Whatever It Takes, Wherever I Am

Whatever It Takes, Wherever I Am

Sometimes, we find ourselves in situations that seem impossible to get past. In this article, Joanna shares how God turned her seemingly hopeless situation around and used it for His glory.

I am an overseas Filipino worker in the Middle East. I started working here in 2009, and it was here where I came to know Christ through an Every Nation church. In 2011, I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior and have since experienced His protection and grace, but His love has never been more real to me than two years ago.

In 2017, upon returning to the Middle East (after spending my vacation in the Philippines), I was held and interrogated at the immigration office. I was told that I had a case filed for issuing unfunded checks for a loan of eighty-five thousand dirhams (or more than one million pesos). I was sentenced to imprisonment for seven to eight months. Knowing that I did not do anything wrong and never borrowed money from anyone, I felt afraid, depressed, and devastated. I even questioned God for what happened.

While trying to make sense of everything, I saw a Bible verse on social media. It was Romans 8:28, and it spoke to me. Reading it made me realize that I am God’s child, and He loves me too much to leave or forsake me. With His guidance and grace, I filed an appeal and won the case. I felt vindicated! I asked God to help me forgive and forget.

However, just a few months after that decision was released, I got a call informing me that the case filed against me had been escalated to the civil court. Hearing it was like being dragged back to a battle I thought I had already won. But instead of feeling depressed over it again, I sought God in prayer and read the Bible. His Word from Deuteronomy 31:6–8 spoke to me and reassured me that there was no reason for me to fear.

When the decision came out, I was told that I had lost the case. I was apprehended and locked up for the second time. Upon being brought back to jail, I waited for the old feeling of fear and depression to come back, but they didn’t. I felt different. I felt at peace.

In jail, I began praying and sharing Bible verses with the other detainees. I ended up gaining new friends because of that. The whole experience turned out to be the exact opposite of what I had in mind. But just when I was beginning to build relationships there, an order came that I was to be transferred.

On my way to the other jail, I continued praying and quietly sang praises to God. I sought Him earnestly and asked Him to reveal His purpose for bringing me there. When I arrived, I saw a group of women doing Bible study. I approached them, testified to them, and prayed with them. After that night, I realized that God had a purpose for allowing everything to happen—I was on a mission to share His message.

I then started sharing the Word of God with my fellow detainees, most especially to those who were going through depression. I invited them to join our Bible study meetings and taught them praise and worship songs. I reminded them that we have a great God and there’s still hope despite our situation.

Soon, God started moving in our lives. Those who had been waiting for hearing schedules for many years suddenly got a schedule and a verdict. Though some got a verdict worse than what they were expecting, they remained in faith and had peace knowing that God is with them. A lot of people who received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior were also set free. Despite our different nationalities, God made a way to unite us all. From four people, we grew to more than 40 individuals gathering each week to fellowship with each other and with God. And it is still growing until today.

After seven months and three weeks in jail, God did a miracle. I was set free, and the authorities are now actively seeking the actual people involved in the case to clear my name. I knew it was God working in my midst. He had a purpose for every painful situation I experienced. The whole thing was beyond difficult, but it allowed me to share His Word in a way I never thought possible. I’ll be forever thankful to God for that.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Whatever it takes and wherever we are, God can use us to boldly share His powerful message of love and salvation. Our circumstances should not stop us from being a witness of His grace. 

Nothing Like His Word

Nothing Like His Word

I am a tax and corporate lawyer. Before I came to know  Christ, my life revolved around my career and my college fraternity. Being well-known around my circles was very important to me. My stature in society became my source of security.

Every night, I would spend countless hours going out with friends, drinking, gambling, and womanizing. I didn’t care if I was slowly plummeting into debt. I lived to gratify myself. But not too long after, my hedonistic lifestyle caught up with me. I lost my wife—and almost lost my children. I was left feeling empty. All the worldly things I used to be obsessed with gratified me only for a little while. In the long run, I was left with nothing but a hollow space in my heart.

In May 2001, after one of my wild nights with friends, I woke up feeling lost and lonely. I called up a friend from Subic and met with him. I told him what I felt and was surprised to find out that he had given his life to Christ. He showed me a passage from the Bible, and it struck my heart. The following day, May 6, 2001, I attended a worship service with him at the Makati Sports Club. During the preaching, I felt like I was being bombarded with bullets—every single word pierced my heart; I was so convicted of my sins. At the end of the service, during the altar call, I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

I thought my life would become boring after receiving Christ since I would have to turn my back from the worldly things I used to do. But I was proven wrong. My life became even more meaningful and exciting after I received Him in my life.

Before, my life was of haughtiness and arrogance. I felt that I was better than most people; I was self-centered and so full of myself. But my attitude changed when I started immersing myself in the Word: I stopped cursing, womanizing, and wasting money; instead, I began tithing and became more giving. I trusted God more, and my faith increased.

Soon, I started serving God through the ushering ministry and eventually volunteered in other ministries. I became hungry for more of His Word. Whenever I go abroad, I would look for an Every Nation church where I could attend, so I would grow spiritually. And in case I could not find one, I would go to a church with the same beliefs and values. I became more motivated to please and glorify God with everything I do, say, and think.

In 2006, I remarried, and my relationship with my second wife, as well as that of my children, became stronger like never before. I began to make decisions based on preserving relationships and integrity over considerations of money. I set aside greed and gave up any association with gambling—including my shares in an online gaming company. Though it later earned a big amount of money, God gave me the grace to let go of it without regret.

God’s grace is immeasurable. He took me out of the pit of destruction I was wallowing in for years and gave me a new life with Him. I will always be bold in sharing how His Word changed my life.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Atty. Inky is Victory’s legal counsel and part of Victory Pioneer. He goes on short-term mission trips and teaches on occasion in discipleship trainings. 

More than Two Decades of God’s Faithfulness

More than Two Decades of God’s Faithfulness

Paolo and Gladys know that God’s faithfulness does not and will not stop in their marriage. When Gladys finally conceived after almost 10 years of waiting, she and Paolo held on to God and believed that He will remain faithful despite the impossibilities they faced. Know more about God and His faithfulness through their story.

Paolo and Gladys were already followers of Christ even before they met. They had known each other since college and became part of the same barkada. In 1996, both of them faced major crossroads in their lives that—unknown to them—would make their paths meet.

While Gladys was praying to God for clarity and direction about her desire to pursue missions, God promised her that He would not send her alone—she would go to the nations with her future family. Thinking it was unlikely to happen at that time because she was not in a relationship, Gladys sought God in prayer and believed that if and when it happened, she would be with a man who also had a heart for missions.

Meanwhile, Paolo—who had heard a challenge to go to missions in a retreat that year—was contemplating a career change. Like Gladys, he had a heart for the nations and was seriously considering going to the mission field. When asked to take work responsibilities in Southeast Asia, Paolo did not think twice and immediately accepted the role. He knew it would open doors for him to do missions.

After months of not seeing each other, Paolo and Gladys were reconnected and learned about their respective plans of going to the nations. For them, it was like hearing a revelation from God—an answer to a long-ago prayer. It turned out that Gladys was not the only one who was believing God for a partner in the mission field; Paolo was, too.

Allowing God to let His plans unfold in His time, Paolo and Gladys parted ways to do what God had called them to do first. Gladys left for Thailand to accompany a friend on a short-term mission trip, while Paolo traveled to different countries as part of his job. After they had returned, Paolo pursued Gladys and eventually won her heart. A few months into their relationship, they sought God in prayer to know His mission for them as a couple. And when it became clear, they exchanged vows in February of the following year.

Seeing how God had carefully crafted their love story, Paolo and Gladys were certain that no matter what difficulties they faced, God would lead the way and see them through. Believing for a child was one of them. Every year, amid different trials, they would patiently wait for God’s promise to be fulfilled. And year after year, their faith was tested.

Until it finally came.

After almost 10 years of waiting, Gladys became pregnant. It was her first pregnancy at 40, and it was highly sensitive. While carrying their unborn child, Gladys battled with hyperthyroidism, hypertension, and seven myomas. She was bedridden for six months—and it took a toll on their baby. As a complication of hypertension, their unborn child was diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), a condition in which an unborn child is smaller than it should be. Because the baby was not growing at a normal rate inside the womb, the doctors told Gladys that it was at risk of certain health problems, and it might stop growing at some point.

Instead of losing faith, Paolo and Gladys sought God even more and devoted time to praying for their baby. Though there were many times that they both cried in pain because of everything, they still repeatedly went back to God in prayer and surrendered everything to Him.

On August 23, 2007, Gladys finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Sofia Therese or Pia. She had a Cesarean delivery at 36 weeks and six days. It was a full-term pregnancy! It was also a painless delivery all throughout.

Now, Pia is 11 years old, and she’s been a blessing to Paolo and Gladys. But more than anything, her parents know that she belongs not to them, but to the Lord. Last May 25th, Pia attended Victory Weekend for preteens, and although Paolo and Gladys had already attended Victory Weekend nine years before, they decided to be baptized in faith as a family—with Pia.

Paolo and Gladys’ family is a testimony of God’s faithfulness. He has been faithful to them for more than two decades; they know that He will remain faithful in the years to come. He will continue to be the author of their life stories as they await their next mission as a family.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)

Paolo, Gladys, and Sophia are currently part of Victory Fort. Paolo has a small consulting business, while Gladys runs a school in Caloocan.

 

Losing a Son, Gaining a Family

Losing a Son, Gaining a Family

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.

Ephraim on top of Mount Pulag (January 2016)

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.

Ephraim’s friends mourning his loss while celebrating his life during his funeral (July 2016)

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.

Church™ Series

Church™ Series

The Book of Acts tells the story of the early church and how it grew by the power of the Holy Spirit, in spite of persecution and conflict. In this series, we will look at God’s design and purpose for the church—the trademarks of the church.

Here are the topics for each week:

  • Devotion
  • Service
  • Community
  • Prayer
  • Message
  • Mission

At the end of this series may we, the church, embody a gospel-shaped lifestyle through the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

See you at our worship services across the Philippines!

Name *  

Email *  

Mobile Number *  

Subject           

Message

Please enter this code: captcha    

Connect to us online!


32nd St. Cor University Parkway
Bonifacio Global City Taguig 1634 Philippines
+63(2)8171212 +63(2)8176130
info@victory.org.ph