He Filled the Void in my Heart!

Aby Joseph

Jeremiah 29:13-14a “ When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord”.

‍Growing up in the typical Indian Catholic family, I would go to church and CCD every Sunday only to see my friends, I would sometimes go to mass on Fridays (but I would find an excuse so I wouldn’t have to go), I would pretend to do my homework or sleep before family prayer so I wouldn’t have to participate, and last but not least, I would attend retreats once a year as well. Aside from all this, I never knew the importance of having a relationship with God, and so I never attempted to have one. So going into high school, my faith was the last thing on my mind and I would only pray when I needed something or whenever I needed to get out of a bad situation. While I was being blinded by the world with unhealthy relationships and pleasures, I overlooked at how my family had gotten closer to God and this made me wonder why they had the sudden change of heart. Towards the end of senior year, I had just gotten out of a relationship, and I knew I needed to better my relation with God. By God's grace there was a parish retreat lead by Anointing Fire Catholic Youth Ministry (AFCYM) at my church around that same time. I was excited to go because I knew it would help me grow in Christ and all of my friends were going so I thought why not. After attending I was happy because I knew my relationship with Christ had gotten stronger, but I felt like something was missing. When I was talking to my friend about the situation I was going through, she suggested I go to School of Evangelization (SOE) in Miami, which was also lead by AFCYM a few months later. I thought that would be a great idea and one of my friends agreed to come with me, so it was all set and I decided to register for it. SOE was a few months after I had lost the fire that was enkindled in me, but when it was time for SOE, I did not want to go and none of my friends were going, which gave me more reasons not to go, but by the force of my family I went. I sat in the very back by myself when the retreat was going on. When I was listening to the ministers, one verse stood out to me, and that was, James 4:8a “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” This verse stood out to me because it made me realize that I was there and I had nothing to lose, so I might as well open up to God and see what he had to offer. That night during adoration, I completely surrendered myself to Him and I had my first Encounter with Christ, and this changed my life forever. He healed my from my inner wounds, set a fire in my soul and let me experience a kind of joy I've never experienced before. Naturally after any retreat, I had the tendency to go back to my worldly life and leave behind whatever zeal and anointing that I received, but I didn't want to let that happen this time, so I decided to join AFCYM. Even though I have had my ups and down after my encounter, I was able to “stand firm in the Lord” (1 Cor 16:13) with help of the ministry and all the new friends in Christ.

God had a plan for me from the beginning-- a plan that will lead me to His Kingdom, it was my choice if wanted to take that offer he had for me and open up to him.