From the Superintendent's DESK
This past weekend, Reverend Joseph Ruiz, the Apostolic Faith District Superintendent of the Philippines, passed away unexpectedly at the age of forty-nine. Brother Joey is survived by his wife, Sister Gigi, and their four children, ages fourteen to twenty-six, as well as his parents and three siblings. His memorial service will be held on Wednesday, September 28, at 7:00 a.m. (PHST), and will be webcast live by the Philippines’ headquarters church (click here to watch). Bill McKibben, the Director of East Asia Work, will attend on behalf of the world headquarters with his wife, Lori. In this time of great loss, may we remember in prayer our brothers and sisters in the Philippines, and especially the Ruiz family.
Brother Joey was saved at age twenty-five and served God faithfully in a variety of capacities before becoming the director of the work in the Philippines in 2020. Though he is no longer with us, his legacy of faithful and loving leadership will live on in the Philippines. Memories of his warm disposition and encouraging camp meeting messages will be cherished by those in Portland as well. His last sermon preached in Portland, which was on July 17 of this year, can be viewed here.
Following is a portion of Brother Joey’s testimony that was published in the January 2019 edition of The Apostolic Faith magazine. We pray his passion for the Gospel will inspire you to an even closer walk with the Lord.
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.
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.
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.
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!