Today’s featured guest post is written by a good friend of mine. We’ve been in the same ministry for almost a year, and he’s also my accountability partner. I’ve been very blessed seeing him grow in his spiritual life and becoming more passionate in serving the Lord. Let’s take a look and discover how faithful God is in his life as he shares his personal testimony.
When I was younger I’ve always seen myself as a loser, struggling at the bottom of life’s food chain. I quite found it hard to handle myself in society. I was sickly looking, didn’t even know how to fix my own hair, and struggled even to basically dress neatly. These were chiefly the results of my being weighed down with low self esteem, quietly upset with tons of insecurities making me shy, timid and unpoised most of the time. I was often teased with names like “kalansay”, “malnourished” or just simply “ugly”. I got used to becoming the butt of the jokes on my countenance. Regardless, I’ve learned to accept these insults. But just to reassure myself I remember asking my mom if I indeed looked ugly. Well we know what sweet loving mothers would always say.
On the other hand I picture my early childhood memories at home as sketched with mischief and naughtiness painted with rage and rebellion. I was the constant menace and trouble maker always flaring up with an ill short temper. I constantly quarrel with my siblings occasionally ending up in almost bloody fist fights with my older brother. At a young age I’ve learned to curse and my parents would surprisingly at times be at the receiving end. I was disrespectful at home. I was slowly becoming a rebel, literally one without a cause. I truly couldn’t at all make out any definite reasons for my behavior. But little did I know I my heart was really bent on to be that way.
I pushed on with my repulsive teenage existence. Just not a long while after I acquired a profane tongue I soon delved into pornography using online websites like Porn kai on 5th grade, learned to drink beer the same year and puffed my first stick of cigarette the next year. Due to a sudden physical metamorphosis and upon mastering the art of grooming, pride and overconfidence overcame me. Not too long I became a playboy, drunkard, gimikero, following a blind pursuit believing I was ahead of my game. I thought I was cool and was living the teenage dream.
One day during high school I learned of a lesson that would rock my reckless teenage spirit to the core. It was religion class and our teacher made an effort to illustrate the way we can go to heaven. Our teacher motioned with his hands trying to mimic a weighing scale. He explained that if the right scale (our good deeds) outweighs the left (our bad deeds) then we’d at least have a chance of entering God’s kingdom. Yes it was a chance, a mere probability. The scheme seemed simple enough but the only problem was it was extremely difficult already loosing bad weight and gaining good ones. New sins emerge as fast as I can confess them. By the way I lived my life I knew I was juggling an ever exhausting divine balancing act. Right that day I became a practical atheist. Believing God only as often as he blesses me but when the going gets tough I’d easily brush Him out of existence. As the saying goes “if you can’t beat them, join them.” I had to be hopelessly practical, I’m going to hell anyway why not get drunk and be merry before He comes back. And if Indeed He really comes I’d be keeping my fingers crossed hoping that by some odd and strange chance I’d find a loving and merciful God with arms wide open. But of course back then it was just a dream, a fantasy with a fairy tale temporarily freeing me from a sad, grim and horrendous ending.
Further trying out this newfound liberty I had to move out from home and study college at a university in Cebu. During this time I felt I had to have a better identity for myself. I had to be cooler. I had to advance further. I just had to be bad. And upon entering college I joined a fraternity. I could not resist the lure of fame, respect, power and reputation. The negative connotation towards the group fueled my excitement. I joyfully endured the hazing process and the exhausting lifestyle of intoxication as well. I was passionately devoted to the group and exhibited an untiring fanaticism. Not long enough did I achieve the title as the “Grand Tetrarch” or the president of brotherhood. Yes, I indeed was having the time of my life. Well, I was flunking exams left and right, getting wasted night after night, occasionally flooded my bed with vomit, committed various immoralities, for the first time got escorted in a police car and was always thrilled at getting ourselves in danger. Yes, I was having the time of my life, but in reality I was running out of time for my life.
It was those days that I met a girl who was a Christian. We dated a few times and she invited me to attend her church. At first I was hesitant but finally conceded concerned more at putting on a good image to please her parents. The first time I attended the service was staggering for me. It was phenomenal in a sense that never in my life have I seen many people singing together crying their hearts out with such great emotional harmony, almost to me a heavenly chorus of joyful voices. Astonished as I was by the great spectacle doubt and unbelief soon encroached behind me. It was such a blow to me that tragically bothered me so much thinking “how on earth could a bunch of people entertain profound happiness in a world of pain and suffering, a world where I live in, a world full of evil and hopelessness.” Their smiles and their lifting up of hands and the passion at which they displayed in praising God was so profound but offensively alien to me that I had to dismiss them as hypocritical, apathetic to the real world & escapists guised in joy and peace. I indeed bore a grudge towards them even to a point where I even hated Christian songs and singers for the same reasons. Why would they waste their time creating music about Jesus. Don’t they get bored with him? Are they just entrapped in this cultic fixation? As soon as the girl and I stopped dating, I also stopped dating the church.
My pursuit in finding joy in the world never waned actually. A friend of mine invited me to train martial arts with his group. I was even more intrigued when he told me that most of his fellow students were frat boys as well. Well the thought of it sounded enticing enough for me thinking it would enhance my macho image. The first day of training came and the brawly, back-alley, dojo-ish, street fighter atmosphere I was expecting wasn’t there to greet me. To my surprise and dismay I ended up in a room with men circled around a table with bibles in their hands instead of punching gloves. Yes it was a bible study and it was a prerequisite for the training. I felt I had no choice but to politely listen in. Being inquisitive myself I started feeling rather attentive. The speaker spoke with great authority and conviction. Even so, I was amazed at how openly he shared about how God transformed his life. He introduced himself as a member of a nationally infamous fraternity known for fatal rumbles, hazing and drugs but he sternly emphasized that the Lord made him into a new person. He shared how the Lord changed his life from being a good for nothing brawler to one of God’s mighty warriors. I never really expected that I’d get hooked in on the great things they were discussing. I learned about my real condition, the reason why I was rebelling for no apparent reason. Well even if had one I realized that because of the fall of man sin corrupted my whole nature rendering me incapable of pleasing God in whatever I do thus inclining me to do what He abhors. I learned I was a murderer in my anger and an adulterer the moment I lusted on a woman. I stumbled upon all God’s law by breaking just one. Obeying God was even more exhausting than when I first got frustrated during highschool. Then I learned I deserved death. I was supposed to be encouraged but I felt even more hopeless. But they never stopped there. They taught me something I never grasped before. They showed me something I never really had. Something I should have been looking for my whole life. They pointed me to hope. And the Hope was in the form of God’s one and only Son Jesus Christ.
I never imagined that in spite of my rebellion He chose to have mercy on me. Mercy not based upon chance, probability nor sheer luck but mercy based in His Word. The Lord loves us and chose to be merciful to us even to the point of offering us the best bargain of all time, His Righteousness for our sins on the basis of faith, upon believing in Him. I needed Him, I needed a Savior, He was my only hope my Redeemer. And on a cold Saturday night of September 2008 I gave my life to our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed he made me into new creation, the old has gone the new has come. He took my profane lips and gave me Godly speech. His Spirit developed this desire in me to love and cherish His Word. I devoured the bible by night and Christian books day. He made me hate my sins freeing me from my vices. Meeting fellow believers was like finding treasure in a junk yard. And now I know why I was so pissed on my first encounter with Christians. I finally beheld the reason for their ecstatic passion. And I realized the reason I was so disappointed and irritated was because I was envious of what they have that I never could have or attain by any mere human feat. Furthermore I was frustrated that my unbelief made me not understand what they were experiencing. But now I know why they could praise God that way, why they smiled that way. I knew now that those smiles, hands lifted up, those desirable emotions could only emanate from the joy of knowing the Lord. And as soon as I comprehended that ground breaking discovery I literally got addicted praising God for who He was.
Once I pursued a life I never had, and now with this new life He purchased for me through His blood I constantly move forward in this race where God is my ultimate finish line. I once was excited to be in the fellowship of ungodly people but now I take confidence being in God’s holy body. God had done so much tremendously in my life. I was able to reach out to my family and now they worship the Lord with me. I’ve immersed myself in serving the Lord through different ministries and have sustained me with His joy and peace. Even though I don’t consider myself one of the youth anymore I now serve at Elevate as volunteer to share to students how God manifested in me while I was a student myself. By God’s grace I discerned His calling to serve as a full time Campus Missionary and I have just left the corporate world and to pursue God’s mission for me. Truly all these are possible because we have an awesome, Sovereign, just and loving God. To God be the Glory!
Cliff Jarold Caintic is a sinner radically corrupted from the core saved by God’s radical Sovereign love, righteous through faith and Holy by grace, a child adopted by the everlasting Father, a bond-slave to the King of Kings, a humble disciple of the greatest D-group Leader of all time, a proud member of God’s eternal brotherhood.