Sunday, May 29, 2011

Shok Ariola: The Making of a Full Time Worker

I had the opportunity of meeting a full time worker of the Couples for Christ when my husband and I were the Youth for Christ (YFC) Couple Coordinators of our chapter.  His name escapes my mind and he was assigned to the YFC of the West C Sector.  He was full of passion and dedication and from the information about him that I gathered, I found out that he graduated with honors from college.  I asked myself what is it in mission work or becoming a full time worker that made him give up a higher paying job working in a prestigious company to settle for a minimum amount of pay?  I said to myself that this is not normal nor logical.

Last March at our sector's Echo Conference at Baguio City, we had Bro. Shok Ariola as one of the speakers.  Bro.  Shok Ariola is a full time worker and at present the Program Head of Singles for Christ and the Migrant Workers Program.  I asked myself what message will Bro. Shok impart to the participants as I have already a preconceived picture playing in my mind of how a full time worker delivers his talk or sharing.  It was not a good picture, the result of listening to the sharings in the past of other full time workers who used the stage to fish for praises or empathy for the sacrifices that they have to endure because of their low pay.  When Bro. Shok delivered his talk, it erased my prejudice on full time workers by just being himself.  It was a refreshing departure from the typical talk by a full time worker.  But who is Shok Ariola?

Shok, aside from his day job at the CFC Center, occasionally travels to Africa and Mekong countries to do mission work.  He is as ordinary as anyone of us, no holier than thou posturings that endear him to the people he associates with.  He is the loving husband of Carel and father to their two lovely children.  He is also father to a nineteen year old whom he had when he was in his teens.  

He is a product of a broken family and one weekend he left home after a big fight with his mother. He ended up in the house of this friend who cannot accommodate him as his friend was on his way to attend a Youth Camp.  Since he needed a place to stay for the weekend, the Youth Camp was the perfect place with free meals no less.  Shok claimed that no earth shaking moments happened at the camp.  His transformation to a new life didn't happen overnight but noticed that  he doesn't curse the way he used to.

Six years after attending the Youth Camp in 1996, Shok left in 2002 and spent a year in Africa as a full time mission worker.  He decided to become a full time worker for the Couples for Christ because he wants all people to experience what he had experienced.  He wants people to experience the good changes in his life, the love of God and for His people, and the joy in serving Him.  

In 2004, he went back to Africa and this time with his wife and daughter in tow to spend five years spreading the Word of God by conducting Christian Life Programs.  Those five years in Africa were memorable times for the family as he became closer to his wife and vice versa.  While away, his parents became part of the community as members of the Servants of the Lord and Handmaids of the Lord.  His siblings also joined Couples for Christ.  Shok is quick to say that he didn't talk them into joining but his unceasing prayers did the trick.

Just like other missionary couples, Shok and Carel worry and struggle to provide for the needs of their growing family but they find comfort in the knowledge that the God who provided for today is still the same God tomorrow.

Couples for Christ is fortunate to have full time workers like Shok who help spreading the love of God less difficult for us.  Let us continue to support them with our prayers and be more generous with the amount that we tithe.  

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