Missions in the Time of a Pandemic

Missions in the Time of a Pandemic

Missions is the very heartbeat of God. He is revealing Himself to a world that needs to hear about His love. Here is the story of missionaries who responded to God’s call and saw Him open doors of ministry in the midst of the pandemic. 

 

Even as a college student, I (Ana) knew that God wanted me to go to the nations to share about His love. I prayed about it and waited for His perfect time. Since I could not go to the nations at that time, I participated in missions work by giving. After I graduated, I worked as a graphic designer, but the call to go to the nations kept brewing in my heart. In 2014, after 8 years of working, I knew that it was time to be trained to fulfill God’s call in my life. I resigned from my job and enrolled in the School of World Missions of Every Nation Leadership Institute. It was during our first training when I met Fosty. He was my seatmate, and he was sent by Every Nation Macau to be trained as well.

We both took a step of faith to answer God’s call to the nations, not knowing that God was taking steps to fulfill one of His promises in our lives. Fosty and I got married in 2017. Shortly after our wedding, we went to Macau as missionaries. It has been three years since we first came here as a couple, and it has been a faith-stretching journey. We experienced how God turned things around for us. The more we did God’s work through missions, the more we sought Him and experienced His reality. We saw God’s power move not only in our personal lives, but in how He revealed Himself to people who have never heard of Jesus.

When the pandemic started early this year and movement all over the world slowed down, it felt like God pushed the “accelerate” button for the church here in Macau. Before the pandemic, most people seemed uninterested whenever we talked to them about Jesus. There were times when people would tell us no when we asked if we could pray for them. But now, it appears that more people are starting to realize that they are not in control of their lives and they cannot rely on their wealth or the wealth of their nation for peace and stability in life. Since the pandemic, no one has refused our request to pray for them. God is definitely preparing the hearts of people for Him and He Is opening new doors for us to minister.

 

God opened a door for us in one of the universities in Macau. Three weeks ago, one of the professors in that university asked us if we were willing to gather volunteers from the church for their English program. Since we partnered with them, we have been meeting with 50 to 60 college students weekly. These are students from Macau and mainland China. Since each volunteer will meet with the same students every week, we maximized this opportunity to build relationships.

We are also experiencing breakthroughs in the students we’ve been reaching for some time now. We have several students who overcame their fear and declared their new faith to their families. There are no words to explain the joy we feel whenever students tell us that giving their lives to Jesus is the best decision they’ve ever made!

Being a missionary has its set of challenges, but knowing that what you are doing is bringing people closer to God is worth it. This sense of joy and fulfillment can be experienced not just by those who go to other nations. All of us should realize that we’ve been called to be missionaries. There are people around us to whom we can reach out, wherever God has placed us. We really just have to be willing to let God use us and know that He will provide the grace and power to fulfill this call.

 

““Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19,20

Ana and Fosty are planting a new church in Taipa, Macau, and they are believing that it will be launched by the end of the year. Indeed, in spite of everything going on in the world, the mission continues. Join us at our online services this weekend as we continue our series. 

Fulfilling God’s Purpose

Fulfilling God’s Purpose

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 . . .”

John 15:16

Tony served in government for fourteen years before he retired. He and his wife are Victory group leaders in Victory Fort.

58 Days of Faith: Surviving COVID–19

58 Days of Faith: Surviving COVID–19

The pain of knowing that your entire family is COVID–19 positive is indescribable. But God’s goodness and faithfulness are also beyond what we can ever think or imagine. Here’s an inspiring story of a family that survived the virus.

 

Three members of our family serve on the front lines. My father is a police officer, while my younger sister and I are healthcare professionals.

When the coronavirus outbreak started, we knew that our family would be at risk, especially our parents. Aside from the fact that half of our family are exposed to the virus, most of us also have pre-existing medical conditions.

On April 2, right after my overnight duty at the hospital as a staff nurse, my mother called and informed me of my father’s high fever. He got a swab test that day and was advised to undergo home quarantine while waiting for the results. On April 9, a week later, his test results came out: he tested positive with COVID–19.

With only two hours of sleep, I went to different hospitals that day to help my father get the medical attention he needed. At that time, his symptoms were already severe; I knew I needed to do everything I could to help him survive. With God’s grace, on that same day, he was admitted to a hospital in Pasig City.

On April 14, just five days after we learned that my father had contracted the virus, another devastating news came our way. My mother started showing symptoms of pneumonia, and my younger sister also tested positive.

Because of what happened, we knew that the rest of us should be tested as well. Though I was previously tested when I accompanied my father to the hospital, I decided to join my 18-year-old brother and 10-year-old sister for another test.

On April 21, in the midst of everything that was happening to my father, mother, and younger sister—who were all in the hospital—we found out that even my two other siblings had the virus. It was heartbreaking.

At that time, I didn’t know what to feel or think. Seeing my whole family admitted to different hospitals alone and in pain crushed my heart. My father fell into severe depression, while my mother—who also turned out positive later on—struggled with all the painful medications. My younger sister who is an ER nurse tried her best to be strong and administered the medications to herself to protect her colleagues, but she later developed a Kawasaki-like disease; it caused her whole body to become inflamed. My two other siblings, on the other hand, were afraid and didn’t know what to do. It was so hard not to be there for them, especially for my little sister who had no idea what was going on; she is just 10 years old.

While on quarantine and waiting for my test results and family to come home, I would cry out to God and lift up my entire family to Him. I was also hopeful that I did not contract the virus. Like what my other sister always said, we couldn’t rely on anything or anyone but God. Only He could deliver our whole family from the disease. Every day, I would battle with negative thoughts and fill my mind with God’s word instead. I also kept reminding myself of His promise in Jeremiah 29:10,11 (NLT):

“. . . I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Though faced with the reality of being positive with the virus, too, and losing a member of our family at any minute, I trusted that God would carry us through and bring my parents and siblings back home alive. I am thankful that despite our situation, a lot of people believed with us and stood with us in prayer.

Every night, our friends and people from our church community would tirelessly encourage us and remind us of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Every little thing they did for us meant so much to me and my whole family. Though a lot of people became hostile to us out of fear for what happened, I am grateful that God surrounded us with people who chose to show us love and compassion in a difficult time.

For 58 days, we were filled with fear and anxiety, but our faith was also stretched and strengthened like never before. Faith kept us strong in times when we were hopeless and on the verge of giving in to pain. Though we were weak, God carried us and helped us endure. It’s indescribable how He delivered us and provided for us.

Last month, after weeks of waiting and praying, my test results finally came out negative. My father, mother, and 10-year-old sister also tested negative after several swab tests. They came home for the first time, and we celebrated Mother’s Day together. Several weeks later, my two other siblings were also sent home after having been cleared from the disease. It was such a sweet moment for us.

Even when everything was still unclear, I knew that God would come through for us. And there’s nothing more I want now but to tell others of how good and faithful He is. Seeing my family alive and complete is something I will always thank God for—and a testimony that I will keep telling people. Our second chance at life is a gift, and I, along with my whole family, will continue to use it to serve and honor Him.

 

Kristine is a staff nurse and part of Victory Fort. Her father is a policeman, while her younger sister is an ER nurse. She considers it a blessing that she did not contract the virus despite everything that her family went through. After being cleared from COVID-19, she and her family are now back on the front lines to serve with increased passion, dedication, and faith.

Our God Is Bigger: A Journey of Healing from COVID-19

Our God Is Bigger: A Journey of Healing from COVID-19

The coronavirus disease can assault the body extensively. It targets the lungs, but it can also damage the other organs of our body. It can take a grave toll on people affected by the virus. But no matter how harrowing its effects are, be it physically or mentally, there is Someone bigger than this disease.

Below is the inspiring testimony of a woman who was declared COVID-free after spending seven grueling weeks in the hospital to fight the dreaded virus.

 

RIGHT BEFORE IT HITS
I started to feel unwell on the morning of March 18. I had a high fever and headache. It felt like I was coming down with the flu. I thought I got infected with dengue after spending hours cleaning our home. But the following day, I started having bouts of diarrhea. We monitored my condition for a few days and hoped that my fever would go down, but it didn’t. Not long after, I had difficulty breathing. It became almost impossible for me to sleep while lying down. I felt so weak.

My husband and I went to a hospital in Pasig City on March 23. I was told that my lungs were clear and everything was okay based on the x-ray scan. I was instructed to go home and undergo self-quarantine for two weeks. But upon arriving home, my fever flared up.

We immediately called the COVID-19 hotline to seek help. I was told to go to one of the hospitals in Quezon City to have another x-ray scan. On the 25th, just two days after my last scan, I found out that I had pneumonia. I had to be admitted but there was no room available at that time. I stayed at the hospital’s parking lot from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. with an oxygen tank next to me—thinking every breath was my last.

THE LONG WAIT
While waiting at the parking lot, I was already bidding goodbye to my husband. I had worked as a nurse before, and I had a patient who died from pneumonia. I was almost sure that I’d have the same fate. I prayed and asked God to fill me with His peace.

While preparing myself for what would happen next, my best friend called and prayed for me. She encouraged me and reminded me to trust God. I was already struggling to breathe at that time, but I listened to every word she said. Knowing that someone was praying for me helped a lot.

Like my best friend, my husband also refused to give up. He contacted different people, including those from our Victory group. That same night, one of our leaders from Victory Katipunan, who happened to be a doctor, called us and helped me get checked and admitted to another hospital. I knew it was God making a way for me.

COUNTING THE DAYS
When I was admitted, the doctors had me tested for COVID-19 and checked my blood disorder, too. At that time, both of my lungs were already severely affected. I could feel that I was positive with the disease, but I tried to dispel that thought while waiting for the results. Seeing God make a way for me to be admitted kept my hopes up.

We were told that the results of my swab test would be released after three to four days. While waiting, I drew strength from God to keep fighting each day. Eight days had passed, and there were still no results; I was forced to go through another swab. At that time, I was slowly starting to feel better, but not knowing what was happening to me made me anxious. It felt like there was a big cloud hanging over me.

As I counted the days, I didn’t know that God was slowly preparing my heart. He knew that it was easy for me to worry and think of unpleasant things. And He didn’t want that. He used the delay to strengthen me and make me ready. After a few days, the results of my first swab test came back positive.

FIGHTING WITH FAITH
While I was in the hospital, God used different people to encourage me. My colleagues and Victory group always checked on me through video calls. My husband, who was tagged at that time as a person under monitoring (PUM), was not allowed to leave the hospital so he stayed with me. I am thankful to God that despite what happened, there were people who fought each day with me. I never felt alone.

There were times when I almost gave up because the medication was too painful—it felt as if it was melting my bones. But my husband never lost heart. He would always talk to me and help me see things differently. He helped build my faith.

Every day, God would show me His goodness through different people. He changed my perspective on many things and made me see what’s truly important. I realized how fleeting everything is and finally understood who He is in my life. With every pain, I saw how big He is. No matter what happens, I know that God is in control, and I can always put my faith and confidence in Him.

COMING OUT STRONG
While waiting for the results of my fourth swab test, I filled my heart with God’s word. Our online worship services and the morning worship and prayer on Victory’s Facebook page helped me a lot. Instead of focusing on my pain, I focused on God and started reaching out to our relatives and friends who were having a difficult time because of the crisis we’re facing. I encouraged them with God’s promises and helped them see the good in the bad.

My battle with coronavirus showed me that the challenges we face would help us come out strong like Job. Instead of questioning God, we need to look beyond our situation to understand His purpose. Our trials can be turned into testimonies that can bring honor and glory to God.

FROM PAIN TO PURPOSE
After seven grueling weeks of pain and uncertainty, I was finally declared COVID-free! My fourth swab test came out negative, and I was discharged in the afternoon of May 11, 2020.

Though I realize that sharing this story may cause me and my family to face the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease, I am sure that God will be with us no matter what. Letting everyone know that God is bigger than this pandemic is more important. The pain I felt has a greater purpose that will allow others to see His goodness.

 

No words can accurately describe the pain and agony that a person with COVID-19 feels. Though the uncertainty and fear are beyond difficult to bear, nothing is beyond God’s grace. May those who are going through this disease find comfort, strength, and hope in God—who is bigger than this pandemic. As a church community, let us open our hearts to those who are battling the disease, encourage them, and show them God’s love. By faith, there is healing, victory, and the promise of eternal life in Christ.

 

Vee is a Quality Assurance analyst and a volunteer in Victory Katipunan. She and her husband are part of a couples Victory group. They are currently being monitored and evaluated as part of the government’s health and safety protocols.

Serving Amid COVID-19: Stories from the Front Lines

Serving Amid COVID-19: Stories from the Front Lines

As we brave through this pandemic, there are many non-medical frontline workers who are battling with us—and serving no matter the cost. Despite the danger it poses to them and their families, they are resolute in fulfilling the purpose that God has placed in their lives. 

Here are stories from our Victory group leaders who also serve as frontline workers in the government sector.

 

ERIC ALLAS (Police Officer)

When the coronavirus outbreak started, I was tapped to be part of our unit’s Quick Response Team in Parañaque. I was assigned to man the checkpoints and monitor COVID-19 cases under the Suspect and Probable categories in the entire city.

The whole ordeal is exhausting physically, mentally, and emotionally. A lot of those who served with us contracted the disease and failed to survive. There’s so much fear behind the tough facade that we all maintain, but we have to brave that fear and be strong, especially for our families.

Because of the crisis, I experienced so many changes at work, but the biggest change could be felt in our very home—with my wife and two kids.

I was used to receiving warm hugs from my kids after work. It was something I looked forward to. But since I started manning the checkpoints and responding to calls about COVID-19 cases, I had to distance myself from my boys. I could no longer play and bond with them like I used to. It was something they didn’t understand at first, but my wife and I explained to them that I was only doing it to protect them.

Every night, we pray as a family to seek guidance and protection from God. Seeing my wife and kids having so much trust in the Lord inspires me every day and builds up my faith. God reminds me through them that I was given the privilege to serve in this capacity for a purpose.

When fear overwhelms me, I just go back to God and the purpose He has placed in my life. Knowing that He is the source of everything—my job, my strength, my faith—reassures me that He is with me and I can depend on Him. He is our fortress in this battle.

 

DAISY TEE (Barangay Chairman)

Every day since the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine, my team and I have been going around our barangay in Sampaloc to distribute relief packs to 700 families. Because of the unexpected crisis, we realigned our budget for the year to meet the essential needs of those under our jurisdiction.

Dealing with a pandemic that has seemingly crippled everyone is challenging. We encounter a lot of problems every day. And while there is a need for us to be firm and tough in implementing rules and measures to avoid the spread of the virus, there is also a strong call for us to be compassionate and understanding. We need to exercise wisdom in everything.

Like everyone else who is praying not to contract the disease, I also have fears for my family. I always seek God for guidance and wisdom so I can protect not just the people in our barangay but even my own household. At home, I try my best not to have physical interaction with my children, and I even sleep on a different bed from my husband. I do what I can to keep them safe, but I know that ultimately, it is God who truly protects all of us.

Serving in this season is costly and demands a lot of sacrifices. But even though there are a lot of challenges, there are also a lot of rewards.

Seeing my team working in unity is always an inspiration and encouragement to me. It is a blessing to know that we are all fighting this crisis together. Aside from that, it is always humbling to see the faces of the people we serve light up with joy when we manage to help them in any way. That fills my heart and motivates me to continue serving with gratitude.

There will always be fears and worries, but I trust that the trials we go through now will only keep us strong and hopeful. Amid all that’s happening, we can find comfort and peace in God.


Let us not be swayed by everything that’s happening around us. God has a bigger purpose for all of us. Let us not allow our difficulties to cripple our hope and faith in God, because He remains faithful.


Eric and his wife, Lhyn, are leading a couples Victory group in Victory Alabang, while Daisy and her husband, Antonio, are leading a couples Victory group in Victory U-Belt.

Battling Fear with Faith: Stories from the Front Lines

Battling Fear with Faith: Stories from the Front Lines

Panic. Fear. Confusion. Our current situation has left most of us braving these emotions every day. But in the midst of everything that’s happening, we can respond in faith because Someone bigger than us is in control.

Here are some of our healthcare professionals who are battling this crisis with us and are selflessly putting their lives on the line as they serve and honor God through their profession.

 

FERNANDO ACANCE (Surgeon)
The COVID-19 situation has dramatically changed our everyday lives at the hospital. I work in private and public institutions, and every day since the outbreak, there has been a continuous influx of patients with mild to severe symptoms. Every day, our emergency room nurses, residents, fellows, and consultants get exposed and become depleted. It becomes an even bigger challenge to defeat the virus knowing that we are faced with the scarcity of our healthcare resources. It is disheartening.

Going home is like returning from a battlefield. There’s always an air of fear, but you still hope and believe for the best. It is hard to still go out there and gear up for the next battle knowing that some of your friends have died, but you want to continue the fight and be victorious in the end. That’s what it’s been like for the past months.

As a husband and a father, it is normal to worry not just for myself, but for my wife and my children. But when the fear becomes overwhelming, I just remind myself and my family to anchor our faith in God. We draw our strength from the fact that God is good and that He is always there for us; He will never leave us nor forsake us. That always helps us brave our fears.

Despite all that’s happening, I consider this season as a special time to know Jesus more. This crisis has made us realize our susceptibility to a disease that can claim thousands of lives, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a doctor or not. Everyone is at risk. It makes us realize that we really can’t depend on anything or anyone. No one is in control except God.

Hopefully, when all of this is over, we’ll come out changed—individually and as a nation. Now, we see people crying out to God and helping one another in love. I pray that we will continue doing that with or without a crisis and see God’s hand in everything.

 

SHEKYNA SANTOS (OIC/ER Staff Nurse)
Because of the outbreak, there’s been a big change in our procedures and processes. We had to make a lot of adjustments, especially in the emergency department. We have stringent health checks now to protect not just our patients but even our depleting medical staff. And though the surge of coronavirus cases has left most of us scared for our safety, we try our best to brave that fear and still go to work.

Each day is stressful and draining. But we always have to keep our focus and make sure that we’re wearing protective gear at all times. Right now, our facility has enough personal protective equipment, but if the number of cases will continue to go up, our supplies can become scarce. It’s important that we do our part in boosting our immune system as well. We have to be strong physically and spiritually.

When fear creeps up in me, I pray and remind myself that I am protected by God. I also think of my family, especially my parents, and the rest of the people who need help. Every day, God shows me the value of my profession. He makes me realize that it’s a privilege to serve in this capacity.

In the midst of what we’re facing, we can always look to God and ground our faith upon His Word. It’s not a time to point fingers or make judgments. Instead of spurring fear, we can build each other up and encourage one another. Though our situation is difficult, we can exalt God’s name and reflect His goodness.

Now, more than ever, we have to be strong and pray unceasingly. God is sovereign and His plan will always prevail. His grace is endless and sufficient.

 

It’s been a difficult time for most of us, especially these past weeks, but may the peace that comes from God replace our worries and fears. Let us brave each day with faith knowing that God is bigger and greater than any situation. Let us also pray for protection and provision for our front liners as they continue to faithfully serve and battle fear with faith. 

 

Dr. Acance and his wife, Camille, are leading a couples Victory group in Victory Katipunan, while Shekyna is one of our Victory group leaders in Victory Alabang.

In response to our current situation, we have been praying and ministering to our front liners and coordinating with local government units. Last week, we started to deliver food and protective gear to our healthcare workers as well. We are currently working with suppliers to provide more, and looking for other ways on how we can help our communities at this time. If you want to take part in our community relief efforts, you may ask your Victory location or the one nearest you for more information.