Youth animator Aristotle Gonzales was at his lowest when he encountered the uplifting power of God’s Word. Kuya Aries’s downward spiral started after stumbling into a situation that caused hate, anger, and pain to those concerned. “It was the day my faith was tested,” he said.
The situation affected his studies and his work as a youth minister, prompting him to leave the ministry that brought him confidence, leadership, and joy. Even his relationship with his family became strained, as loved ones were either at a loss at how to help him or found themselves targeted by his detractors.
“I didn’t know what to do, where to run, or who to turn to. I had lost my hope at the time. Worse, I felt I was alone,” Kuya Aries said.
Until, one day, he browsed through his Bible and read the passage from Matthew 16:24 (GNT), where Jesus told his disciples, “If any of you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me.” He added that the verse spoke to him quite clearly and powerfully that it led him to read the Bible, which he did in the next couple of days. “As I read, I sensed that I was feeling better like I was getting stronger inside,” Kuya Aries shared. He also said that he was inspired to work his way through from Genesis to Revelation.
It was at this point that Kuya Aries realized that he was never alone all that time: God was with him through His Word.
Today, Kuya Aries has become a work in progress. “I am better now. I have begun to smile again. I have begun to hope again: to see old friends, my church family, and to serve again where my dream began,” he said. He added that God’s promise in Deuteronomy 31:6 fuels his hope and gives him strength: “Your God, the Lord himself, will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you. (GNT)”