‘HERE I AM, LORD.’
From seeking God’s will for his life to being faithful to small and big missions, Sebin Alexander tells us that we lose nothing if we let God in our lives.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? (Psalms 27:1)
I was a comfortable cradle Catholic. At different stages of my life, I had families and friends who guided me in my life of faith. My grandparents gave me the basics of prayer; my parents taught me the value of consistency in prayer; JY elders and close friends gave me the desire and freedom to delve deeper into my spirituality – to encounter Jesus personally. I remember the first programme that I ever attended was called ‘Fishers of Men’ that gave me a deep desire to share Jesus on my campus. This was also around when I was introduced to several JYs both in Canada and the USA.
I was so captivated by the radical life they were leading. Some were totally dedicated to youth ministry, and some were taking a whole year out of their regular life to be a missionary. My desire for the Lord and mission grew more and more because of these people. Meeting cultural timelines for a young adult did not seem to satisfy my heart anymore. I enjoyed their company as it brought me to understand their drive, which is a deep love for the Lord Jesus. I was given a pearl, like in Matthew 13: 45-46 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.
I remember going to retreats asking God, how can I give more of myself?! In the silence, I experienced the Lord’s call to trust him more. During my term as the National Youth Coordinator of Canada, I had this deep desire to give up my life to the Lord for a year after college. I remember struggling through this thought as I could not figure out if it were an infatuation with the idea or because God was attracting my heart to it. This decision was even harder because I was graduating as a Mechanical Engineer from McMaster University in Canada. A decision to leave one’s best years in the career was unheard of in my circles. I asked the Lord to give me clarity in this struggle. Another factor was that our family was financially not in the best place. I decided to approach a priest to direct me in this decision. Over the course of eight months, it was clear to me that God called me to go ahead with the desire – and what a decision it was! I am so thankful for such privilege when I think about it now.
The fulltimership training was in Thailand. During this training, I was prepared and led to open my heart to be a missionary anywhere in the world. But the Lord was leading me to a particular kind of mission, to my neighboring country – USA. 2011-2012 was one of the most formative years of my life. One of the key learnings was that Jesus needed me more than my works. I did not realise that there was a difference. I learned about interior life, a life of prayer and discipline. I was open to this learning because it was giving me so much peace and joy. It was giving me Jesus. A typical day in the first four months consisted of a 5 AM liturgy of the hours, then Holy Mass, personal prayer, guidance from seasoned leaders, learning, and living a community life.
I lived in Arizona for the next four months with Henry Cappello, the founder of CiV (Caritas In Veritate), and his wife Sabeena. Here, the focus was to minister to college students in ASU (Arizona State University). Two beautiful things happened during this time of my full-timership. One is that I made many friends who loved the Lord in their own broken ways. We had a small group of friends who would pray, do charity work, and have fun together. Through them, I learned the importance of re-evangelising our colleges. The second was the witnessing of the family I was living with. Through their life, I learned that a missionary lifestyle was not a JY-only idea. Ordinary people in the Jesus Youth movement followed the universal call of the Church to be a missionary.
After this year of formation, I was very sure that my life would not be the same. I needed to make deliberate changes in my life or else fall through the cracks and forget the missionary zeal in my heart. This desire also translated during my discernment process for marriage. Here too, I was in between hard choices and needed help. I really loved the idea of being a missionary priest or a missionary family. Through a long process and help from a priest friend, I identified a stronger peace with choosing missionary family life. It was also clear that God called me to be a missionary in my regular life wherever I was planted.
‘If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great’ (Pope Benedict XVI). This statement has come true in my life. As a family, we serve the community by giving NFP talks, PreCana during Marriage Preparation Courses for the Malabar and Malankara dioceses, and walk with young, engaged couples. We truly experience God working in our midst, especially through our own ongoing conversion. Recently, I have been experiencing a call within a call to help young men to live an authentic masculine life – to learn more about it, to live it out personally, and to help young men around me.
This January, when I was elected as the new National Council Coordinator, I was overwhelmed by where the Lord was leading me next. One thing comes to me as a saving grace – my God loves me no matter where I am or where I am going. I hope that you can pray for me and the new NC members as we embark on this new journey for the next three years.
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