Take Heart

Take Heart

There is power in prayer, even for situations that seem beyond our control. Here is a breakthrough story from our midyear prayer and fasting week about a woman who never stopped believing that God is at work in her family.


My brother fell into substance abuse when he was 16 years old. Since then, there was a radical change in his behavior.

For the past eight years, he was in and out of rehab, trying different treatment programs. During those years, he would unknowingly cause trouble in the family and say hurtful things to us. It filled us with so much pain, anger, frustration, and hopelessness. As the only Christian in my family, though I never stopped praying for him, it was beyond difficult to deal with everything and see his life wasting away because of drugs.

In November 2019, my brother was discharged from the latest rehab facility where he had spent a year for treatment. When he was sent back home, we thought that he would be okay, and we could all have a fresh start. But last month, something happened again. And that incident caused so much pain to us, especially to our mother.

Though I had never really confronted my brother for anything he did in the past, at that moment I felt God nudging me to finally talk to him. I had gotten used to praying silently for him and for our family’s situation, but on that day, it was different. I sensed a strong leading from God to actively reach out.

When I talked to my brother, I found out that it was only in May of this year that he had finally quit—and the physical and psychological effects of that decision were taking a toll on him. His addiction had lingering effects that continued to manifest, even though he was trying his best to rebuild his life and start over.

The whole time I was listening to him, I was also praying and seeking God for wisdom. God’s grace gave me the courage to ask my brother if he wanted to talk to a pastor and seek professional help. I thought he would say no, so I was really surprised when he said yes. I knew it was God working in his heart.

After that conversation in June, I fasted and sought God in prayer. Soon, my brother talked to one of our pastors in Victory Fort, and just this week—on the first day of our midyear fast—he consulted a psychiatrist, too.

There have been a lot of changes in my brother’s behavior since then. He used to lock himself in his room for days and not talk to anyone; now, he’s beginning to warm up to his friends again. It is my prayer to see him surrender his life to Christ someday, and I know that I just need to keep trusting God. He has His way of dealing with our hearts in His own perfect time. Witnessing the change in my brother now is already a miracle and an answered prayer.

Seeing how God is moving in my brother’s life, I am in faith that there is also hope for those who may be going through the same thing. God is close to the brokenhearted, and there’s no limit to what He can do. We can’t give up praying for those who need God, relying on His grace as we patiently wait. God never gave up on us; let us not give up on our loved ones.

Be strong and courageous. . . . for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Ana is part of a Victory group in Victory Fort. To maintain their privacy, we have not included a photo of Ana’s family. 

Waiting on God

Waiting on God

Have you been praying about a situation in your life and waiting for a breakthrough? May this story about God’s beautiful timing encourage you as you prepare for the fast and continue to seek God. 

 

Cyril and I got married in 2015. Since then, we had been looking forward to adding a little version of him and me into our family. We prayed and continued to wait, believing it wouldn’t take that long. But when months had passed and nothing had happened, we began to wonder if something was wrong.

In that same year, we went to a doctor and found out that I had an endometrial cyst. At that time, it was still small in size. The doctor told us that it was nothing to worry about, and we could keep trying. We tried and waited again—for weeks, months, and years. Until it slowly took a toll on us and drained our hope.

Though we never lost faith, frustration kept building up each month. We thought that maybe, God had other plans for us. We began to talk to different couples who were also waiting for a child and sought their advice. Most of them were waiting longer than we did, and they somehow helped us see things in a different light. They encouraged us to continue seeking God.

We started to regularly participate in our time of prayer and fasting with the same faith goal every year. And though each year was difficult and full of tears, God’s grace was there to sustain us.

Last year, we finally had the courage to go back to the hospital and seek medical advice again. On that same day, we found out from a specialist that my endometrial cyst had grown to eight centimeters. The size was worrisome, and it couldn’t be ignored anymore. The doctor suggested that I undergo surgery as soon as possible.

Deciding to go through surgery was difficult for me. It uncovered fears I didn’t know existed. It was a battle that I had to surrender to God. On the day of the surgery, I couldn’t think of anything else but my relationship with Him. It made me realize that He is far more important than all the things I had been wanting or praying for in my life.

After the surgery, God slowly unfolded so many things to us. He also overwhelmed us, not just with His grace but even with His provision. A lot of people came unexpectedly to bless and help us financially. We left the hospital without a tinge of worry.

During my follow up consultation, the doctor put me on medication and told me that if conceiving would still be a challenge after a few months, I could go to an infertility clinic specializing in assisted reproductive technology. Knowing that we couldn’t afford the said process, we prayed to God and trusted that His will for us—whatever it might be—would still be the best.

While waiting, God continued to deal not just with my heart but even with my husband’s. I didn’t realize that his experience of growing up in a fatherless home made him doubt if he was capable of being a father and raising a child. Though our journey of waiting wasn’t easy, I was grateful because through it, God revealed so many things to us and made our relationship stronger and centered on Him alone.

With everything that we had gone through, I knew that the possibility of conceiving without medical intervention was slim. That’s why even when my monthly period got delayed for a few days last April, I was a bit hesitant to do a pregnancy test. Though a part of me was hopeful and full of faith, a big part was also afraid that the results would end up being similar to the ones we previously had. As I waited for the lines to appear on the pregnancy test kit, I was slowly welling up in tears. I didn’t see a single line this time—I saw two clear lines, which meant that I’m pregnant.

I hurriedly showed the results to my husband, and we ended up crying with so much awe and gratitude. That time, all I could hear was God saying to me that He was writing a different story for us—a story that was far more beautiful than what we had in mind.

Now, I am 14 weeks pregnant, and everything is right on track based on my latest ultrasound. As we wait for our little miracle, my husband and I are continuously holding on to God and His grace. We know that we can trust Him fully as He weaves every tiny part of His precious gift to our marriage.

But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands . . . Psalm 31:14,15

Tiffany Xyra Valdez is leading a singles Victory group in Victory Greenhills. Like Tiffany, her husband Cyril, is also helping young men know God more by going through ONE 2 ONE with them.

The Family That Prays Together Keeps a Home Together

The Family That Prays Together Keeps a Home Together

by TJ Gregorio

My father, Eduardo San Gregorio, regularly joins my mother, my sisters, and me at Victory Greenhills on Sundays. Over the past couple of years, we encouraged him to join a Victory group or go through ONE 2 ONE with someone, but he always hesitated, mostly because of a speech impediment that he had as a result of a stroke he had suffered six years ago.

After that stroke, my sisters and I committed to praying daily for our father’s recovery, as well as for funds for the hospital bills, medication, and subsequent therapy. We soon took out a loan from a bank, with our house as collateral, to raise funds. Unfortunately, the money we were making as a family was only enough for us to live on; we couldn’t meet the monthly dues for the house.

Still, Tatay’s recovery was our main focus, and we passionately covered him in prayer, both for the healing of his speech impediment and for the courage to start his discipleship journey by being part of a Victory group, or going through ONE 2 ONE with someone.

“It will be so helpful for you, Tatay,” I would say, “because these men will be like brothers for life. They will pray for you, support you, and even help you practice your speech.”

“I would just slow the group down,” he would reply. He would reference how the right side of his body was paralyzed. We would pray, then we would stop pursuing it for that moment.

Over time, however, we knew God was working in his heart. And then one day, by God’s grace and through a lot of prayer and persistence, he bravely went through ONE 2 ONE. Then, February 18 and 19 arrived, the fateful days of his Victory Weekend.

“Do you want to be water baptized?” we asked him.

“Yes,” he said.

“We can have you sprinkled with water,” we offered, knowing he would have a hard time entering and leaving the pool where the water baptisms took place.

“No,” he replied, “I want to go to the pool, no matter what.” We were stunned. “It’s not about me, it’s about my relationship with Jesus. And I want people to know that nothing is impossible with Him.” And everyone saw him go down and enter the pool to be water baptized!

That newfound faith proved to be crucial in the months to come. We still had a balance of almost PHP 300,000 from the loan we took out from the bank. In May 2017, the bank sent us a letter of foreclosure, should we not be able to pay off that loan. Later that year, in September, we received a letter informing us that our house would be put into auction by the 12th if we didn’t pay back what we owed; and we couldn’t!

We had no idea where we could get that kind of money in such a short period of time. Our entire family was literally on our knees in prayer by that point; we were so worried we would lose our beloved house.

Then, God came through! A week before September 12, our uncle, my mother’s brother, heard about our situation and offered to sell a lot in Bulacan, which he owned, to raise funds to pay for the house. God then paved the way for one of our cousins to buy the lot for the money we needed to pay off the loan, keeping the lot in the family.

Just last week, we received the title deed from the bank!

We always knew that God is capable of great things, but it was in that moment when we received the title deed that we saw the results of months of prayer, courage, and faith that comes only from a relationship with Jesus. Today, our father reads his Bible without fail and regularly attends his Sunday morning Victory group. As for me, my mother, and my sisters, it was a powerful faith-affirming moment. Jesus said in Matthew 18:20 that “. . . where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them,” and we saw Him move as we prayed for our father and our home.

Because we have seen in our family that He is truly faithful, we encourage you to cover your family in prayer and trust that God will hear your prayers and answer them according to His will and timing.

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TJ San Gregorio is a worship services coordinator at Victory Greenhills.