Edlyn Celestial of Victory Antipolo shares how her long-ago prayer was answered last year and became her biggest breakthrough to date.
I came to know Christ eight years ago. One of our campus missionaries in U-Belt shared the gospel with me, and not long after, I made a decision to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
Since then, for the past eight years, I would pray and fast at the start of each year and believe God for my family’s salvation. I wanted them to experience the same joy I felt when I came to know Christ. As such, since 2010, my faith goal had always been the same: to see my entire family in one church, choosing to follow Jesus.
In 2016, Victory planted a church in Antipolo. Though it is just five minutes away from our place, it was not until May 13, 2018 (Mother’s Day) that I mustered the courage to invite my family to our worship service. Not knowing what to expect, I was filled with overwhelming joy when my father responded to the challenge of the pastor at the end of the message. I had no idea that a big part of my long-ago prayer would be answered that day.
After accepting Christ in his life and going through Victory Weekend in August, my dad took different discipleship classes to grow more in his walk with God. His bold act of faith eventually inspired my mom and my younger brother, too. Just three months later, they also made a decision to follow Jesus; they finished their Victory Weekend last November.
After eight years of praying and waiting, my long-awaited faith goal became my biggest breakthrough to date—and since then, there have been many more. Currently, even my uncle’s family is regularly attending a worship service in Victory Antipolo; he and his wife are also now part of a couples’ Victory group.
Though I never saw it coming and lost faith countless times, God proved to me that He had never forgotten His promise.
And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household. Acts 16:31
God’s gift of salvation indeed extends to us all—it is made available to anyone who has faith in Him. Let us not grow tired of praying for our loved ones and believing God for breakthroughs this year.
“I would drink alcohol for breakfast,” confesses 35-year-old Manuel Gan. “I started drinking at thirteen years old; I would drink everyday, even if I was alone.”
Growing up, Manuel had to adjust to the harsh reality of living in a broken family. When he was around seven years old, his parents separated. He and his sister were forced to live with their father in Nueva Ecija, while their mother remained in Manila. Being the older child, Manuel took the separation to heart, and the burden he felt to repair their fragmented family soon took its toll.
He dropped out of high school one day, and never returned. Without direction, his life soon revolved around addictions and fleeting pleasures. “I got angry at God,” he shares, “I felt that he let me down when he allowed me to grow up in a broken family.” His deep-seated anger led to depression, which then led to total rebellion. This further damaged his relationship with his father. In an attempt to assert control over his defiant son, his father would beat Manuel when they would get into disagreements—which happened often.
Manuel would drink everyday, hang out with his buddies, and play computer games; this became his routine. He eventually went to Manila, hoping that his mother would take him in and allow him to live with him. To his dismay, his mother turned him away, but promised to continue giving him money to provide for his needs. She couldn’t take him in anymore; she has already started her own family with another man.
Feeling rejected and abandoned, Manuel spiraled further into depression. At the age of 14, he had to be checked into a rehabilitation center to address his alcohol addiction. “I stopped drinking for a while,” Manuel says, “But after some time, I fell back to my old habits.”
He left Nueva Ecija and started living on his own in Manila. This reconnected him with his mother, who has started attending Victory. Still unable to find a job, Manuel continued receiving money from his mother, who has long given up trying to reform him. “I was full of anger. Whenever she tried to interfere with my life, I would just get mad at her, and then we’d fight,” he explains. This went on until Manuel turned 30 years old. He realized he let his life pass by wallowing in self-pity, anger, and alcohol.
One of his arrangements with his mother was to drive her around. One Sunday, she asked him to drive her to Victory Fort. When he was invited to attend the worship service, Manuel surprisingly obliged but he had reservations. “I was compelled to attend because nothing was happening in my life,” he shares, “But at the same time I was judging my mother for being a Christian because I still saw her faults.”
Soon, Manuel found himself attending Victory worship services regularly with his mother, who has already received Christ in her life. He was eventually connected to Alex Monis, who became his One 2 One mentor and Victory group leader. “I didn’t finish school, I don’t have any job to speak of, and I was an alcoholic for almost two decades but Kuya Alex didn’t make me feel inferior,” he shares. This year, Manuel finished One 2 One, and underwent Victory Weekend last May.
During Victory Weekend, he released himself from the bondage of alcoholism, low self-esteem and entitlement. For the first time in his life, Manuel felt unburdened and accepted without judgment. “I gave everything to Jesus,” he says, “I told Him that He is in charge of my life from now on.” His attitude towards life radically changed. Manuel realized he has a purpose, and that is to glorify God in his life. “There’s a reason He has still allowed me to live for this long after all the damage I’ve done to my body,” he says.
Slowly, his relationships with his family improved, emotional wounds were healed and Manuel learned the importance of forgiveness. He also developed a desire to preach the gospel to other people. Today, Manuel is studying more about discipleship and leadership at a ministry school in Parañaque. He is in faith that he will be able to reconnect with his old friends and share his testimony with them.
From someone who was so mired in hopelessness and anger, Manuel now desires to reach out to more people and tell them how God has changed his life around and given him purpose again
Vincent Garcia had everything he wanted. At 20 years old, he had more money than a young man should have. He could eat anything, go anywhere, and do whatever his heart desired. He was a self-described spoiled brat, and he loved it. He was enrolled in various schools in San Juan, Manila, but never paid attention to his education.
“I would go to school for my allowance,” he confesses, “And to meet girls.” He took BS Business Management at the Central Colleges of the Philippines, but never completed his course.
Initially indulging merely in designer clothes and expensive perfume, Vincent’s penchant for a hedonistic lifestyle soon found him experimenting with drugs and joining dangerous motorcycle drag races. One night, after winning a race with his friends, they decided to celebrate. Vincent got on his motorcycle, without a helmet on, and cruised along a highway in Morong, Rizal to meet his friends who were also on their way to their party venue. Before he could reach his destination, Vincent figured in a head-on collision with a pick-up truck.
“I didn’t exactly know what happened but I woke up with a fractured left leg,” he shares, “I also dislocated my right knee.” The doctors had to put metal plates in his legs to secure the fractions and dislocations. The accident wasn’t enough to keep Vincent away from his indulgent and illegal lifestyle. After he had healed enough to be able to walk with crutches, he returned to his wayward life, with little concern for his future.
Because he couldn’t ride motorcycles anymore, Vincent soon found another hobby. He brought his mobile phone to a friend to have it repaired. There, he found out that repairing mobile phones actually interested him. He asked his friend to take him in as a shop assistant. While working at the shop, he developed his skills and studied more about cellphone repair. Some time later, Vincent was able to put up his own cellphone repair shop. He had additional income again, but despite the second chance he was given, he still chose to spend his money on his dangerous lifestyle.
In 2009, Vincent met Grace, and they started living together. After a year, Grace gave birth to their son Kurt. With this big change in his life, Vincent attempted to live a healthier lifestyle, unable to reconcile being a father with his life as a drug user. Eventually, he realized that his current lifestyle was not the solution, and for the first time in his self-indulgent life, Vincent wanted to find peace. He wanted to change.
It was then, however, that his business took a downturn: he started losing clients. To make matters worse, Vincent’s father was soon diagnosed with lung cancer, and cursed his son for his bad luck. Vincent tried to meet the needs of his growing family by starting a business, but even that failed. Left with nothing, he never felt more alone in his life. Without a way out, Vincent contemplated the only thing he could do: suicide. “I was ready; I had no other options,” he confesses, “I had no value or purpose left.”
At his lowest moment, devoid of any hope, everything blurred for Vincent. He was in his room, with muddled thoughts of ending his life, when he spotted the only lucid thing he could see: a book. Though covered with a thick layer of dust accumulated through years of storage, Vincent pulled out The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, and suddenly started reading. Filled by a deep, unfathomable need to do what was written in the book, Vincent decided then and there to stop doing drugs. “I told myself, drugs are history,” he says, “A bad page in my story.”
The Purpose-driven Life recommended Vincent find a small group. He went to a nearby church, inquired, but was rejected. However, the rejection couldn’t douse the fire in his heart. For the first time, Vincent prayed. It was a short four-word prayer, “What shall I do?” And for the first time, Vincent heard a voice so comforting and clear, a voice he absolutely knew he could trust.
“I knew it was Jesus,” he shares, “My heart was pounding but I felt peace for the first time. It was beyond explanation.” He knew Jesus was telling him to read the book again, from the beginning. When Vincent opened the book, he saw a handwritten note behind the cover. It was from his cousin, whom he had been avoiding for the longest time. Vincent didn’t waste any time. He called his cousin, and soon, the two of them were on their way to Victory Fort.
Seeds of God’s Word were sown in Vincent’s fertile and thirsty soul. He was prayed upon, and in no time, he underwent One 2 One. Without struggle nor doubt, he surrendered his life to Christ, the only one who has given him peace that transcends understanding.
While doing One to One, Vincent was given the opportunity to clean landline phones in an insurance company, on a weekly basis. His wages were meager compared to what he used to receive, but there was contentment and gratitude in his heart. “I knew God is my provider, it was indescribable joy,” he declares, “I knew that God was moving in my life.”
After his Victory Weekend, Vincent made up his mind to return to his cellphone repair business, acknowledging that his skill to repair cellphones was given to him by God. Without any capital, he prayed to God and asked Him for his go signal to start his business again. God answered his prayer by sending people who would help raise the business capital he needed. Before long, Vincent was able to set-up his stall again. With the help of his spiritual family, he got back in business and decided to save up for his surgical bone operation.
“The metal plates the doctors used when I got in an accident were actually the wrong plates,” he reveals, “My legs got infected.” Vincent was ready for his operation. He was just waiting for the surgeon’s schedule to be finalized.
While waiting for his operation date, something started nudging the peace he had. Vincent realized, he had been living with his longtime partner, Grace, since 2009. Wanting to set everything in his life right before God, Vincent decided to forego the much-needed operation for his legs, and decided to marry Grace. In a simple ceremony prepared by his Victory group, on the 18th of July 2015, Vincent and Grace tied the knot before God.
Seeing Vincent’s desire to please Him, God gave him a surprise. A client who brought her iPad to be repaired found out about Vincent’s need for a surgery. As he was doing the repairs, Vincent talked about Jesus. When the repair was completed, he mentioned that he was going away for a while because of his operation. His client then suggested that Vincent take a second opinion at their hospital, the Philippine Air Force Hospital. He was also offered to have his operation in the said hospital, with a better solution, at the same expense and a faster recovery period. He was endorsed by his client’s husband, a senior officer in the Philippine Air Force.
When Vincent chose to honor God by marrying Grace, Vincent’s operation became God’s concern. Truly, God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. As Vincent chooses to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness first, everything is added unto him.
Today, he shares God’s love to every customer he encounters in his stall at the Greenhills Shopping Center. He serves clients from all over the country and has continuously received excellent feedback. “For every repair or inquiry brought before me, I work at it with all my heart because I know that it is the Lord whom I’m serving.”
Today, Vincent is part of a coaching group and also leads his own Victory group. He has preached the gospel and the goodness of God to his sister, Mercy, and to his sister-in-law, Michelle. Both Mercy and Michelle attended Victory Weekend together and belong to the same Victory group.
God has truly begun a good work in Vincent. From the man who has lost everything, he is now the man who has gained everything in Christ. That, for Vincent, is more than enough.
“You keep going to these things, but you still haven’t changed!” Twenty-year old Lowell Ramos recalls these words were often hurled at him by his mother, Nanay Tarcy, whenever they had disagreements. She didn’t approve of him attending youth services at Victory Cabanatuan because of her preconceived notions about Christian culture. She also thought Lowell was just wasting his time. After all, he wasn’t exactly the epitome of obedience. His mother knew that he spent time drinking and cutting classes to hang out with his friends. He lived by his rules alone, and had no regard for discipline and responsibilities.
For Lowell, however, that’s all part of his past. Ever since he attended a youth service after being invited by a friend, his life drastically changed. “After the service, I was invited to attend a life group,” Lowell narrates. “Someone asked me if I wanted to do ONE 2 ONE, and I knew that I needed it, so I said yes.”
It was during ONE 2 ONE when Lowell encountered Jesus, and all his questions about his purpose and direction were finally answered. While consistently attending Victory group meetings, he learned more about God’s word and promises.
He also learned how to handle persecution at home. Being the only Christian in their family, Lowell wanted nothing more but salvation for all his family members. “That had always been my cry to God,” he reveals, “But my family knew about my past, so I understand why it was hard for them to believe me,” he shares.
There were times he was tempted to give up, especially when his faith would become the cause of their disputes at home. He was also challenged to debates, but he kept quiet, because he knew it wasn’t the best way to engage them. “I just continued praying for them, especially Nanay,” Lowell says, “I know I am Christ’s ambassador–outside, and especially at home.”
Eventually, Lowell started leading other people to ONE 2 ONE. He also started his own Victory group, composed of fellow college students from his school, Wesleyan University. Last May 2015, he was also given the opportunity to join a Ten Days mission trip to Thailand. With all these positive changes happening in his life, Lowell wanted nothing more than to share it with his family. He didn’t stop, literally praying over his family while they slept.
God knew the desires of Lowell’s heart because last January, after prayer and fasting week, Nanay Tarcy finally asked him about Victory. “She was curious why I spend a lot of time there,” he shares, “So I told her about my ministry. I told her my testimony, how God changed me.” Lowell mustered the courage and asked his mother to join him at the worship service the following Sunday. To his surprise, she said yes.
>That day at the worship service, after Lowell prayed for her for nearly four years, Nanay Tarcy received Jesus as her Lord and Savior. “I was overwhelmed with joy!” Lowell exclaims, “At the start of the year, I dared to believe God for the salvation of my mother, and now a week after prayer and fasting, He answers it!”
The Sunday worship service became a regular routine for both mother and son. They praised God together, sang worship songs together, and also studied God’s word together. Today, Nanay Tarcy is now part of a Victory group and is being discipled through One 2 One. From someone who used to persecute him, she is now Lowell’s biggest supporter as he disciples other people and lead them to Christ.
Last mid-year prayer and fasting week, she and Lowell dared to believe God together for the salvation of the rest of their family. “God’s grace extends beyond you. It extends to your family, too!” Lowell says when asked what God has revealed to Him through this experience. He continues to pray for the salvation of the rest of his family. This time, he has Nanay Tarcy by his side and together, they’re daring to believe God for more.
Twenty-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.
It 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.
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!
University student Gellay Frogosa endured criticism from her family when first she preached the gospel to them. Despite that, we can truly know and believe that nothing is impossible with God! Learn how God turned her situation around in this testimony.
After I became a Christian in 2012, I’d wanted my family to get to know Jesus like I did. At the time, both my parents worked abroad, while my siblings and I studied in Manila. When I began to regularly go to church, my family strongly and constantly discouraged me from doing so. I received a lot of criticism from them, and I knew that they were questioning my decision to attend church and be discipled. After all, they knew me—they were familiar with my bad habits and attitudes.
Despite this, I continued in my relationship with God. I began praying for them as well, and God answered my prayers one by one. Shortly after I started ONE 2 ONE in 2012, my sister joined me in attending services every Sunday. She also started asking about my newfound faith. I invited her to Ignite 2013, and from then on, she began to grow in her relationship with God.
Because my parents were abroad, it was a challenge to share the gospel to them. In December 2014, we were able to visit them, and I shared the gospel with and prayed for my dad. Now, my father was my strongest persecutor, if one could say that; he constantly questioned my faith. Eventually, he received Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and he and my mom began to attend an Every Nation church in the country where they work. I’m so excited to share with you that, since then, they’ve attended Victory Weekend, and are now on their way to leading a Victory group there, too!
I cannot ever claim credit for all that God has done in me and in my family. God has changed not just my life, but the lives of my family! Truly, we can trust God’s promises! After all, He did say that when we believe in the Lord Jesus, we are saved—and our entire household as well.
The Bible encourages each of us not to let anyone look down on us because we are young, but to set an example “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” University student Anthony Beltran believed God for the salvation of his family. Read more to discover how God answered his prayer.
Before I had a relationship with Jesus, I had many different kinds of relationships with different groups of people. I desperately wanted to belong. That’s because I wanted to look for a group of people I could call a family.
I wasn’t close to my family at all. My siblings and I were insecure, and so, because we envied each other, we often fought and competed against one another. My dad and I hardly talked. Sure, my mom took care of us, but there was still something lacking. I guess you could say there was an uncomfortable tension in our family.
One day, a cousin invited my siblings and me to youth service in Victory Malate. It was at a series called “Weird Love,” and I instantly liked it there because I didn’t think such a place existed. Being a musician, I really enjoyed the music they played, plus I learned something new about God. That’s where everything started, basically.
I got invited to a Victory group. I got discipled. I volunteered in the Music ministry. I met new friends who were a good influence to me. God put me in a really good place, and my life began to change. It was not my doing at all, but His.
All this time, I was praying for my family members. I held on to God’s promise in Hebrews 11:1 that says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” I knew God would save my entire family. I trusted He would fulfill this promise, and did not give up in praying for them.
After much prayer and persistent invitations, my parents joined my siblings and me at church. They were eventually plugged into a Victory group, and were both water baptized last May.
We’re not just active churchgoers now. From being insecure and competitive against each other, my siblings and I are now more open with each other. My dad and I talk now, and we talk about God’s Word. There’s so much more joy in my mom, too. Because of Jesus, the tensions in our home have dissolved. And we know that He is at the center of our family.
It is by faith that Jesus saved me, transformed me, gave me a spiritual family, and now saved my family. It’s not the things I did or even how faithful I was. It’s all Him. And truly, there is nothing impossible with God.