God in Our Midst

God in Our Midst

The recent election season elicited mixed responses online and somehow contributed to a growing divide in our nation. In the midst of various reactions toward the midterm election results, will we—as Christians—remain steadfast in our faith and choose to hope for our nation?

Below are some of the points from our interview with one of our pastors, Bishop Juray Mora, who encourages us to be the voice of faith and unity amid fear, hopelessness, and hostility.

 

Pause and Reflect

Battles are never won or lost on social media. One reaction will always elicit another reaction, and the chain will be endless. As powerful as it is, social media is limited; it will not allow us to put the whole context of what we say or believe on a single post or tweet. We have to pause and take time to think if what we’re doing is simply provoking a thought or provoking a negative reaction in someone else. We have to be sensitive and consider where all these are going: Will our reactions help the nation or will they cause an even wider divide among us?

Pray and Trust

Amid all the chaos and noise, we can go to God and call people to pray—not out of fear or anger, but out of faith. We should stir up each other and rely on God as we entrust to Him not just our own future and individual lives, but even the future of our nation. We should focus on Him and believe that He is sovereign. Someone bigger than all of us is in charge.

Commit and Act

As we rely on God, let us not wane in our passion to serve and see the nation transform. All of us have a part to play in setting a foundation that will allow the next generation to take it further than where it is now. If we want to bring change, we should not let our circumstances hinder us from being involved and from upholding righteousness wherever we are—in our marriages, in our families, in our communities. God can use us and provide an avenue for us to bring change in different ways.

Unite and Believe

It says in Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” Whatever issues we have in our nation, God can make great things in our midst—little miracles—that we don’t expect to come. Instead of letting divisiveness reign, we can stand together and believe that the will of God will prevail. God’s purpose will be fulfilled through whoever is in leadership.

 

 

Juray Mora serves as a bishop in Every Nation Philippines, which provides spiritual leadership for Victory, Every Nation Campus, the missions work of Every Nation in Asia, Every Nation Leadership Institute, and the Real LIFE Foundation. Juray is married to Deah, and they are blessed with six children: TJ, Iya, Sophia, Juliana, Celina, and Raymund.

Unchanging Series

Unchanging Series

God showed Himself faithful to fulfill His promises to Abraham and his son Isaac despite their doubts and failures. In this series, we will see God’s unchanging character through the life of Isaac.

Here are the topics for each week:

  • The Fostered Faith
  • Faith Forged through Difficulties
  • The Faith to Concede

Through this series, may we have a better understanding of the different ways and circumstances by which faith is formed and ultimately see the gracious, sovereign hand of God behind everything.

See you at our worship services across the Philippines!

Obeying God No Matter What

Obeying God No Matter What

Will you choose to stand firm in your faith and follow God even if it is hard? Be encouraged as Jerome shares how he continued to obey God in spite of trials.

After years of breaking God’s heart and not honoring Him—in my business and in my marriage—I made a decision to set things right with Him. I let go of the things that had hurt God in the past and vowed to focus on my walk with Him. However, just when I made a decision to follow the Lord, life got harder and things in my life began to crumble even more.

I have been a Christian ever since I was a kid. I grew up attending Sunday school in our church, where my father was a pastor. I knew a lot of things about God, but it was only recently that I truly understood who He is.

Years ago, I made a decision to enter a business that was not pleasing to Him and left my wife for someone else. Everything fell apart in my life after that. Instead of leaving me there, God used those things to speak to me and take me out of that pit.

Though we were already separated then, my wife invited me to attend a worship service in Victory. A pastor reached out to us and eventually helped us fix our broken relationship. Realizing the gravity of my mistakes, I made a resolve to follow the Lord and have faith in Him every day, while continuously battling my old ways. The desire to serve the Lord by being part of a ministry also grew in my heart; I later volunteered to be an usher in the church.

As I walked on a new path, different “rocks” and trials started blocking my way. I lost the business that was not honoring the Lord and all the material things that came with it—our house, money, and car. It was hard for me and my family, but I soon realized that it was actually God’s way of removing the things that were not from Him; He was renewing my heart.

Though unlikely of me, I swallowed my pride and took a job in my sister’s company. The salary was lower than what I was earning from my business and I had to commute to work, but I pressed on knowing that it was God’s way of keeping me aligned to His will.

Each time I would feel the desire to go back to my old ways, I would repent and consistently seek God. I would remind myself every single day of my commitment to Him and earnestly pray with my family. I knew in my heart that after He freed me from my past, I could not afford to go astray and hurt Him again—no matter how difficult.

While trusting the Lord, my wife and I got an offer from my sister to manage the two properties she invested in. She was also beyond generous to give us a share of the earnings on top of our monthly salaries! As if that were not enough, she also provided a place for us to stay so we do not have to rent anymore! We were overwhelmed by how God’s blessings simply poured into our new life with Him. Everything that was taken from us was slowly replaced with something far better and bigger. Each rough patch became a channel of His grace. He did not just free me from my old ways, He also blessed me while I was walking in obedience.

Now, more than ever, I want to continue to grow in my faith and be a testimony to others. I am now on a discipleship journey while serving God in Victory Sta. Maria.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1

Indeed, our faith will always be tested. But as we choose to obey the Lord and keep trusting Him, He will also reveal Himself even more and bless us beyond what we can imagine. When it becomes hard to obey God, let’s remember His love for us and His ability to provide for everything we need.

Finding Hope Amid the Rubble

Finding Hope Amid the Rubble

What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:9) See how this promise continues to manifest today in a world where things often fall apart. Find hope and assurance in God as Tehz recounts how He worked in her life and restored her once broken marriage.

1986. It was a significant year for me; it was the year I married my husband, Gary. It was supposed to be a happy year for me—for us—but instead of joy, bouts of shame and guilt crept up on me.

I was pregnant when Gary and I made the decision to get married. It was not out of love nor commitment for each other. There was no solid foundation right from the start. After the wedding, we fought several times and even agreed to throw away our marriage. We were so immature. Our relationship was full of issues.

In 2002, we faced our greatest challenge. My husband lost his way and began a relationship with someone else. That, for me, was the final straw. Though unable to bring our children with me, I left our home to stay with my family in Olongapo. I was torn apart inside.

In Olongapo, I tried my best to support myself. I wanted to prove that I could stand on my own, so I took whatever job I could get and soon found a place in a music bar owned by a relative. While I was there, I got involved in relationships that were not pleasing to the Lord. I tried so hard to justify my actions, but God never got tired of reminding me of His love—no matter how much I was hurting Him and myself. He loved me too much to let me stay in that mess.

One day, for some reason, a pastor reached out to me. He found out that I was a Christian—something even I had forgotten for a long time. He listened to my story and encouraged me to go back to God. I did not know why, but amid my hopelessness, he made me realize that God had a better plan for me and for my seemingly irreparable marriage.

I made a bold move and started praying for my husband. I knew it was a long shot.

While serving in church, I held on to that small hope in my heart and kept praying that God would heal me and Gary. I told God that if it was His will, my husband would find his way back—even though it had been years since our marriage had fallen apart.

Beyond my belief, in 2011 (almost a decade since we had separated), my husband reached out to me through our children. He talked to me and asked for forgiveness—something I never imagined he would do. I cried out to God. I knew in my heart that it was what I had been praying for, but I wanted to be sure that things would be different. I kept praying while braving the uncertainties in my head.

A year later, God answered all my questions.

I learned that while trying to restore our marriage, my husband had also been actively seeking God with his Victory group. His resolve to follow Christ took away my fears and doubts. On March 22, 2012, I made a decision to start a new life with him again. Gary and I remarried.

It is a sweet thing to be married once more to the man I’d loved all these years, but it is a far better blessing to honor God with a man who had been powerfully transformed by His love and grace. Gary and I are now growing together in our faith in God while serving in Victory Subic.

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27)

Indeed, only God’s power can heal our wounds and pull us from the rubble of pain and heartache. Only He can change hearts. Our job is to trust Him and hold on to the hope we can find in Him. Nothing is too hard for the Lord!

Holding On to the Promise-Keeper

Holding On to the Promise-Keeper

“If God can give children to barren women in the Bible, He can do it to me, too!”

These are the words of 36-year old Arnee Lacerna who has been married for eight years to 36-year old engineer, Erwin. After the healthy birth of their first son, Ethan, the couple didn’t expect to encounter difficulties with a second pregnancy. However, after two miscarriages in a span of a year, the couple was dumbfounded. Their consultations with their doctors during both miscarriages gave them the go signal to try again, but they wondered why they couldn’t push through with a healthy pregnancy.

The couple knew something was wrong with Arnee. On the third miscarriage, they decided to consult another perinatologist, and that’s when they found out the real cause of the miscarriages.

“There are top five causes of miscarriage, according to my doctor,” Arnee explains, “In my case, I have three out of those five.” They discovered that she has an immunological problem, which means that her blood is incompatible with her husband’s, rejecting the part of the baby that comes from him. She was also diagnosed with antiphospholipid antibody syndrome or APAS, which hinders the oxygen from flowing properly to the baby. Lastly, Arnee also has elevated natural killer cells, which is good for patients with cancer, but deadly for pregnant women because the cells treat the fetus as a foreign body and attack it.

With their marriage strongly rooted in Jesus, the couple’s faith remained steadfast. They were thankful to finally find out the causes of the miscarriages, and relieved that there are treatments for them. “I admit I was scared because not everyone who undergoes these treatments has favorable results,” Arnee reveals, “But we chose to trust God as I went through the tests.”

When Arnee became pregnant again, she continued undergoing various blood tests and treatments. The entire ordeal was a spiritual and emotional roller coaster for the couple. Aside from being physically taxing on Arnee, it was also a financial challenge for them.

While pregnant, Arnee had to be on bed rest for two months because of the threat of another miscarriage. She also had to deal with problems in her amniotic fluid and blood sugar. A daily injection of inhonep was also administered to her.  

The experience brought Arnee and Erwin closer to God, individually, and as a couple. Together, they would pray every day, declaring God’s promises in their life.

“We could have questioned God why He allowed these complications, why He allowed three miscarriages to happen because they don’t seem to fit in His promise of blessings,” Arnee shares, “But we realized God didn’t promise a storm-free life. He promised us a storm-proof one.”

Spurred by encouragement and prayers from their friends and family at Victory U-Belt, the couple didn’t feel alone as they underwent challenge after challenge. “Our friends, families, ninongs and ninangs–they stormed heaven’s gates for us,” Arnee shares, “They made us strong when our faith was shaken. As a result, we experienced joy and peace amidst the pain.”

Finally, last June 22, on a beautiful Wednesday morning, Arnee gave birth to a healthy baby boy. They named him Arthur Mateo, meaning “courageous, noble; a gift from God.”

“When I heard him cry for the first time, I cried!” Arnee exclaims, “When they placed him on my chest, it felt amazing!” Now parents to two healthy boys, Arnee and Erwin couldn’t contain their praises. After all the faith-testing years they went through, they are now claiming God’s promises to them. Those years were the most difficult for them, but there were also the best because they experienced God’s comfort, peace and faithfulness firsthand.

“We turned to the Bible to be reminded of all His promises,” Arnee says, “We held on to Matthew 9:29 which says, ‘According to your faith, let it be done to you.’”

Looking at their little bundles of joy, Erwin and Arnee are reminded, not of the difficulties, but the fulfillment of His promises. “God is our promise-keeper, faithful Father, and healer. He created us to be overcomers,” Arnee declares. “As we remain in Him, we will experience the fullness of his unconditional love. We didn’t deserve these blessings, but He gave them to us anyway, simply because He loves us so much.”

Thriving Where God Places You

Thriving Where God Places You

Herreras 2When thirty-three-year-old Normi Herrera got married five years ago, she and her husband, Daniel, agreed that they would take a step of faith and build a single-income household. “I want to be present in the formative years of my kids,” she says, “Everyday is a teachable moment for them, so I want to be the one to do that.”

That meant not being able to use her degree in Consular and Diplomatic Affairs from the College of St. Benilde. It meant foregoing the fancy business attire and heels. It meant her staying at home 24/7, faced with routine domestic chores. It didn’t look and sound glamorous, but Normi knew it was something she had to do.

After starting a home with her husband, she gave birth to two boys–Ziki (four years old) and Amos (two years old). Being a full-time homemaker meant that she homeschooled her children from the time they could understand concepts and remember them. On top of being their teacher, she also has to juggle household tasks. “I have my hands full!” she shares, “I have to carefully schedule my day, especially when I was still doing freelance writing. Otherwise, it would be pure chaos.”

To accomplish her writing jobs, Normi would write after her kids have gone to bed. She would be up after midnight, trying to finish her tasks before her deadline. Sleeping less and working more made her cranky and short-fused. It affected the way she dealt with her kids and her husband. “I would rush bedtime, just so I can go to work already,” she shares. It also distracted her from her regular devotion and quiet time, because she would end up thinking about the things she needed to finish. Eventually, Normi knew she had to give up her writing job, even if it meant lesser income for them.Herrera family

With her husband’s support, Normi decided to focus again on being a full-time homemaker without the distractions of a freelance job.  “Being in a single-income household wasn’t easy,” she confesses, “There were times that my husband and I were counting the last of our savings, but we’re always blown away with how God is truly faithful in providing for His children.”

Despite the challenges of being a full-time homemaker, Normi still understands the importance of discipling other women. “We stopped leading a Victory group when my kids were much smaller,” she shares, “But our senior pastor, Pastor Noel Ojerio and his wife Maryjune, assured us that we should not feel bad about not being active in the ministry for a time because our season then was to raise our kids. After all, Victory’s core value is family.” The kind of understanding and encouragement their mentors gave them helped Normi and Daniel be wiser in their discipleship of other people.
After finding their groove and settling into a workable routine, the couple went back to discipling other married couples. Being a full-time mother, Normi saw the need to help other mothers learn how to manage their household and fully depend on the Lord while doing it. “Whether you’re a working mom or a full-time homemaker, mothers struggle with the same issues,” she explains, “You worry about how to be fully present for your husband, how to properly care for your kids, and how to manage your home. So, I want them to find Jesus first, and be established in Him.”

Their involvement in the ministry became more permanent when Daniel was hired as full-time staff of Victory Caloocan. Normi knew that her husband would take a pay cut if he left his profession as an architect, but she had no doubts that God would provide for them. “There was also clarity from God’s word and support from our mentors,” she shares, “I was fully confident that with his decision to obey, God would cover all our needs.”

TVG Herrerarue enough, last Prayer and Fasting week, Normi saw God’s hand fulfill her simple request. With all the household chores she faces everyday, she wanted an automatic washing machine, so she can multitask better. It was something she wanted since last year, but they didn’t have the extra funds for it. “I wrote it down as one of my faith goals,” she reveals, “It sounds so shallow, but it was so important to me!”

After Prayer and Fasting week ended, Normi received a message asking for the amount of the washing machine she wanted. It was from a friend who heard that she wanted a washing machine, and she wanted to bless Normi and Daniel with one. Knowing how expensive it is, Normi considered replying with a small amount. “I wanted to tell her to just bless us with the amount they can give, and we’ll just cover the remainder,” she confesses, “But I was rebuked by the Holy Spirit. Amidst my hesitation, God assured me that I have asked and believed, so here it is.”VG Herrera 2

She gave the right amount, and her friend deposited the exact amount they needed. They were able to buy the washing machine at a discounted price, which meant that there was even a little extra money left. “I cried tears of joy!” Normi exclaims, “God’s faithfulness is amazing. He really assures us that He is mindful of us down to the tiniest details.”

With all the goodness and grace they experience in their life, Normi couldn’t help but continue to share it with other people. Along with her husband, she regularly mentors other married couples. “When a marriage is shaken, and it is not grounded in the Lord, it can eventually add to the number of broken families,” she says. She also finds time to mentor single women, too. As for her husband, Daniel will enroll in the School of Church Planting this September to fulfill his calling as a church planter.

Right now, the couple is praying for a graceful transition as this change impacts their family. Normi is also in faith that she will be able to reach out to more women and help them navigate their lives. “I am a mother and a wife, so be it through birth counseling, breastfeeding consultation, or discipleship, I will do what God tells me to do with the season He has given me.”

Believing for the Impossible

Believing for the Impossible

Claud's weddingTheo Cañeda didn’t expect to meet the love of his life during the time that his business was going bankrupt. When he was introduced to Claud by a common friend in church, he was smitten. “I found out that she works in the church,” he shares, “and I was attracted to how devoted she was to her calling.”

Without a regular job, his finances were in shambles, which made him hesitant to court Claud. Nevertheless, he prayed for her, gathered his courage, and pursued her. The two started a relationship, and eventually talks of marriage started coming up. By the end of 2014, they were engaged.

“We decided to get married,” Theo says. “Despite the challenges, we knew we wanted to get married.” At the start of 2015, the couple prayed and fasted for an overflow of provision for their upcoming wedding happening in a few months. Amidst their preparations and several months prior to their big day, Claud was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and a benign tumor called myoma. This is a condition that imbalances a woman’s hormones, leading to the formation of ovarian cysts.
Claud and Theo

Claud was crushed. She was about to get married, and was hearing of the very real possibility she would never have children. Theo was heartbroken at how the news saddened Claud so much, but he never lost hope. He comforted his future wife that he loved her, no matter what, and reminded her that God is sovereign. “A lot of tears were shed,” Theo reveals. “She even asked me if I want to push through with the wedding.”

This ordeal brought the couple closer than ever. They cried, prayed, and fasted together for God to deliver them. Faced with Claud’s condition, and with their wedding day approaching, Claud and Theo also realized they didn’t have enough money to cover their wedding expenses.

The couple cried out to God, and He responded. Two months before their wedding, Theo’s business bounced back from bankruptcy and started doing well. Provision started pouring in, and before they knew it, they had more than enough to pay for the wedding they want. “Everything was covered,” Theo exclaims, “We were able to have a joyful, debt-free wedding!” Pregnant pic

After their wedding, the couple was in faith that they would have children, despite Claud’s condition. They consulted different doctors, who recommended procedures to make pregnancy possible for her. To their dismay, the procedures were very expensive. “We were on our knees believing God for the impossible!” Theo reveals.

There were times Claud would think she was pregnant, but they turned out to be false alarms. The couple experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. Then suddenly, the couple’s world rocked further when Claud’s father passed away. Amidst their grief and frustration, Claud and Theo clung to God more. “The Lord will replace anything we’ve lost,” Theo declared.

It was a slow and painful journey, but God soon provided a silver lining. A month after Claud’s father passed away, the couple found out that Claud was pregnant. The two were ecstatic, but they decided to keep the information secret until a doctor confirmed their discovery. After her check-up, the doctor did confirm that Claud was indeed pregnant, and they weren’t having just one baby, but two! Claud was pregnant with twins! twins

In a few weeks, by faith, Claud will give birth to two healthy babies. “I have just experienced the goodness and faithfulness of God first hand,” Theo declares, “He made me experience a miracle only He can make! Indeed, we can dare to believe God for the impossible!”

Update (June 27, 2016): We are so excited and pleased to let you all know that Claud gave birth to two absolutely adorable baby girls! We celebrate God’s faithfulness and pray for the continued health and safety of the twins. Congratulations, Theo and Claud!

Why Trust is So Important in a Discipleship Relationship by Joey Bonifacio

Why Trust is So Important in a Discipleship Relationship by Joey Bonifacio

In this mini message, Pastor Joey Bonifacio talks about the importance of trust in a discipleship relationship. There are universal principles that bring relationships together, and trust–which is another word for faith–is the foundation. Like the building of a relationship, trust doesn’t happen overnight. It has varying degrees, which is why it needs to be grown and nurtured. When we disciple someone, we establish trust and help them grow in their faith in God.

“Later, You Will Understand.”

“Later, You Will Understand.”

“There are a lot of things in life we don’t see, for we only get the benefit of the now. But God sees the end from the beginning.”

God is sovereign through every situation in our lives, both the good and the bad. Learn more about this truth in Pastor Paolo Punzalan’s blog post, “Later, You Will Understand”.

Faith is a Journey

Faith is a Journey

“It is not the pace of our faith that matters, it is the object of our faith.”

Pastor Steve Murrell gleans from the book of John and talks about different faith journeys in his blog post, “Faith is a Journey”.

When God Seems Far Away

When God Seems Far Away

“When we feel forsaken and when God seems far away, in reality, He is still holy and He is still enthroned. My feelings and my experiences do not change who He is.”

Victory founding pastor Steve Murrell writes an insightful blog entry about what prayers to pray when one feels forsaken by God. Read When God Seems Far Away.

When Faith Seems to Fail

When Faith Seems to Fail

jordanlewisAre you in a situation where you feel that God has abandoned you? Know that God is a faithful God, and He is more than able to sustain us in the midst of grief and suffering.

Read this blog post, and we pray that you are encouraged.

Biblical Finance 101

Biblical Finance 101

Four weeks at the Abraham’s School of Finance gave us a meaningful review on what our attitude should be towards God’s resources. Here’s a lowdown on our major learnings, including actual insights from fellow learners, from the recently-concluded series. 

 

In week one, we were reminded of the long-term, multi-generational covenant that God spoke to Abraham about His limitless provision, a timeless promise that still applies to us at the present time.

We can trust that we will always have what we need because of who we have a covenant with.
– Yane B.

 

Week two of our series helped us realize that we are just stewards, not owners, of God’s endless resources and provision.

(I learned) that God owns EVERYTHING and we are stewards of His wonderful creations. This really removed all my worries. God is so great!
– Lucille C.

(I learned how to) be a good steward (of) all the blessings of the Lord, and to faithfully return what’s really due to Him.
– Marilyn A.

God owns everything. I don’t. I’m thankful for His trust and (will) obey His will for what I have been entrusted with.
– Daryl C.

Stewardship honors the covenant (we have with God). When we become good stewards, it follows that we will be faithful in (our) giving.
– Ronnie R.

 

In our lesson about tithing, we learned that it isn’t just about giving 10% of our wealth to God. It’s about giving Him our all.

Tithing is an evidence of a life in Christ. (I also learned) that “poverty is not an issue of the wallet, but an issue of the mind and heart.”
– Rachelle L.

Tithing is not giving . . . it’s returning.
– Angelo M.

 

The last installment of our series helped us understand that generosity starts from a heart that’s willing to sacrifice.

Don’t be (tight-fisted) on the blessings that God is giving you, but learn how to . . . share those blessings to others.
– Samantha I.

When you understand how generous God is to you, it will automatically produce generosity in your life.
– Robert B.

 

Now that our four-week course on biblical finance has come to a close, we are presented with many opportunities to apply all that we have learned.

In every aspect of our lives, including how we deal with our finances, we can and should find ways to honor God.
– Ardie A.

Let us be faithful stewards and use our finances to bring honor and glory to God!

If you missed this series, you can download our podcasts and Victory group materials for free.

New Series: Abraham’s School of Finance

New Series: Abraham’s School of Finance

We’re kicking off our newest series this weekend entitled, “Abraham’s School of Finance!” Join us as we study the life of Abraham and let us learn about God’s financial principles, and how each of us is called to be good stewards of His resources.

Here’s the list of weekly topics:

Week one: Covenant
Week two: Stewardship
Week three: Tithing
Week four: Generosity

Invite your family and friends to a Victory location nearest you! We are one church meeting in fifteen different locations in Metro Manila, and in various churches across the Philippines.

See you at our weekend services!