Growing up from a family of devoted Christian from a predominantly Catholic country, I have experienced attending Sunday masses, services, Bible Camps, Sunday Schools; and, even worked as an altar boy (acolyte) in church at such a young age.
At 15, I got re-baptised as a “Born Again Christian” when the leadership of my previous church turned dysfunctional, and caused factions among its abysmal members. Shortly, I became actively involved in Youth and Music Ministries in my new found congregation for the years that followed; but then again, the greed that has been slowly consuming the very foundation of the church is just unstoppable – evil and ruthless.
When I moved to Canada, I became a member of yet again, another congregation, and served as part of the 30-man or so Music Ministry that performs every hymns and anthems in Church during Sunday services, Holidays and Inter-Faith concerts. Safe to say, my Faith has always been steadfast, no matter how deeply rooted is the corruption that’s killing the church, defeating its main purpose of existence. The House of Prayer becomes a rather “organized religion” of wolves in sheep’s clothing. And like the previous churches I have attended, I stopped going.
Three summers ago, I moved to a small town, border of two big provinces in Canada, and got invited into another church. In fact, I got pretty closed to being a baptised member of that church, only until I found out that the Reverend resigned after being allegedly condemned by the other Pastors and Workers due to multicultural issues, particularly having its Caucasian church goers being threatened by the increasing number of immigrant and Non-Caucasian members.
This is surely a harder blow than having a church with dysfunctional leader/worker. It is a bigger disappointment and disgrace to learn that the very house that should literally serve as a welcoming hand to the faithful is the same house that creates and allows division and hatred. Ironically, a church should heal the wounds of disparity instead of adding fire into a deadly flame.
I stopped going not because I lost hope in Him but because I have found much better peace, speaking to Him privately, than being inside a building filled with church goers, looking sourly and passing judgement to a five-foot-seven-yellow-skinned man in prayer.
I stopped going because I lost interest in organized religions. Churches become more politically maligned and profit-oriented instead of being spiritually growing in the service – of the people and of the poor as their response to the call of God.
There’s a new church, a new attempt at bringing people together. Perhaps, a new symbol of hope in its infancy. If you ask me if I want to go, I have tried. I did go. But at the end of the day, I’ve realized that not all those who go to church are religious and faithful; and not because I stopped going makes me a backslider and got banished from God’s abundant pasture.
I have a realization. A more honest reality than what most churches think.
What matters most is the relationship I build with Him outside the church – in the gas alley, in the train station, in the kitchen, in the wash room, by the lake, by the shore, in my room, in the bar, in a small corner of my workplace or in a coffee shop, in my tenant permanent parking zone, on the bus, on the plane, on the train, in the patio, in the skate park, at the CrossFit gym, in the tennis court, and in any place where I could pause for a moment and talk to Him sincerely; inside the community, within the world.
(Credit: Photography by: LA Aguinaldo, Bud Miller All Seasons Park, Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada, Spring 2015)