Hymn of Christ’s Mercy - Mission Trip in Bohol
In celebration of the 90th anniversary of Mission Sunday of the Catholic Church, the Verbum Dei Family Cebu went to Tagbilaran, Bohol on October 22, 2016 to hold a mission trip in the form of a song forum with the theme “Hymn of Christ’s Mercy”. With the declaration of Pope Francis of Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy (December 8, 2015-November 20, 2016), the song forum aims to let the participants experience God’s mercy through the fun and spirit-filled songs and dynamics, and to create more awareness that all baptized Christians are called to be missionary disciples.
The song forum was held in the gym of the Holy Name University in Tagbilaran City participated by about 85 people coming from all realities (couples, singles, youth and kids) from 5pm until 7pm. The song forum was basically a mini-concert incorporated with other activities and dynamics invoking the Holy Spirit to fire up the people. The first part of the forum was the Ideal Stage composed of the introduction, welcome talk of Sr. Liza, VD Misionera, and animation songs. At this part the people were given the idea of what the song forum will be about, what can they expect from the event and introduce to them what Verbum Dei Family is. The second part was the Conversion Stage featuring songs that aim to present the mercy of Christ to the people such as Who You Are, Invisible and Unfear Me. A testimony of life was shared by a VD disciple regarding how the mercy of Christ moved him to show mercy to his father whom he did not share a good relationship with. After this, the HNU Dimawag Dance Troupe rendered a heartwarming skit portraying the temptations and realities of life that make man turn away from God but the ending put tears on the crowd’s eyes because of the strong message that God’s love is so overwhelming and powerful and can make us triumph over worldly temptations and desires as long as we hold on to Him.
After the skit was the Adoration part which gave the crowd a chance to see the face of Jesus in the form of the Blessed Sacrament placed in front of everyone up in the stage. The music committee sang Lead Kindly Light while Fr. Bong, VD exposed the Blessed Sacrament for everyone to venerate. For most, if not all, the Adoration part was a new experience to have in the middle of a mini-concert. I can say that this was the highlight of the whole event which had the element of surprise and gave a great impact to the crowd. People were given a moment of silence to reflect on the mercy of Christ while looking at the concrete face of Jesus in the form of the Blessed Sacrament.
At this point, when everyone was so fired up with the Holy Spirit and strongly aware that all baptized Christians are called to be missionary disciples, the song forum proceeded to the last part which was the Projection Stage starting off with a song Man in the Mirror. As what the message of the song implies, change must come within ourselves if we want change to happen around us. A testimony from another VD disciple was heard regarding answered prayers after responding to the call of Christ to be a missionary disciple. Because of her perseverance in praying, her brother whom she had been prayer for a long time to turn away from his wicked ways changed for the better.
While singing Your Grace is Enough, everyone was invited to sign their names in a world map posted on the board bearing different realities wherein missionary discipleship is called for such as global warming, corruption, poverty, war and injustice, trafficking, promiscuity, etc. After this dynamic, a box was passed around and everyone was invited to pick one piece of paper which contains the “Grace” that each one needs in accomplishing the call of being a missionary disciple in the reality that they chose.
The song forum ended with worship songs and fellowship leaving each participant a pleasant experience of Christ’s mercy.
On a personal note, this Song Forum did not only let me experience Christ’s mercy through the songs and dynamics during the event itself but through the self-giving of all the members during the preparation as well. Each and everyone selflessly devoted their time, efforts and talents in making the event successful. I am awed by the generosity of the members spending their time and money to make sure that everything will work out well and achieve the objectives of the song forum. The number of people who participated in the event is lesser that what I expected which somehow made me disappointed but after the event, hearing the positive feedback of those who have attended uplifted my spirit. The prayer I uttered the night before the event was that through the song forum, we may be able to touch lives and let the people experience the mercy of Christ so that they in return they may also show mercy to others. This prayer was heard and answered through the comments of the participants after the event. Some said it was unfortunate that only few people have experienced the event.
This was the second song forum I have attended and in both song forums, the part that struck me the most is the Adoration. I’ve also been to a number of concerts and even attended praise and worship services of Christian groups but never have I experienced an encounter with Jesus amidst the merry making and enjoyment within the event like the one I had during the song forum. The moment of silence spent in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament gave me an opportunity to talk to Jesus, thank Him for the graces and mercy He has bestowed on me and my loved ones and just enjoy his loving presence. Indeed, Jesus is present in every situation we are facing anytime and anywhere. This realization challenges me to be merciful to others as how God the Father has been merciful to me through His Son Jesus Christ.