B1G South True Life Retreat – Day 3

Note from the author: This is part of my daily account of what happened in the True Life Retreat last November 29 to December 1.

If you haven’t been able to read what I have been writing the past days, you might want to check out what I wrote for Day 1 and Day 2.This is now my last entry as I try to wrap up everything that has happened in the retreat. I slept at around 2am and really pushed myself to wake up at 6am. Now 4 hours of sleep is really not that bad but I have already exhausted so much energy the past days that 8 hours of complete sleep would have been better. But still, I wanted to push myself to wake up early and play basketball. I guess my retreat experience wouldn’t be complete without playing my favourite sport. But I am not playing just for the fun of it – I had a purpose for inviting people to join us to play at 6am in morning. I see basketball as a good way to break the ice and get to know people. Basketball was one of the reasons I got to know people when I was attending youth camps in the past. It’s a good avenue for people to connect and be comfortable with one another. I also see it as a way to reach out to others. Through this sport, others would see us as normal. That we are not just a group who loves the Lord and serves Him, but we also know how to play and have fun. I played one good game then had breakfast after.

After breakfast, I took a bath and immediately went to the snack bar to just think. We had our volunteers huddle there and I briefed them with everything that was going to happen for the day. All Module 1 participants were asked to stay in the main hall for the baptism message, while all Module 2 participants went on to participate in the different workshops. After the message and workshops, everyone was encouraged to attend Baptism, either to be baptized or to witness the event. I came early to the pool to dip my feet in the cold water and just pray. Somehow I was already imagining what was going to happen and with thankfulness in my heart, I just praised God for allowing me to be part of His work. There were three pairs that handled the baptism and I was part of that. Whenever someone walked towards us to be baptized, I could see how overwhelmed they were. Aside from the fact that the water was really cold, I can feel them shiver with the thought that this is it – this is the day that they would publicly declare their commitment to their God. I welcomed each individual that came to us. I asked for their names, and hoped that with my tone and smile, they would be able to relax a bit. Whenever I would ask the three questions, I would look intently in their eyes. From their eyes you’ll see what was inside their hearts. Some would respond with an outstanding “Yes!” while some would respond softy, but in their eyes and tone, you would see that it truly came from their heart. I was overwhelmed with joy as I witnessed fellow believers get baptized. I don’t know if people noticed it, but I was already coming to the point of breaking into tears because of immense joy. There were times I would just wash my face with pool water to hide my emotion and cover my tears. Hehe.

True Life Baptism

When the baptism activity was over, everyone washed up and packed their things before having lunch. When I got to the mess hall, they asked if we were going to proceed with the Top Show that the general manager of the RRC suggested. This was really not part of the program and I was hesitant to allow it since it means we will have to go beyond schedule. I talked to Mrs.Mauk and as we discussed the details, it was already pretty clear that there is no way of stopping the top show from happening. The only impression I really got it was “You will do the top show” and not “I hope we can do the top show.” J I gave in and announced to the coordinators that there was going to be a change in the schedule. After the top show, we had the closing program and then it was time to head home.

I won’t make this long anymore. As Day 3 came to a close, I just felt thankful that I was able to witness His work. I’m also very grateful that He sustained me for the past months we were planning and preparing for this retreat. I wanted to take a deep breath and comfort myself by thinking – “It’s over, you did the best that you can and now, you just need to learn from the things that still needs improvement.” But as I recall everything that happened, I realize that it’s not completely over. That burden in my heart just got bigger. I keep hearing my heart saying – “We need to catch them. We need to catch them. We need to catch them.” It’s hard to be contented by the retreat. The cry of my heart is further motivating me to ensure that the participants continue to grow in their love for the Lord. This retreat is not just an experience but the start of their renewed life with Jesus. That’s why we need to actively pursue discipleship. The 3 day retreat experience may seem like an emotional high for everyone, but as we go on with the daily battles of life – reality will always strike us – there will be temptations left and right and our flesh will desire the things of this world again. That’s why we need to stay connected to one another. We need to continually encourage one another to walk in the way of the Lord. We need to catch everyone and intentionally disciple. This is my prayer for all breakout group leaders. That they would continually reach out to those who were part of their group. And in that process, build a relationship where they can invite them to attend bible studies or our Singles Connect services. This way, we can ensure that through discipleship, we’ll be able to guide them in their journey to get to know the Lord.

It’s somehow hard for me to share this burden in my heart because I know a lot of people want to rest. I want to rest as well. But I am just sharing a piece of my heart that cannot remain silent. It is just my desire that Jesus will be shared to everyone. That we will all grow together in our love for the Lord as we become active in discipleship and ministry. And I just want to share, as I was prayerfully thinking and talking to God, He has been somehow showing me another vision. It’s still blurry as of moment but this is what I know – The best is yet to come! I do not know what that means but I just have a feeling it’s going to be big and I want to be part of it. I want to see His name be glorified. I want His name to be praised. So won’t you join us? Can I invite you to be part of this ministry which desires to see a movement of singles’ living out transformed lives to the fullest for the glory of God? We have service every Saturday at 6pm at the 3rd floor of CCF Alabang. I would love to see you attend and also be part of a discipleship group. If you have any questions, just drop me a comment below or connect with me through Facebook. I’m always excited to hear from you.

Tree House B1G Shot

I just want to take this time to thank each and every one who helped in the True Life Singles retreat. From the cluster heads, volunteers, breakout group leaders, program team, worship team, prayer team, marketing team, curriculum team and many more – you are all deeply appreciated. I might not have been able to personally say thank you, but know that your ultimate blessing is with Christ. I look forward to working with you guys again. Let us not grow weary of doing good for in due time, we shall reap what we have sown. This is a video that I feel summarizes what I learned about God. Hope you guys like it. I love you all. Lablab.  Hehe.

B1G South True Life Retreat – Day 2

Note from the author: This is part of my daily account of what happened in the True Life Retreat last November 29 to December 1. This is my Day 2 you may read my previous entry here

I wasn’t really expecting too many concerns when the day started because I knew that most of the things we needed to do and fix were already done on the first day.Marc Sorongon Playing Guitar I really looked forward to this day because I expected it to be more relaxed and plus, I was looking forward to the chance to fellowship with other people. I wasn’t planning to go to dawn watch because I wanted to rest and sleep. But somehow, I woke up and was lead to still attend it. I fixed my hair and immediately went to the obstacle course. Yes, you read it right. I just fixed my hair and didn’t take a bath. Haha. That’s what most men do and there was a time scheduled for wash-up after dawn watch and breakfast anyway. After hearing KC’s message, I took a guitar and played it while wandering around the field and just had a wonderful time with the Lord. I walked around the field, strumming and plucking the guitar while praying to God for everything that will be happening throughout the day.

Message 3 was scheduled to start at 10am and Pastor Joby delivered such a wonderful message about the cross. He was able to clearly show the suffering that Jesus Christ endured for our sins. Pastor Joby Soriano PreachingEveryone was in tears as they realized just how much Jesus Christ loves them and the reason why He died for them. Tita Cindy even shared her testimony which was very applicable to singles and young adults. I am truly blessed by their ministry. Pastor Joby and Tita Cindy are people I really look up to. They are my role models. I want to be able to minister and shepherd people just like Pastor Joby and I am looking for a partner in life who complements and supports my ministry just like how Tita Cindy supports her husband. It was a joy to spend time and fellowship with them over lunch. I am truly grateful that they are always asking me how they can better support the Singles ministry. Their encouragement and love can truly be felt and I am always grateful for that.

After the morning session, we had lunch, then message 4, breakout and then True Moments. I was assigned to be a Marshall at the most exciting station in the game – True Friends.B1G-South-True-Life-Retreat-True-Moments It was so exciting that my only responsibility was to take a picture of each group from the tree house. Of course, I am exaggerating when I said it was exciting. Haha. Although I have to say that the view from the tree house was perfect as it gave me the chance to see how each individual can be very competitive and how the different groups tried to work as a team. As I expected, Day 2 seemed like a fun and relaxing day for me. But the day hasn’t ended yet.

When dinner was finished and everyone was able to wash-up, the next scheduled activity was a group workshop called True Access and everyone was asked to gather in front of the main hall. Honestly, it was hard to do crowd control but with God’s help, we were able to gather everyone in that small area between the main and mess hall. Nano started to speak and I felt relieved that the program was going according to plan. During the activity, I slipped to the back, took a seat and prayed. Somehow, I felt very frustrated. I felt that we weren’t doing a good job on keeping the program on schedule and the crowd wasn’t being controlled or managed properly. I am not pointing out to any gB1G-South-True-Life-Retreat-True-Accessroup or person but for me, this is one of the major points for improvement that we need to take note of. I prayed and asked God to help me continue to respond well in the situation. I was just asking God to continue to give me that strength to push on and serve no matter what the circumstances are. I went back to the activity and after a couple of minutes, it started to drizzle. I was already alarmed, but praying that it will not get stronger.  A large part of the group was already under a big tree so I was hoping that the leaves and branches would somehow help cover them from the rain. I moved to an open area where I would be able to feel if the rain was getting stronger. I was praying to God to not allow a downpour. Lots of thoughts were already going inside my head. What will we do if we couldn’t finish the program? Where will we continue the activity? What if it suddenly rains hard and everyone gets wet? What if a lot of people get sick because of this? In the end, I was thinking about all of these things because I knew I was accountable for this. I approved the activity being held outside despite the fact that the weather had become unpredictable since the participants arrived. I know this is under my responsibility. With this experience, I suddenly realized that my decisions for the ministry are really crucial. I cannot just say “yes” all the time, I need to think how this will benefit everyone and how this will affect the whole ministry. It is truly a big responsibility. But it is a responsibility that I am willing to carry. Not because I feel confident I can, but because I firmly believe that it is what God has called me to do.  Honestly, I have never felt capable and have sometimes felt scared to lead. But the Lord has always assured me that He is with me and just like what he has been telling me this whole time, He is always faithful. It is His ministry not mine. By God’s grace, the rain did not intensify and the activity finished without the message being disrupted.

When everyone started going into the main hall for the worship night, the band that was supposed to be playing was still incomplete. It took around 15 minutes before they started.Everyone was becoming restless and some were even going back to their cabins already. I started to worry and become frustrated again. True Life Retreat - Worship NightI know it was properly communicated that praise and worship should start while people were entering the main hall. I looked for those who were missing in the band and somehow God was telling me to voice out my concern properly to those who were missing and extend grace to them. I calmly spoke to them to immediately go to the main hall and I praise God that I did not do anything that could have ruined my testimony. I felt God was telling me to calm down, speak to them and refrain from getting mad because this might lead them to suddenly lose their focus. I was prodded to address the concern after. When the praise & worship started, I again withdrew from the activity and went to my favorite quiet place to pray. I felt very frustrated and it was hard for me to worship during that time. I prayed and asked forgiveness for worrying and not trusting Him. I tried composing myself again and in prayer, just asked God to help me let go of my frustration because my worship should not be dependent on the situation but on who God is. I went back to the main hall and joined the worship and once again, I was just blown away. With a thankful heart I just worshiped God for everything that He is doing and has done in my life. I was just filled with peace and the night became a wonderful time of worship for me.

Marc Sorongong, Crissy Rillo, Fren LagmanAfter worship night, everyone was asked to join in the Fellowship time. I tried my best not to meddle and allow the programs team to handle this. The program was not what I expected because everyone was seated and not talking with one another. What I actually envisioned was a free flowing program where everyone can just mingle and fellowship even while there is a program going on. But still, the programs team did a great job because in the middle of the program, everyone was encouraged to stand up and start mingling. I was relieved to know that I didn’t have to do anything to make it happen and just allowed God to work. Everyone started talking to one another and meeting new people. I was able to meet new people as well and it was a good time to enjoy and fellowship with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. When the program was finished, we started cleaning up the covered court and gathered all the chairs again. When that was over, I went to my room and slept.

I have to be honest that I wasn’t expecting all those concerns that happened during True Access and True Worship. In everything that happens, there is always that one lesson for me that I am hoping to apply whenever things get out of control – do not panic. What happened throughout the day really helped me realize that I should learn how to calmly handle things even when there are a lot of things that are out of control. That is my natural tendency – to start looking for the solution to the problem without first thinking if that is a real problem that needs to be addressed. I’m just so grateful that in all those times I felt frustrated, God was there to calm my heart down and assure me that He is in control. I might have lost all my hair if God wasn’t with me. Hehe.

I believe Day 2 ended well for me. I may have lost my composure but praise God that through Him, I was able to be at peace again and I learned to trust him throughout. And I do not know if you remember what I wrote before in my B1G8 experience regarding that great ending to a hopeful love story. Well, this time… there isn’t any love story! Haha. I am still waiting for His perfect timing in everything, and no matter what, I will always give thanks! Praise the Lord for what He has done.

The second day of the True Life Singles Retreat has just ended and here is what happened during the last day in the retreat.

B1G South True Life Retreat – Day 1

I know it’s been a while since I wrote something for my blog. These past months, I‘ve been busy preparing and planning for a retreat. The  True Life retreat just ended and I am once again filled with mixed emotions. I remember writing an article last year about my B1G8 experience so this time allow me to just walk you through what has happened in this year’s True Life Retreat.

Marc Sorongon with Advance Party for True Life RetreatI was part of the advance party which arrived at the Rizal Re-creation Center last Thursday (November 28, 2013) and immediately, there was a big problem that we needed to address. The main hall which was supposed to be unoccupied was filled with around 120 people who were having a retreat as well. One of our main objectives for the advance party was to setup the stage design. So we just decided to do the stage setup somewhere else and transport it the following day. But that was not actually the major concern. The main concern is the actual program that we planned for the morning of Day 1. Part of our program during the first day was to have an opening program in the main hall. But those who were occupying the hall were scheduled to vacate it after lunch. This left me thinking of other options that we could do. I started talking to a lot of people about contingency plans. This also made me ask God for help through prayer and at the same time, wisdom for what to do. I really did not want to change the program and adjust. To be honest, I’m the type of guy who wants everything to be planned and executed perfectly. But I knew God had a plan and I just needed to trust him. Even before the retreat, He has constantly been reminding me that He will be faithful and that I just needed to trust him.

Marc Sorongon briefing BOGLS

Briefing the Breakout Group Leaders about the change in Schedule

We adjusted the program and decided to replace the opening program with an early lunch. When Day 1 came, I was excited but at the same time nervous. I was so looking forward to seeing all the participants that I was even confident enough in what we had planned to do. I also set out a challenge for myself. I know people have always been telling me that I needed to improve my social skills so I decided to welcome people at the retreat. Before everyone had a chance to leave their bags at the designated area, I was there welcoming them and with a big smile.  I really wanted to make everyone feel comfortable and welcomed. I can’t remember how many times I said “Good morning” but each time I would greet someone and smile at them – they would politely smile back. I thought to myself – “Hey, this is not bad. I should do this more often.” I was even relieved to know that the participants were being accommodated because people were approaching them with boards hanging over their necks which had questions they needed to answer. Overall, I saw that despite the change in schedule, God was still working it for the good. As he has been telling me all day long – He is always faithful. This was also the first time that the first part of the program was not an opening ceremony, but a getting to know activity for the breakout groups. I was scared honestly, since this might be awkward for some participants and the break group leader had to ensure that they’ll be able to build rapport with their group on the first meet. I trusted God and thought to myself that the opening program is not the major factor that will help ensure the catch, but it’s the relationships that will be created and nurtured in the breakout groups. I know God is working and I should trust him.

If you’re thinking that the problem ended there, it was actually just the beginning. Because while the breakout groups were getting to know one another, lots of things still needed to be done. Those occupying the main hall finished late and the mobile rental equipment had around 3 hours to setup the speakers, wiring, amplifiers, drums, etc. To top it all off, while the mobile equipment was being prepped, the production team needed to setup the stage and transport all the designs they have built to the main hall. The opening program was delayed and we started at 3pm. I also needed to compose myself because I was scheduled to play the bass during the opening program and preach the first message after the opening program. To simply explain my condition during that time – I was just very tired.B1G-South-True-Life-Retreat-Message1-Preaching But when I started to preach, I just really felt very relaxed and energized. As I looked into everyone’s eyes from the pulpit, I felt this overwhelming joy because it made me realize that these are the people that we will be serving the next 3 days and I want nothing more than for them to get to know the Lord and grow in their love for Him. I really thank God that despite the issues and problems we had, when I started to preach I was focused and was able to deliver the message well. Truly, I am always left thanking God after each message I deliver. This was really another work of the Lord and glory should only be towards him.

I was really relieved after preaching, everything was almost in order and I was done with most of the things I really needed to do. We had dinner and I sat with my Dgroup. I asked how everyone was since I haven’t been able to really connect with them because of my busy schedule. As I tried to listen to them, I can feel that most of them were going through something which left me very burdened and not at peace. I wanted to minister to them. I wanted to be there for them. But I couldn’t handle everything that’s why I asked one of the Dgroup members to be an intern and handle the group for the meantime during breakouts. I was left asking God, what I should do. I was thinking, do I need to join them during breakout? But again, looking back at what was God was telling me, I know He will be faithful and I needed to focus on what my responsibilities are. So I entrusted my group towards God. But in the end, He still never fails to guide me. During the breakout, I was doing nothing and no concern was coming along my way so I took the guitar and started playing outside the main hall and somehow, God lead me to just listen to the discussion of my Dgroup and then eventually join them. So I did and we had a good discussion about life in general.

Day 1 was really exhausting for me. I ended the day briefing all the volunteers what would happen on Day 2 and at the same time praying for them. The tone of my voice was monotonous and without energy but deep within my heart, I felt peace and joy to be part of the work of the Lord. Despite being tired, I was still actually able to roam around and do security checks. I really do not know how much energy I spent during that day. But I know deep within my heart that it was fuelled by my love for the Lord and the love I have for the people he has entrusted me to lead. This is just my Day 1 experience which really showed me that God is in control and He will always be faithful no matter what happens. I still want to write about Day 2 but I feel I need to cut this entry since it might be too long. I hope while reading this, you were encouraged and you realize that no matter what setbacks we may have in life, God still holds us in his hand. Again, He is faithful.

The first day of the True Life Singles Retreat has just ended and here is what happened the following day in the retreat.

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