats to friends so they would stick with me, or I would bully them so they would end up befriending me, lest I bullied them more.
When I was 14 years old, my life took a new turn. My mother came to see me. It was only then when I saw how she looked like.
I found out she had gone to Japan and there, she married another man— her third husband.
And so by this time, she already had four children: first me, with her first husband; the boy with her second husband; and two girls with her third husband.
And finally, she took my half-brother and me with her —to Bataan where she lived with her third hus-band and their two daughters. But her husband really did not relish taking care for her children from her two previous relationships. He wanted just my mother to live with him and their two daughters. My brother and I just had to live in a separate house nearby.
So at 14, I had to fend for my brother and me. My mother did give us some allowance. I got P50 per day which was meagre, as I needed P30 for my transportation in going to school. So I had to make do with biscuits for lunch. I managed to buy other needs such as shampoo for my hair. But often, I could afford only a sachet. So I had to cut my hair short so my supply would last a while.
As if life was not hard enough, trouble visited our family— again. The husband of my mother left her. He went back to Japan bringing along their two daughters.
And then, my mother went away with our driver! I heard the two became drug addicts, and they also got addicted to gambling.
The family business went bankrupt and we lost everything— their house, the house my brother and I lived, cars, everything…
With no one to take care of us, with no place to stay in, my brother and I went from one relative or friend to another— whoever was kind enough to take us in.
I was only 15, going on 16.
Promptly, the anger lying dormant deep in my heart erupted. Badly. Because I rebelled not only against my mother, but also against God.
The three aunts who earlier adopted me— before I met my mother— endeavoured to raise me to be close to God. They sent me to a Catholic school. But alas, even that kind of education was not enough to shape my faith up.
I desperately needed to belong, to be cared for. And I found that attention from friends. With these friends, I learned to smoke, drink liquor, and use drugs.
Actually, I became a drug pusher of sorts. I just needed people that would feed me so I could live. Because I ran around with addicts, at age 15, I also lost my virginity.
I guess my need to be loved pushed me to go steady with boys. I had 10 boyfriends by then— three I slept with.
I thought to myself, “Wala naman na lahat eh… bakit hindi pa lahatin talaga?!” I had lost just about everything anyway, why not lose everything.
Everything— including my useless life. I attempt-ed to commit suicide.
But in that moment of depression, I looked at myself on the mirror and I seemed to hear a voice asking me, “What if the sun rises tomorrow?”
So, at age 16, I left Bataan and went to Manila where I worked as a maid.
My brother, on the other hand, was taken by his grandmother on his father’s side, and she brought him with her to her hometown in the Visayas.
In Manila, I struggled on my own to survive and finished high school through a Distant Learning Pro-gram.
Finding The Feast
Aside from the cigarette, the booze, and the drugs, I escaped through reading books.
I heard about the book The Da Vinci Code, the 2003 novel written by Dan Brown, which was de-nounced by Catholics and other Christian groups as it presented a fictitious detective story about the life of Jesus Christ.
The book was perceived as an attack on the Ro-man Catholic Church. But ironically, reading the book became the first step toward my journey back to my Catholic faith.
I began getting interested in religious matters and a friend who apparently wanted to evangelize me took advantage of my curiosity. He gave me a copy of Rome Sweet Home— a book by Scott Hahn and his wife Kimberly. A Scripture scholar and formerly a Presbyterian minister, and anti-Catholic, Scott embarked on a thorough study on theology which led him to convert to Catholicism, and his testimony influenced his wife Kimberly— a top theology student, a daughter of a well-known Protestant minister— to also embrace the Catholic faith.
The Hahns’ remarkable conversion testimony has brought back to the Church many a lukewarm Catholics— including me.
After Rome Sweet Rome, I came to read the se-ries of books titled The BoSS by Bo Sanchez where he relates how he has lived a fulfilling life since he came to know Jesus— the Boss— who well provides for His people that they may live a beautiful, joyful life.
I thought to myself, “I will meet this man and I would love to live the way he’s living his life – so close to Jesus and His people.”
Two months later, I was invited by a friend to attend the Singles Night, a fellowship of the single members of the Light of Jesus Family, the faith community of Bro. Bo. During the fellowship, the preacher was Bro. Ryan Capitulo who talked about The Feast being led by Bro. Bo at the Valle Verde Country Club in Pasig City.
So one day, I attended Feast Valle Verde and got to meet Bro. Bo.
At once I was impressed by Bro. Bo’s passionate preaching, The Feast songs that were easy to sing and relate with, and the loving relationships built within the community.
But my spiritual renewal did not happen overnight. When you feel you were abandoned by your parents— the people who were supposed to love you the most— you feel worthless.
Since I felt worthless, I just had to have some worth. I found a job and at the workplace, I threw my weight around, belittling, hurting people, whoever crossed my path.
Since I practically had nothing, everything just got to be mine. I just had to have everybody’s attention. When friends held reunions or gatherings and I was not notified about it, I flared up. Or when two or three of my friends went out without me, I turned green with envy.
And since I believed I was really a nobody, I just had to be somebody. I put on a mask, pretending I was jolly. I was like, “I am doing okay, thank you.”
Until one day, I finally admitted to myself, “Hindi ako ito. Hindi ako dapat ganito…This is not me. This should not be me.”
I felt thirsty for love, and that thirst was quenched through the Light of Jesus Pastoral Care Center, particularly its Living Waters Ministry.
The phrase Living Water is found in the Bible, particularly Chapter 4 of the Book of John which is about Jesus’ encounter with a woman by a well in Samaria. The story points out the woman is Samaritan and Jesus a Jew. Because of different beliefs, Samaritans and Jews do not associate with one another. But Jesus demonstrates God’s unconditional love for His people by talking with the Samaritan woman and even asking her for portion of water she is drawing from the well. The woman reminds Jesus that they are of different religious persuasions.
And Jesus tells her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
Thus, the Light of Jesus Living Waters is a heal-ing ministry which aims to quench your spiritual thirst by leading you to a personal relationship with Jesus— the Living Water. Through the program, I learned about loving relationships. I felt people accepted me and were patient with my own personal journey. From there, my healing began.
For as Jesus promised in John 4:14: “Everyone whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.
Alongside the healing ministry, I also found men-tors such as Bro. Eng Si and Bro. Rudy Mallari who are Feast Builders, who to this day are like the father I never had, leading me closer to God.
Today, I serve God as full-time volunteer for the Feast Video Ministry led by Bro. Rudy which records The Feast talks in CDs and distributes them to mini-Feasts nationwide and abroad as well. I am particularly assisting the projects of The Feast emissaries in the various provinces.
Back to the Church
The Feast has also strengthened my Catholic faith. Given my miserable life, I was a lukewarm Chris-tian. I believed in the existence of God but I didn’t think I had to do something about it. I was like, as long as I am not killing nor stealing, I am okay with God.
So I hardly attended Holy Mass. I simply found it boring.
I attempted to look for a more engaging group so I attended services of other faith communities.
Six months before attending The Feast, I already had the chance to go back to our parish church as a vol-unteer catechist yet I knew back then that I was still in search for more of God— which I actually did find at The Feast.
Aside from Bro. Bo’s preaching, I was also moved by how The Feast was celebrating the Mass. Fr. Steve Tynan, spiritual adviser of the Light of Jesus Family, explained the Gospel so well, I began to understand its meaning.
Aside from The Feast Mass, I now attend Mass in EDSA Shrine. I also do attend another worship service whenever I feel the need of my heart to sing to the Lord with co-Christians.
But still, I must say I love our Mass! If not for it, I might have already embraced a non-Catholic faith. The entire Mass has a lot of things in it that has stirred my heart to say: “This is what my heart needed… And this is the one thing that could complete my heart’s needs.”
With the help of The Feast, its ministries, and the people I have met there, I have slowly accepted my life story and I am now comfortable with all the scars left by my past.
Yes, I am a work in progress— there are still a lot more for me to learn. But for now, I am contented enough for the fact that I am Annie, God’s princess, His beloved for whom He gave His life.
And as I see my worth, I also see the worth of other wounded people like me. God loves me and He loves them no less than me. And as I live, I get reminded through the Eucharist, to where He is alive, and saying again and again that “Daughter, this is your worth — you are worth dying for.”