From Despair to Hope in Christ
Many of my early memories are of being filled with fear and anger. Our family relationships were chaotic. Most of the time, my parents were fighting. Family celebrations such as birthdays, Christmas, and other holidays were not joyful because each gathering ended up with disputes and arguments. My father was always in trouble due to his ungodly associations, and for that reason my mother wanted to leave him. At times, I was so frustrated and confused that I questioned my very existence here on earth, and I was very fearful of what I would become.
For several years, we lived in the suburbs of Metro Manila. Just before I started first grade, my mother was laid off from her job, my father had no secure source of income, and I became sickly. I was diagnosed with primary complex (a form of tuberculosis in children) and the recommended treatment was very intensive. About the same time, our ancestral home in the province of Tarlac burned to the ground. Without a secure source of income in the city, no home in the province to return to, and with a very sickly boy, our family was really in a desperate condition.
We had nowhere to go, so my maternal grandfather suggested that we temporarily occupy a small storage house used to stock paddy rice grains in the province of Nueva Ecija. We moved there and started over with only a piece of agricultural land and that small storage house. This was not easy for any of us. By that time, my sickness had become severe despite the medications that I was taking. My parents’ relationship was steadily going downhill, aggravated by my father’s drunkenness.
One day, my mother’s cousin informed my father of a job opportunity, but one of the requirements of the employer at that time was that employees attend services at the Apostolic Faith Church. That opportunity not only gave us a glimmer of hope but also opened a way for us to meet our Great Provider. After consistently attending the church meetings, my father surrendered his heart to the Lord and became a Christian. My mother was not yet attending the Apostolic Faith gatherings, so I would go to those services on Sunday mornings with my father and then accompany my mother to the church she had been going to on Sunday afternoons.
One night when my father arrived home from a church meeting, he told my mother of his faith in Jesus, prayed for me, and got rid of all of my medications and every graven image in our house.
Despite improvement in our other circumstances, my health remained unstable and treatment was just as intensive as before. However, one night when my father arrived home from a church meeting, he told my mother of his faith in Jesus, prayed for me, and got rid of all of my medications and every graven image in our house. God honored the faith of my father that day, and I was totally healed. Soon, my mother joined us in attending services at the Apostolic Faith Church and was saved. God is gracious to those whose trust is in Him!
Not long after that, I also surrendered my heart to the Lord. I was just ten years old, but I prayed for forgiveness of my sinful thoughts and deeds. God touched my heart and cleansed me with His precious Blood. I became a member of the church children’s choir and continued serving the Lord for a number of years.
When I became a college student, I insisted on studying far away from home despite the fact that there was a university in our vicinity. I wanted to pursue my studies somewhere else and experience a life of independence. I also turned my back on my childhood faith.
The things that were supposed to give me happiness during my independence brought me into a place of darkness. As I dissociated myself from godly people, I became associated with a group of ungodly people. As a result, I did not finish my college degree and instead found myself hanging around with drunkards and wayward people. I was unwanted and the people around me treated me as such.
Through God’s steadfast love, one day He made me realize that I was not only wasting my own life but also the life of my beloved wife.
In the midst of my predicament, I was deeply touched by the compassion of a lovely lady who I happened to meet. I pursued her and she soon became my wife. Marriage did not change my worldly way of living; I continued in my sin. However, through God’s steadfast love, one day He made me realize that I was not only wasting my own life but also the life of my beloved wife. Though I heard no words of pleading from her, God helped me know the language of her eyes as she looked at me and tried to understand my desperate situation.
One evening, I opened my heart once again to the Lord, and the God who had answered my childhood petitions met me. I poured out all my fears and brokenness, and surrendered my heartaches, rebellion, hatred, and pride. I humbled myself and asked Him to forgive all my foolishness and sins. Once again, I felt His forgiving grace, pardoning all my transgressions.
The next morning, a new life began. My wife and I started to attend church services, and that was the beginning of the restoration of the long-lost fellowship with godly people in the church. As I continued to walk with the Lord, He showered His marvelous graces on me and my family. He cleansed my heart and filled me with His Holy Spirit. He later called me to serve as an Apostolic Faith Church pastor. The Lord also helped me to finish my studies and become a university professor.
I thank God with all of my heart for all of the undeserved blessings that I now have. My wife and I, together with our three children, are serving the Lord. Through His sustaining grace and love, I will serve Him until the day I dwell in that city “whose builder and maker is God.”