Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My Faith Journey

Nezer A. Soriano

I always knew what I wanted to be when I was a kid. I would be a doctor someday to be able to help the poor and the sick. Not because most of the kids my age have the same reasons, because I was taught that as a Christian it is my duty to help our less fortunate brothers and sisters. Growing up in a church, we are taught about our responsibilities as Christians so I only had one thing in my mind. As a Christian, it is my responsibility to take care of God’s creations and that includes all the people in different walks of life. It stuck in my head that when I got into college, it was easy to decide what course I would take. I enrolled myself in a BS Biology course as a preparation for medicine. 
As an active United Methodist youth, I had the chance to travel to the mountains of Surigao del Norte to the Agusan Riverside to Tungao to the mountain ranges of Sultan Kudarat and tribal villages of Tacul. It was an opportunity for me to see how hard life is in the mountains – being deprived of the basic human needs like food, clothing, shelter and even health. It gave me joy to share myself and be able to reach, comfort and share God’s blessing to them. These experiences gave me more inspiration to choose a career that helps the poor and the needy, and I thought that career was to be a doctor.
After I graduated from college, I studied to become a medical doctor to fulfill my childhood dream. I thought being a doctor would give me that opportunity to help the poor and the sick.  But with the busy and demanding life medicine requires, it took a lot of my time that I found myself slowly drifting away from my Christian responsibilities. I could no longer travel to the villages I was helping. I could not even go to church on a Sunday. I reflected why being a doctor and helping the sick and the dying does not make me happy and fulfilled when it should be. I felt that I was missing something but I don’t know what. I felt there was something lacking to satisfy my hearts desire.  
During my internship in the hospital, I had a terminally ill patient assigned to me. When I was doing my rounds to give her medications, she called me and asked me to stay. I told her to just take her medicines because it’s all that she needs. She replied calmly, that she doesn’t need medicine but for me to sit beside her and be with her as she prepares herself to meet her God. I was speechless for a moment. I needed to have a dying patient before I could realize that something more important than the physical body needs healing and comfort. I then realized what was lacking in my heart and what I had to do about it. Before I took the Medical Licensure Exam, I did what was long overdue – answer God’s call.
God has a perfect plan for me. It took me more than ten years before I could figure God’s plan. I realized that there is something more important to be healed than the physical body. I thought the sick just needed to get healthy, the hungry just needed to get fed and the less fortunate to have a little more. When Jesus came to help the poor and cure the sick, he did not only helped and healed them physically but more importantly he gave comfort to the weary souls and the spirit. Sometimes we overlook the more important things when we get so overwhelmed of trivial things. When I got my plans aligned to God’s purpose for me, I felt everything was just falling in the right place. I felt the satisfaction and joy in my heart that I have been longing for. As a medical doctor, treating the physical body is my profession but as Christians helping souls is my lifetime vocation.
Being here in the US, to heed God’s call, is a great sacrifice not only for me but for my family. This has become not only my faith journey but also my family’s faith journey, as we remain faithful to God. Despite the difficulty of being oceans away from my wife and our baby daughter, I have found strength in my wife’s support and faith. She has supported and encouraged me to keep trusting God. I also found joy in serving in my field education placement. Not only because of the congregation who have embraced and welcomed me, but the church have become my family while I'm here in the US.
One of my significant experiences in my field ed. placements is my first stew-cooking experience in a rural church. While I was there stirring my own pot of stew, I just can’t help but be amazed with how every member in the church came out to help and become part of something big. I told myself that if there is anything to describe what makes a church, this is it. I never thought that stew cooking is one way of having fellowship with other churchgoers. An urban church would probably never have a fellowship activity like stew cooking. As I was reflecting of this experience, I realize that each one who was involved in cooking the stew was part of the “stew” – from harvesting the corn and raising the hog. If the stew defines the church, my stirring the pot makes me part of the church too. The church has been my “family” in the absence of my wife and daughter. As I learn more and grow deeper in my faith through my experiences here in the US, I know God will be there to guide and lead me as I continue in my Christian spiritual journey.