God is reaching out to people with His love, and nothing, not even a pandemic, can stop Him from using anyone to accomplish His will. Here is a story of a man whom God used to share the hope found in His word while he himself was battling with COVID-19.
I was 42 when I retired from government service. Shortly after my retirement, I encountered God’s love. When you come face to face with the magnitude of God’s love for you and the richness of His grace and forgiveness, you know that the only proper response is to surrender and serve Him. Since then, I have been serving God in whatever way He calls me to serve.
Last year, one of the pastors in our church challenged me to lead my own Victory group. I prayed about it and asked God to open doors for me. God answered my prayer in the most unexpected way. Sometime in October, I attended a high school reunion in one of the bars in Makati. That night, in front of the doors of the bar, I and four other men prayed for each other. One of the men suggested that we call our group MFJ (Men for Jesus) and that name has stuck with us to this day. For four months we met once a week to study God’s word and pray for one another. Then we started meeting more often.
Sometime in March, I tested positive for COVID-19. I was one of the early cases in the country. Out of my six-week battle with the virus, the most difficult was the first ten days. While I was in isolation, struggling for every breath, I kept praying. It was a very painful and difficult time, but I had peace knowing that God was with me. He kept reminding me of how much He loves me and the truth that no hardship nor pain will ever separate me from His love. Seeing who I am in God’s eyes gave me the strength to endure. That season of pain brought me closer to God and made me experience His reality in a new way.
By God’s sovereign will, this experience also opened doors for me to share His love to people. It was during this time when our MFJ group started growing. Ever since the lockdown, we started meeting online three times a week. Since I was in quarantine, I had time to prepare and share the word of God. Friends from all over the world started joining our group. We grew from five to more than 50. When the lockdown eased a little, I was expecting that we would meet less often. But the group wanted to keep meeting three times a week. They said that God’s word sustained them during the lockdown. It brought them peace and hope. It gave them the faith to believe for better days ahead.
I realized that in this time of pandemic, we really need to see what God is personally showing each one of us. He is reaching out to us individually and we need to listen to Him. He wants us to know Him and find joy and peace in Him in the midst of the uncertainties that are happening. Yes, we see the agony, the horror that this pandemic has brought to people’s lives. We see businesses closing and people losing their jobs and their loved ones. I personally have experienced the pain that this disease brings and the fear that comes from knowing that the breath you just took might be your last. If we are not careful, we will get persuaded by all the negativity we see and experience around us and be disheartened.
As Christians, we need to see what God is doing. We should look at everything that’s happening with eyes of faith. God has a purpose for allowing this pandemic. He is recalibrating everyone’s lives. People are looking for answers and we have to be willing and ready to share the hope we have in Him. If we allow God, nothing, not even a pandemic, can stop Him from using us to accomplish His will.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you
that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide . . .”
Tony served in government for fourteen years before he retired. He and his wife are Victory group leaders in Victory Fort.