There was this story of Jesus about a father with two sons. We are told that the younger son went away from his father‟s house, squandered all that he took from his father‟s wealth and ended up wasted. Realizing what this son did, he decided to return home and behold the father ran to meet him, accepted him still and even called for a celebration. The next scene introduces us to the jealous older brother who at his anger made an accounting of the good things he has done and complained to his father. Meanwhile, the father made his eldest understand that everything that belongs to him was his too and that the come back of his younger brother is worth celebrating. (Luke 15:11-32)
This familiar parable does not just end as a story. We have once identified ourselves before a compassionate father, God, to either the young son or the older one. And still, students of young ages relate to the characters of the two sons in the story. Some like the young son- in obvious rebellion to the Father, and some like the old son- appears ‘good’ but alienated from the Father’s love. These were the students we journeyed with during the Sibol Camp, a 3-day evangelistic event held in Koronadal City, South Cotabato last January 26-28. IVCF was invited to conduct an evangelistic camp in a family-owned school and the group took the opportunity to minister to the students. Having gone through the curriculum, 78 highschoolers were introduced to the gospel in a series theme of God‟s Holiness, Man‟s Sinfulness, and Christ‟s Work on the cross. And there, God came to introduce Himself as the compassionate Father to these young people who in whichever way have rebelled against Him.
“Sa pagsali ko sa camp na ito, nalaman ko kung gaano kahalaga na tanggapin si Hesus sa ating buhay. Kahit alam ko na wala akong karapatang tawaging anak ng Diyos, naramdaman ko na nangusap ang Diyos sa akin na kahit ako‟y makasalanan, handa pa rin N‟ya akong patawarin. Dahil napakarami ng natutunan ko sa camp na ito, kailangan kong ibahagi ang mga ito sa mga taong naghahanap sa presensya ng Diyos at nanlalamig sa pananampalataya. Paninindigan ko rin ang pangako ko sa Diyos na hindi ko na uulitin pa kahit kailan ang mga kasalanang nagawa ko noon sapagkat nagsisisi na ako at tinanggap ko na si Hesus bilang aking Panginoon at Manliligtas.”(Ismaelyn Bless Damo – Grade 10)
Ismaelyn is just one of those who returned to the Father and is reconciled in God‟s love through Christ Jesus as their personal Saviour and Lord. In repentance these highschoolers returned home, longing for the Father‟s love, God encountered them. As the Father waited for His sons and daughters, He now rejoices saying: “My children came back, they are rebels no more!”