Knowing the God of the Impossible

When Ace and Elain Subido joined Victory’s Prayer and Fasting activity in 2016, the couple offered up a prayer for the impossible: a baby.

“We had been married for three years before really praying for a baby,” Elain says. “Not that we didn’t want one, but we just had this mindset that if we get pregnant, then great! If not, then it’s equally okay.”

That was before both Elain and Ace learned a week before Christmas of 2015 that they both had fertility problems. Ace had a condition which makes his sperm very weak and causes a low sperm count, while Elain was apparently suffering from PCOS and a retroverted uterus.

“We thought it could happen anytime,” Elain says, “and it would happen naturally because we didn’t practice birth control.” Suddenly, the Subidos’ situation seemed a lot more dire. Ace would need an operation and a year at most to recover from it; Elain would need fertility work-ups that could take six months or more to complete.

“In short,” Elain sighs, “it seemed pretty impossible for us to have a baby in 2016. Still,” she adds, “we decided to go with the best first option – God.” Given their grim prognosis, the 2016 Prayer & Fasting activity was the first time during the Subidos’ marriage that they really prayed for a baby.

“It was the first time it was written on our faith goals,” Elain says. “It was the first time that we really asked God for it, because we knew we wouldn’t be able to do it on our own. Who better help us than the ultimate healer Himself? And it wasn’t just us who prayed for it. People around us started to pray for healing and a miracle – our families, our small groups, and everyone who asked us for our prayer requests. Every week, people would pray for us.”

“We didn’t do anything different,” she adds. “We didn’t take any medicines, eat healthier food, or exercise more. The only difference was our prayer – we started to pray for a baby and had faith that God would heal us and give us this miracle. We held on to Mark 11:24, which says, ‘Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.’”

 

There was only one thing in the minds of the Subidos – that by the next prayer and fasting, Elain would be pregnant, and her baby would be a testimony. Less than six months of praying and waiting on God, and literally a week before Victory’s mid-year Prayer & Fasting activity, Elain discovered she was pregnant.

“I was so amazed,” Elain says. “We dared to believe God for the impossible, and we saw how prayer, coupled with faith, really does make impossible things possible.”

The God Who Restores

The God Who Restores

Offense is a word, an act, or a misdeed that lures you to harbor pain. Much of it is based on miscommunication and misinterpretations. When you clarify the intention and not merely judge by the action, or worse, what other people said, there is healing to be had.

In this blog entry, Victory Fort senior pastor Paolo Punzalan tells the story of two friends whose friendship was healed by God, showing how forgiveness is the reset button for any relationship, and how God is indeed the God of restoration.

How Not to Fast

How Not to Fast

Pastor Steve Murrell, president of Every Nation, shares practical and insightful tips on how not to go about a fast. Check out his blog post!

When You Give God Your All

When You Give God Your All

keevee_soloKathleya de Vera, or Keevee, grew up, in her words, “a good friend, a kind-hearted sister, and an obedient daughter.” In her senior year in high school, two campus missionaries from Victory Dagupan reached out to her, and invited her to a youth service. It was there that she had a personal encounter with God. However, she struggled with change. “(God wanted me) to let go of my selfishness and let him write His agenda for me. It was clear that he wanted me to surrender. Yet I was not ready for His Lordship. I was not willing for God to take over every area of my life.”

Keevee continued to seek God when she became a university student at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Victory Quezon City connected her to different women leaders on campus, all of whom tried to take her through ONE 2 ONE, Victory’s seven-lesson discipleship guide designed to help facilitate conversations to jumpstart a person’s walk with God.

“I had issues about the chapter on Lordship,” Keevee says. “I was also afraid to be baptized, because I thought it meant that I wouldn’t have control over myself anymore.”

Underneath the good-girl exterior, Keevee freely admits that she was selfish. Her kindness and obedience was not out of a genuine care and concern for people. “I found security in my relationships because I needed to feel loved. I took pride in being ‘that nice friend’ to everyone.” More and more, she put pressure on herself to please the people in her life. In all her efforts, however, she felt empty deep down.

 

Keevee describes her family as her "best friends."
Keevee describes her family as her “best friends.”

After some time, Keevee agreed to be baptized—but she still held on to her hesitations on lordship. “I decided, He can be the Lord of all, but not in the area of my relationships.” Shortly after being baptized, she entered into a relationship with a man who did not share her faith. “I thought it was a proper response to the call of discipleship.” Though she was able to preach the gospel to her boyfriend, “it felt empty. I felt like was stuck, and I lost who I was, in the process.”

Keevee decided to lay her cards before God at this point. “After a year in the relationship, I told God that I could not change this person, and that if He did not want this relationship for me, then He could take it away, and if possible, spare me from heartbreak.”

At that point, God was giving Keevee the grace to put Him above her own desires and that of her boyfriend. She soon decided to end her relationship with her boyfriend, and God’s perfect timing became painfully clear to her why.

“Eight months after we broke up, I learned that my ex-boyfriend got someone pregnant, even while we were together.”

God proved Himself faithful, answering the entirety of Keevee’s prayer—by both giving her the strength and grace to end the relationship, and sparing her from further heartache.

Keevee acknowledges that it was God who helped her through her challenges with Lordship. “Being Lord does not mean that He calls the shots in everything I do because He wants to boss me around. (Jesus being Lord means) He cares for every small detail of my life.”

Keevee (center) meets this growing Victory group composed of young single professionals weekly,
Keevee (center) meets this growing Victory group composed of young single professionals weekly,

Keevee now knows who is at the center of her relationships. “Jesus continued to pursue me like no other man can.” With this truth, she fully and completely found her security in Christ. “I can say that I learned to depend on Him more, because He knows best.”

Now, Keevee is seeing things through a different lens. “Because I experience God’s mercy every day, I’m motivated to tell others about Jesus.” She currently leads a Bible study group in her workplace, and has invited her colleagues to Victory Pioneer. “The call for discipleship is very natural,” she says, “and God’s grace is sufficient.” Along with a team of twelve others, she embarked on a short-term mission trip for the first time in a creative access nation.

Interestingly enough, now that Keevee has put God first, He also multiplied her time with those she loves. She considers her family “her best friends,” and seeking a romantic relationship doesn’t hold the same weight it used to. “I began to look at my season of singlehood (as a time for me to) be maximized—that this is the best time to get to know my Maker, so that I will understand myself more.”

For Keevee, there’s a world of difference when you give God your all. He fills each of us  with peace, joy, and rest, no matter what. “God is faithful when you surrender,” she smiles.

Indeed.

Finding Purpose Again

Finding Purpose Again

Manuel Gan2“I would drink alcohol for breakfast,” confesses 35-year-old Manuel Gan. “I started drinking at thirteen years old; I would drink everyday, even if I was alone.”

Growing up, Manuel had to adjust to the harsh reality of living in a broken family. When he was around seven years old, his parents separated. He and his sister were forced to live with their father in Nueva Ecija, while their mother remained in Manila. Being the older child, Manuel took the separation to heart, and the burden he felt to repair their fragmented family soon took its toll.

He dropped out of high school one day, and never returned. Without direction, his life soon revolved around addictions and fleeting pleasures. “I got angry at God,” he shares, “I felt that he let me down when he allowed me to grow up in a broken family.” His deep-seated anger led to depression, which then led to total rebellion. This further damaged his relationship with his father. In an attempt to assert control over his defiant son, his father would beat Manuel when they would get into disagreements—which happened often.

Manuel would drink everyday, hang out with his buddies, and play computer games; this became his routine. He eventually went to Manila, hoping that his mother would take him in and allow him to live with him. To his dismay, his mother turned him away, but promised to continue giving him money to provide for his needs. She couldn’t take him in anymore; she has already started her own family with another man.

Manuel Gan VGFeeling rejected and abandoned, Manuel spiraled further into depression. At the age of 14, he had to be checked into a rehabilitation center to address his alcohol addiction. “I stopped drinking for a while,” Manuel says, “But after some time, I fell back to my old habits.”

He left Nueva Ecija and started living on his own in Manila. This reconnected him with his mother, who has started attending Victory. Still unable to find a job, Manuel continued receiving money from his mother, who has long given up trying to reform him. “I was full of anger. Whenever she tried to interfere with my life, I would just get mad at her, and then we’d fight,” he explains. This went on until Manuel turned 30 years old. He realized he let his life pass by wallowing in self-pity, anger, and alcohol.

One of his arrangements with his mother was to drive her around. One Sunday, she asked him to drive her to Victory Fort. When he was invited to attend the worship service, Manuel surprisingly obliged but he had reservations. “I was compelled to attend because nothing was happening in my life,” he shares, “But at the same time I was judging my mother for being a Christian because I still saw her faults.”

Manuel Gan VWSoon, Manuel found himself attending Victory worship services regularly with his mother, who has already received Christ in her life. He was eventually connected to Alex Monis, who became his One 2 One mentor and Victory group leader. “I didn’t finish school, I don’t have any job to speak of, and I was an alcoholic for almost two decades but Kuya Alex didn’t make me feel inferior,” he shares. This year, Manuel finished One 2 One, and underwent Victory Weekend last May.

During Victory Weekend, he released himself from the bondage of alcoholism, low self-esteem and entitlement. For the first time in his life, Manuel felt unburdened and accepted without judgment. “I gave everything to Jesus,” he says, “I told Him that He is in charge of my life from now on.” His attitude towards life radically changed. Manuel realized he has a purpose, and that is to glorify God in his life. “There’s a reason He has still allowed me to live for this long after all the damage I’ve done to my body,” he says.

Slowly, his relationships with his family improved, emotional wounds were healed and Manuel learned the importance of forgiveness. He also developed a desire to preach the gospel to other people. Today, Manuel is studying more about discipleship and leadership at a ministry school in Parañaque. He is in faith that he will be able to reconnect with his old friends and share his testimony with them.

From someone who was so mired in hopelessness and anger, Manuel now desires to reach out to more people and tell them how God has changed his life around and given him purpose again

Join Us at the 2016 Every Nation World Conference!

Join Us at the 2016 Every Nation World Conference!

“Every so often we need to sound a trumpet and gather together to rekindle the vision, renew relationships, and reaffirm the commitments we have made to one another.” ~ Pastor Steve Murrell, President of Every Nation

Every three years, the Every Nation global family celebrates where God has led us and what God has done through us as we reach every nation in our generation. At the 2010 conference, we broke a Guinness world record. In 2013, we celebrated our twentieth anniversary. This 2016, we’re boldly going where God tells us to go!

This year, we’re heading to South Africa for the 2016 Every Nation World Conference, to be held at the Grandwest Arena in Cape Town from October 3rd to 7th. Registration began last February 15th, and is still ongoing!

Why should we go? Because we’re family. We belong to a spiritual family that spans the entire globe. Joining the world conference will let us see the bigger picture, and give us front row seats to how our organization impacts lives all over the world.

Because we’re called. Our mission calls us to reach every nation in our generation. God has called us to this family to achieve that mission.

Because we can. As children of God and followers of Christ, we can follow that calling to the ends of the earth. If you have the heart to go, then you should be there! God has commissioned us to go and we all have a role to play to reach the nations. Let us be in faith that everyone joining the conference will hear and respond to God’s call to honor God and make disciples, at their home, and to the ends of the earth. You know what that means; book your plane tickets, plan vacation time, and get your family ready! There are only five weeks to go, so register now at http://www.en2016.org/registration. See you in South Africa!

Watch the 2016 Every Nation World Conference promo video here!

Overcoming Self-Righteousness

Overcoming Self-Righteousness

image (2)“I thought I knew God,” JR confesses, “After all, I prayed regularly and went to church.”

That was the mindset that the young professional had when his best friend invited him to one of Victory’s Sunday services. He knew he wasn’t a bad person. He was a sinner, compared to other people committing heinous crimes and making immoral decisions. Thinking that he was on relatively good terms with God, he made up excuses and declined his friend’s invitations numerous times.

Not one to be deterred, JR’s best friend continued to invite him, saying that he should just give it a chance because he had nothing to lose, anyway. “I finally said yes just to shut him up,” JR recalls. “It was only for two hours, so I relented.”

Once the two friends got in the worship hall, JR immediately felt a different kind of atmosphere. He remembers the day vividly. “It was weird, but in a good way. Everyone was singing, people were dancing, and they were raising their hands,” he added. “Deep inside, I was in awe!”

When the preaching started, JR couldn’t help but feel that the pastor was talking to him specifically. He left the church convinced that he would return; he knew that God spoke to him that day through the message, and it was unlike any other feeling he had before. It was something beyond mere attendance and muttering prayers; it was an encounter with God.

imageTwo years later, JR continued to attend worship services. One Sunday afternoon in 2013, he finally gathered up the courage to publicly surrender his life to Christ. “Before, I was so hesitant and shy to even respond to the altar call,” he reveals, “I guess there was still a bit of pride in me, so I would just respond to God quietly on my own.”

JR knew that his courage to step up and publicly acknowledge Jesus as his Savior came from God Himself. Emboldened, he knew he made the right choice. He immediately took steps to be connected to a Victory group, and that’s when he met Marlon Valientes, the guy who would become his Victory group leader. He was also introduced to Martin Remos, who would eventually lead him through ONE 2 ONE. On the first of June in 2014, JR publicly declared his faith in God during Victory Weekend.

“It felt so good to finally shout it out to the world!” he exclaims, “I was so glad God didn’t give up on me despite my many hesitations and insecurities.”

The change in JR may not be so evident on the outside; he didn’t have vices to get rid of nor did he have a perverse lifestyle, but inside, the transformation was drastic. God renewed his mind. He realized he was not better than other sinners, and there was no such thing as mild sinning. JR was so on fire with God’s love, he couldn’t help but tell other people what He did in his life. He joined this year’s prayer and fasting with these prayer requests in mind: to grow deeper in his relationship with God, to be involved in ministry, and to finally lead someone through ONE 2 ONE.

image (3)After a week, JR was invited by one of his friends to be part of the Tech and Stage ministry and he happily committed to serve. He has also started leading someone through ONE 2 ONE, and is in faith that God will empower him to disciple more people in the future.

“Discipleship is important because Jesus commanded us to make disciples,” he shares, “I want to preach the gospel to those who don’t know God because I know how it feels to be lost and just know him, instead of really knowing him.”

With the knowledge and understanding that everyone needs God, JR is believing for his whole family to be saved, too. “God is great,” he proclaims, “He is true to His promises, and that’s something we can always rely on.”

Daring to Believe for Miracles

Daring to Believe for Miracles

“I said yes, even if I had no idea what I’m supposed to do.”

These were the words of Troy Alvarez, a 17-year old student at Lyceum of Alabang, who joined our Dare to Believe prayer and fasting week last January 2016. On the first day of fasting, he felt God speak to him to pray for someone in church. It was the first time he heard God tell him to pray for someone. He didn’t know any special prayers, and he didn’t know how to approach strangers. Still, he said yes.

The next day in Victory Alabang during the first session of prayer and fasting, he scanned the crowd for someone he could pray for, and his eyes fell on an elderly woman. He couldn’t shake the feeling that this woman had cancer. Troy prayed for confirmation from God, and a feeling of certainty washed over him. “This is her. God wants me to pray for this woman,” he told himself.

After praise and worship, Troy started approaching the woman but before he could get near her, he was suddenly overwhelmed with fear and uncertainties. He couldn’t move a step forward and found himself retreating to his seat. Doubtful and defeated, Troy headed home instead. During his commute, there was a gnawing feeling inside him. He couldn’t take his mind off the elderly woman who needed his prayers. “I could feel there was something wrong,” he confesses, “I didn’t obey God because I was thinking more of what other people would say. I didn’t trust Him.” Feeling humbled, Troy prayed that the woman would be there tomorrow and he resolved to approach her, so he can do what God has been telling him to do.

The next day, Troy immediately looked for the woman. God answered his prayer, because he had no difficulty finding her. Gathering courage, he approached her and introduced himself. He found out that his name is Ester, and she was fighting breast cancer. At the time she met Troy, the cancer had spread to her lungs.

“I asked her if I could pray for her,” he narrates, “I told her that God has been telling me to pray specifically for her.” As Troy was praying, he suddenly felt very cold and goosebumps overwhelmed him. He felt the presence of Jesus in their midst. He shared with her his life verse from Mark 11:24, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Before long, he found himself crying with Tita Ester. “After praying for her, I was speechless and I felt really cold,” Troy shares, “I felt a mix of emotions, but the most overwhelming thing is the joy that is overflowing in me.”

The next day, Troy went to church again and the first thing he did was look for Tita Ester. To his dismay, she wasn’t in church. Troy couldn’t help but worry and feel anxious about her absence. Remembering how he felt Jesus’ presence yesterday, Troy was comforted. At home, he continued to pray and fast for Tita Ester’s healing. He knew nothing is impossible with God. He is sovereign, and He can cure any sickness in a blink of an eye.

On the last day of prayer and fasting week, Troy prayed to see Tita Ester once again. To his relief, she was in church and he ran towards her once he saw her. Tita Ester was in high spirits. She had wonderful news that she couldn’t wait to tell Troy about. Doctors were dumbfounded to discover that the cancer in her lungs seemed to have disappeared!

Upon hearing the news, Troy felt a wave of peacefulness wash over him. God did not only give him front row seats to witness a miracle, but He used him to be an instrument of blessing to someone he didn’t even know when the week began. Troy wasn’t spared from the voices in his head telling him that his faith is not enough to heal, but he clung to his life verse and was reassured that God can do the impossible. Ester’s daughter, April, agrees; her mother recently underwent laser surgery to remove a small tumor discovered in her brain.

“Though we know Mom’s fight with cancer isn’t completely over,” she shares, “we know that the victory is already ours because of Jesus. We’re so blessed because God gives her so much strength; she’s a fighter.” Ester’s courage has made quite the impression on Troy.

“This experience taught me to be brave,” Troy shares, “It showed me that when God declares something, it will happen. We’re not the miracle workers, we’re just the instruments, so we need not fear. We just have to dare to believe.”

Courage, and Doing the Unexpected

Courage, and Doing the Unexpected

Krishna Garcia is a 17-year old student from Far Eastern University who leads her own Victory group at Victory Fort. Last week, she attended the Leaders’ Camp in Batangas, a three-day out-of-town experience for student leaders, designed to equip them when they return to school after summer vacation. Refreshed, empowered, and blessed, Krishna didn’t waste any time when she got back to Manila.

It was the Saturday night after the camp when she and two of her Victory group members saw Lola Melly. She was hunched over a garbage bin at Family Mart in Market Market. Seeing the old lady’s pitiful state, Krishna and her friends approached her. “I was amazed,” she shares proudly, “it was actually the two girls I was discipling that saw her, and they didn’t hesitate to reach out to her.”

Looking up from her rummaging, Lola Melly was surprised to see the young girls talking to her. “We said, ‘Hello po, lola, kumusta po’ and she was a bit shy to answer,” Krishna recalls. They gave her food and water, and started asking her how she’s doing. Before long, they found out that she only lives with her sister, who has diabetes. She has four children, who each have their own families now. At the age of 81, she is now jobless, and scavenging for food from the garbage bins of restaurants and convenience stores is what she does to survive.

While talking to Lola Melly, Krishna was overwhelmed with a strong desire to share the gospel to her. There were doubts in her head, but they were momentary. “I was filled with a burden to share Jesus to her,” she explains, “so that whatever happens to her in this world, she will be with Him until the end.”

Krishna asked her if she knows Jesus, and started talking to her about God’s love and His promises. Right then and there, the girls sensed the Holy Spirit working. They prayed for Lola Melly, and her sister with diabetes. They shared comforting words, and told her that God is sovereign in every situation. It was at that moment that Lola Melly surrendered her life to God. Before the prayer ended, everyone had tears in their eyes.

“After the camp, we were expecting something like this to happen in campus,” Krishna admits, “we didn’t really expect to encounter God’s grace this way.” Before they parted ways, one of her friends decided to financially bless Lola Melly. They also invited her to attend worship service, to which she said yes. This coming Saturday, they will go to Lola Melly’s usual spot to check how she’s doing, and engage her some more.

As Krishna recounts the incident, she couldn’t help but be amazed at how God uses us to further His kingdom. He used the next generation to reach out to the older generation, proving that no matter the age, the Great Commission is for every Christian to uphold. She is also in awe at the ways that God spurs us to keep the faith and run the race. “My Victory group members are now more encouraged to share the gospel as much as possible,” Krishna says.

For them, it was a simple decision to step out of their comfort zone, but for Lola Melly, it meant encountering God’s redeeming love in the most unusual place.

From The Streets To The University

From The Streets To The University

HS Graduation Photo

Princess Tolentino spent the first five years of her life living in a shack under the flyover near the Buendia station of the Philippine National Railways (PNR). It was a harsh reality she faced with her three brothers and sister, but Princess consoled herself with the hope that their lives would one day get better. At least, magkasama kami, she thought to herself. In 2005, Princess’ world shattered, when her father left her mother for another woman.

Pagkatapos kaming iwanan ng daddy ko,” Princess recalls,sinira ng gobyerno ang bahay namin sa gilid ng riles dahil squatter lang kami doon.”

Without a steady source of income, her mother was forced to relocate them under the bridge. At the age of 5, Princess was living among drug addicts, common thieves, and Rugby boys–a gang of street children named after the ubiquitous contact cement they sniffed to alleviate their hunger. Under a makeshift roof of cardboard and plastic, Princess, along with her family, endured harsh weather and unsanitary living conditions. The constant fear of being driven away by the police haunted them.

Pinapaalis po kami,” Princess shares. “Minsan nga po, hinahabol pa kami.” One of Princess’ friends died in front of her when he was hit by a car while running from a policeman. “Tapos kapag hinahabol kami ng pulis, minsan kung saan-saan kami tumatakbo kahit sa kalsada. Kahit delikado.”

To survive, Princess learned how to beg for alms from passersby. She would pick scraps from the trash bins of fast food chains. Risking her life every day and being at the mercy of other people quickly became her norm. Her response to her hardships at a tender age was out of self-preservation and the need to have some semblance of control over her life: rebellion. At 10 years old, Princess learned how to drink and smoke. By age 13, she had entered relationships with several boyfriends.

Nalaman yun ng mama ko at ng kuya ko,” she reveals. “Binugbog ako ng kuya ko. Dumating sa point na pumapasok ako sa school na may black eye.”

After several years, her mother finally secured a steadier job, and their lives, slowly but surely, began to improve. They uprooted themselves from the streets and moved into a small rented room. The family had a place they could call home. And, at the age of 11, Princess enrolled in first grade.

Doon ako nagkaroon ng mindset na mag-aral na nang mabuti,” Princess shares. “Sinabi ko sa sarili ko, Babangon ako at dudurugin ko sila.’”

Motivated by revenge and the desire to win her mother’s affection, she became obsessed with acing her subjects just to show her family what she’s made of. On her graduation day, she reached her goal: she was the school valedictorian. That day, however, she had a big fight with her mother over a petty thing. What should have been a happy occasion became one of the lowest points of her life.

“Ang sama ng loob ko ‘non dahil ginawa ko naman lahat pero parang wala pa rin,” she sighs.

Princess texted her student teacher to confide in her, and she invited her to come to church. “Sumama naman ako kasi aircon,” Princess laughs. They went to Victory Fort, and there, for the first time in her life, Princess heard the gospel.

With her dadHabang nakikinig ako ng preaching,” she reveals, “pina-realize sa akin ni God na kailangan ko si Jesus kasi sobrang dumi ko dahil sa mga kasalanan ko.” Princess felt a heavy burden lifted from her as she cried out to God. That same night, Princess surrendered her life, her self-reliance, her pain, and her pride, to Jesus.

Over time, Princess saw how God began to heal her heart and mend her broken relationships. All the hatred inside her began to disappear. In an incredible turn of events, Princess was able to reach out to her father, who had abandoned her more than 15 years ago, and met up with him so she could tell him that she would be all right. “Hindi ko na sila sinisisi kung bakit ganon yung buhay ko,” she shares.

Aside from personal healing, God also mended her life by allowing her to become a scholar of the Real LIFE Foundation. Her 7th grade teacher, Jaime Gabrera, saw her in Victory Fort and decided to connect her to the foundation. There, aside from a good education, she received mentoring, financial assistance and character development. She was molded to be a Christ-centered student, a scholar of God.

“God has a great plan for our lives,” she says. “Ang dapat lang nating gawin ay magtiwala. I know na kumikilos Siya sa buhay ko.”

While at Victory Fort, Princess was also connected to a Victory group, where she saw that Christians needed each other to grow in their faith. Encouraged by her new spiritual family, her self-esteem grew, and she learned how to be a disciple maker herself.

“Siyempre hindi pwede mawala yung discipleship, kung saan tinutulungan nila ako sa walk ko with Jesus. They empower me to lead.” Today, Princess is leading her fellow students to Jesus through her own Victory Group. She is also reaching out to her family, and firmly believes in God’s promise of salvation for her entire household. Two of her siblings are scheduled to undergo ONE 2 ONE soon.

RealLIFEscholarsLast month, Princess graduated from high school at the University of Makati. She is the first one to ever pursue college in her family. She has high hopes, and is expectant of her life in the university where she plans to take up a degree in Finance.

Asked where she sees herself five years from now, she replies with a smile, “I’ll be working hard for my family. I know I’ll be happy with the path that God will give me, like making disciples in the corporate world,” she adds.

Before, Princess was a child begging along the streets of Buendia. Today, she is an accomplished high school graduate on her way to university towards a brighter future. She may have already been through much, but with her new life in Christ, she knows that this is only the beginning.

——————

Do you have a story of restoration? Share your story with us and testify of God’s goodness!

A God of Miracles

A God of Miracles

Noelle Samson-Siy was in the prime of her life when she received some devastating news.From the beginning, it seemed like the odds were stacked against Noelle Samson-Siy. Three years ago, doctors sat down with the 27-year-old businesswoman, and gave her news that no woman ever wants to hear.

“We’re afraid your tests reveal that your brain cannot signal ovulation,” the doctors told her, “Your pituitary gland isn’t functioning correctly.”

Months earlier, Noelle had learned she has polycystic ovarian syndrome in both ovaries. Her left ovary was in 40-year-old condition, despite her being only in her mid-20s, and a 6cm cyst was discovered in her right ovary. After a few months of taking medicines to shrink the cyst, things were looking up–until she started spot bleeding after two months and needed an immediate operation. A newlywed in the prime of life, Noelle was faced with the harsh reality that she and her husband Malcolm might never have children.

“At the time, we scouted for the best fertility doctors we could find in Metro Manila,” Noelle says, “not because we wanted to, but because they kept referring us to other doctors as well.” Her condition began to weigh down on her, but her husband Malcolm never grew weary in giving her encouragement, praying for her, and accompanying her during hospital visits.

victory_christian_fellowshop_healing_pregnancy4Turning to God, the couple never stopped praying for a baby, but also decided that Noelle’s condition would not stop them from having a great marriage. Husband and wife went out on dates, traveled outside the Philippines, and enjoyed each other’s company, even without children. Still, despite their happy marriage, Noelle couldn’t deny a part of her that felt incomplete.

“It was one of the darkest and saddest times of my life,” she shares, “but it was also the time when I experienced a deeper relationship with Him.”

One night, while reading her Bible, she read the New Testament story of Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth. She immediately identified with Elizabeth’s story of barrenness, and burst into tears. After a few minutes of crying out to God, Noelle felt something different.

“I suddenly experienced a strong sense of calmness envelope me,” she says. She felt free from her insecurities and bondage, and instantly knew it was God comforting her. At that same moment, God placed a name in her heart: Zachary.

While encouraging, Noelle kept this revelation to herself, and used it to lift her spirits when she started bleeding again. Her doctor immediately scheduled an operation.

“We felt our lives were like a roller coaster,” Noelle says. “We had to think twice about making big purchases, because we were concerned we would need the money later for unexpected medical bills and medicines.”

Little did the couple know what God had in store. One day, Malcolm received a text message informing them that someone from the Victory church they attended wanted to bless them, and was asking for their account number to make the deposit.

“We were floored when we realized it was more than enough to cover for the operation,” Noelle shares, “we were like kids jumping up and down. We knew then, that despite all the trials, God was there with us.”

As the operation date drew near, Noelle couldn’t contain her fear, which worsened the night before the big day. She and Malcolm kept praying until 5AM, the time of her scheduled operation. While lying down in the operating room, she heard a voice say, “Be still and know that I am God.” Her body started to relax and she was able to sleep soundly throughout the almost six-hour operation.

Noelle awoke to shocking news: the doctors removed her right ovary; she had one only ovary left.

“The cyst we found in your right ovary is cancerous,” the doctors told the dismayed couple. They were also told that she was a suffering from a severe case of endometriosis, a condition that resulted in a retroverted uterus. The cyst which was surgically removed had to undergo a biopsy.

Noelle Siy with her miracle baby, Zachary.Noelle and Malcolm took the news in stride, waiting for two weeks to learn of what kind of cancer it was. Meanwhile, their families, friends and spiritual family stormed the gates of heaven with prayer for her. Finally, the day came when they got the results: her cancer was stage 1A cancer, a non-aggressive type.

“Your best window to get pregnant is only four months from this operation,” said the doctor who operated on Noelle. Four months later, Noelle had a dream in which she was pregnant. She awoke, very excited, and decided to take a pregnancy test on a whim. She and Malcolm could not believe their eyes when the test revealed two lines.

Noelle was pregnant.

Her doctors were equally shocked when they found out Noelle conceived naturally, without the aid of pills or other medication. In her fifth month of pregnancy, the couple learned their baby was a boy. They decided to name him Zachary–which means “remembered by God.”

“God answered our prayer,” she smiles. “Despite every doctor saying it was impossible, it was possible for God!”

Before, Noelle was plagued with cancer and infertility; today, she is now free of sickness and the proud mother of a healthy baby boy. Because her right ovary was already successfully removed, she is now cancer-free; she will never have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation. Some people would call it luck, but she’d rather call it a miracle.

The Born Supremacy

The Born Supremacy

JesusPaul uses two words in his letter to the Colossians that I think aptly describe the Christ-centered church. He writes, “He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy” (Colossians 1:18).

The first key word is “everything.” Jesus is supposed to be the center of everything — not just religious and eternal things. Everything certainly includes Sunday, but also Monday through Saturday. Jesus should be the center of every sermon and every song, every prayer meeting and every worship service, every individual and every family. Everything.

The second word is “supremacy.” Jesus is not to be the top priority on our long list of priorities, the first of many. Rather, He is to have supremacy, meaning He is the foundation and the cornerstone, the starting line and the finish line. He is the beginning, the middle, and the end. He is the ultimate. Nothing compares. Nothing competes. Supremacy in everything!

——————

Born Supremacy is an excerpt from 100 Years from Now: Sustaining a Movement for Generations by Steve Murrell. Click here to purchase the book on Amazon.

Jesus takes the wheel of driver’s new life

Jesus takes the wheel of driver’s new life

Photo 4_RenatoBayolaWhen Renato started working as a driver for Every Nation Campus Philippines director Joseph Bonifacio, he would sit in the parking lot and wait for the worship service to end. Pastor Joseph would invite him to come in and listen to the Word, but he would always have an excuse. Prior to that, he sought God in different places, but he would always end up disillusioned and more confused. After two years, he’s had enough; and he stopped going to church. Religion, he decided, was not for him.

Raising three kids with his wife proved to be difficult for them, and they would always fight about their lack of finances. “What would I do? I would always get angry,” he recalls. He remembers being plagued with sleepless nights, and he would resort to his vices of smoking and drinking to make himself feel better.

renato2One Sunday, Pastor Joseph invited him again. This time, he found himself entertaining the idea, and he started talking about it with his wife. They decided to attend the service at Victory Nova, which is near their place. He couldn’t explain what led him there, but he felt a stirring in his heart. He listened to the message, which was part of the Biyaheng Semana Santa, and knew it was directed towards him. “I surrendered wholly to God,” he shares. Soon, he found himself looking for someone that will connect them to a Victory group.

That’s how he met his Victory group leader, Boyet Noroña. He started attending regularly at Victory Nova, and soon went through ONE 2 ONE. A huge transformation occurred in him. His wife noticed that his vices were gone, and he was no longer short-tempered. Their relationship greatly improved, and they realized that they’ve stopped fighting about money. He started sleeping soundly at night, too. “I wasn’t living a victorious life because I was solely dependent on myself,” Renato reveals. Now, he anchors his faith on God’s promises for him and his family. Last year, he declared his faith to the world during Victory Weekend.

Photo 3_RenatoBayolaDuring the latter part of 2015, his wife was also baptized during Victory Weekend. Now, they’re both serving in Victory Nova as ushers. Renato also developed a hunger to reach out to fellow drivers. “While waiting for my employers at the drivers’ lounge in malls, I’d share the gospel to my fellow drivers,” he reveals. He would engage people in vulcanizing shops, gas stations, and parking areas. The fire in him burned so bright that even his neighbor, who used to be a drunkard, became a Christian. “I remember praying for him at a time that he was very drunk,” he recalls. His neighbor has long overcome his drinking problem, and now regularly attends church.

When Renato looks back on his past, he marvels at how God saved him from himself. He holds Matthew 6:33, which says “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” close to his heart. Free from the bondage of insecurity, self-reliance, and pride, he became an instrument to advance God’s kingdom and can now fulfill his roles of husband, father, and discipler. Through his story, he showed that God can use the flawed, the broken, and even, the unwilling, to let His name be known to all the world.

Faith to Finish

Faith to Finish

What are your impossibilities? Would you dare to believe that God can do so much more in and through you? That kind of faith overcomes the world.
 
There is a kind of audacious faith that is not as celebrated as the faith that moves mountains. Faith is not just about winning and achieving, but also about lasting and enduring. There is a faith that changes water into wine, but there is also a faith that wrestles with God in the garden and eventually drinks the cup that comes from the Father. There is a faith that raises Lazarus to life, and there is also a faith that carries the cross to Golgotha.  
 
There is a faith that enables you to step out, but there is also a faith that enables you to stay, endure, and wait. You need this kind of faith when life is mundane, difficult, or futile.
 
Hebrews 10:35-36 says, “Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”
CONFIDENCE is like the big brother of faith, a faith that has been tested and has grown in strength. It carries with it the idea of patient continuance, steadfast waiting, and constancy. For the audience of the book of Hebrews, it’s about not throwing away their  confidence of salvation in the midst of great persecution. In such times, you have need of ENDURANCE to continue, for in that there is great reward and promise.
To be confident of and endure towards what? GOD’S WILL, both His specific instruction for the moment and His general purpose for your life—which in essence is about honoring Him and making disciples.
So when life is MUNDANE, plod on in obedience, slowly and perseveringly through your dull tasks, as long as it moves you along in God’s purpose. When life is DIFFICULT, endure in the midst of it and find God’s presence and peace. When life seems FUTILE, know that obeying the last thing God told you to do means He will weave together something meaningful and eternally lasting through your life.
 
Finish your race, and go through the long and arduous process—for there are things that can only be birthed in you through time and patient endurance.
Would you be willing to grow in this kind of faith, a faith that has grown confident in God and will continue in God’s will despite the most dreary and difficult circumstances?
John 1:4-5 relates, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Just like glow-in-the-dark toys, it’s interesting that the darkness doesn’t seem to bother them, but rather brings out the best in them. The life in you glows in the dark, too, and would not be overcome!
That Awkward Moment When Jesus Insulted an old Woman

That Awkward Moment When Jesus Insulted an old Woman

Matthew 15:21-28 records one of the most puzzling stories in the Bible. One day a Gentile woman came to Jesus and begged him to heal her daughter who was oppressed by demons. Instead of helping, Jesus gave her the silent treatment.

But she wasn’t one who would give up easily. She badgered him to the point that she was already causing a scene. The disciples intervened and asked Jesus to kindly send her away. He flatly said no, this time telling them that she was not part of his mission. She was a Gentile and at that time Jesus specifically came for the lost tribes of Israel.

You have to admire this woman’s audacity because instead of going away, she knelt before Jesus and pleaded again. This is where the story becomes shocking. Jesus turned her down again the second time saying it was not right to give the children’s food to the dogs. He called her a dog.

Gasp!

Those skeptical to the Christian faith call this ‘the worst kind of chauvinism’ and criticized Jesus for being harsh. Some explain this away by saying maybe Jesus was referring to cute, cuddly pet dogs (which is unlikely since pet dogs were not really fashionable in ancient times). Others, however, believe that Jesus was simply voicing out the racial and religious animosity between Jews and Gentiles at that time to give the woman (and us) a context for what happens next.

The real shocker of the story is not that Jesus uttered what we consider a bad word to a woman in need but the fact that He actually answered the audacious prayer of someone who, by all counts, didn’t deserve it. When Jesus turned her down, she recognized her unworthiness and accepted it without protest. She knew she was an outsider to the covenants of God with Israel. She knew that on her own she had no merit, no claim, no priority-standing, and had nothing to commend her. Her only basis for praying was her belief that God is good and would never deprive her of a few crumbs of mercy. She didn’t trust her merits; she trusted God’s character.

What a rare combination of humility and audacity.

This woman’s story teaches us a lot today. We have all heard that audacious faith is daring to believe God for impossible things. But where do you draw the line between faith and presumption, between audacity and a sense of entitlement?

The answer, I believe, is a deep sense of humility and a recognition that before we encountered Christ, we were beggars for grace. There’s nothing about us that is worth boasting when we come to God in prayer, not even our so-called achievements in life and in the ministry. D.L. Moody once said that Jesus never sent anyone away except those who are full of themselves.

As we start the New Year in prayer and fasting, let us believe God for big and impossible things but let

us do so with humble awareness that every crumb of blessing we receive is mainly because God is gracious, not because we deserve them.

This, I believe, is the bedrock of all our audacious prayers.

Audacious Faith

Audacious Faith

In this #ENfast2016 vlog, Pastor Joey Bonifacio of Victory Fort Bonifacio gleans from Ephesians 2:10, talking about how each of us are God’s masterpieces, created for good works.

Both Willing and Able

Both Willing and Able

As a father, I get various kinds of requests from my children from buying a toy to riding our bikes.  My heart is to do give what would be best for them at any given moment.  Fulfilling a promise is something I will move heaven and earth for so that they won’t end up disappointed and let down.

There are times that I am willing but for some reason unable because of current circumstance. I may be willing to ride our bikes with my 7 year old son, but if it’s raining hard, our current situation will hinder us from doing so.  On the other hand, the weather might be perfect but if I am not willing because of laziness or exhaustion, then my son will still end up disappointed.

The Bible shows us that God has both the ability and the willingness to follow through on His promises to us.  In Jeremiah 32:17, the prophet declares, “Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.”

Jeremiah was overwhelmed by this truth.  He makes a declaration about the greatness, majesty and magnificence of the Almighty God.  He then follows it up with two amazing realities.

1. GOD IS ABLE.

How does he know this? He declares His ability by expressing not only His Lordship over creation, but His power to create the heavens and the earth.

If you are facing an extremely difficult situation that may seem insurmountable, know that the God of the universe, the Maker of heaven and earth, is more than able.

Do you ever wonder why the planets in our solar system stays in orbit?  The Bible says that “in Him, all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)

Now if God is able to run the solar system which is a million times more complex that the lives we live today, don’t you think He has the ability to run our lives?  The answer is a resounding “YES!”

2. GOD IS WILLING.

Jeremiah proclaims that God created the heavens not only by His power but also by His outstretched arms—a picture of God extending His desire to meet His people’s needs.

Jesus declares in Matthew 7:11, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Because God is mighty, He is able to do all that He said He would.
Because God is our Father, He is willing to follow through on His promises.

God is both able and willing.  Because of that, I can live life with a smile on my face.

What is Missional Worship?

What is Missional Worship?

juiius-eilleen-fabregasWhat exactly is missional worship? Pastor Julius Fabregas, senior pastor of Victory Makati and the Executive Director of Victory Worship, explains the role of the Great Commission in worship.

This post, titled “What is Missional Worship?”, is the first in a short blog series that talks about Every Nation Music’s expression of worship. That being said, in the manner of MMA’s famous intro to events, “Here we go!”

I was recently asked this question: “Why do we sing our Every Nation Music songs (in our local churches)?”  It was a great question, and I’m more than happy to answer it!

I’ve always been a serious music aficionado (everything from Bach to rock, and I’m also from a family involved in the professional entertainment industry—ummm, them, not me!). My first encounters with Christian events way back were memorable, but not always in a good way. The preaching was always impactful, but the music didn’t make as much of an impact. Now having been exposed to the Christian world for 35 years, one of the most notable changes has been how worship music has progressed so much!  

During the late ‘80s & early ‘90s, a shift in the worship music sound began to take place.  “Praise and worship,” as it was known, began to take on a contemporary style and sound.  Church music was becoming “relevant to the unchurched.”  It resulted in a revival of sorts, helping churches globally attract more people to services and events. It was an avenue for people to hear the gospel of Jesus being preached.

I refer to this style as “attractional worship.” The Holy Spirit anointed the new relevant style, the sound, and even the increasing skill levels in a powerful way, attracting many people and resulting in salvation from the preaching of the gospel of Jesus. Please note that it was only one of the things God used to bring in more people to church; it was not the only thing.  

Early in the first decade of the millennium came a fresh wave of worship music that I refer to as “devotional worship.” Using cassette tapes to CDs, and eventually moving on to MP3 players and smartphones, people would play their music in their homes, cars, offices, gyms, or wherever they wanted, to fill themselves up in God’s presence, experience peace, healing, and encouragement, and strengthen their faith in Christ!  It is indeed also an amazing move of the Holy Spirit.  

Being in the ministry for many years now, I have noticed both “attractional” and “devotional” worship songs are about what God is doing in me and for me. For the most part, this is absolutely awesome. Rightly so, we should be singing His abundant goodness, grace and love in us and for us.

Stop and think now about some of your favorite praise and worship songs and get into last song syndrome (LSS) mode for a few moments.  Reflect on the lyrics.  Most of them are about what GOD is doing or what we want GOD to be doing in us and for us.  We all certainly have been ministered to and strengthened in our faith because of these great expressions of worship music.

I believe the Holy Spirit is introducing and anointing another expression of worship music to us, which I refer to as “missional worship.”  These songs express not only what God is doing or wants to do in us and for us, but what God wants to do through us as well!  

After all, Jesus not only saves us, but He also sends us!  Matthew 28:18-20 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, . . . and I am with you always to the end of the age.”  Missional worship music expresses and encourages the Great Commission!

Acts 1:8 reminds us clearly that the Holy Spirit’s power is to come upon us (in us and for us), but also to overflow and empower us to be His witnesses (through us).  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Now, let me invite you to return into LSS mode, but reflect on the titles, lyrics and themes of some of our Every Nation Music songs:

  • We Will Go (from Every Nation Music’s One EP)
  • Pour Us Out (from Every Nation Music’s Find Rest EP)
  • “Take my life, Lord, it is Yours…” (from Victory Worship’s Radical Love, off the full-length album of the same title)
  • “From every nation every tongue, endless praise will be sung” (from Every Nation Music’s Rise Heart, off the Every Nation Music EP Wings and the Victory Worship full-length album Rise Heart)
  • “We will follow You, there is no turning back…” (from Victory Worship’s Everlasting Glory, off the full-length album Rise Heart)

Just reviewing these words excites me as I type them! I hope it makes sense: missional worship is precisely why we want our Every Nation family to sing our Every Nation Music songs! Every Nation president and Victory founding pastor Steve Murrell calls ours a “missional movement.” And so, a missional movement must sing missional worship songs so that we can grow in our understanding of who we are, what we believe, and what we will do about what we believe.  God is always working in us and for us, but also wants to work through us!

 Stay tuned for our next blog post on missional worship!

 

Pastor Julius is married to Eilleen and dad to Isa, Nica, Bea, Ella, and Elijah.

Open Your Eyes

Open Your Eyes

“In life’s journey, it is not our talents, our connections or our abilities that can turn things around.” Where do we turn when we are in a bind? Victory Greenhills senior pastor Dennis Sy gleans from the life of Elisha and encourages us to look to Jesus in this blog post, “Open Your Eyes”.

Declaring War on Low Expectations

Declaring War on Low Expectations

“Jesus is not interested in giving us temporary fruit. His fruitfulness progression goes from no fruit to fruit to
more fruit to much fruit to lasting fruit.” Pastor Steve Murrell, president and co-founder of Every Nation, talks about fruitfulness in his latest blog post, “Declaring War on Low Expectations”.