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From the hard court to God's court

Our dream gives us focus. It directs our minds and hearts to that one goal we wish to attain and that which will give us happiness and fulfillment.

For Atty. Robert Jay "Bobby" Quitain, he was sure his dream would come true; it was set in stone. Having been named after the famous PBA player Robert "The Big J" Jaworski, he was destined to become a professional basketball player. However, it was not how God planned it to be. His dream went awry when he literally stepped off on the wrong foot.

Bro. Bobby was vying for a slot to play in the UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines) with the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons when he suffered an ankle injury. This prevented him from joining the practices and games. Eventually, he had to drop out from the team.

Bobby playing basketball

The accident left him frustrated, angry, sad and broken. How can a young man, full of vigor and enthusiasm be deprived of his dream? Why did it happen? What will become of him?

"Not knowing how to handle failure, I succumbed to a lot of vices in order to cope with my frustrations," said Bobby. He got drunk almost every night, frequented girlie bars and even figured in some fistfights on campus. His saving grace was saying "yes" to an invitation to a Crossroads Retreat sponsored by Christ's Youth in Action (CYA). A friend who was a member of CYA, befriended him and eventually invited him to the retreat. In the retreat, he encountered God in a powerful way. God assured him that no matter what he did in the past, and no matter what he would do in the future, His love for him will never change. Surrendering his life to God, Bobby felt that it was like a fresh start, a new beginning in his faith.

After the retreat, he joined CYA where his faith grew and his relationship with God deepened. It was in CYA where he realized that God deserves all of his life for the rest of his life. In the next year, he became part of Ligaya ng Panginoon (LNP). This much bigger community of brothers and sisters who live a covenanted life brought him even closer to God and enriched his faith.

When he graduated from college, he worked full-time as a youth missionary for CYA while he was also a "seminarian" of the Servants of the Word, a community of consecrated men who have dedicated their lives to spread the Word of God and to help people know Christ while living a life of single blessedness.

I need to align my plans with God's plans for my ministry. So, I have decided to dream with God. My dreams are only as good as God's dreams for my ministry.

The turning point

According to Bobby, it was while discerning to be a life-long brother in the Servants of the Word when he realized he wanted to be a preacher, and that it was the path we wanted to pursue.

"I read the book about the life of Billy Graham, the famous evangelical preacher of the 20th century. I was so enamored by his life of preaching that I realized it was what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to preach to the ends of the earth and bring God's word to everyone. And just like Billy Graham, I believed I can do these while raising a family," he added. When he discerned that he was being called for marriage, he left the Servants of the Word and ended his work in CYA.

In the meantime, to fulfill his other dream to become the President of the Republic of the Philippines (Yes, he was serious and determined to become a President!), he enrolled in law school. It was there that he and his fellow CYA alumni put up LNP-Quezon City. It was to be a continuation of their mission in CYA but also the start of something new, this time reaching out to young professionals.

After law school, he took the bar exam, passed it in 2003 and started work in a private law office. He then got married and transferred to the Office of the Ombudsman where he worked as an Assistant Special Prosecutor doing prosecutorial work and handling graft and corruption cases against erring government officials. In 2008, as a young lawyer in the Office of the Ombudsman, Bobby felt the call of God to leave his job and devote more time in preaching God's Word as a Catholic Lay Preacher.

However, the call did not come as a one-time, big-time order. It came as his desire and resolve to become a preacher became stronger. This was coupled by circumstances that included him getting assigned to lead Pathways, the new evangelistic outreach of LNP; and setting up his own consultancy firm, Lampstand Inspirations, which conducts corporate retreats and motivational seminars.

Then, in one of his prayer times, he heard God speak to him, "Take care of my people and I will take care of you."

"I was blessed to have Ligaya ng Panginoon which supported me during my discernment period. With the guidance of my pastoral leader, Melmarx Marcojos, I underwent a tedious discernment process which included conducting interviews with married missionaries like Jun Cruz and Bo Sanchez. Eventually, with much prayer and consultation with my wife and my parents, I took the plunge," he said.

Bobby admits it was a very difficult decision to make. First, he needed to financially care for and support his growing family. Second, he didn't want his law degree to go to waste. Still, he continued to trust in God.

However, on his first year as a full-time preacher, he was beset with a financial crisis. The very concern which challenged his decision seemed to have come to life with the series of hospitalizations in his family. But God, he said, never abandoned him. "He provided for me and my family every step of the way."

And indeed, God did. Bobby was hired as a lawyer for the University of the Philippines with very flexible schedules. This allowed him more time in mission work. Other income-generating opportunities also came which made his ministry possible.

The situation was an affirmation of his favorite bible verse, "What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:8).

Following God's dream

In 2005, the Pathways Ministry was born. It started with around a hundred members and held weekly prayers meetings in Quezon City. It had a few sites in the north, central and south of Manila. Eventually it moved out of Metro Manila to Cavite and Sta. Rosa. Today, it has a total of 17 sites including those in Davao and Sydney. This year, Pathways Melbourne and Singapore are scheduled to open.

Bobby preaching

The seed Bobby planted has grown. Pathways Ministry now has members from different countries, and continues to multiply just as he aspired. With Bobby is a growing number of preachers called Hopegivers, who share God's word through different media --- face to face and online. In addition, Bobby has written 13 inspirational books including "Safe in Your Father's Hands" which won the 2020 Cardinal Sin Book Award for Inspirational Category.

"To see people give their lives to God. Nothing compares," is how Bobby describes his fulfillment as a preacher. He said results are not quantifiable but he trusts that when he preaches, "someone in the crowd will somehow experience the touch of God's finger in his or her life."

"I have had many dreams. But one thing I realized, unless God builds, I will labor in vain. I need to align my plans with God's plans for my ministry. So, I have decided to dream with God. My dreams are only as good as God's dreams for my ministry."

Every day, Bobby listens to God and walks with Him. If God has big plans, he will work towards those big plans. If God has only a small part for him, in His grand plan, then Bobby will gladly play that small part. "At the end of the day, my biggest dream is to honor God with all that I am." he confirms.

Bobby preaching

Faithfulness and obedience

The deep relationship Bobby has nurtured with God has helped him recognize His voice.

"He speaks to me, not only in my heart but in the different circumstances in my life. He speaks to me through my wife and my children. He speaks through my community. I know that if I just obey Him, I will be okay. At the end of the day, what matters most to me is that I get to heaven together with my family. That's what really matters most."

For Bobby, the best lesson he learned in life is "God's love is inexhaustible. I can never out-love Him." Truly, in these times of uncertainty, only God is certain. He is faithful from start to finish. He alone deserves everything that we are. ###

*Bobby is married to Jeng Quitain. They have four kids, Robelle, Mara, Franco and Marco.

Quitain family

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