I need to make a confession.
Before Candice and I responded YES to campus ministry, we were a little hesitant to say yes, primarily because we felt we were “old”. Let me be clear – “Old” not by number, but rather by maturity. Well, by number as well. I thought I would be the oldest in class when I came to Manila.
On day 1 of class, I was wrong. I wasn’t the oldest in class. We have a classmate who is 55 years. But let me cut straight to the chase here; she is not your typical 55-year-old. In fact, her energy, heart and willingness to learn would put most teenagers to shame.
Meet my friend Ms. Elsa Espino.
At an age where most people would be waiting to retire and do something easy, Ms. Elsa is being trained to become a campus missionary. Yes, she is doing so at the age of 55.
Over the last couples of weeks, I’ve had the absolute honor of getting to know her life story. While I cannot write everything about Ms. Elsa on my blog, here are some of the things I’ve learnt from her.
1. Living and Age are Not Necessarily Related
The energy, enthusiasm and vibrancy Ms. Elsa brings is second to none in class. She is LIVING and is not allowing age to be the reason for otherwise. Looking at Ms. Elsa makes me want to live with a zest for life no matter what my age would be.
2. Remember Where you Came From
Listening to Ms. Elsa’s life story made my eyes sweat. May be it was the effect of air pollution. She’s been through a lot of pain & anguish. Victimised and rejected. Yet someone shared the good news of hope through the gospel while she was a college student. She was never the same again.
Today, Ms. Elsa is a campus missionary in the same campus (Holy Angel University, Angeles City) where she was reached out and is passing on the message of hope to the next generation. As I grow older, I pray that I would always remember how people selflessly invested into my life and I would be able to faithfully pass what I received to the next generation as well.
3. Your Testimony is Timeless
Ms. Elsa’s testimony of how the gospel brought hope and a new life to her is 37 years old. Yet, she shares it with so much joy and vigour that it sounds like it was yesterday. She talks about the Lord’s goodness with so much passion, it’s hard not to doubt who her God is.
I want to be a person who would share the love of Jesus with the same passion as she does.
4. It’s Never Too Late to Learn
Let me tell you, there have been moments when I felt a little discouraged with the intensity of work here at the School of Campus Ministry. Long hours of classes, book reading, assignments; they take toll on you. Ms. Elsa has also told how challenging this has been for her. Yes, she is always super attentive in class. While some of us younger people are just waiting break to hit, Ms. Elsa would be asking the teacher questions she has. You are never too old to learn. And Ms. Elsa personifies this with excellence.
Lord, give me a heart that never grows tired of learning.
5. Be Who God Designed You To Be
Ms. Elsa is clearly from another generation. But she is as authentic as it gets. She is not trying to be someone who God has not made her to be. Ms. Elsa is comfortable being 55 and being who God made her. The effect, students LOVE her. Apparently, they run to her when she is visiting schools.
I learnt to be a person who would attract others, I need to be myself because it is the love of Christ in me that will attract people.
So here is my encouragement to you as you read this blog, what are the things you are NOT doing because you feel OLD? If there is one principle I’ve learned here at the school from Ms. Elsa is this: If God is calling you, He will give you all that you need to enjoy it and be a blessing through you.
Isaiah 40:30, 31
“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint”