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.

Whatever It Takes to Follow You

Whatever It Takes to Follow You

Can we boldly trust God and do whatever it takes to follow Him? Be inspired as Jill shares how God gave her the courage to live according to His plan. Here is her story.

 

I grew up with my family in Quezon. When I turned 16, my aunt asked if I could temporarily stay with her in Parañaque. My mother was working in Bahrain at that time, while my father was also in Parañaque but living in a company-owned dorm for employees.

When my parents agreed, I transferred to a high school in Parañaque and worked part-time at the salon managed by my aunt. On my first day at my new campus, I immediately noticed that the students there were quite different from the students from my old high school. I was not yet a Christian then, so I easily became curious about all the new things I got introduced to and allowed myself to indulge in them. I entered into a relationship with a girl from my class and invested so much of my emotions in it.

Three years into that relationship, I got invited by an officemate to attend a worship service in a small community church. When I attended, I felt a joy I had never experienced before. But I also felt uneasy—because I knew I was not honoring God in the way I was living my life. While knowing God, deep feelings of guilt continued to creep up within me. I tried to get away from the things that are not pleasing to the Lord, but I kept breaking my resolve.

Then God made a way. I landed a job in Makati, which prompted me to move to my older brother’s place in that city. I learned that he and his friend were attending worship services at Victory Fort, so I asked them to tag me along one day. After a year, I prayed and asked God to give me the courage to completely close the door to the things that are not from Him and to take away everything that was preventing me from following Him. I knew it wouldn’t be easy—in fact, it would be very painful—but I still made a decision to let Jesus be my Lord once and for all.

Last year, God surprised me when I unexpectedly found the courage to let go of the things that were breaking His heart. I prayed and felt a different kind of peace knowing that I had already surrendered everything to Him.

On October 26, 2018, I went through Victory Weekend and thanked God for freeing me from all my sins and for empowering me to share this testimony. I am beyond grateful to the Lord for taking me out of a situation that was full of pain and guilt and for helping me walk with Him in faith. He pulled me from a pit I thought I could no longer get out of and made me realize that nothing, indeed, is too hard for Him. He took away every condemning thought and enveloped me with His grace. I denied myself the things I thought I wanted, but ended up finding myself whole and complete in His love—and that’s all I needed.

Currently, I am part of Victory Fort’s Kids and Prayer ministries and continuously allowing God to be Lord over my life.

You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess. Deuteronomy 5:33

Following God is not easy, but it is always worth it. May we faithfully do whatever it takes to obey God and live lives according to His will and purpose every day.

Not My Plans but Yours

Not My Plans but Yours

Eduardo is a doctor who recently opened his own clinic and finished his subspecialty training. After spending half of his life training for his profession, he had been looking forward to formally starting his practice this year—but God seemed to have other plans.

 

I grew up in a Christian family. I used to tell myself before that there was no need for me to be highly involved in the ministry because I already know Christ. But, God had His ways; I was eventually connected to a Victory group in 2011 and started growing more in my walk with Him.

In 2015, I heard the pastor tell the congregation to pray for a nation. When I did, God had impressed in my heart a creative access nation in Asia. I didn’t understand and tried not to think much about it, but that prayer stayed in my heart.

I am an otorhinolaryngologist or an ENT specialist by profession. During years of toil and hardship, God would always carry me through and assure me that it was Him who brought me to where I am now. Last year, I finished my subspecialty training in plastic surgery and opened my own clinic. I was ready to reap the time and money I invested in my craft, when God, unexpectedly, started calling me to do something beyond my profession.

During one of our prayer and fasting meetings in Victory Malate this year, God placed in my heart a desire to go to the nations, particularly in a country that is deemed to be dangerous by many. But like what happened in 2015, I kept brushing aside the idea of being a missionary. I kept telling myself that maybe, God was just calling me to pray for the nations. I kept ignoring the desire He had placed in my heart.

Until one day, I talked to one of the leaders in our ministry and opened up about it. I was told that going to the mission field is a process and I should not hastily decide on it. We prayed, and after that, God revealed something to me.

While I was mulling over everything, God showed me the real condition of my heart—the real reason I didn’t want to obey His call. Unknowingly, the blessings He gave me became my priority. I was looking forward to my career and how it would impact my life and identity because I knew a lot of people were expecting big things from me this year. I didn’t want to disappoint them, so I put more weight on the provision than the Provider. I placed my security on what I could achieve.

On the last day of our prayer and fasting week this year, God assured me that He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion. He gave me peace as I focused on Him and waited for His plans to unfold. I realized that what I should really focus on is how I could serve God with all my heart—whether through my profession or through a “different mission” elsewhere.

And that’s what really matters.

Currently, I am helping a friend know God more through ONE 2 ONE, and doing it gives me a different kind of joy and fulfillment. Helping people through my profession gives me a similar feeling, but it’s different in many ways. It’s one thing to save someone from a physical death; it’s another thing to help someone be saved from an impending spiritual death. God truly changed my heart.

While I am waiting for God to send me to where He wants me to be, I resolve to continue honoring Him through what I do as a doctor and as a disciple willing to make more disciples. I am ready to obey and give up all that I have to follow Him; I will always choose His plans over mine.

We may make our plans, but God has the last word. Proverbs 16:1

God’s plans for us are always bigger and better than what we have for ourselves. Allow Him to replace our plans with His. It is hard most of the time, but following His will is always worth it in the end.

Choosing to Obey God’s Call

Choosing to Obey God’s Call

Mumar was living a good life in Italy until he and his wife were called by God to go back to the Philippines and do full-time ministry. See how Mumar obeyed God’s call and made a resolve to serve Him—no matter the cost.

 

My entire family used to live in Milan, Italy. We experienced a good life while we were there. And though we were happy because we were complete, something did not feel right. There was no peace.

Before my wife and I went to Italy, I was working as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in Dubai. While I was there, God impressed to me and my wife that He was calling me to serve in the Philippines. But instead of heeding His call, I ignored it and flew to Italy.

When I arrived in Milan, God’s call for me to serve full-time became even clearer to me and my wife. But a big part of me did not want to obey at once. I told my wife that we should continue to pray about it (even though we had been praying for it for quite a while already) and save up as much as we can for a year before going back to the country. My priority then was to save enough money for a new house and lot; obeying God’s call was the least of my priorities. I was insisting on the plans I had for my family instead of letting God’s plans be fulfilled in my life.

In 2013, my family and I finally went back to the Philippines, but we consciously set aside the real reason we came back. We stayed on our farm in Talavera and immediately started our poultry business. I thought I could get away with what I had done. But that same year, Yolanda hit our town. We lost everything we had.

We were so down at that time, but God helped us start again. We eventually managed to put up another business. And when things were going well again, I—once more—dismissed the idea of serving God full-time. In just a few months, another typhoon came, and we lost everything again. Nothing was left on our farm. It was the lowest point of our lives.

Since we did not have a place to stay anymore, my wife, who was pregnant with our second child then, looked for a temporary home for us. She eventually found one, which was owned by her elder sister. It was unfinished and there was no electricity and water, but we had very few options. That house is, coincidentally, only 300 meters away from Victory Talavera.

I knew it was God reminding me of His call. Since we transferred there, we started to attend regularly at Victory Talavera, and I became an active volunteer for a year. And though there were times when I still tried to wiggle out of the call that God had placed in my heart, I eventually surrendered and gave it all up to Him.

I made a decision to finally obey God and respond to His call.

And that’s when I realized that even though we did not have a family business or a house of our own and life was not comfortable, I could be really happy and secure. I lost everything, yet I gained everything that truly matters.

Now, I serve full-time as part of the administrative staff in our church, and I hope to be trained further. My wife serves along with me as a Kids Church teacher, and we are both grateful and fulfilled to finally be at the center of God’s will. 

Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24

There is nothing more fulfilling than letting God accomplish the plan and purpose He has for our lives. Let us allow His grace to carry us through as we trust and obey Him.

Saying “Yes” to God

Saying “Yes” to God

There are moments in life when saying “yes” to God is difficult. This powerful testimony of Jansen and his wife, Khamille, proves that following God is always worth it. Read how they chose to obey God, even if what He was asking them to do did not make sense at first.

 

I am married with two children. My wife, Khamille, just gave birth to a healthy baby girl last December 9, 2018. Though our child’s birth is a miracle and a wonderful gift from God, there was something far more special that God did in and through us before and after she was born.

In the days leading to her childbirth, my wife told me that God had impressed on her heart to give birth in a public hospital. She did not know why, but she knew in her heart that God had a plan, and she completely trusted Him.

When the time came for my wife to give birth, we rushed her to a public hospital. There were so many patients at that time, so there were no rooms available anymore. When she gave birth, a space opened up for her in a ward. There were six other patients there, so the room was a little cramped. It was a little uncomfortable for her, but my wife did not mind. While looking at the pitiful condition of all the other patients, we slowly understood why God brought us there.

One of the patients in the ward, Ate Emma, lost her baby while she was giving birth. We both felt her pain, so we took that chance to pray for her and encourage her. What she went through was not easy, but we reminded her that God is always with her, and she can seek comfort from Him anytime.

Aside from Ate Emma, we also met another patient: Louie. A blood clot formed in her brain after she fell from a motorcycle. Like what we did for Ate Emma, we prayed for Louie and preached the gospel to her.

After praying, my wife told me to give a portion of the money we prepared for her childbirth to the two women we met. I was hesitant at first since we also had bills to pay and medicines to buy for our baby, but God was very clear about what He wanted us to do.

After we agreed on helping the two women financially, I checked our bill and was so surprised to know that it was way lower than what we were expecting. Even though we already gave a big chunk of what we had to Ate Emma and Louie, we were still left with more! Knowing that it was God who made it all possible, we deemed it fitting to give them all the money that was left to us. It was a bold act of faith and gratitude.

Now, my wife and I are handling a couples Victory group at Victory Malate, and we know that God will continue to use us in every situation; we just have to make ourselves available and always say “yes” to Him.

And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 2 John 1:6

Sometimes, God asks us to do something we do not understand. It may not make sense to us right away, but we should bear in mind that He always has a plan. There is a bigger purpose for every little thing that He wants us to do. And as we obey, let us allow Him to be our Lord in every situation and in every area of our lives.

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.

Obeying God No Matter What

Obeying God No Matter What

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

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