by Mark Vincent Garlitos
I entered Penuel back in 2015 and I am on my 3rd year in Pastoral Program this school year. While doing my studies at night, I spend my day working as a language teacher for foreign missionaries. Along with these, I am also involved in a community church in Brgy. Banaba, San Mateo, Rizal. There I share my talents and gifts in assisting the church
develops its worship team, form its discipleship program, and share the Word of God during Sunday service. Last year, we conducted a spiritual formation training for the young people. I, with the help of a friend, crafted a ten-month program on holistic spirituality that integrates loving people, including those located outside the church. This is to make them aware and involve in social and community issues, and help addressing them through social services and concrete actions. As initial response, they formed their own youth organization that actively deals with church and community problems.
In line with this holistic spirituality, the church also partners with a non-profit organization that helps out-of-school-youth to return to schooling to finish secondary school through the Alternative Learning System (ALS). As part of their empowerment, the program included training on practical skills that they might use in putting up livelihood projects to help them earn their living. In all these, I try to help the project in everything I can do to assist these kids coping with their incapability.
In this personal journey of faith, Penuel is all part of it. The values I have learned from the teachers, the skills on how to theologize, the inclusion of social realities in all theological discussion, and the challenges they offer in developing out faith in that particular line, have been a tremendous part of who I am and what I am doing now. Penuel, as I beginning to discover, is more than a school. It is a community of support, and a space where we can think, share, and become creative in best proclaiming the Kingdom of God.
Currently, nine of the youth in our church in San Mateo are enrolled in a Counselling Skills Summer class in Penuel. They are enjoying the classes and learning practical skills that will benefit their churches . I am happy that Penuel is an institution that provides opportunities for learning these skills especially for urban poor church leaders.