“Be there by 7:30 pm. There’s going to be a lot of people just like you!” my friend said as I had just finished my midterm exam. Of course, it had to be a Constitutional Law class, and I had barely gotten enough sleep the night prior; not because I was studying, but because I was too busy lulling over the other problems in my life: No tuition payment, excessively delayed enlistment, the number of girls texting me, etc. It’s been a struggle these past few months, to say the least, keeping up with rent and all, but I would always tell myself before I sleep that the guy up there never gives me anything I cannot handle. After all, I am a devout Catholic, and faith in the Man above was customary, if not obligatory, for every other person like me. I was born and raised a Catholic, went to Church every Sunday, and avoided eating Sinigang na Baboy on Fridays before Easter as a sign of being Filipino. Yet, despite all of this, I still went with my friend to a gathering called “The Kingdom of the Lamb: The name above every name”. It was weird at first seeing the young and old come together for a praise and worship that didn’t involve a priest or a deacon or Bo Sanchez. Yet, I knew where I was and why I was here when my friend reminded me, “Did you bring cash?”
Thirty minutes in, and after singing my heart out to classic OPM songs like Purihin ang Diyos and Ama Namin, the lights suddenly dimmed and everyone kept still: It was time. Apollo Quiboyboy came out, dashing in a red robe glittered with golden feathers, barely touching the floor so as to keep its purity in place, and a shine that gleamed across the room as he shouted, “Wooooo!” The choir serenading the crowd as Pastor Apollo strut down the aisle greeting everyone with tears touching his cheek, and kisses as if people had seen Jesus. After the parade, he went to the pedestal and uttered the words everyone, including myself, was so desperately eager to hear: “Did you come with faith?” The room exploded with joy, laughter, and sadness all at the same time, having been reminded of the times the man above has let them ride the sporadic rollercoaster of life. He continued, “I have heard you. He has as well. At this point, I bask in your sorrow and in all of your current problems.” At this point, he pointed to me, of all people, just sitting in the crowd. “You, the boy in the green shirt. What brings you here today?” “Err, pastor I…” “I know. You don’t have to say it. You’re falling behind on your classes, you’ve been unable to pay the rent of your condominium for months, your girl left you.” I was shocked. For some odd reason, he knew everything about me, and I was intrigued, above other things, why out of everyone in the crowd, I was chosen. “Do you see this envelope? If you can look past all your troubles and your sins, and consider that your faith is stronger than all of them, you will be healed.”
That night I gave away P500. I didn’t mind the fact that it was worth two weeks of my allowance, or that I only had the exact amount left in my bank account. It never came to me how I was going to eat lunch or how I was going to pay the monthly dues; what I did know was that the seed in which I had sown was going to bear fruit. That night’s meeting with Pastor Apollo made me realize how powerful one’s faith can be in healing the afflicted. I believed, with all my heart, that the size of your seed, will determine the size of your harvest. My P500 wasn’t enough anyway to cover my bills nor could it last me the rest of the week. For the first time in my life, never have I faced this much uncertainty and still be happy knowing that someone up there will take care of me. Until now, I never considered money as the end all, be all of life, but if it means putting up the numbers to grow my seed for an eventual bountiful harvest, I won’t hold back. The prosperity gospel has taught me that wealth is a sign of God’s favor, and that faith and donations will increase one’s holistic health.
Sometimes we’ve become so accustomed to relying on our own personal capabilities that we fail to see how open He is in accepting us. We have to realize that living alone is the worst way to leave this earth, but coming to terms to uniting with Him is what makes this life so much more meaningful and beautiful. And at any cost, we must be willing to sacrifice just as much as He did for us. Even if it means decreasing ourselves, for His sake, then so be it. It’s been three weeks, since my encounter with Pastor Apollo, and I have felt so much positive change in my life. I didn’t have to take my Constitutional Law finals anymore, my landlord stopped nagging me on payments, and girls started texting again (if only out of passing load). I was there homeless, hungry, and eager to look for stable shelter, while roaming the streets of Manila. You could say, I became a man of many things, but I was happy—with who I am and where I was. And as I closed my eyes, perhaps for the last time, I uttered the last words any man with the size of my faith seed would say, “Cash or credit, St. Peter?”