I fell in love twice. Once, as a teenager, and then again, as a grown-up. I have fallen in love with the kids of ACG, then and all over again.
After-Class Getaway (ACG) has and will always have a special place in my heart. After all, it was where my life as a youth minister began. I could still remember when I was still in my late college years that I first volunteered to be an “ate” in our then budding campus ministry. I would tag along Kuya Do, together with other youth leaders, to Kiko (San Francisco High School) and would watch him engage the students. Sooner than we thought, herds of students were flocking to the church. As one of the youth leaders, and having much spare time in my hands, I committed to volunteer every Friday afternoon to be with the kids. At first, I was just helping out in giving out snacks, and cleaning up after the sessions. I was not a social bug. So I was content doing menial tasks. But then, due to lack of volunteers, I found myself suddenly doing more than I hoped for. Out of necessity, I was pushed to socialize and actually talk to the students, leading games and small group bible studies. Sooner than I thought, I was falling in love with the kids.
If I could only weave the stories of their lives, it would be a tapestry of colors of all sorts. At such young ages, I could barely believe how life could be so hard on them. My pampered life was challenged to look face-to-face, the harsh reality of the world. Broken homes. Molestation. Poverty. Child labor. Hunger. Abandonment. Neglect. There was only much that I could take in. And so little that I could do to ease the pain that was slowly and unknowingly numbing their hearts. That little, I was willing to do. If only to give them a momentary respite for their souls. A chance to be a child again at play. To dream again. To trust and to hope. What I would give…
I would like to believe that ACG is that sanctuary. Perhaps, on a Friday afternoon, when you happen to pass by the church, I pray that beyond the raucous teens lurking the halls, you would see more. A soul being rescued. A life being changed. By the power of God’s word lived out in the lives of His people.
After how many years, I have once again committed to volunteer in ACG every Friday afternoon. And I am loving Fridays. Not much has changed. Kids today are still battling the same enemies. And I hail the silent heroes who work alongside me every week. It is my prayer that your love for the kids will overflow abundantly, infinitely, immeasurably. And may you behold the joy of seeing the fruits of your labor in the lives of these students. Perhaps not now. Not soon. But someday. By God’s grace, I have. And I can’t wait to see more. Someday soon. In God’s perfect time. For now, I pray you’ll fall in love with them. And love them, you will.
“When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36