Beyond the Series: The Joys and Challenges of Fatherhood and Parenting

Beyond the Series: The Joys and Challenges of Fatherhood and Parenting

Being a father is a gift, a serious responsibility, and a rewarding experience. In this article, Bishop Manny Carlos talks about the joys, challenges, and life lessons that go along with fatherhood and parenting.

 

A Joy-Filled Responsibility 

When I learned about my wife’s pregnancy with our eldest child, I felt a quiet sense of joy and gratefulness to God. I felt a profound sense of gratitude that God made us parents. Looking back, we were happy and content as husband and wife. But when each of our children came into our family, we could no longer imagine what it’s like without them. It’s a miracle that they came into our lives.

Children are gifts from God, and we have a responsibility to raise them up according to God’s ways. Sometimes, people get traumatized because of their experiences growing up, but being a parent is not something to be afraid of. It’s not going to be easy, but we don’t have to figure things out ourselves. Being part of a church community helps us learn from one another. There are so many people we can talk to who have children, and there are pastors and mentors who can help us along the way.

A Challenging Journey 

Children are fragile. They’re dependent on us for so many things. In raising our kids, there are different stages that we have to navigate as parents.

The first stage (ages 0–6) involves bringing security to them by establishing authority in their lives. We need to set up boundaries to protect them. According to Ted Tripp in his book Shepherding a Child’s Heart, there are two things that are at work when we raise our children: the shaping influences and the Godward orientation. The first one is what we do as parents through how we nurture and discipline them. The second one, on the other hand, is something we can’t do. It’s only God who can work in the hearts of our children.

As parents, we need to instill discipline not to hurt them but to make them realize that they can’t go beyond their boundaries. It brings security when they know that there’s a safe place and an unsafe place for them. Our goal as parents is to gradually give them freedom—to make them more independent of us and more dependent on God.

The second stage (ages 6–12) is called the learning phase. In this stage, the brain development of children is at its peak: their learning is accelerated, they’re very curious, and they ask a lot of questions. Every child has an innate desire to learn at this stage.

When my wife, Minnie, and I became parents, we wanted to be somewhat involved in the education of our children. We didn’t want to just put our children in school; we wanted to be their teachers. We wanted to make sure that they get the education they need, learn godly values, and develop a love for learning. The different stages in the lives of our children require us to emphasize certain things. If we fail to establish discipline and nurture their learning early on, it will be hard to catch up and make up for lost ground. We have to maximize our time with them.

By the time our children reach their teenage years, everything becomes different. In this stage, they don’t always want to be with us. They want to be more independent, assert themselves, and be with friends. We can’t simply tell them yes or no. We have to reason with them. And at this phase, I think what is more concerning is the influence of social media. It has crept up quickly on us, and though it has its benefits, it’s challenging to set the proper boundaries. A lot of young people now are addicted to games and social apps.

Later on, when our children become young adults and graduate, the nature of our relationship with them will also change. We have to start giving them responsibilities. Every stage of their growth entails new opportunities—for them to mature and develop—and new challenges that will affect our relationship with them and their relationship with God.

A Humbling Experience 

When I became a parent, I learned that every child is unique, and I should be sensitive to that uniqueness. Children have different giftings, passions, and discipline issues. When they get older, it’s important that we interact and connect with them individually. We have to parent them, be a father to them, and be sensitive to their needs.

The physical and emotional presence of a father is also crucial in raising a family. My wife is a stay-at-home mom, and I am grateful for her sacrifice, but my presence at home as a father is also vital. Whenever I come home from work, I have to be emotionally present and engage my children in conversation.

As parents, giving words of encouragement and affirmation to our children is important. As it says in Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Now that a lot of young people are battling with depression, it’s important that we nurture our relationship with our children and help them discover their purpose in God. Part of parenting is helping them discern what God wants them to do with their lives.

Like what Pastor Steve Murrell always says, “Parenting never ends.” There is a part of us that will always worry about their future—no matter how old they are. We will always want to help them and make sure their paths are righteous. It is fulfilling and humbling at the same time because of the lessons that we learn along the way as parents. Though we may fail at times, it is important that we always look to God, our heavenly Father, and allow His grace to step in and fill the gap.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

 

Bishop Manny Carlos is the chairman of Victory. He serves on the Bishops Council of Every Nation Philippines and preaches at Victory Katipunan. He has been married to Mini for 26 years, and they have four children: Jeremy (24), Daniel (22), Hannah (19), and Samuel (18).

Beyond the Series is a set of interviews on topics related to our sermon series. In our previous article, we also interviewed Bishop Manny’s wife, Minnie Carlos, about motherhood and parenting. Click here to read her interview.

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.

Finding God in the Midst of Crisis

Finding God in the Midst of Crisis

Our current situation may have brought a lot of uncertainties and changes in our lives, but it has also helped most of us see hope in the face of loss, sickness, and hardship. Here is a story of a mother who found God in the midst of the COVID–19 outbreak.

 

In January of this year, my husband passed away. It was a very difficult time for me. It was not easy to start again and raise our children on my own at the age of 50.

To comfort me, my eldest son who attends our church in General Mariano Alvarez invited me to one of our services. There, I got connected with a Victory group that didn’t stop reaching out to me even after the lockdown.

I thank God that when the outbreak started, my relationship with Him was also gradually built. In spite of the new battles that came our way after my husband’s death—like my eldest son’s emergency appendectomy in February and his almost bout with COVID after being tagged as a person under investigation (PUI)—our whole family remained strong because of God. The harder the trials we faced, the deeper my relationship with Christ became.

During the enhanced community quarantine, I continued going through ONE 2 ONE with my Victory group leader via video call. I also continued to attend our Victory group meetings, which watered and tended the seeds planted in my heart. Now, I look forward to reading and hearing God’s word every day.

I am grateful to God that in the midst of the pandemic and even at this age, He pursued me and led me to Him. He used my son and our church community to help me know Him more and have a deeper relationship with Him. Now, I also get to share His goodness to my 75-year-old mother who gets daily encouragement and inspiration from God’s promises.

It’s amazing how God healed my heart from all the things that had happened to our family early this year. He taught me to let go of the things that I could not surrender to Him before and made me realize that I should not be afraid of anything that might come our way. I know that no matter what happens, I can always depend on Him.

Finding God in this time of crisis gave me the strength to face each day with faith that comes from Him. It is my prayer that more people will reach out to their family members and friends in this trying time, so more people can know God and see His goodness amid loss, sickness, and hardship.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6

 

Janette Coronel is an account supervisor with four children. She is growing in her faith as part of a Victory group in our church in General Mariano Alvarez.

A New Beginning: Restored After 12 Years

A New Beginning: Restored After 12 Years

Nothing is too broken for God. Though it seemed impossible then for Liza’s marriage to be restored, God proved that with Him, everything is possible. Here’s how God restored her broken marriage and gave her family a fresh start.

 

My relationship with my husband had been going downhill for 12 years. Though we stayed under one roof, we slept in different rooms and hardly spoke to each other. We made separate decisions and led separate lives. Even our children had gotten used to that setup.

At that time, I was filled with so much anger and bitterness that I seriously considered putting an end to our marriage. I consulted with different lawyers and told myself that after my youngest daughter’s high school graduation, I would file for an annulment and go back to my hometown in Baguio.

But God had other plans.

In November 2018, I attended a worship service in Victory for the first time and encountered God like never before. He reassured me that if I obey Him, He will restore all the broken pieces of my marriage. At that time, all I could do was cry. I really wanted to give up on my marriage, but God gave me the strength to follow Him instead.

Since then, my life started to change. I became part of a Victory group and later went through ONE 2 ONE and Victory Weekend. As my relationship with God grew deeper, my marriage with my husband also began to change for the better.

While preparing for our daughter’s 18th birthday celebration, my husband and I started to talk again. Though our marriage wasn’t fixed right away, we slowly became friends like before. I got to reconcile with his family and even joined their New Year’s Eve celebration last year.

For the past 12 years, I would celebrate Christmas with the kids and my family in Baguio, while my husband would celebrate New Year’s Eve with the kids and his family in Manila. That was how we celebrated the holidays for more than a decade. He was used to celebrating Christmas on his own, while I was used to celebrating New Year’s Eve alone or with friends. Celebrating a special day with him and our children again for the first time in years was something I never expected to happen.

While God was dealing with my heart last year, He taught me so many things about myself and our marriage. He made me realize that the anger I harbored in my heart for years made it impossible for me to see my own faults. I was too busy being angry that I had failed to see my shortcomings and the pain caused by my words and actions. God made me see beyond my brokenness and taught me to forgive and seek forgiveness.

By His grace, after 12 years of hopelessness, my husband and I got back together in April 2019 and celebrated our 20th anniversary. Since then, we started sharing meals again together as a family—something we didn’t get to do for a very long time—and began working on our marriage with God’s help.

If there’s one good thing that this crisis has brought to us, it is the chance to make up for the lost time and be a family again. Since the lockdown, we have been spending so much time together—with each other and with our children. Now we get to pray as a family and openly share our thoughts. Even our kids are more expressive now about the things they felt before and the things they feel now. It is amazing how God put all the broken pieces together and created something far more beautiful than what we used to have. In fact, last month He blessed us with the best anniversary gift: a romantic breakfast prepared by our children for our 21st anniversary. It reminded us of all the good times we’ve had.

Looking back, it’s amazing how God filled all the empty spaces in my heart and replaced the hurts with His love. It was His great love that gave me the strength and confidence to believe for the best then, when everything was broken and unclear. I know that whatever happens, His love will always be there for us—to pursue us and keep us together.

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

 

Liza del Mundo is a preschool teacher and guidance coordinator. She leads a Victory group in our church in Santa Cruz. She and her husband are continuously growing in their walk with God. Their son serves as a volunteer in music ministry; he and his siblings are all part of a Victory group.

Beyond the Series: Musings on Motherhood and Parenting

Beyond the Series: Musings on Motherhood and Parenting

Motherhood is a long road that continues even when the children are old and have their own families. As we celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday, here are some valuable insights on motherhood and parenting from Minnie Carlos, the wife of Bishop Manny Carlos. She is a mother of four children: Jeremy (24), Daniel (22), Hannah (19), and Samuel (18). 

 

LASTING MEMORIES

Though I only had a few memories with my mother, each memory has remained precious to me. When I was very young, my parents separated. Even if my mother and I weren’t together for many years, she would always make an effort to visit us and write long letters to me and my siblings.

When I got married and started to have my own family, I decided to visit my mother in the province. I went there with my husband, Manny, and my firstborn son, Jeremy. It was something I had been wanting to do for years. It was a priceless trip that brought my mother so much joy.

My mother was soft-spoken, kind, gentle, nurturing, and gifted in music. She imparted many good things to me about motherhood. I believe my journey as a mother began with her good example. When she passed away a few years ago, I realized how much of a great influence she had been to me and my children. I miss her, and I will always be thankful for the time we had together.

THE CALL TO STEWARDSHIP

For me, being a mother means taking on an important role. It means responding to a call entrusted by God. As a mother, I understand that I am co-laboring with God in raising my children; He is first and foremost a Father to them before I am their parent. They are ultimately His children. God calls me to show and represent the love and commitment that He has for them.

If I am to be the kind of mother God wants me to be, I need to know the truth about God and how he relates to us—His children. My relationship with God is going to be a reflection of my relationship with my children. God loves us unconditionally, provides for all our needs, protects us from harm, cares about us deeply, disciplines us with love, and has a unique plan and purpose for each one of us. Knowing God’s heart for us, His people, enables me to raise my children in a way that will please Him and bring honor to His name.

MUCH IS TAUGHT AND CAUGHT

Coming from a broken home, I was eager to learn about what the Bible said about marriage and parenting. I always looked forward to attending parenting seminars and reading books that would equip me as a parent. While I learned the basic principles from these materials, I also learned much from observing good role models and mentors who were successful at parenting. I watched how they related to their children in the different stages of their children’s lives. It has been a privilege for me to have people in my life to look up to—couples we can talk to who can give godly counsel and advice. To this day, I’m grateful that Manny and I have people who walk with us as we navigate this journey of parenting.

In my own experience as a mother, I learned that it is always important to pray for my children and point them to God. I should teach them to love His word and hear His voice. I also learned that when I lift them up in prayer and declare God’s word over their lives, my prayers become powerful and effective.

A LEGACY OF FAITH AND OBEDIENCE

I hope for my children to remember me as a woman who loves and fears God—whose life pleases Him and brings honor to His name. I want to be a good example to them, not just as a mother, but as a Christian who has taught and encouraged them to grow in their walk with God.

For me, these passages summarize what God is admonishing us to do as parents:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:5–9

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. Proverbs 22:15

We should teach God’s word and commands to our children, train them in life, impart values that are Christ-centered, and discipline them with the end goal of restoring them to their relationship with God—and with us.

If we want to raise our children effectively, we have to be intentional in our parenting. Having good children does not happen by chance, as some would believe. It takes a lot of hard work to raise children who will follow God. When God tells us to do something, whether in our parenting or in our own personal lives, we should always respond in obedience. Parenting is a big responsibility which can be daunting, but God has given us clear guidelines on how to do it—and each of those guidelines, if followed, comes with a promise. One important promise from God is that those who honor their father and mother will live long in the land. This promise is for us, for our children, and for the generations after.

Mothers play a big role in our journey of knowing God and following Him. Their love and sacrifice give us a glimpse of His unconditional and unfailing love for us. Today and every day, let us honor them and celebrate their lives. Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Minnie Carlos is the wife of Bishop Manny Carlos. They have been married for 25 years. They are blessed with four children: Jeremy, Daniel, Hannah, and Samuel. 

Beyond the Series is a set of interviews on topics related to our sermon series.

34 Years Later

34 Years Later

If our prayers do not get answered right away, will we continue to trust God? Read how June waited for more than three decades to finally meet her father and be reunited with him. Here is her inspiring testimony.

 

I was only two years old when my father left me and my mom. When I turned 11, I started asking about my dad, but my mom would always refuse to talk about what had happened. Because of that, there had been an eagerness in my heart to see him and ask all the questions I had been asking myself all these years.

In 2001, I found my dad’s social media account and learned that he lives in the United States. We started communicating through email, but a few things happened here and there, which further widened the gap between us. I started to harbor resentment against him because of that.

When I went through Victory Weekend in January 2014, my resentment against my father came out. I tried to ignore it, but a few years later, while I was going through a counseling session, my abandonment and rejection issues resurfaced. Unable to take it any longer, I made a resolve to finally deal with all the hatred and unforgiveness in my heart. During our time of prayer and fasting last year, I asked God to make a way for me to see my father. I wanted to finally meet him and tell him all the hurts and pains that I had been struggling with all along.

I knew that releasing forgiveness is a process, and I couldn’t do it overnight. In August last year, while praying to God, the Holy Spirit prompted me to finally release the hatred I had been harboring in my heart for years. I cried out to God and let it all out. A month after that, an opportunity for me to go to the US came about. I knew it was the chance I had been waiting to get since I was kid, but I knew I did not have the resources to go there anytime soon. I prayed hard to God and even fasted about it.

Not long after, my half-sister in the US told me that she and her husband were willing to pay for my round trip ticket—and my family’s, too. (I am now married with two kids.) She offered a place for us to stay and even arranged a surprise meeting for me and my dad. I was beyond grateful. I knew it was God working through them. As if that were not enough, God also provided for my family’s visa expenses through my mother-in-law. Our interview went on smoothly and we were granted a ten-year multiple entry visa to the US.

Finally, on June 20, 2018, we flew to San Francisco and stayed in Tracy, California. My dad drove all the way from Vallejo to Tracy on the day of our arrival. We were all excited but at the same time anxious. After 34 years, I finally met him. We hugged each other, and he whispered “I love you” to me. I did not know what to say for a while because it all felt surreal. It felt as if all the hatred in my heart melted at that moment.

During our brief stay in the US, God made a way for me and my father to have a heart-to-heart talk. He said sorry, and we both cried. I learned about what had happened when he left us, and hearing everything straight from him somehow pieced together the puzzle in my head.

Until now, I am still in awe of how God worked in our midst and made a way for me to finally be healed from all the bitterness and hatred I had kept in my heart for years. God is not just a healer of illnesses. He is a healer of relationships.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

God can heal the wounds in our hearts. He makes all the pain-filled parts new with His love. We can surrender all our broken parts to the Lord and allow His grace to restore every ailing piece.

Real Treasure

Real Treasure

What are the things that you are willing to let go of to find what really matters? In this article, Angelie shares how she obeyed God and found real treasure in His all-satisfying love and grace.

 

My boyfriend and I had been living in for over seven years. I was only 16 when I decided to move in with him. After a year of living together, I gave birth to our son, Vince.

Since we were already living under one roof, the idea of getting married never became a priority for us—for me. There was so much love between us, and we were so secure about our feelings for each other that we felt there was no need to validate those feelings by getting married.

But after I had an encounter with Christ, my mindset about the whole thing gradually changed.

I have been attending a worship service for a while, but it was only in July this year that a friend from Victory Santa Cruz preached the gospel to me and helped me know God more. After accepting Christ in my life, I immediately got convicted of my sin and realized how much I was hurting Him. I realized that I was breaking His heart all these years because of my relationship. I also finally understood how precious marriage is. It dawned on me that it is not really about me or my partner. It is not about our love for each other either. It is about Him ultimately.

Wanting to honor God in my relationship, I began to sincerely pray to Him. I wanted to set things right—not in the eyes of men—but in the eyes of my Lord. Right after Victory Weekend, I asked God to move in my life and in the life of the person I love.

Just a month after that, my boyfriend and I got married; we had a civil wedding. I never thought it was possible, and I never thought I would be that happy. Celebrating our renewed union with our son was one of the happiest moments of my life.

I thought God was done working in my life and in my relationship, but I was wrong. After our wedding, my husband also began his journey with Christ. One day, out of nowhere, he asked me to go to church with him. My heart swelled with so much joy knowing how he resisted the idea of going to church in the past. I knew it was God working in his life. He is currently going through ONE 2 ONE  and eagerly desiring to know God more.

I always thought I found a rare treasure when I met my husband and gave birth to our son. I was wrong. My real treasure is Christ. Nothing on earth compares to the all-satisfying love of my Savior—not my possessions, not even my family.

Now, we are both part of our church in Victory Santa Cruz. I am an usher and a Kids Church teacher, and I am also studying again to finish college. It is amazing how things fell into place after I surrendered my life to God. He is my rare treasure.

 

Indeed, there is more to this life than the things we have or the people we love. God is our ultimate treasure. As we seek Him first, we will see His hand at work in our lives.

Believing God for the Impossible

Believing God for the Impossible

Seeing his whole family in church choosing to follow Christ was a far-fetched dream—until God did what He does best and made it all possible. Be encouraged as Junnel shares his powerful story of forgiveness and faith.

 

I was in high school when my father left our family. My mother, my younger sister, and I were all clueless about where he had gone. I spent most of my teenage years wondering where he could be, harboring ill feelings for what he had done.

Several years later, I learned that he was in jail. I visited him there not knowing what to feel. Being reunited with him that way somewhat intensified the pain I had been dealing with all along; it planted further seeds of resentment in my heart.

But God has His ways indeed. One day, a campus missionary visited our school and reached out to me. He preached the gospel to me and started spending time with me every week, guiding me in my budding relationship with God. Not long after, I surrendered my life to Christ and believed that one day, my whole family would do the same—no matter how impossible it seemed.

As I grew deeper in my relationship with God, He slowly took away the anger in my heart and replaced it with compassion, forgiveness, and love. I soon found myself spending a lot of time with my father, encouraging and building him up while he was in jail. During one of the court hearings for his case, he asked me why I was still extending love to him despite everything. Though emotional and in tears, I boldly took that opportunity to preach the gospel to him. Right then and there—in the middle of the courtroom—my father received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

A photo of Junnel and his father, Noel, during Victory Weekend.

Immediately after choosing to follow Jesus, my father was released on bail. He then made the most of his time outside jail going to the services and learning more about God with his Victory group. His new life with Christ also soon paved the way for his reconciliation with my mother. We are now living together again under one roof—as one family.

And God did not stop there.

Brimming with faith, my father did the most unexpected thing—he reached out to my mother and sister. He preached the gospel to them, and not long after, my far-fetched dream of seeing my family together, not just in one home but also in one church worshiping God, finally came to be. Now, every weekend, my whole family attends the worship service in Victory Lipa.

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? Numbers 23:19

It is true that when God makes a promise—no matter how big or small—He is faithful to fulfill it in His perfect time. Do not give up, and do not stop believing God. He is faithful to His Word and always keeps His promises.

Waiting on God’s Perfect Timing

Waiting on God’s Perfect Timing

Agbuya family“We’ve been married for seven years, and all that time, we’ve been praying for a child,” 38-year old Jonathan Agbuya shares. He and his wife, Divine, were told by their doctor that the chances of them having a child were slim. They were advised to undergo in vitro fertilization. The process would involve a series of complex procedures and would cost half a million, to a million pesos.

After several months of attending Victory Novaliches, the couple decided to get connected to a Victory group. Feeling the acceptance and love from their new spiritual family, they opened up about their struggle in conceiving a child. Their Victory group leader encouraged them to be more specific in their prayers and told them not to lose hope because God is in control. “Praise God for our leaders who encouraged us, prayed with us, and labored with us on our heart’s desire to have a baby,” Jonathan declares.

Soon, the couple were discipled and became disciple-makers, themselves. Divine was eventually introduced to a coaching group composed of other married women. Like before, she shared her desire to have a child, so that the group can pray with them, too. She soon found out she and Jonathan weren’t alone in their situation. Three out of the four women in the coaching group were also praying for a baby.

One of them underwent an operation in both ovaries and was advised by the doctor that the chances of her getting pregnant were small. “They didn’t lose hope,” Jonathan shares, “Like us, they kept praying to God.” The second couple also wanted another child, but was told that it would be risky for the mother because she was diagnosed with myoma.

This time of waiting on the Lord coincided with their study of a book that encouraged them to lay down their every concern to the Lord, and to claim God’s promises in their lives. “God revealed to us the things that we need to give up because they hinder us from receiving His blessings,” Jonathan shares. It wasn’t an easy journey. They would sometimes feel hopeless and defeated, but their friends and spiritual family would remind them of God’s plan for their life, which is a hope and a future.

Before the year ended, after praying unceasingly as a group, Jonathan and Divine received news from their member diagnosed with myoma that she and her husband were finally able to conceive. Like before, the group covered them in prayer as they went through a delicate pregnancy. On August 2013, the couple became the proud parents of a healthy baby boy without any complications.

Add to that, the couple who faced infertility problems because of an ovarian operation was also able to conceive in January last miracle mommasyear. They welcomed a bouncing baby boy to their family in August.

“One by one, we were starting to experience God’s answer to our prayers!” Jonathan exclaims.

It was their turn to witness God’s miracle when Jonathan woke up one morning in May 2013 to Divine holding a pregnancy test. The result was positive. “We were so amazed!” Jonathan shares, “I thought I was just dreaming!” Still in a state of awe, the couple immediately headed to the hospital to get an ultrasound. The doctor confirmed that Divine was indeed pregnant. What the couple didn’t expect was for them to hear their baby for the first time. “The doctor let us listen to our baby’s heartbeat,” Jonathan shares, “And our hearts were just jumping with joy, giving praise and thanks to our Lord!”

On the 24th of December in 2013, Divine gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. A wonderful Christmas gift from God to them. They named him Jediah Daniel, which means “Jehovah knows” and “God is my judge.”

Jonathan and Divine couldn’t help but be in awe after witnessing God’s work, not only in their lives, but also in their friends’ lives. “Hearing these other stories, I can say that God truly works in us individually and personally,” Jonathan shares. They may have a similar desire, but God dealt with them in a way that fits uniquely to their situation

Jonathan recalls the story of the blind man, Bartimaeus, in the Bible. When asked by his disciples whose fault it was that the man was blind–the man or his parents–Jesus answered, “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:1-3)

“Like Bartimaeus, I believe that God has a reason and purpose in everything that has happened to us,” Jonathan declares, “And that is to give glory to Him, and Him alone.”

Ways you can Show Love to Your Family

In week six of our “All and Nothing” series, we learned what it means to honor God in our family relationships. Today, let’s explore how we can put what we learned into practice. What are different ways we can show love to our family members?

 

Through our Words IMG_1808

We have an opportunity daily to be a blessing, not only in serving and generosity, but with our words. The Bible encourages us to speak life, and when we encourage our families, we let God’s words be our words, and become instruments of His blessing to them.

When was the last time you told a family member that you loved them? Encourage a family member today by highlighting something that he or she did that genuinely impresses or encourages you.

 

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Through our Service

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

Jesus set the example of service by laying his life down for His disciples. In the same way, we can follow His example of service and humility, especially in our households. It’s a good thing when we volunteer in our respective local centers, but let us not forget that serving should first start in our homes.

In the next weekend, take the time to serve your family in a greater capacity. Family members can run errands, make repairs, clean the house or car, or take care of the meals or laundry.  Dads or older brothers can help out with homework or just spend much-needed quality time.

 

Through Prayer

 “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16)

One of the most important—and impactful—things we can do for our family members is praying for them. Whether we’re believing for their salvation, restoration, healing, or abundant financial provision, we can bring these concerns before God and trust that He hears and answers.

Take time this week to pray for your family members. Ask God for wisdom and discernment for the right things to pray for them, including provision, salvation, restoration of relationships, and healing; if you have some who are sick, visit them. Trust the Holy Spirit to give you the right words to bless and encourage those for whom you pray personally.

 

Through Forgiveness

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God’s Word commands us to forgive those who have wronged us, because God forgave us through Christ. Our families are far from perfect, but God’s Word says that we are ministers of reconciliation.

Today, take a moment to ask for forgiveness from someone you’ve offended in your family. Ask God for grace and wisdom as you approach this person. Believe God for restoration and healing in your relationship.

 

 

Jesus best exemplified love for us, and He did so by dying on the cross for each of us more than 2,000 years ago. Let’s remember to show that same love He showed us to our family members.

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“My First, Second and Third Attempts at Parenting”, now Available at the 37th Manila International Book Fair!

“My First, Second and Third Attempts at Parenting”, now Available at the 37th Manila International Book Fair!

steve_murrell_profileWe are happy to announce that the newest book of Victory founding pastor Steve Murrell, “My First, Second and Third Attempts at Parenting”, will be launched nationally at the 37th Manila International Book Fair!

Now published and distributed locally by Church Strengthening Ministry (CSM), “My First, Second & Third Attempts at Parenting” is a collection of stories and reflections designed to help parents and would-be parents discover the elusive, yet most important, part of parenting—the heart.

Pastor Steve’s book will be available at the CSM booth at the 37th Manila International Book Fair from September 14-18, 2016, for an exclusive fair-only price of PHP 100 per copy. The book fair will be held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

Also available at the book fair are “The Values-Driven Heart” by Pastor Joey Bonifacio, Real LIFE Foundation’s executive director; and “Why Settle for Good Sex When You Can Have Great Sex” by Pastors Dennis and Thammie Sy, senior pastors of Victory Greenhills.

We are excited for more people to learn how we can honor God through parenting! Get your copy of “My First, Second and Third Attempts at Parenting” at the 37th Manila International Book Fair!

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.”

From Broken To Whole

From Broken To Whole

b7e981fcae540a0051e1c8e8e0f51437f72117bef23db06207c64d53b3ea3416Twenty-four year old Clare Recla was a college student at University of Makati when she first heard the gospel. A friend invited her to attend a February outreach event that promised to talk about love—and that was precisely what attracted Clare. To her disappointment, campus minister Coach Robert Gonzalez preached the gospel. “Oh no, this is about God, I thought it would be about love! The flyer misled me!” she thought to herself, getting up to leave. While she quickly tried to leave the venue with another friend, she was caught by the person who invited her, and she returned sheepishly to her seat.

Stuck, forced to listen, and at her most defensive, Clare suddenly realized God was breaking down her walls. The flyer did not mislead her at all–because Coach Robert talked about the greatest love of all time: God’s love. “That was my turning point. The love of a Father for His child. It was my first time to hear that kind of love,” Clare recalls.

Her yearning for fatherly love stemmed from a childhood that was devoid of good role models. “I was ashamed of my life, my family. I was the daughter of a drug user,”  Clare explains. Growing up, she would always see her parents fight violently. Because of his drug dependency, her father would hurt and curse her, causing her to develop a deep-seated hatred for him. One day, he was admitted to a rehabilitation center and released six months later. He was released, a changed man, and asked for Clare’s forgiveness, but she couldn’t find it in her heart to forgive. “I told myself I would never be like my father,” Clare admits. She strove to be a better person. She wanted to please other people to mask her insecurities and shame, but inside, she felt unfulfilled.

Victory Christian Fellowship Testimony: From Broken to WholeIt was during that outreach event and after undergoing ONE 2 ONE when God prodded her out of her hiding and broke down her walls. “I don’t have a mask anymore to cover my shame. I have Jesus,” Clare declares. Now armed with the love of God, she was able to extend forgiveness and reconciliation to her father.

She started preaching the gospel to her family, and eventually invited them to church. Now, her youngest sister is also a follower of Christ, and she continues to believe for the salvation of the rest of her family.

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Have a story of family restoration you’d like to share with us? Please visit http://victory.org.ph//mystory and share your story of God’s restoration!

The Truth About Lies

The Truth About Lies

“Do not be surprised when your young child comes to you one day with a story that is completely not true.”

In this blog entry, Pastor Paolo Punzalan of Victory Fort shares three truths about lying that parents need to understand, so they, in turn, can address with integrity and love when they catch their children lying.

 

Imparting Wisdom to our Children

Imparting Wisdom to our Children

“As parents who have been entrusted with these amazing brains, how can we even help them if they know more about us? Smart doesn’t necessarily mean wise. Wisdom comes from experience. Wisdom is applied knowledge.”

In this blog entry, Pastor Paolo Punzalan of Victory Fort shares three things parents can do to impart wisdom to their children.

Daddy Warrior

Daddy Warrior

In this blog entry, Pastor Dennis Sy​ talks about how a solid prayer life is an excellent tool in fathering the next generation.

Hart Hart Family

Hart Hart Family

tolentinofamily-2014“Learning to value family made me rely on God’s grace every single day to become a godly wife and a godly mother.”  April Tolentino of Victory Ortigas shares the value and importance of our families in her blog post, “Hart Hart Family.”

New Series: Take Home

New Series: Take Home

Whether we like it or not, our families help mold and shape us into who we are now. Our families may be far from perfect, but we know that God has the best plan for them.

Join us this weekend as we start our newest series, “Take Home.” This message series will give us great insight into how the gospel—the good news of our salvation—transforms our families.

Check out the list of weekly topics below:

  • Week One: For Husbands – Know the unique calling God has placed in husbands.
  • Week Two: For Wives – Get a glimpse of God’s design for wives.
  • Week Three: For Children, too! – Find out how all of us can learn to honor and obey our parents in the Lord.

Victory is one church that meets in fifteen locations in Metro Manila. We also have various churches all across the Philippines. Visit us at a Victory location nearest you!

You wouldn’t want to miss this series. Invite your family and friends, too!

Parenting Conference

Parenting Conference

On Saturday, November 12, 2011, more than 1,300 parents attended a Parenting Conference held in the Every Nation building. Our main conference speakers, Pastor Steve, Deborah, and William Murrell, shared God’s principles in raising our children. They also shared how these can be applied in their daily dealings with their kids.

Aside from the main conference, breakout sessions were made available for parents in specific age groups: toddlers and pre-schoolers (0-6 years old); elementary schoolers (7-12 years old); and teenagers (13 years and up).

Download and listen to our podcast of the Parenting Conference 2011 below. We hope these messages help you disciple your kids and teach them walk in God’s ways!

Let’s Celebrate Father’s Day 2011!

Let’s Celebrate Father’s Day 2011!

Our dads are God’s gifts to us. No doubt, we’ve received so much from them—whether it’s teaching us to ride a bike, working hard for us, giving us fun piggy back rides, or encouraging us to keep on keeping on. This is a fitting time for us to show our appreciation to them! We can be assured that honoring them also honors God and reaps a great reward.

Join us this weekend, June 18 and 19, as we celebrate Father’s Day in all our Victory locations! Invite your dads, too—we’ve got something special prepared for all our fathers.

Victory is one church in many locations in Metro Manila and in the provinces. Check out our national directory to know where the Victory location nearest you is.

Don’t forget to bring your dads this weekend! See you at our services!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day is a fitting time to honor and show our love for our mothers. The Bible teaches us to honor our parents, and when we do, we gain more in return. Even the simple things we do to show our affection will definitely mean a lot to her. Whatever plans you may have is sure to make her day special and worth remembering.

Join us at our weekend services at your local Victory church as we celebrate Mother’s Day. Bring your moms, too, because we have a surprise in store for her!

Check out some blog posts from our pastors regarding Mother’s Day.

* MAMA by Dennis Sy
* WARNING! Dishonoring Your Parents may be Harmful to Your Health by Ferdie Cabiling

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Get Ready for an Exciting Summer!

Get Ready for an Exciting Summer!

We place a premium on the next generation by teaching and training our children to be next-generation leaders. As young as they are, they can make an impact and be examples among their peers.

With that, our Victory locations have organized summer activities for our kids, catering to specific age group. Here’s the list of our activities for this summer:

Me and my dad Camp is an opportune time for kids aged six to nine years old to spend two days of roughing it with their dads.

Vacation Bible Camp teaches our four- to eight-year-olds important values from God’s Word. It will be an exciting three days of craft-making, story-telling, and games.

The Boot Camp trains and equips our preteens (10-13 year olds) to be leaders who would be a positive influence among their peers and communities.

Invite your kids, cousins, nephews, or nieces to take part in our Kids Ministry activities this summer! Please contact your local church to know more.