As a wife who had lost her husband early on, it was not easy for Emerlita to face yet another loss in the family. But God, through the church community, made His love felt amid all the pain and grief.
I came to know Christ in 1986 through a small community church in San Juan. Having Jesus in my life changed a lot in me. It made me strong in Him amid trials. And it made me find a community that stood with me as I faced some of life’s most painful hardships.
I am a widow for more than 20 years now. When my husband, Danilo, passed away, I was left with my two sons—Ephraim and Jeremiah. They were only six and four years old then. The thought of raising them alone was painful, but the idea of explaining Danilo’s death to my innocent young boys was far more difficult. I was at a loss for words.
In the midst of all the grief, our family would get visits from the church community, offering comfort in whatever way possible. They made their presence felt every single day just by being there. It didn’t take long for the heaviness I was feeling to dissipate. A big chunk of the pain gnawing at my heart was replaced with peace.
Years passed, and by God’s grace, I was able to raise my sons single-handedly. Both of them grew up with so much faith in the Lord. Ephraim, my eldest, took on the responsibility left by his dad and became the man of the house. He became his younger brother’s source of strength and encouragement. He became an inspiration not just to Jeremiah but even to me.
It never showed, but Ephraim was actually diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) when he was 19 years old. Despite that, he lived a life without a trace of cancer. He finished college, worked full-time, climbed up mountains, and actively served in the ministry. Most people who knew him had no clue that he was sick. They were all surprised when—like my husband—Ephraim, who was only 25 years old at that time, bid goodbye to our family, too.
On the day he passed away, God filled my heart with overflowing love from His people. Ephraim’s friends from Victory Alabang all came to give me and my family the emotional support we needed. His closest friends, without being asked, took the initiative of fixing all the necessary documents related to his death so I wouldn’t be burdened anymore. They raised funds, they came every day, and they made me feel as if Ephraim was still alive. In every one of them, I saw my son. Being with them was like receiving a big, reassuring hug from Ephraim.
God made His love felt through the church community that comforted me when my husband died, and He did the exact same thing when Ephraim passed away. He filled my heart with so much love through Ephraim’s friends who treated me like family.
Even after Ephraim was buried, his friends continued to check up on me and send me messages from time to time. They would cook up surprises, especially during Mother’s Day, and do everything they could to fulfill Ephraim’s promises to me when he was still alive. It was just overwhelming.
I may have lost a son, but I gained a family.
Every time I see them at church, or even at home when they visit me, I can’t help but thank the Lord. I feel His overwhelming love through them. Instead of being sad about being left behind once again, I feel a sense of joy knowing that I am never alone and there’s a church community that will always draw me closer to God.
“Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.” (Psalm 119:76)
Being part of a church community means being part of a family. Painful trials may come and break our hearts at times, but through the encouragement of people around us, our faith in God can remain strong. We can be steadfast in our faith because there are people who are tirelessly making us feel loved and welcomed in God’s big family.
Emerlita is part of Victory in Muntinlupa and continuously grows in her faith through the help and encouragement of her church community. Her younger son, Jeremiah, just graduated from college this month, fulfilling a long-ago promise he had made to his older brother, Ephraim.