November 1985 – Agatha Xaris Villa was born to a young couple pastoring Praise Centre Church (along Harrison – Manila). First born of three children – you can already guess how the first third of my life was like.
1990 – we moved to the city of Davao (in Mindanao) where I spent the best four years of my childhood. The sights, the sounds, the experiences I had there would be the stuff of my fantasies (for years to come).
1994 – We then moved back to the grunge of Manila where everything went downhill for a good while (HAHA).
I think much of my life from 9 – 12 only appears as a dark shadow in my memories (even though I remember most of earlier childhood years ). And not without reason too. It wasn’t a pleasant experience.
April 1999 – Everything changed. My eyes are opened and I meet my Saviour.
2000 – My world changes again when my parents reveal that we are moving to pastor a church in Hong Kong. I didn’t know then, but my life was never going to be the same again.
November 2004 – My parents gave me a “Berakah” – releasing their rights over my life and publicly announcing that their daughter was now in full hold of her own life. They said, I was ready. I was trusted. Oh, but they couldn’t have been more wrong.
I plunge into depression and I have what can only be described as a fast descent to death. I became disillusioned with the Church and became an advocate of the “anti-established religion” movement. I had gender-identification issues – which I tried to resolve in secret. I was still heavily “involved” in ministry – heavily, but superficially. I became deeply addicted to pornography and was lost in other compulsive cycles that controlled my life for the next 3 years.
I suffered in silence under the grip of bondage. Until…
February 2008 – A miracle happens. The Lord opens a door and I experience what it feels like to jump off a cliff onto the unknown. I decide to leave and cleave my old life. I undergo seven months of intensive renovation, a mental/emotional/spiritual detoxification.
September 2008 – A milestone is reached when I finally “came clean” with my parents. I was tempted to just bury my bones in an undisclosed location – hoping that they would be forgotten forever. But it became very clear that this was a step that was crucial to my restoration. It was the hardest bit to swallow. It was yet another cliff I jumped off.
February 2009 – I come clean with the church and give out my testimony. Wide eyes and gasps were heard before sobs broke and for the first time in my life, I feel like I could do anything. This was what freedom felt like.
October 2010 – I have an epiphany and cannot sleep. The Lord gives me release that things were different now. It was time to lay “Agatha” to rest.
Back track: Agatha comes from the Greek word for “Good”. And indeed, all my life, I had tried my best to be good – to meet the expectations of those all around me, to seek the favour of everyone… it was a never ending pursuit that would always end up in disappointment.
Things were different because for the first time I understood that there was more to life than the pursuit of excellence (i.e. when was I gonna graduate from just being “good” to being the “best” — never).
November 2010 – A quarter century old – I decided to throw a “funeral party”. Not a lot of details are given – I wasn’t sure what I was doing myself. All I knew was. I wanted to make use of the time to tell everyone that the “Agatha” they knew – the one who lived for everyone’s approval – was no more. I had wanted to be publicly baptized (as was the custom in the past) but it was too cold.
A short testimony was given and I unleash the unthinkable. I ask my family and friends to thereto call me “Xaris” – which is Greek for “Grace”. Not a description – but an ambition. To be a person living By Grace alone.
2011 – Things are looking up.
I graduated from The Open University of Hong Kong after five long years and am now enrolled in the University of Hong Kong for a Post Graduate Diploma in Education (which took half a year in admission procedures)(crazies!).
I am about to enter into my 7th year of employment as an English Teacher at CCC Heep Woh Primary School. And this coming school year, I now have MY OWN classroom, spear-heading my own 2-year-pilot program sponsored by the EEG. (crazies).
Church of God Community Hong Kong – my beloved family – has moved to a more permanent location in Sham Shui Po. The most derelict area of Hong Kong.
What does the future hold? I really don’t know. Like I said in my quick profile, I have dreams but I have only ONE plan – to follow Christ no matter what.