“God completely changed my life!”
My parents raised me with high moral standards. We believed in and feared God, but we did not read the Bible or understand much about salvation. I thought that if I went to church, my soul would go to Heaven after I died, and that was my only purpose in attending. My father was a strong disciplinarian, and since I was one of the oldest children in the family, he insisted that I be a good example to my younger siblings. Due to my strict upbringing, I never had a chance of becoming involved in activities like smoking or drinking. Even in my teen years, my life revolved around school and home, and I was only allowed to spend time with a few chosen friends.
After high school, I qualified for a scholarship to pursue my college education and moved to a school in another part of the Philippines that was very far from my hometown. Being alone and far from my family motivated me to start attending Sunday worship services regularly. Though I knew almost nothing about the Bible, the people at church were the closest thing that I had to a family, and I appreciated being with them. My friends all thought I was a godly person, and even I believed that to some extent. However, there still had been no change in my heart.
. . . right then, I saw myself for the first time in the light of God’s Word. I understood that even though I attended church, my soul was lost.
In December of 1980, during my last year of college, a friend invited me to the Apostolic Faith Church in Bagong Sikat, Munoz Nueva Ecija, Philippines. When I went for the first time, I felt a warm welcome from the people. As the congregation started singing, God spoke to me through the messages of the songs. Tears began flowing and I heartily joined in the singing. The sermon that day was about salvation, and right then, I saw myself for the first time in the light of God’s Word. I understood that even though I attended church, my soul was lost. During the altar call, I immediately went forward to pray. I had a deep desire for God to give me what the people in this church had. I confessed all my sins to the Lord and asked Him for forgiveness, and when He forgave me, a heavy load of sin was lifted from my heart. I could feel the presence of the Lord with me and I was so happy! After I went back to my dormitory, my heart was still overflowing with joy.
Soon, I started reading the Bible seriously for the first time in my life. The church I had grown up in had given us written texts to encourage us, and I discovered that my favorite messages were actually from Scripture! This was the beginning of my journey with God, to really know Him and walk in His ways.
At that time, I also explored the Apostolic Faith Church’s teaching materials. After I read about entire sanctification, I began seeking that experience. I prayed, “God, cleanse me from all my sin.” My sins had been forgiven, but I needed the inner cleansing of my sinful nature. Sometimes I would pray through the night, seeking the Lord. Then one Saturday afternoon when I was alone in the church, I yielded all of my life to Jesus and He sanctified me. I continued seeking God, and before I graduated from college, He also baptized me with the Holy Spirit. Oh, the joy in my soul! Through these experiences during my senior year, God completely changed my life. These also gave me a strong foundation for serving God and overcoming the challenges of life that would come.
. . . for a period of time God opened an opportunity for me to work abroad in Saudi Arabia. That country is very closed to the Gospel, but God made a way for a few other believers and me to hold Bible studies.
After my college graduation, I had to decide if I would return to my hometown to look for work there. That had been my intention, but I was worried that if I returned, I could no longer attend the church where I had heard the full truth about the one true God who loves me and who had changed my life. Thank God, as I prayed about what to do, He led me to a job where I could continue attending Apostolic Faith services. Later, for a period of time God opened an opportunity for me to work abroad in Saudi Arabia. That country is very closed to the Gospel, but God made a way for a few other believers and me to hold Bible studies even though bringing Bibles into the country was not allowed. God truly works in wondrous ways, and I was able to worship Him in a foreign land and feel His presence with me.
Another major decision in my life was choosing a life partner. I sought God’s guidance and prayed, “God, please lead me to someone who could share in my spiritual growth and be the love of my life.” God really answers prayer! After more than thirty years of marriage, my wife and I are still serving the Lord happily together. In 1995, I gave up my job and entered into fulltime ministry as a pastor, and since then our family has continued to prove the promise in Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” God has blessed us and supplied our needs, even things we did not ask for. God has kept our family, and He has been our strength, our Provider, and our Healer. We have consecrated our lives to Him and our desire is to remain faithful until we see Jesus face to face.
I thank God for the opportunity to be a part of His work in different ways over the years. In my early days, I remember being part of a team that would visit our outstations and branch churches to encourage and strengthen the believers in each place. At those meetings, I personally witnessed God working in wonderful, miraculous ways. I saw and experienced that God is real, and He is alive! It was true back then and God is still alive and working today. At a recent Philippines youth camp retreat, we experienced a mighty outpouring of His Spirit again. At that time, God impressed upon me that I will see Him very soon, and the need to pray for my unsaved family members. It was an inspiration and a challenging message, and my heart’s desire is to remain faithful, to finish the course God has set out before me, and to make Heaven my home one day.