When God Speaks
A Testimony of encounters with the Word of God
I am Kim from Cebu. I am 22 years old and I work as a teacher. Normally, testimonies begin with our very first encounter with the community. In my case, I met them during our Recollection when I was still 4th year high school. After that encounter, some disciples and missionaries were very consistent in inviting us to join prayer meetings (later I learned that it is called School of the Word). At first, it was not hard for me to relate because I had my classmates who were with me joining as well. But, I also had fears... I was shy because I don’t know what to expect from this community – there are even lots of sharing which I dread the most! I am not a well-spoken person, so it is quite difficult for me to share my thoughts. I can still remember that my voice is always shaking whenever it’s my time to talk!
Looking back, I could tell how much Jesus wanted to make friends with me. He consistently accompanied me in every Yes that I make whenever I am invited to go in the community because He knows what I need to know and do! I could choose to attend or not, right? My desire to know Jesus deeply became clearer when an incident happened, and my father told me not to go the community anymore. That situation bothered me! In my mind, I immediately thought, “No way!”. It was not yet too long since I have known the community but at that moment I felt like I don’t want to leave them. It felt like something very important will be taken away from me. I resented my father for that and I was not able to go to the community for few days. But, Jesus at that time, stayed with me. Just like what Ruth said in the bible, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.” (Ruth 1:16) For once, I thought I would be far from Him but it made me realize how much Jesus wanted to stay with me especially in those moments. I asked some missionaries for help to enlighten me about my father’s decision and that prompted me to go to prayer. In my dialogue with Jesus, He made it clear to me that there’s no point of resenting my father. That I should face the situation with more patience and more love. I realized that the reason why I don’t want to do what my father wants me to do is not because of the people in the community but because I have found a place where I can grow in my relationship with Jesus. Having a community of faith never crossed in my mind before. At first, the Verbum Dei charism did not attract me so much but I find it interesting because it related somehow with my personality. Although, I don’t want to speak so much but the people are eager to listen to you. Learning about their activities also excite me because I wanted to volunteer in stuff like that!
I perceived in that experience Jesus’s invitation for me to be aware of my decisions – that discernment is really essential! To listen to the voice of Truth could sometimes be a path of painful obstacles, but you see, these obstacles were never meant to harm us but to bring forth strength and peace in our life. Choosing to stay with Jesus in the community made me decide to commit and take part in the mission that He has left us and I am joyful that I am still serving Him until today. I will never forget that experience for it led me to where I am now – not a perfect disciple but a servant willing to be transformed and converted in one’s faith each day. The passage that helped me stay and persevere with God is from John 15:5 that says, “I am the vine; and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Honestly, even if I am already joining the community for years now, I still have lots of fears, insecurities, doubts, uncertainties, and inconsistencies. But, Jesus assured me that His love is perfect and it will always be enough. It is a misconception when people thought that if one is involved in a religious community, he or she is very pious and “problem-free”. I even thought to myself: “When I knew God even more, my life became much challenging. There are lots of suffering and persecution – emotionally and spiritually.” That’s true! But I can testify that once you have tasted the rawness and authenticity of the love and mercy of God, you will always be drawn towards it and you will keep asking for more. Today, talk with Jesus and listen to the beating of His heart. His heart beats for you and He asks you to stay always with Him 😊
“Yet just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
And do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
Giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me empty,
but shall do what pleases me,
achieving the end for which I sent it.”
Rain, in some passages in the Scriptures, has a two-fold image: abundance and fruitfulness. James 5:18 NAB-- Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the earth produced its fruit. Leviticus 26:4 NAB-- I will give you your rains in due season, so that the land will yield its crops, and the trees their fruit… Zechariah 10:1 NAB-- Ask the LORD for rain in the spring season, the LORD who brings storm clouds, and heavy rains, who gives to everyone grain in the fields.
This imagery of the rain has also been used to describe the dynamism of the Word of God as in Isaiah 55:10, generously given in abundance and always assuring fruitfulness. The earth that is blessed by the outpouring of the rain is and will never remain the same, the dry and arid land becomes fertile and capable of generating life. I will pour out water upon the thirsty ground, streams upon the dry land (Is 44:3). And as long as the earth welcomes the gift of the rain, it will always yield goodness and life. In the same way, human life, when opened to the Word of God, is presented countless possibilities of fullness and fruitfulness. And all that is asked from the human soil is its openness and acceptance of the Word generously poured out in abundance.
“And some seed fell on rich soil, opened, blessed, and graced by the Word of God and so produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” (Matthew 13:8)
Over the years, many of our people here in the community have been transformed by the Word of God—from living a life of path-like dryness, of rock-embedded hardness, and of thorn-infested existence to that of a rich and fertile soil. Their encounters with the Word of God prayed and preached—personal, sincere, and concrete—are the turning point of their lives wherein from that moment on, everything has a different taste and a much deeper sense. Situations remain the same, the people they live and work with are the same. The difference is the newness created by the Word of God in the mind and heart and soul of the person… a newness given abundantly and generously, at the same time promising bountiful harvest of the attitudes and values we could need.
“There is in us an instinct for newness, for renewal, for a liberation of creative power. We seek to awaken in ourselves a force which really changes our lives from within. And yet the same instinct tells us that this change is a recovery of that which is deepest, most original, most personal in ourselves. To be born again is not to become somebody else, but to become ourselves.” Thomas Merton, Christian Humanism in Love and Living.
The dry and parched land, when watered by the abundance of rain, becomes truer to its land-ness than it is when it is dry. Land, as it is, is always life-giving, life-generating. The rain then does not put something on the land, rather it completes it from within. The rain completes the land by allowing it to be capable of nurturing even the smallest seed of life sowed in it. Such fruitfulness in the human soil needs to be seen so that others may find their possibilities as well.
One of the richness of our Verbum Dei prayer is to touch God through our “testimony of life”. The objective of a ‘testimony of life’ is that the people who listen/read to it be deeply impressed by the experiences that we transmit, and that they be moved to want to experience something like that for themselves; to experience Christ personally, to change their lives, to start all over again, etc.
As Verbum Dei disciples, we share our testimony in order to give hope to all people who in one way or the other, big or small, are affected by this pandemic that we are currently facing. It is our way of proclaiming through our lives that God is near, He is willing to talk to us and listens to our cries, to comfort us, He is alive, and He loves us so much.