Redeemed and Rejoicing
My parents were both faithful members of the Apostolic Faith Church when I was born. As a young boy, I attended church services regularly, mainly because it was a requirement in our home. Now, I am so thankful for that because it helped me learn about the Bible through the Sunday school lessons, and later I also learned to apply those lessons in real life, though I was too young to take it seriously at first.
When I was nine years old, a film entitled “Burning Hell” was shown at the church. While watching it, I was so afraid and heard a still, small Voice saying that I needed to repent of all my sins or else I was going to Hell. After the film, the leader asked us to kneel and pray for forgiveness of our sins. The floor was gravel, but that did not stop me from praying because of the great fear inside me. I prayed deeply that night and asked Jesus to forgive all my sins, and in His mercy He forgave me. It felt so good to have the assurance that I was ready for Heaven.
Life was not easy, however. It seemed that the other young people in our village could do anything they wanted, and I felt restrained. I started to envy them, which led to me backsliding. I tried smoking and gambling in places where no one from the church or my family could see me. At home, I would do household chores and attend church services to look good and responsible, but away from home I was not good and was so irresponsible.
During my college years, sometimes I would pray, but I continued living in my own way. My life became like a rollercoaster ride with many ups and downs.
When I reached high school, my situation became worse. I began to steal money from my mother’s wallet and before long, I became more involved with what my friends were doing. I pretended to be saved even though deep inside I knew that I was not. When it was time to go to college, I purposely chose to study away from home to give myself freedom from the church and my family. During my college years, sometimes I would pray, but I continued living in my own way. My life became like a rollercoaster ride with many ups and downs.
At the age of twenty-two, I got married and was already expecting to become a father. I found a job in my wife's village, and due to distance, we mostly attended church just at holidays. Our marriage had its share of difficulties, but in mercy God helped us even though we weren’t following Him.
In 1998, my parents asked me to help in the management of our family business. I was hesitant at first, but my father convinced me to accept the job. And almost without realizing it, I started to attend church services again. God’s Spirit called after my heart, and I am so thankful that when I asked God to forgive me once more, He showed His faithfulness to someone like me who had been so unfaithful to Him. He gave me another chance to serve Him.
After God saved me, I was given the opportunity to join the church choir, and to start teaching children in Vacation Bible School and young people in Sunday school. It was really fulfilling and a complete turnaround from my previous life. The Lord also helped me to make some difficult restitutions, to my mother and also my wife.
As I continued in my spiritual walk, God sanctified me. I really cannot explain that experience, but at that moment I lost the eagerness to see the old friends I had partied with before I was saved, and instead wanted to enjoy the company of my wife and children at home. Also, in our family business I had an opportunity to earn millions of pesos working with the government, but the Lord led me not to participate as it involved corrupt practices. He reminded me of Mark 8:36 which says, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
In 2005, the Lord baptized me with His Holy Spirit. I will never forget that day! I was praying hard, making consecrations, and really expecting to be filled that day. But after praying a long time, I left the prayer meeting feeling a bit disappointed that I had not received. On my way out, I saw my wife being filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in a language she did not know. I tried to continue to leave, but when I reached the door, I said, “Lord, why not me also and not only my wife?” With conviction and hunger, I began to pray again. Not long after that, the Lord filled me with the Holy Spirit. It was so good!
Later, I was asked to become a minister and started preaching in different branch churches. From 2006 to 2012, almost every weekend I would travel eight hundred kilometers, preaching seven sermons in five of our churches. It was a bit exhausting but really fulfilling. God provided me with a good car, and I was thankful to see people get saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Spirit.
As we prayed and sought Him, He poured out His Holy Spirit in a mighty way. Young people were speaking in Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and other languages. Others were singing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” in languages they did not know. It was truly an encounter with Jesus.
I was also the leader of our young people’s group, and for years I had difficulty explaining the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to them. But one youth camp, God showed us His glory. As we prayed and sought Him, He poured out His Holy Spirit in a mighty way. Young people were speaking in Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and other languages. Others were singing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” in languages they did not know. It was truly an encounter with Jesus, almost like seeing Him face to face. One pastor knew some Japanese and interpreted what was being said in that language as praises to the Lord. Several of us knew just a few words in Korean, and we recognized that a young lady was saying, “I love You, Lord.” Since then, any doubts or questions our young people had regarding the baptism of the Holy Spirit have been gone.
In 2017, our entire family was able to go to Portland, Oregon, for camp meeting and to attend the wedding of my brother. I was praying for my children and especially for my eldest son to get saved. One youth meeting while at the altar, my son came to me apologizing and I knew he had been saved. He continued praying and was sanctified, and then started speaking in another language as he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Truly it was a bounty from the Lord that day, and I am so thankful! I remember telling God, “If only I could understand what my son was saying; if only someone would hear and interpret.” Before we left the church, a lady approached us saying he had been praising Jesus in Hindi. Not only my son and I were blessed that day, but also that Indian lady who had thought it was an Indian man praying! My daughter also received a reanointing that camp meeting. A Korean brother came and asked me if she had studied Korean, and when I said she had not, he said she was praying in perfect Korean.
Recently, we had a very difficult situation with our family business due to some false accusations made against us, but God assured me that everything would be alright. When I was at the point of giving up and thinking we would lose our business, one of our young people came to me during our youth camp and said that God had given her a message for me: “Jesus said, ‘I love you.’” Later that day, another young person came to me a bit concerned. She said she’d had a vision of me speaking to Jesus, talking and talking like I was pleading my case. She said she could not understand what I was saying, but that Jesus’ answer was very clear: “It’s going to be alright.” That was so encouraging! Just a few days later, inspectors from different government agencies came to our office for a surprise check of our operations, and they all agreed that everything was okay and we were allowed to proceed. That happened to be on my birthday, and what a great gift that was!
I am thankful for everything the Lord has done for me—in my life, for my wife and children, in our churches in the Philippines, as well as in our family business. To God be the glory!
Growing up, I went to a Catholic church every Sunday with my mother. As a child, I looked forward to church services because afterward, we would go to the market for our weekly supplies and my mom would buy me my favorite comic book. Later as a teenager, I started attending mass on Saturday afternoons instead of Sundays, so I could be with my friends. While in college, attending the Saturday evening mass in a small chapel near our house became more convenient. My older brother was a member of the Catholic Youth Organization and a choir member at that time, and my sister-in-law and I were assigned to do the first and second Bible readings before the sermon.
I was the youngest of five children and the only girl. My brothers did not love studying, but my parents had great anticipation that I would become a medical doctor. They wanted that to be my focus, so I was not allowed to have a boyfriend until I turned eighteen. I obediently complied until I met my husband. We started dating when I was seventeen and that first rule was broken.
Joey was raised in the Apostolic Faith Church, but he was not living by Biblical standards and we did not honor God in our relationship. During my second year of medical school, I found out I was pregnant, and that brought a lot of heartache to our families. I felt especially bad for my parents, because I knew how carefully they had tried to mold their little girl according to their understanding of God’s Word.
All of the expectations I had failed to meet and all of the disappointments I had caused were looming large in front of me, the biggest of which was disobeying God's Word. I felt so sorry for committing those sins against the Lord.
During that time, I would not talk to anyone about what was going on because I felt so guilty, and God became my refuge. We had a civil wedding in September of 1995 and I decided to take a leave of absence from medical school. Our son was born in November, and in December, at the Apostolic Faith camp meeting, someone encouraged me to pray at the altar. There I met God more personally. All of the expectations I had failed to meet and all of the disappointments I had caused were looming large in front of me, the biggest of which was disobeying God's Word. I felt so sorry for committing those sins against the Lord. As I laid down everything before God, I felt a heavy burden being lifted, and God saved me that day.
Immediately after getting saved, I also asked forgiveness from my parents, and the following year I decided to go back to medical school to fulfill their dream. I told myself that I would do my best. Being a wife, mom, and medical student was tough, but God helped me. I didn’t know how I would even make it through, but I ended up at the top of our class, which is just how God works!
After my graduation, everyone expected that I would do my internship at the best hospital in Manila, but I decided to transfer to my husband’s hometown, where he had begun working in his family’s business. My internship was in a hospital that almost no one in my class had ever heard of, but living there allowed us to attend church more regularly. And amazingly, that government hospital gave me the best experience as an intern. I was able to deal with many charity patients and that helped me understand why God had put me in this profession. For my residency, I also spent four years in the same hospital training in pediatrics. Since then, all of my career plans have been made while seeking the Lord as well as godly advice from our ministers, and everything has gone well.
In 2005 God sanctified me and baptized me with the Holy Ghost. God taught me a lot of things as I consecrated my life more and more to Him, and He's been with me during the good times and the difficult times.
In 2003 my mother started attending camp meetings with us. My father would only come to church on special occasions, but in December of 2006, just a few days before he passed away, he asked my husband to pray with him. Joey told him that he needed to accept Christ as his personal Savior, and he eagerly answered, “Yes, I do accept Him” so we have hope that someday we will see him in Heaven. Then, at our summer camp meeting in 2008, my mother was also saved.
In my clinic, I have a cross-stitch wall hanging of praying hands and “God answers prayers” to remind my patients that it’s not me but God who can heal them.
One recent time of trial was in 2016 when my mother had a stroke which paralyzed the right side of her body. God gave us a miracle because, though she is eighty-two years old, she easily recovered and can now walk with only the assistance of a cane. Though I’m a medical doctor, I believe that most of the time prayer is the main reason someone recovers from illness. In my clinic, I have a cross-stitch wall hanging of praying hands and “God answers prayers” to remind my patients that it’s not me but God who can heal them.
Today, I am a practicing pediatrician, Sunday school teacher, choir member, pastor’s wife, and mother to four God-fearing and talented children who are also laborers in the Lord’s vineyard. God has been showering me with so many spiritual blessings, and He keeps on surprising me. I will forever be grateful to the Lord for all of His goodness toward me.