Kaagapay Natin si Jesus sa Biyahe ng Buhay

Kaagapay Natin si Jesus sa Biyahe ng Buhay

Ang naganap na lockdown dahil sa COVID-19 pandemic ay labis na nakaapekto sa mga kababayan nating jeepney driver. Narito ang salaysay ng isang maybahay na pamamasada ng jeep ang pangunahing ikinabubuhay ng pamilya.

 

Isa akong dispatcher ng mga jeep sa Victory Central Mall noong 2011 nang maimbitahan ako ng kasama ko rin na dispatcher upang dumalo sa service ng Victory Caloocan. Hindi nagtagal at isinuko ko ang buhay ko kay Jesus. Malaki ang pasasalamat ko sa church dahil gumagaan ang pakiramdam ko tuwing dumadalo ako ng worship service at mas nakikilala ko ang Panginoon. Nagkaroon din ako ng maraming kaibigan. Ang asawa ko ay jeepney driver, at ngayon nga na may kinakaharap tayong lahat na malaking pagsubok, sa Diyos lang talaga kami kumakapit.

Nang magsimula ang lockdown at mawalan ng pasada ang asawa ko, hindi kami pinabayaan ng Diyos. Nagkaroon ako ng puwesto sa malapit sa amin at nakapagtinda ng almusal. Ilang linggo rin na iyon ang pinagkunan namin ng kabuhayan. Minsan may mga lumalapit na kaibigan namin na driver din at humihingi ng tulong dahil wala na silang makain. Mahirap talaga, lalo na kung malaki ‘yung pamilya at bata pa ang mga anak. Hindi mo matitiis na makita ‘yung mga anak mo na nagugutom.

Ngayon na anim na buwan na ang nakalipas at hindi pa rin bumabalik sa dati ang biyahe ng mga tao, marami sa mga kasamahan namin ang walang-wala na talaga. Wala naman kaming mga ipon at umaasa lang kami sa araw-araw na kinikita namin. Kaya naisipan ng mga driver sa grupo namin na mamalimos na sa kalsada. Isang araw, nagulat na lang ako dahil may tumawag sa ‘kin na pastor. Napansin daw niya yung mga namamalimos na driver, at doon na nga nagsimula ang plano na tulungan sila.

Noong nakaraang linggo, Setyembre 6, pinuntahan namin ang 48 na driver mula sa dalawang grupo ng mga driver dito sa Caloocan upang makapagbigay ng relief goods. Hindi lamang sila nabigyan ng makakain. Naipagdasal din sila ng mga pastor at mga volunteer. Napakalaking tulong nito para sa mga pamilyang apektado ng sitwasyon ngayon. Mahirap ang mawalan ng trabaho, pero mas mahirap ang mawalan ng pag-asa. Kaya labis ang pasasalamat naming lahat dahil ang mga ganitong tulong ay nagbibigay sa amin ng pag-asa na malalagpasan namin ang isang napakalaking pagsubok nang matiwasay.

                                    

Sa panahon ng pandemic, mahirap man o mayaman, lahat tayo ay nakararanas ng lockdown at naaapektuhan ng mga nangyayari. Para sa pamilya namin at sa iba pang mga pamilya na nasa pamamasada ng jeep ang ikinabubuhay, isa talaga itong napakahirap na sitwasyon. Kaya labis kaming nagpapasalamat sa lahat ng mga taong patuloy na tumutulong.

             

Dahil sa kanila nararamdaman namin ang pangangalaga ng Diyos at ang pagmamahal Niya sa amin at sa aming pamilya. Siya talaga ang kaagapay natin sa anumang paghihirap sa buhay. Hindi Niya tayo pababayaan.

Kayo, O Diyos ang tumutulong sa akin.

Kayo, Panginoon ang aking maaasahan.

Salmo 54:4

Si Ruby ay 55 taong gulang at aktibong tumutulong sa ushering ministry ng Victory Caloocan.

Samahan ninyo kami sa pananalangin para sa mga pamilyang labis na naapektuhan ng kawalan ng mapagkakakitaan ngayong panahon ng pandemic. Bilang isang iglesya, patuloy nating ipahayag at ipakita ang katotohanan ng ebanghelyo sa kanila.

A Crossing of Two Generations

A Crossing of Two Generations

How would you feel if you were introduced to a new officemate and the person turns out to be a former student? Here is the story of a teacher whom God used to touch the life of a student, not knowing that one day, God would use them to accomplish His work together. 

 

In 2004, I entered my first teaching job in one of the Christian schools in Zamboanga City. I remember being excited at the idea of making an impact in the lives of young people, and at the same time nervous, not knowing what awaited me. Maan was one of my students that year. Because she was a sweet and friendly young girl, I immediately became very fond of her. We would see each other in and out of school and just catch up. We would talk about what was happening in our lives and pray together.

Maan was in first year high school when she encountered God through a retreat organized by LifeBox, which is now Every Nation Campus. She surrendered her life to Christ and would have started her discipleship journey had she not been distracted by some of the cares of the world. She got disconnected from her church community and took another path. My path also took me farther away from her. I was sent by my school to Manila to pursue higher education. I left the school, but the desire to teach and be with students never left my heart.

After finishing my studies in 2014, I went back to Zamboanga to teach. To my surprise and delight, Maan was also in the same school, no longer a student but a colleague. Working with a former student seemed surreal at first, but seeing her passion and commitment to fulfill her purpose in life made me feel overjoyed and proud. I was also relieved to realize that the years apart had done nothing to weaken our relationship; it was easy to continue where we had left off. For six years, we shared our lives together and prayed for each other. We became closer as friends and co-teachers. We were so excited for this year—but then the lockdown happened.

At a time when people are saying that everything in the world seemed to have stopped moving, it became apparent that God’s power moved even more in people’s hearts. God used this lockdown to speak to Maan and draw her close to Him. She was reminded of the time she had encountered God as a university student. She started wanting more of Him in her life. By God’s grace, it did not take long for her to see the truth that God is all that she needed in the situations she was facing. She knew, without a shadow of doubt, that God was calling her back to Him.

The lockdown did not stop Maan from starting her discipleship journey. For several weeks, we met online to go though ONE 2 ONE. When we finished that, we started our Victory group. Just last Saturday, August 29, Maan participated in Victory Weekend. God is indeed transforming lives, even in the midst of this global pandemic.

As a teacher, it is a privilege to be used by God to touch the lives of the next generation. We have been given a platform to effect change that will go beyond the four walls of our classrooms. God is calling us to be present in the lives of our students and to keep planting His word in their hearts, even if it does not appear to be bearing any fruit. In God’s perfect time, He will cause these seeds to grow.

Maan has started to share the love of God to her family. She is also eager to pray for the teachers and students in our school. How God sparked her passion in the most unlikely season will never fail to amaze me. We may not always understand what He is doing, but He is definitely calling us to be part of it. Just as God has used me to reach out to the generation after me, I know He will use Maan to reach out to the generation after her.

. . . but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,

and the wonders that he has done.

Psalm 78:4

Teacher Nida is a school-based occupational therapist and Values Education teacher in a Christian school in Zamboanga. She also serves as a Victory group leader in our church there.

Fulfilling God’s Purpose

Fulfilling God’s Purpose

God is reaching out to people with His love, and nothing, not even a pandemic, can stop Him from using anyone to accomplish His will. Here is a story of a man whom God used to share the hope found in His word while he himself was battling with COVID-19. 

 

I was 42 when I retired from government service. Shortly after my retirement, I encountered God’s love. When you come face to face with the magnitude of God’s love for you and the richness of His grace and forgiveness, you know that the only proper response is to surrender and serve Him. Since then, I have been serving God in whatever way He calls me to serve. 

Last year, one of the pastors in our church challenged me to lead my own Victory group. I prayed about it and asked God to open doors for me. God answered my prayer in the most unexpected way. Sometime in October, I attended a high school reunion in one of the bars in Makati. That night, in front of the doors of the bar, I and four other men prayed for each other. One of the men suggested that we call our group MFJ (Men for Jesus) and that name has stuck with us to this day. For four months we met once a week to study God’s word and pray for one another. Then we started meeting more often. 

Sometime in March, I tested positive for COVID-19. I was one of the early cases in the country. Out of my six-week battle with the virus, the most difficult was the first ten days. While I was in isolation, struggling for every breath, I kept praying. It was a very painful and difficult time, but I had peace knowing that God was with me. He kept reminding me of how much He loves me and the truth that no hardship nor pain will ever separate me from His love. Seeing who I am in God’s eyes gave me the strength to endure. That season of pain brought me closer to God and made me experience His reality in a new way.  

By God’s sovereign will, this experience also opened doors for me to share His love to people. It was during this time when our MFJ group started growing. Ever since the lockdown, we started meeting online three times a week. Since I was in quarantine, I had time to prepare and share the word of God. Friends from all over the world started joining our group. We grew from five to more than 50. When the lockdown eased a little, I was expecting that we would meet less often. But the group wanted to keep meeting three times a week. They said that God’s word sustained them during the lockdown. It brought them peace and hope. It gave them the faith to believe for better days ahead.

I realized that in this time of pandemic, we really need to see what God is personally showing each one of us. He is reaching out to us individually and we need to listen to Him. He wants us to know Him and find joy and peace in Him in the midst of the uncertainties that are happening. Yes, we see the agony, the horror that this pandemic has brought to people’s lives. We see businesses closing and people losing their jobs and their loved ones. I personally have experienced the pain that this disease brings and the fear that comes from knowing that the breath you just took might be your last. If we are not careful, we will get persuaded by all the negativity we see and experience around us and be disheartened.

As Christians, we need to see what God is doing. We should look at everything that’s happening with eyes of faith. God has a purpose for allowing this pandemic. He is recalibrating everyone’s lives. People are looking for answers and we have to be willing and ready to share the hope we have in Him. If we allow God, nothing, not even a pandemic, can stop Him from using us to accomplish His will.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you 

that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide . . .”

John 15:16

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

Thriving in Lockdown

Thriving in Lockdown

In God, what may appear as a setback is actually a setup. He will always guide us to the right path. Here is the story of a man who realized that when God told him to give up his only means of income, He was in fact preparing him for the lockdown. 

 

Two years ago, one of my closest friends invited me to attend a Victory group meeting. Though I didn’t want to have anything to do with it, I attended eventually because he was very persistent and gave me the assurance that it’s okay to walk out at any point during the meeting. To my surprise, I enjoyed it. I did not only stay; I kept coming back. Even if my life was very different from those who were there, I felt at home with them. Through the group, I started to get to know God and His purpose for my life. The desire to live for Him started to grow in my heart. 

But I soon realized that my newfound faith was not that strong. I found it hard to give up the things I knew I had to give up to follow God. I left my job and started to work as a tattoo artist. For more than a year, I travelled to different places. It was financially rewarding, but there was no sense of fulfillment. I felt empty. I kept thinking about the time I was involved in church and how I was much happier and at peace then. After more than a year, I decided to go back to church last December. 

In February of this year, I had to face some issues regarding my job. I sought counsel from the leaders in church and prayed about it. I asked God to give me wisdom on how to respond to the situation. Somehow, I knew that the right thing to do would be to quit. If I started travelling again to go to different events and beaches all over the country, I believed I would be taking steps that would bring me far away from God. I knew that God was challenging me to trust Him and believe that He has something better for me. By God’s grace I made the difficult decision to let go of my job and trust that He will provide. A couple of weeks later, the lockdown was announced. If I had left, I would have been stranded somewhere in the country without any source of income. I was not only relieved to find out that I made the right choice; I felt secure knowing that God was guiding me and making sure that I would stay on the right path. 

I held on to God’s word that He has something better for me. Although it seemed impossible to get a job during the lockdown, I kept praying and trusting that He will lead me to it. Then one day, I just suddenly thought of tie dyeing. Although I hadn’t done this before, I thought that since God had given me a measure of creativity, I may be able to use it in this craft. I spent several weeks studying tie dyeing, and now, I can say that I have a thriving business. The orders have just kept coming in.

God did not only secure a source of income for me during this lockdown, He also made sure that I would grow in my faith. Since day one of the lockdown, my Victory group has been meeting online every morning for our group devotions. It’s helping all of us go through the challenges brought about by this pandemic. It enables us to keep our focus and hope in God. 

When God calls us to obey and trust Him, He will surely reward our obedience in ways we cannot expect. This pandemic may appear like a major setback for all of us. But just as I have experienced, I believe that if we trust and obey God, we will see that this is actually a setup. He is putting all of us in situations where we can see and experience His goodness. 

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Psalm 34:8

Criss is part of a Victory group in Victory Bulacan. He is currently being equipped as an intern and is helping in the church’s pastoral ministry. He hopes to lead a Victory group soon.