Everyone has a story, a multicolored thread that contributes to the tapestry of humanity. Each color, each fade, represents a transition from one stage of life to another. These colors are created by God, allowing and ordaining each season of our lives.
Today, Jason would like to share his story.
Well, hello there! My name is Jason Love Albano and I am terribly awkward with introductions. To put it simply, I’m a sinner saved by God’s grace. However, I don’t use the term “sinner” lightly. You see, by the age of 16 I had already broken 9 out of the 10 commandments from the Bible. The remaining commandment being, “Thou shalt not murder.” But believe me, when I was in my drug dealing days, there were four times that I came very close.
While those memories are very eventful, I’d like to jump to the “saved by God’s grace” part of my earlier statement. Two years ago, I was in the Philippines on a mission trip. I was crying out to God while on my knees because the weight of my sins had become too much to bear. I begged God to purge me of my sin, enter my life as Lord and Savior, and be with me as I committed the remainder of my years to Him. And that’s just what he did.
The next day, I asked to be baptized. Submerged into a river deep in the Philippine mountains, I emerged and outwardly declared the inward transformation that occurred the night prior.
Simply put: “A sinner saved by God’s grace.”
Now I am 22 years old, a fresh college graduate, and currently on month 6 of my Worldrace (an 11 month missions trip across 11 different countries). Last month, my team and I were living in Zambia and ministering to the elderly every morning. Every afternoon, we held soccer clubs for children, and we used the clubs to love on the children through games, songs, and Bible lessons. We were very busy and free-time was scarce. What little free-time I could find was often spent in my hammock reading a book or (to be truly honest) napping. Except one day my routine was broken and something different happened. It began with a bag of gummies.
Now, I know we may have only met, but I would like to let you in on a deep truth about Jason Love Albano: I LOVE SWEETS. Ice-cream, cakes, pies, popsicles, smoothies, chocolate, but most of all, GUMMIES! Because my teammates are so loving and they know this, one of them bought me a little twenty-five cent pack of gummies. I accepted this gift with exuberance, cuddled inside my hammock, and began to feast. Until I was interrupted.
A young boy came to me and began to stare at the four remaining gummies in my hand. No words, no expression, just a stare. I assumed he wanted some so I picked one out and offered it to him. At first, he wouldn’t take it so I said, “Oh well,” and threw it into my mouth and began to chew. Then the boy’s gaze turned toward my face, and his blank expression turned into confusion. I then offered him another and with a smile said, “It’s candy, try it.” This time, he took it and held it in front of his face. He began to squish it between his fingers so I ate another one to showed him that it was okay. He brought the gummy closer to his mouth, stuck his tongue out, and gave it a taste. His expression then transformed into joy! He immediately popped the candy into his mouth, savored the taste, and then spit it out on the street once he was satisfied. It was truly a comedic scene, and I chuckled a little. But it was at that moment when it finally hit me:
This boy had never had candy before.
This gift changed something in that boy–a gift as simple as candy. How could something that I undoubtedly take for granted each day completely change the expression and demeanor of this child? Perhaps it was because this gift was new or sweet? Perhaps it was because this gift was free?
God then reminded me of the real gift that I should have been sharing–the gift that I have within me. The gift that is new to a sinner. The gift that is far sweeter and free because it has been paid for by God himself. The gift that I received two years ago on my knees in the Philippines. The gift of God’s grace. By that grace of God, the Creator came down and was tortured by his very Creation. Enduring all evil and bearing all sin, He died on the cross. But He rose again, and I was able to emerge from that river in the Philippines because Jesus Christ emerged from the grave. Through Him, I am able to experience the gift of His grace. A simple gummy candy in the hands of a boy reminded me of who I am: a sinner saved by God’s grace.
The boy’s name is Freddy, and we got to share this great gift of grace with him. I believe he is my brother in Jesus Christ now, and I cannot wait to see him once again.