Let the Little Children Come

Let the Little Children Come

God is calling everyone to know Him and have a personal relationship with Him—and children are never too young for it. Here is a story of a family who allowed God to use them to reach out to the kids in their neighborhood.

 

I have been a Kids Church teacher here in Iloilo for three years now. When the enhanced community quarantine was implemented, God placed a burden in my heart to continue ministering to children. Even if they don’t say it, I feel that they can sense the uncertainty brought by the pandemic and it affects them in some way, so I started praying about it.

One day, I saw my neighbor’s daughter and thought of inviting her to listen to our online Kids church story for that weekend. Since our garage is just beside their garden, she can comfortably listen to the story while I play the video from there. It seemed like an ideal setup for us, but God had a better plan.

When Sunday came, which was Mother’s Day, I was surprised to see our neighbor’s shy, four-year-old daughter approach our garage, along with her two cousins. Seeing God draw these kids to Him in our garage was the best Mother’s Day gift ever. They came the following Sunday, too. To ensure their safety, we made sure they kept their distance from each other and wore masks. As the quarantine guidelines have eased, we now have a few more children in what we’ve fondly dubbed as “Garage Kids Church.” Recently, the subdivision’s administrative personnel even let us use the clubhouse for the succeeding classes.

The excitement we see in the faces of the kids gives us so much joy every weekend. We are thankful for the online videos and craft tutorials that our Kids Church staff in Manila have been consistently preparing for them. Seeing the kids look forward to every class simply warms our hearts. Most of them are actually more excited now to have their own Bibles than to receive treats from us! They may be young, but we know that God will use them to make an impact on the generations to come.

Though my family, including my husband and three children, has been actively volunteering in Kids Church prior to the outbreak, it never really occurred to us that God could use us to bring Kids Church in our village—especially in a time like this. Truly, God can use anyone. My husband and I are not educators and our children are relatively young, but it is humbling to see His grace at work in our lives so we can do what He has called us to do.

As we serve, we can see God’s hand at work not just in the hearts of the children we minister to, but even in our lives. Serving this way became a family bonding for all of us. Our 12-year-old, 14-year-old, and 22-year-old help us prepare the crafts, welcome the kids, and work on the technical setup, while my husband and I engage the kids and preach the word. Doing Kids Church is like moving our entire home to the clubhouse every weekend, but it has also been an amazing family experience with God.

We do not know how long God will allow us to continue doing this, but we are in faith that whatever happens, the seeds He is planting in the hearts of the children—and even in their parents and guardians—will accomplish His purpose in His time. The world may be on lockdown, but God’s word will never be locked down.

When discouragements come, we remind ourselves of the word during the second day of the midyear fast: We have access to His grace, and He can use us wherever He places us. We know that we can continue being faithful to His call because He will always make a way for us to reach out—to our family members, neighbors, and friends. We don’t have to look far; we just have to open our hearts to God. He is not looking for the best or the most skilled people. He is looking for hearts that are yielded to Him and ready to serve.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 2 Peter 4:10

 

Janet dela Cena and her family are Kids Church volunteers in Victory Iloilo; she and her husband are leading a Victory group. 

Even if there are only a few active coronavirus cases in Iloilo, they still limit the number of attendees and strictly follow COVID-19 protocols for everyone’s safety.

Grace That Abounds

Grace That Abounds

Falling ill in a time of crisis is tough. But God’s grace is more than sufficient to meet the challenges we face. Here is a story of a mother who battled a tumor during the pandemic—and got an answered prayer even before the midyear fast.

 

In December of last year, I noticed a lump in the lower right part of my abdomen. When I went to the doctor to have it checked, I was told that it was nothing to worry about. He assured me that it would eventually be resolved on its own, but it didn’t. After five months, the lump grew and tripled in size. It continued to grow and became painful over time.

I was advised to consult a surgical oncologist, but because of the pandemic, most doctors could only accommodate online consultations at that time. I had no choice but to endure the pain at home and wait. Being sick in a time of crisis was hard.

When our city transitioned to the general community quarantine, I finally had the chance to have it checked and go through a series of tests. To see its extent, I was told that I needed to go through surgery as soon as possible—but it wouldn’t be easy. It would be a complicated operation with no assurance of a good outcome. Knowing the risks involved and the possible cost of the operation, the whole ordeal became a test of faith for us.

Though it was hard to look for a surgeon who is capable of doing a critical procedure, we saw how God moved in our situation. Through the help of my obstetrician, who is also a Christian, I got connected to a doctor who made the operation possible last month.

Because of the nature of the surgery, which required a huge part of my abdomen and surrounding tissues to be removed, we knew it would cost a lot and could even exceed the amount quoted to us. Our insurance coverage had already been exhausted, and we didn’t have the resources to cover the bill—but God, once again, proved that His grace abounds.

Though we weren’t able to get the financial assistance we were hoping to get from charity agencies, offers of help from our relatives and friends poured in. The doctor who performed the surgery unexpectedly gave us a significant discount, too; though we overstayed for a few days, we still ended up paying less than half of the operation’s total cost. We were overwhelmed and amazed at how God provided for us.

The surgery was successful, and I was grateful to be alive, but while waiting for my biopsy results at home, I felt the operation’s impact on my day-to-day life as a full-time mom to my two kids. My eldest is a seven-year-old boy with special needs, while my youngest just turned four. Knowing that I could no longer carry them or take care of them like I used to broke my heart each day. It was painful and hard, but it also strengthened my faith. It made me appreciate the little things in life.

I realized that the simple things that I used to take for granted—like getting up from bed, coughing, sneezing, or laughing without being in so much pain—are actually a blessing. Even the work-from-home arrangement which allows my husband to stay home and be with me is a huge favor from God. Knowing that my family is safe and not battling a disease is already proof of His protection and grace. And that gives me comfort every day.

Just this month, a few days before our midyear prayer and fasting, God already answered my prayer. My biopsy results showed that the tumor was benign, so there was no need for me to go through chemotherapy. My oncologist was so happy to share this good news with me, and we were overjoyed. I cried for an entire day, grateful that the Lord had spared me from cancer and further treatments that could have made it all the more difficult.

Because of what happened, my perspective on so many things has changed. I’ve always known that life is short, but now it’s different. It makes each day special and each moment precious. It will be a long journey of healing for sure, but I find comfort in knowing that God had already seen me on that hospital bed even before He created me and knew the ending way before it happened. I know that He is faithful no matter what—and His grace will always be sufficient.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

Diane Angelica Tolentino is one of our Kids Church volunteers; she and her husband are part of Victory Fort.

Take Heart

Take Heart

There is power in prayer, even for situations that seem beyond our control. Here is a breakthrough story from our midyear prayer and fasting week about a woman who never stopped believing that God is at work in her family.


My brother fell into substance abuse when he was 16 years old. Since then, there was a radical change in his behavior.

For the past eight years, he was in and out of rehab, trying different treatment programs. During those years, he would unknowingly cause trouble in the family and say hurtful things to us. It filled us with so much pain, anger, frustration, and hopelessness. As the only Christian in my family, though I never stopped praying for him, it was beyond difficult to deal with everything and see his life wasting away because of drugs.

In November 2019, my brother was discharged from the latest rehab facility where he had spent a year for treatment. When he was sent back home, we thought he would be okay, and we could all have a fresh start. But last month, something happened again. And that incident caused so much pain to us, especially to our mother.

Though I had never really confronted my brother for anything he did in the past, at that moment I felt God nudging me to finally talk to him. I had gotten used to praying silently for him and for our family’s situation, but on that day, it was different. I sensed a strong leading from God to actively reach out.

When I talked to my brother, I found out that it was only in May of this year that he had finally quit—and the physical and psychological effects of that decision were taking a toll on him. His addiction had lingering effects that continued to manifest, even though he was trying his best to rebuild his life and start over.

The whole time I was listening to him, I was also praying and seeking God for wisdom. God’s grace gave me the courage to ask my brother if he wanted to talk to a pastor and seek professional help. I thought he would say no, so I was really surprised when he said yes. I knew it was God working in his heart.

After that conversation in June, I fasted and sought God in prayer. Soon, my brother talked to one of our pastors in Victory Fort, and just this week—on the first day of our midyear fast—he consulted a psychiatrist, too.

There have been a lot of changes in my brother’s behavior since then. He used to lock himself in his room for days and not talk to anyone; now, he’s beginning to warm up to his friends again. It is my prayer to see him surrender his life to Christ someday, and I know that I just need to keep trusting God. He has His way of dealing with our hearts in His own perfect time. Witnessing the change in my brother now is already a miracle and an answered prayer.

Seeing how God is moving in my brother’s life, I am in faith that there is also hope for those who may be going through the same thing. God is close to the brokenhearted, and there’s no limit to what He can do. We can’t give up praying for those who need God, relying on His grace as we patiently wait. God never gave up on us; let us not give up on our loved ones.

Be strong and courageous. . . . for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

 

Ana is part of Victory Fort. To maintain their privacy, we have not included a photo of Ana’s family. 

Waiting on God

Waiting on God

Have you been praying about a situation in your life and waiting for a breakthrough? May this story about God’s beautiful timing encourage you as you prepare for the fast and continue to seek God. 

 

Cyril and I got married in 2015. Since then, we had been looking forward to adding a little version of him and me into our family. We prayed and continued to wait, believing it wouldn’t take that long. But when months had passed and nothing had happened, we began to wonder if something was wrong.

In that same year, we went to a doctor and found out that I had an endometrial cyst. At that time, it was still small in size. The doctor told us that it was nothing to worry about, and we could keep trying. We tried and waited again—for weeks, months, and years. Until it slowly took a toll on us and drained our hope.

Though we never lost faith, frustration kept building up each month. We thought that maybe, God had other plans for us. We began to talk to different couples who were also waiting for a child and sought their advice. Most of them were waiting longer than we did, and they somehow helped us see things in a different light. They encouraged us to continue seeking God.

We started to regularly participate in our time of prayer and fasting with the same faith goal every year. And though each year was difficult and full of tears, God’s grace was there to sustain us.

Last year, we finally had the courage to go back to the hospital and seek medical advice again. On that same day, we found out from a specialist that my endometrial cyst had grown to eight centimeters. The size was worrisome, and it couldn’t be ignored anymore. The doctor suggested that I undergo surgery as soon as possible.

Deciding to go through surgery was difficult for me. It uncovered fears I didn’t know existed. It was a battle that I had to surrender to God. On the day of the surgery, I couldn’t think of anything else but my relationship with Him. It made me realize that He is far more important than all the things I had been wanting or praying for in my life.

After the surgery, God slowly unfolded so many things to us. He also overwhelmed us, not just with His grace but even with His provision. A lot of people came unexpectedly to bless and help us financially. We left the hospital without a tinge of worry.

During my follow up consultation, the doctor put me on medication and told me that if conceiving would still be a challenge after a few months, I could go to an infertility clinic specializing in assisted reproductive technology. Knowing that we couldn’t afford the said process, we prayed to God and trusted that His will for us—whatever it might be—would still be the best.

While waiting, God continued to deal not just with my heart but even with my husband’s. I didn’t realize that his experience of growing up in a fatherless home made him doubt if he was capable of being a father and raising a child. Though our journey of waiting wasn’t easy, I was grateful because, through it, God revealed so many things to us and made our relationship stronger and centered on Him alone.

With everything that we had gone through, I knew that the possibility of conceiving without medical intervention was slim. That’s why even when my monthly period got delayed for a few days last April, I was a bit hesitant to do a pregnancy test. Though a part of me was hopeful and full of faith, a big part was also afraid that the results would end up being similar to the ones we previously had. As I was waiting for the lines to appear on the pregnancy test kit, I slowly welled up in tears. I didn’t see a single line this time—I saw two clear lines, which meant that I’m pregnant.

I hurriedly showed the results to my husband, and we ended up crying with so much awe and gratitude. That time, all I could hear was God saying to me that He was writing a different story for us—a story that was far more beautiful than what we had in mind.

Now, I am 14 weeks pregnant, and everything is right on track based on my latest ultrasound. As we wait for our little miracle, my husband and I are continuously holding on to God and His grace. We know that we can trust Him fully as He weaves every tiny part of His precious gift to our marriage.

But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands . . . Psalm 31:14,15

 

Tiffany Xyra Valdez is leading a singles Victory group in Victory Greenhills. Like Tiffany, her husband Cyril, is also helping young men know God more by going through ONE 2 ONE with them.

When God Makes a Promise

When God Makes a Promise

Even in this time of crisis, God is faithful to fulfill His promise. No matter how impossible our prayers may seem, His grace and love for us will always see us through. As we continue to prepare for the midyear fast, here is a powerful story of salvation and healing. 

 

I had been praying for my parents’ salvation for two straight years. It was my faith goal in the 2020 January prayer and fasting. I had always dreamed of seeing them experience God like never before, just like how I did when I came to know Him through my husband.

Knowing God is a gift, and having the chance to worship Him along with my husband and four children is a blessing that I had always hoped to share with my parents. It seemed impossible at that time, but I kept on praying and believing that someday, they would see God’s hand at work in their lives. I also held on to a promise and a vision that God had impressed in my heart in one of our conferences in church. I knew He would come through for us.

In March, my father had a stroke. It was his second stroke in five years. In April, it was followed by yet another one—his third, which could have been fatal. After that episode, I felt God nudging me to have the courage to preach the gospel to my parents, especially to my father.

On the day I was scheduled to visit my father in the hospital, I prayed and sought God for wisdom. I was uneasy and afraid of what his reaction would be—and even hesitated at the last moment—but God kept me strong. Though I doubted myself, God faithfully gave me the courage and grace to share His word.

As early as six in the morning, I was already in my father’s hospital room. I talked to him and asked him to join me in our online morning worship and prayer. After that, I preached the gospel to Him and we prayed the prayer of salvation. Before I knew it, he was already in tears. He asked God for forgiveness and received Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Seeing him come to God brought indescribable joy and gratitude in my heart.

Because of my father’s newfound relationship with God, he grew stronger every day—not just spiritually, but also physically. Even though it was already his third stroke, there was never a need for him to be transferred to the intensive care unit. He slowly regained his strength and is currently on his way to full recovery. Even his doctors and therapists could hardly believe that he escaped a fatal stroke.

What happened to my father somehow led my mother to come to God and know Him in a deeper way as well. She began attending online worship services with us and soon gave her life to Christ. My long-ago dream of seeing my entire family—not just my husband and kids, but even my parents—worship God has finally happened because of God’s grace. Truly, there is nothing impossible with Him!

My father’s healing from his sickness is unexplainable, but his and my mother’s newfound relationship with God is an even greater miracle. We know that God has a purpose for everything and my parents believe that my father’s second chance at life is a gift that he can use to know God more and worship Him.

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

 

Anna Leah Valerio is one of our Victory group leaders in Victory Meycauayan. She, her parents, husband, and four children are continually growing in their walk with God.

Grace That Heals

Grace That Heals

Sometimes, God heals in ways we don’t expect. As we prepare for the midyear fast, let us be encouraged and inspired by this amazing testimony of God’s healing, faithfulness, and grace.

 

My husband and I got married in 2017. I got pregnant a year later but had an early miscarriage. We prayed for a baby, and in 2019, I learned that I was pregnant again. We were so happy, and everything was going well with my pregnancy—until I reached my sixth month. As I entered my third trimester, I developed pregnancy-induced hypertension that eventually led to preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure.

According to my doctor, my condition could cause serious health problems to me and my baby, and it could be fatal. I was immediately admitted to the hospital during our 2019 midyear prayer and fasting for an emergency delivery via C-section. My baby was only 29 weeks old at that time.

I stayed in the hospital for a week, while my daughter, Quinn, stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for four months. Though I visited her every day, each moment that she was there broke my heart. Seeing her grow but experience different complications brought me through a roller-coaster ride of emotions.

While in the NICU, Quinn developed mild pneumonia and had a bacterial infection. She also had anemia, which meant that she needed a total of seven blood transfusions throughout her hospitalization. Though she managed to overcome those, she later developed an inguinal hernia, which left an internal opening on both sides of her groin. According to her doctor, this type of hernia does not close spontaneously. She needed to undergo surgery once her weight reached 2.5 kilograms to prevent her internal organs from being dislodged.

Though difficult, it was a blessing that we received so much encouragement from Quinn’s doctor despite her condition. I remained hopeful amid everything that was happening and eventually built relationships with the other moms and doctors in that unit. We would pray together each day and be reminded of how mindful God is to us. Even in the area of finances, God also miraculously provided for us. He used our families and the people in our church community to help us with our running bill, which we had to pay on a weekly basis.

When Quinn was finally discharged from the hospital in November 2019, we sought God for wisdom. After seeking Him in prayer for weeks, we made a decision to let her go through the operation once she reached the required weight. It was one of our faith goals in the 2020 January prayer and fasting. We prayed for provision and a successful operation—but we also never stopped believing God for miraculous healing.

On the third day of our prayer and fasting week, something unexplainable happened. I found comfort and reassurance from God that He would heal Quinn. I was so overwhelmed at that moment; I cried and trusted God as I believed for my daughter’s healing. And though it didn’t happen right away, I didn’t doubt God and continued to hope and believe in what He impressed in my heart.

Months passed by, and Quinn slowly gained weight. When her weight exceeded 2.5 kilograms, we knew that it was time for her to go through surgery, but something in me was telling me otherwise. I knew that God could use the operation to heal her completely, but a part of me was also in faith that she didn’t need to go through it anymore.

In the weeks that followed, it seemed as if the lumps that used to be in her groin were no longer there. In March, we were planning to have her checked, but the enhanced community quarantine was implemented, so there was nothing we could do but wait. While waiting, I struggled to fight the lies in my head as I continued to hold on to God’s promise. I constantly reminded myself of His amazing grace through the lyrics of the song that I always sang to Quinn in the NICU:

The Lord has promised good to me. His word my hope secures. 
He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.

Finally, on June 13, 2020, we went to the doctor for Quinn’s checkup and immunization. The lumps that served as physical manifestations of the openings in her groin were completely gone! Even the doctor was surprised when she confirmed that Quinn no longer needed surgery. She had been healed—completely!

What happened to Quinn was a miracle that we knew we had to share. It was something that seemed impossible, but God proved Himself faithful. Her name, Quinn Gabrielle, which means “wisdom” and “God is our strength,” holds true. God has given us wisdom to wait and the strength to endure everything we have gone through. It was His amazing grace that was with us all throughout. And it will continue to be with us as we believe God for His beautiful plans to unfold, for Quinn and our entire family.

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

God is able to answer our prayers beyond what we ask or think. As we prepare for the midyear fast on July 7–9, let us all hold fast to His grace and be expectant.

 

Chams Pagulayan-Malana is one of our campus missionaries in Victory Malate. She and her husband continue to rely on God’s amazing grace as they raise their beautiful daughter, Quinn.

There’s Always Hope in God

There’s Always Hope in God

God can always turn a hopeless situation around. He can always bring hope in every circumstance.

 

Our family used to run a small contractor business. In 2014, we failed to get the payment for the projects we handled, so the business went bankrupt. It took a hard toll on us. We felt hopeless and at the end of our rope. We didn’t know what to do.

At that time, my husband wasn’t a Christian yet. But somehow, because of what happened, I got the chance to invite him to our worship services. I was pregnant then, so when it became hard for me to walk and leave the house, I didn’t expect him to continue attending without me. To my surprise, he continued to join every week. Little did I know that in the midst of what our family was going through, God’s Word was already working powerfully in his heart.

In one of the services, my husband received Jesus in his life and started joining a Victory group. It was amazing to see him experience God’s love like never before. Having a deeper knowledge of God increased his faith, and seeing his faith in God strengthened mine.

Later on, by God’s grace, my husband landed a job in an international construction company. It was an opportunity we never expected. Slowly, it helped us get back on our feet and pay our debts little by little. Though we are still paying our debts until now, we are grateful for the grace of God that kept our marriage strong despite the trying situation we faced.

We are thankful to God for turning our situation around and more than grateful for the hope that my husband found in Christ. God’s love and grace displayed in our lives will always be more than enough.

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

There’s no situation beyond God’s grace. He can turn every hopeless situation into a powerful testimony; His Word will always minister to us and give us hope.

 

Rowena and her husband serve in our church in Valenzuela and lead a Victory group for couples.

If you have stories to share, please email them to stories@victory.org.ph or send them through the Victory app!

Found

Found

When faced with loss, we can get lost in our pain, too. But God’s grace is real. It can find us in the most difficult situation and bring us back to Him.

 

My first boyfriend passed away five years ago. He had been diagnosed with leukemia just a week before he died. We had been together for almost four years: we spent a lot of time together in college, experienced so many things, and built dreams together. His death didn’t make sense to me.

For years, I kept asking God why it happened. I grew up in a Christian family, but the pain of his death made my heart fragile and vulnerable to things that were not pleasing to God. I was easily swayed to do things that I thought would ease the pain. I put my pain above everything else.

I tried everything to forget that he was gone. I went clubbing and tried meeting different people just to fill the gap, but the void was too deep. No matter what I did, I couldn’t bury the memory of his death.

Until God’s grace came through.

After graduating from college, I was assigned to a job in Pangasinan. One of my workmates connected me to Victory Alaminos, where I met people from the singles ministry and became part of a Victory group. Slowly, I began to experience God’s grace and amazing love through the people I met in church. They helped me heal and realize how much I had been wasting my life.

As I continued to heal, not just emotionally but even spiritually, God brought me to a new place. I was assigned to a job in Cavite, where I immediately found a family in our church in General Mariano Alvarez. I became actively involved in the music ministry and grew further in my faith.

In January 2018, I participated in our annual prayer and fasting week for the first time. In one of the meetings, God placed a desire in my heart for a relationship that is centered on Him alone—not on the love that I am willing to give and expecting to receive. He made me realize that I could only be whole and complete in Him, so I prayed for a relationship that would honor Him and put His love above everything.

A few months later, one of my good friends, who is a Kids Church volunteer, expressed his desire to know me more. I learned later on that he had been praying for me and intentionally building a relationship with me. It seemed that God had been preparing his heart all this time while also healing mine. It was such a sweet surprise from God.

After several months of praying and seeking God, he finally asked me, not just to be his girlfriend, but to be his wife, too! We are now engaged and preparing for our wedding this year.

It was amazing how love found me again, but it was nothing compared to how God’s love and grace rescued me at a time when I thought I was beyond help. Indeed, only His grace can heal the deepest wounds in our hearts and fill the broken cracks.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. Isaiah 43:1

 

Hanna is part of Victory General Mariano Alvarez and serves in the music ministry. She is continually seeking God and growing in faith as she prepares for her next season.

If you have stories to share, please email them to stories@victory.org.ph or send them through the Victory app!

Grace Changes Everything Series

Grace Changes Everything Series

The grace of God can change not only a person but also an entire community. In this series, we will look at how an encounter with Jesus—even in the most broken situations—transforms a life and impacts a community.

Here are the topics for each week:

  • Week 1: Jesus Raises the Widow’s Son
  • Week 2: Jesus Forgives the Sinful Woman
  • Week 3: Jesus Heals the Blind Beggar
  • Week 4: Jesus Changes Zacchaeus’s Heart

May the grace of God and the power of the gospel transform our lives and our communities!

See you at our worship services across the Philippines!

More Like You

More Like You

Who do we look up to and aspire to become? In this article, Elmo recounts how God gave him the grace to follow Him and be molded into His image day by day.

 

I grew up in Tondo, Manila with my family. Unlike most kids, I was introduced to smoking, drinking, gambling, and other illegal activities at a very young age. Seeing people being consumed by vices became a normal thing for me. I saw it every day while growing up.

Aside from doing things that I saw being done by the people around me, I also started putting so much value on material things. I thought those things could make me secure and happy. I thought my image depended on the things I possessed.

When I reached college, a friend invited me to attend a worship service at Victory Katipunan. I didn’t know why, but for some reason, I kept going with him. I started attending weekly, until I became really interested to know God more. All along, I was unaware that deep down inside, I was actually seeking God—there was a void in my heart that no vice or any material thing could fill.

After a few months of attending our worship services, I accepted Jesus in my life and got connected to Victory Malate. I joined a Victory group, finished ONE 2 ONE, and went through Victory Weekend. I also started serving every Sunday as a volunteer in our church, but for some reason, I knew a part of me was still struggling in my relationship with the Lord.

In 2017, I got an offer to work in UAE. Just a month after I arrived, I received a call from my mother. It was the worst phone call ever. My father was dying, and he didn’t have much time left. That news broke my heart and knocked some sense into me. I prayed and cried out to God like a son pouring out his emotions to his father. For the first time, I surrendered everything to Him. And it was during that time that I became really serious with my relationship with Christ and received Him not just as my Savior but as Lord of my life.

Though I lost my father just a few days after I fully surrendered my life to Christ, God gave me the peace and grace to accept his passing. I may have lost my earthly father, but I gained a heavenly Father who will stay until the end.

God’s love filled my heart like no other vice or material thing ever could. His love inspired me to walk in His love and be like Him in every aspect. And there’s nothing like it. Nothing compares to being able to reflect Him in the way I live my life. There’s nothing I desire now but to be more like Him every passing day.

Now, I am part of our Every Nation church in Abu Dhabi. And I am blessed to be a witness of how more and more people are coming to know Christ and desiring to be more like Him in this part of the world.

 

The world will offer us so many things that will influence us on how we should live our lives and whose image we should try to imitate. But nothing comes close to a life lived according to God’s plan. Nothing comes close to a life lived for Him and a life that reflects His image.

No Sin Too Great

No Sin Too Great

No one is exempted from God’s grace. There is no sin too great that God cannot forgive. Deo’s story of redemption, from a seemingly hopeless situation, shows that God has the power to rescue and deliver us from whatever is holding us captive.

 

I am a former drug user.

And I am not proud of that. But I am proud of how God extended His mercy and grace to me—regardless of who I was and what I had done.

I actually prayed to receive Christ as my Lord and Savior several decades ago, but my journey with Him was never a straight line; it was a crooked one. Most of the time, it was because I chose to wander off to somewhere far. I intentionally walked away from Him.

I started taking drugs when I was in college. I wanted to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance. I thought it was normal. I thought it was exactly what I needed. I held on to it like a security blanket, thinking it would never fail me. But it did. It had been, in fact, failing me right from the very start.

Drowned in my addiction, I would always brush aside thoughts that were trying to convict me of my sin. It came to a point where I was no longer just dishonoring God with my body; I was dishonoring Him in all aspects of my life. I entered a job and a business that were not pleasing to the Lord and repeatedly hurt Him with my actions. Though God kept on pulling me back on the right path, I constantly tried to wriggle out of His grasp.

Three years ago, however, something happened: my wife left me out of frustration. It felt like God was telling me, “Enough.” Conviction filled my heart; I had never felt the gravity of my sins until that very moment. To my surprise, my wife returned after seeing my willingness to repent, and she earnestly prayed for me. Through her, I had a renewed encounter with God.

Since then, God has freed me from the bondage of my addiction and replaced it with a desire to know Him more. He took away the stigma of my past and released me from any condemnation. He allowed me to come freely to Him, regardless of what I had done. I found freedom in Him.

In 2016, out of God’s overflowing mercy and grace, I started reaching out to people who had a similar past. I kept reminding them that it is never too late to go back to God—that there is hope in His grace.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. Ephesians 1:7

No matter how big or ugly our sins are, God is able and more than willing to redeem us. If we empty our hearts to Him, He can fill us with His overflowing mercy and love.

 

Deo is now serving in Victory General Mariano Alvarez. With his loving wife, he continues to minister to people who have struggled with substance abuse.

Transforming Hearts and Keeping Promises

Transforming Hearts and Keeping Promises

vcf_jam3When she was in college, Jam dela Cruz was invited by her best friend, Jhai, to a big event in Cuneta Astrodome. Clueless, she agreed to go, thinking it would be fun because Jhai would be there. The big event turned out to be Ignite 2011, and became one of the most unforgettable events of her life

“I kept seeing ‘It only takes one spark to start a fire’,” she recalls. “I remember thinking, ‘What’s the meaning of that?’ and ‘Why am I here?’ My life had no direction.”

At Ignite 2011, she saw how joy seemed to radiate from the people around her, as if they knew something she did not. It was then that she realized that, though she knew there was a God, she’d never acknowledged His presence in her life before, certainly not four years earlier, when something unexpected happened to her.

“I was a senior in high school,” she admits, “when I found out I was pregnant.”

Jam considers those days among the darkest of her life. Deeply ashamed of what happened, she lost respect for herself, thinking she had thrown her future away. Instead of turning to God for affirmation and healing, she turned to peers to fill the emptiness in her heart. One of them, a college friend named Jhai, seemed to care very deeply for her; it turns out that Jhai had been praying for her to know Christ for quite some time.

“Seeing people so passionate for God at Ignite 2011 also sparked a fire in my heart,” Jam says. “That was the moment I surrendered my life to Him.” Jam realized her worth because Christ died for her, no matter what happened in her past. God gave her the strength to forgive herself and start anew. Eventually, she was connected to a Victory group, where she was discipled and empowered to reach out to others who needed Jesus, too.

Transforming Hearts & Keeping PromisesTwo years after Ignite 2011, Jam became active in the youth ministry. Being the first Christian in their family, her heart was burdened to preach the gospel to her brothers and sisters: 20-year old Jelly, 18-year old Jill, and 15-year old Jack. She invited them to join her at church; because they had seen the positive changes in their big sister’s life, it wasn’t difficult to convince the siblings to come. Not long after they began joining her, Jam entertained the idea of inviting them to a youth camp.

“They weren’t really buying into the idea of attending a youth camp,” she recalls. “I think it may have also been because of the cost.” Having experienced refreshing and encouragement at a 2014 youth camp, Jam wanted her siblings to experience that same joy, and prayed for them, asking God to provide for even just one of them to attend.

Two years since she prayed that prayer, Jam entered a new season, getting engaged to a campus missionary; her wedding is this month. One night, she watched as Jelly, Jill and Jack walked through the doors of their family home, exhausted but excited, and full of stories from the youth camp they had just attended. Jam was dumbfounded.

vcf_jam2“It dawned on me that God has answered my prayer from two years ago,” she exclaims, “to my amazement, not just one, but all of them!” Unlike two years ago, Jam’s siblings didn’t consider the camp expense a hindrance. Together, they raised funds for all of their camp fees. God honored their faith and blessed them with what they wanted, and more. They were able to raise more than enough funds, so they gave the extra amount to other students who needed help, too.

“God changed their heart,” Jam beams, “and I’m so proud of them.”

Today, all her siblings lead their own Victory groups consisting of high school and college students–a far cry from their old life of complacency. She is reminded of Acts 16:31, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Indeed, God’s promises will come to pass, and He has already begun with Jelly, Jill, and Jack. Holding on to that same promise, Jam and her siblings believe that their parents will, one day, come to know God’s saving grace, too.

New Series: Proof

New Series: Proof

God’s grace is never without evidence in our lives. Join us for “Proof,” our four-week series on grace. At the end of this series, may each of us have a greater understanding of God’s grace and its effect in our lives—resulting in lives of purity, productivity, and generosity.

Here’s the list of weekly topics:

  • Week one: HIStory
  • Week two: Exceptional Purity
  • Week three: Extreme Productivity
  • Week four: Extravagant Generosity

A special devotional has also been created for “Proof.” This four-part series is designed to help unravel the richness of God’s grace and understand its powerful outworking in our lives — resulting in a life of exceptional purity, extreme productivity, and extravagant generosity.

Download: [Week 1]

Victory is one church meeting at different locations in Metro Manila. We also meet in several provinces across the Philippines. Join us at a Victory center nearest you. Invite your family and friends to join us, too!

See you at all our services!