Syrah Jean J. Sanchez, 26, single, holds a Bachelor of Science degree, major in Electronics and Communications Engineering.
She serves as a teacher of English as a Second Language (ESL) for Chinese students, via Skype. She is also involved in a network marketing business which is more of a direct selling and private franchising. It is affiliated with a leadership program to help small scale entrepreneurs in developing their own businesses.
She lives in Iligan City
Syrah suffered financial problems. She said she escaped her woes through addictions, and guilty about them, she didn’t feel worthy to attend Mass.
I USED to be a member of a faith community so I had strong moral convictions. Actually, I was close to being a judgemental prude.
I didn’t like seeing young teenagers wearing ‘short’ shorts and miniskirts especially when they attend a prayer meeting. I frowned upon them clinging with their boyfriends or girlfriends all the time.
But I was not without blemish myself.
I come from a family which struggled to make both ends meet, especially when my siblings and I were already in college.
Actually, in 2010, my younger sister stopped schooling for a year because our parents could not afford her tuition fee. They only had enough funds for my tuition. So I had to work part-time to have money for my meals and boarding house rent.
In 2011, my parents were able to afford sending my sister back to school. But that year, my brother had to start college, too. So there were already three of us in university. To help my parents with our finances, I worked two jobs.
Life was so difficult, I needed to find respite from my heavy burdens.
I escaped— through an addiction with pornography and getting involved in a secret same-sex relationship. I had two girlfriends. My relationship with my first girlfriend started in December 2009 and lasted for 10 months. The second one started in December 2011 and lasted for a year and a half.
I just needed comfort to lighten my burden— and I found this in my girlfriends. But I felt guilty about it all so I stopped attending prayer meetings.
I attended Sunday Mass now and then. But I also attended other non-Catholic services— just to please friends who invited me to their church.
Finding The Feast
I found out about The Feast in 2012. My family is based in Surigao but I am based in Iligan where I worked. At the time, my brother was with me as he was working on his Bachelor degree in Metallurgical Engineering.
One Sunday after a Mass I attended in the parish church near where I live, a young man— I now call him Kuya Joey—conducted an info drive about the Light of Jesus among members of the Catholic Center Campus Ministry where I was a member. Kuya Joey talked about The Feast, LOJ’s fellowship being led by Bro. Bo Sanchez at the Philippine International Convention Center. (PICC).
The name Bo Sanchez rang a bell since I’d heard it mentioned now and then in my faith community.
Kuya Joey then said The Feast has provincial versions, and the nearest to us is The Feast Cagayan de Oro (CDO). He added that The Feast has a program called Love Someone Today (LST), designed by Bro. Bo to encourage newcomers to have a deeper relationship with Jesus and become His disciples. Joey invited us to the LST, and encouraged us to bring along more friends.
I attended, bringing with me my friends and even my siblings.
But I did not finish the LST program— nor did I attend Feast CDO.
Up until this time, I was still struggling with my burdens. I was angry that I had financial problems, while others didn’t— and I envied them for being so comfortable in life.
How could I be a disciple of Jesus, a servant of God, when I could not even cope with my own daily grind?
My friends continued with the LST sessions. Me, I continued working because financial relief was just what I needed at the time.
But Kuya Joey did not let me go so easily. One day, he invited me to attend the Kerygma Conference, an inspirational learning event also led by Bro. Bo, to be held in Davao.
I attended. But I still did not commit to attend The Feast, much more serve God there.
Then, for a while, Kuya Joey and friends attending The Feast CDO let me be, so I thought they had already given up on me. But they came and invited me again. So I finally attended The Feast CDO in February 2013.
At The Feast, I simply felt overwhelming joy. I am really glad that I found The Feast where I came to realize my wrongdoings, where I came to know more about Jesus, and really felt His forgiveness and unconditional love for me.
I try not to be judgemental now. I realized that a same sex relationship is not for me. So now I am no longer in a relationship with the same sex —for almost three years, down to forever! And I am never going back to that kind of life.
In 2015, The Feast CDO leaders met up with my youth group and challenged us to build a Feast in Iligan.
By God’s grace we were able to start Feast Video Iligan in February 2015. And we had our first live Feast in Iligan with a Big Day Celebration in August 2015.
I now happily serve in The Feast Video Iligan as an emissary and an administration head.
I am also a member of a Light Group.
I thank God that my brother and mother have also experienced The Feast. My brother first attended the Northern Mindanao Grand Feast in April 2014, and he now attends The Feast Video Iligan. Our mom visited us in Iligan, and so she was able to attend our Feast Video.
My father came with me when I attended the Emissary Gathering in Mandaluyong on April 23, 2016. It was his first time seeing the people I serve with in The Feast Video.
Our youngest brother had also attended the Campus Feast in Philippine Science High School – SMC in Davao City last February and my sister finished the LST program before she went to Surigao del Norte for work.
I just feel happy and super blessed that my family knows what I do and they have attended the Light of Jesus events.
Back to the Church
I have always liked the Catholic Faith and it makes me feel really blessed to have this faith. I attend the Mass at the Redemptorist Church on Sundays. On weekdays, I attend the Mass at the Catholic Center Campus Ministry.
At The Feast, I have learned more about my Faith. I have known Jesus Christ in a deeper sense and I will strive hard for other people to know the Good News.