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Ma. KatherineSFC MMC 08 by Martha Vinzons
Posted by Ma. Katherine Guaño on 8/7/2008 2:33:39 AM

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“Are you a fire starter?”
This was the teaser that advertised this year’s Singles for Christ Metro Manila Conference entitled SFC Ablaze. Without yet having an answer to the question and hoping to have one after the weekend, the delegates headed to the Subic Exhibition and Conference Center last July 25 where more than 2,500 single men and women from all over Metro Manila gathered for the annual conference.
As the hall teemed with people who were all excited about the weekend-long event, the energy was high since the enthusiasm of each one was infectious. Everyone was regal and royal in their stance, dressed in their best. The women came in long gowns and the men in coat and tie, complementing one another as well as the kingdom-like décor of the Main Plenary Hall. The grand evening started with Holy Mass celebrated by Fr. Audie Mozo who made everyone see that this was no ordinary get-together but indeed a gathering of God’s sons and daughters in His Kingdom.
It definitely was how everyone felt that evening as they sang the Philippine National Anthem, professing their love for country. Jonel Banzon, Chacha del Rosario and Coach Hipol, the emcees for the conference, roused the crowd with their grace and verve. CFC leader Leo Cruz then warmly welcomed SFC Metro Manila to the province of Zambales and promised a hospitable stay for the weekend. Lawrence Quintero, the SFC Metro Manila Head, formally opened the MMC 08 by setting the hearts of every delegate to expect great things to happen and be amazed with how God will reveal himself in the grand conference. A rousing worship by Rommel Gajo capped the opening ceremonies.
The first session started off with a majestic production number by the SFC dance ministry together with the princesses and knights of the different “kingdoms” or sectors. The speaker, April Dionela spoke about how remarkable that everyone present was personally invited by God who shows that nothing is impossible with Him who is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. Being “Embraced by the Father” reminded each one that the God who invites is not only King but also is Father to every person. Along these lines, everybody should always keep in mind that, “Mayaman si Papa.” (Father is rich) thus, making us infinitely blessed. Without a doubt, God’s richness was magnified everywhere – from the wonderful surroundings, to the material things He has blessed people with, to the family and friends who love and care for each one. A highlight of the session is a detailed discussion of The Lord’s Prayer where April shared about how he surrendered to God’s will during the most trying moments of his life. Meaning the words, “Your will be done,” may be painful to a certain extent when one doesn’t know what is in store but once everything is seen in the light of God’s plan then it will all make sense. The session ended with people joyfully anticipating with great expectations what is to happen not only in the conference but in their lives.
Buoyed by the Father’s Love, everyone was on a cheerful mood. It was the right tone to encourage everybody to mingle with the other members of SFC Metro Manila. A masquerade party awaited all and right after donning colorful masks, the merriment started. A game and many upbeat songs later, the glittery party ended so that everyone can have a good night’s rest.
Saturday greeted all with the warm touch of the sun. Adding to the already warm feeling was the invigorating opening worship by Ecky Bautista to start the day. The conference attendees then went to their respective workshops. Each workshop tackled a specific gift of the Holy Spirit - Knights & Damsels in Distress (Intercession) by Intercessors of the Lamb, Sword from the Stone (Faith & Miracles) by Chino Caluag, Prayer not Potions (Healing) by Charlie Laiz, Rounding Up the Castle Specter (Discernment of Spirits) by Eloy Caluag, Round Table Wisdom (Wisdom & Knowledge) by Joy Katigbak and (Prophecy/ Tongues) by Joemar Salumbides. In the Legends & Lore/ Praises not Spells workshop, the speaker asked those who received messages to share God’s words to everyone. One after the other, God’s messages were made known. Truly, the Holy Spirit was busy at work that morning.
Various creative competitions filled Saturday afternoon as talented members of the community glorified God by sharing their gift of singing and dancing. Some showed off their skill in strategizing thru the Amazing Race contest. Alongside the competitions, a session on SFC International Missions was given to promote the missionary spirit of SFCs and to go beyond their borders. Capping off the day’s activities and to start the evening, Holy Mass was celebrated by Fr. Roque Villanueva who praised the wonderful decorations that adorned the hall. He added though, that amidst the fun atmosphere, he hopes that the delegates are not there just for fun.
The evening sessions did prove that amidst the fellowship, everyone was after spiritual nourishment and a deeper communion with God. After Pipo Deiparine led a heartfelt worship, Kate Deiparine, SFC Metro Manila Head, talked about being “Saved by the Son”. She pointed out how people act like they are unsaved when in fact Jesus saves everyone everyday. It was also stressed that the character of Christ will be developed in each one, if the suffering people experience is seen as a crown that unites them with Him. As Christ allows people to share in His suffering, He also allows them to share in His glory.
Josef Poe and Gemms Pasimio testified on how victorious they have been after trusting in the Lord to take care of their own struggles. Barely a month with the community, Gemms Pasimio bravely shared about her battle with the Big C. She related how mad she was at God for having cancer a second time. But the moment she acknowledged who God is in her life, the Lord told her, “Be not afraid.” In the most recent test she underwent, just a little more than a week before the conference, her 10cm tumor shrunk to just 7.1cm.
The session “Empowered by the Holy Spirit” given by Kirby Llaban, followed the powerful testimonies. He led each one to allow the Holy Spirit to manifest Itself through prayer and healing. The delegates approached their brothers and sisters to pray for their fears, anxieties and doubts. It was a time of deep surrender as the powerful worship continued. It was as if the tongues of fire that emboldened the early disciples 2000 years ago came upon each one again to ignite the fire in their hearts that longs to burn for the Lord. Everyone, receiving God’s empowerment, sang their hearts out the theme song of the conference aptly titled, Ablaze.
Rains of the last day didn’t douse the flame set alight the night before as Norman Santos led the morning worship. Everyone eagerly listened to the final session, “SFC Ablaze! Set the World on Fire” given by SFC Metro Manila Head, Lawrence Quintero. After experiencing the magnificence and love of the Blessed Trinity in the first three sessions, it was challenging to know that to be “ablaze” is to be subjected to purification like how gold will only be true to its nature after going under refining through fire. The sharers told everyone of their own purification experiences. From being a lackluster and complaining SFC member, Rommel Briones transformed to a passionate and brilliant SFC leader who finds true happiness in his service in SFC and GK. Jay de Leon on the other hand, journeyed from being a proud person, to a repentant sinner, to an empowered SFC leader and now to a hopeful future priest who is about to enter the seminary in October. Submitting then to painful fire will allow one to set other people on fire as well. The challenge is not to be content in just being members of the community but to answer the call to do mission work – not just in foreign lands or in other places in the country but more so, in their families, and amongst friends and colleagues.
The Praisefest that followed led by Lexee Santiago powerfully captured how SFC being sons and daughters of the King need to protect God’s Kingdom by keeping the fire burning. Each has to have a stake and a role to play to make sure that indeed the world will be set on fire for the Lord. The perfect person to emulate, who was on fire in doing his evangelistic work is St. Paul, according to Fr Larry Villafuerte. In his homily, reminded us about how St. Paul was the number 1 persecutor of Christians and that all these changed when he experienced Christ. All should have the zeal and fire that St. Paul had in spreading the Good News of God. The celebration of the Holy Eucharist was the perfect finish as everyone was sent to go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
The SFC Metro Manila Conference 08 opened eyes and hearts to be inflamed by the Love of the Trinity and the desire to always be ablaze in their own little ways.
Are they fire starters?
They definitely started to be.

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wow! i can`t wait for the conference here in southern mindanao, i`m so excited na....
Posted 8/8/2008 3:34:26 AM

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