YOU SEE them hanging around Tinoko Park every Tuesdays and Fridays. You think they’re there for the same reasons you would have—catching up with friends, studying, relaxing, or killing time—so you never give them much thought until they gather round and start singing and praying. For someone unfamiliar, they may look odd and naïve. But any Tinoko Park regular would tell you the Youth for Christ (YFC) are just having another prayer meeting.

YFC is an international charismatic organization of young men and women aged 13-21 dedicated to spreading the Good News to youngsters. The youth arm of the Couples for Christ (CFC), the organization is a support group for adolescents in search of faith, hope, and love—yes, love—in their lives.

Growing

Today, there are thousands of YFC members nationwide, about 300 at which are Thomasians.

YFC was first established in the Philippines in De La Salle University in 1993. The UST chapter was established in 1995.

“Everyone is welcome to join,” YFC-UST president Joseph Saguid told the Varsitarian. “The only condition for joining is to attend the youth camp, which is as enjoyable and fun as it can get”.

The youth camp is a two-day retreat outside Metro Manila wherein recruits are initiated. It is usually composed of five key sessions and fun-filled activities. The fun, however, is underlined with “the discovery of oneself through the discovery of God.”

“When some students hear about religious organizations, the words ‘boring’ and ‘corny’ come to mind, but YFC is different. It is true to its “four F’s” characteristic: to have Fun, to make Friends, to build Faith, and to have Free but responsible expression,” Saguid said.

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The students’ experiences in the youth camps yield very positive results. Many find direction and purpose in life, while some realize their calling to the priesthood or other religious life. The first president of YFC-Saint Mary’s Academy (Pasay City) was just a regular high school senior—he had his share of mischief and was interested in pretty girls, but the youth camp enlightened him of his true calling. He entered the seminary after graduation, and is now closer to his once-unrealized dream—to become a priest.

Others become active in Church and community activities, and membership counts as reason to improve study habits and avoid school misdemeanors.

YFC has “household groupings” (a sort of a buddy system) where members from the same college look after each other as though they are real siblings. The household groupings provide members with sense of belongingness.

Besides this, YFC has outreach programs and takes part in the CFC’s Gawad Kalinga projects. Through programs such as Sagip, that helps save street children, and Tatag, which builds and improves houses YFC seeks to address povertyand lift the standard at people’s lives. It also supports the Laya project that creates among the youth consciousness of the need to stop the growing “culture of death”.

And the members, according to Saguid, keep their spirits high through the inspirational songs they sing.

“The songs are very touching. Singing and dancing are forms of praising God that we should not be ashamed of. If we are ready to get wild over our idols at concerts, why the shame in praying?” he said.

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Dreaming Big

Modern charismatic groups like the YFC take for inspiration the Pentecost experience of the first Christian community. Members try to discover their spiritual gifts and share belongings and experiences to as many people as possible.

“We’re crazy,” Saguid laughed. “We’re crazy because we are thinking of conquering the world for Christianity. It’s impossible but we know that where our strength fails, God’s strength comes in,” he said.

“Conquering the World in 10 Years for Christ” is the goal which YFC adapted from CFC. Saguid believes that a massive and rapid youth evangelization is needed to achieve their vision.

“I believe that God is working in us. God is working through us and that alone would keep us going,” he said.

YFC-UST only encounters problems in terms of participation. Among the 300 Thomasians who took part in the youth camps, only less than a hundred are active in the group’s activities.

For the first semester of this year, YFC will focus on strengthening the group through prayers and evangelization. The second semester will be spent for camps and more intensive recruitment to fill the places of outgoing members. At the age of 21, YFC members become members of the Singles for Christ (SFC), or of CFC if they get married.

Saguid is inviting young Thomasians to join YFC and to start experiencing Christ early in their lives. “YFC is about being a witness to God’s love. To dream, believe, and survive, when nothing is impossible with Him.” Rica May M. Forto and R.A.R. Pascua with reports from http://www.cfcglobal.org.ph/family_ministries/youth_for_christ.htm

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