I have been a born again Christian since summer of 1979 when a friend introduced to me the Lord Jesus Christ in a new light. I knew that He was God and He was born of the Virgin Mary and that He died 2000 years ago on a cross by crucifixion.
All these, I had learned as a child from my mother and from the Catholic school I had attended. I was a good child when I was little always trying to please my mother. My father left us when I was 4 years old and my little sister was about 2 years old. I tried to study hard at school hoping to get a scholarship knowing that my mom won’t be able to send us through college.
When I was 15 however, my mother got married to a Filipino with an American citizenship and was able to migrate to the US. Left alone with my sister, we were put into custody of my uncle and his wife who have five children of their own. My mother kept sending money for our sustenance, allowances and tuition fees.
It was in college that I got influenced by my friends to try smoking, drink alcohol and smoke pot. Like the lost son, I rebelled and lived the way I pleased. Eventually, I dropped out of school. In 1979, I enrolled again and decided to reside in a dormitory. My sister, who had also dropped out of school, had left the house to be with a cult group that once came to our house and conducted lectures about mysticism.
It was on that summer night of 1979 when after a couple of beers, we were singing some folk and country songs to the accompaniment of a guitar that I was suddenly asked a question: if I were to die that night where would I spend eternity? I don’t remember who asked the question but there were four of us, Jun and his younger brother, Leland, my friend Vic and I. I had known Vic for quite some time for he was a classmate of mine.
The two brothers started to share the gospel to us with Jun talking to Vic while Leland sharing God’s love to me. That night my friend pointed out that, yes, Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world but most especially, He died for MY sins. He pointed out that the Word of God says, we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
My friend said that I could receive that gift if I wanted to. Of course, I wanted it. That’s eternal life we were talking about! But first, he said that I had to ask Jesus to come into my heart. I had to invite Him by faith to be my personal Lord and Saviour and that I had to acknowledge that I could not save myself through good works.
I didn’t find anything wrong in all of these and I found myself thirsting for God. Suddenly, I found myself longing for Him and I could sense emptiness inside me that I knew right there and then that only Jesus can fill.
We prayed the prayer of acceptance that night and since then God has been faithful. I didn’t change overnight; however, I’ve known right there and then that something within me had changed.
After attending a few worship services with the two brothers, we had to transfer to a different dormitory and we separated ways. Since we had no firm conviction at that time, Vic and I found ourselves going back to our own merry way.
It is true that God never forsakes His own. There were times that I would fall by the wayside but He always carries me back to the fold.
It’s amazing how God could easily forgive as long as we come back to Him in true repentance. Truly, our salvation does not depend on what we could do but on what Christ did for us.
In 1981, God led me to Baguio City, a mountain resort in Northern Philippines, for a summer vacation. While there, I was enjoying the cool climate and the serenity of the place which was so different from the polluted and noisy Manila. The family I was staying with was attending a church and so I was also invited to attend. I met Christians there who have strong faith in the Lord and I was attracted to them. I said to myself that I wanted that kind of faith. It was vibrant and so alive.
I attended the 1981 Summer Youth Camp and my Christian life was never the same again. I had learned how to totally surrender my life to God. The church was going to open a Bible Institute that school year and I enrolled. It was there that I grew in my spiritual life and had known the joy, the true joy, in serving Jesus.
I served as a president of the young people’s fellowship where I wrote and directed some stage plays for the church. I also taught Sunday school for adults, a worship leader and a deacon. I took up Pastoral Ministry and at the same time took a bachelor course in Mass Communication in a local university. After earning a degree in Journalism, I taught elementary and high school students in our church’s academy.
In 1993, however, I had to look for another job that would provide me a better income. By doing so, I had to relocate to Manila which is 250 miles away from my church. Finding a new church was not that easy and I drifted from one church to another until there were times I wouldn’t go to church on a Sunday. Sometimes, I would content myself in watching worship services in television. I was wandering around in the wilderness and I was so thirsty for Christian fellowship.
In the year 2001, I did find a local church wherein my family and I are now attending. It’s a small church but at least I could put myself into God’s service once again. Over time, I was designated an Assistant Pastor and from time to time would deliver the Sunday’s sermon. I’m home now at Life in His Word Church and I want to spend the rest of my life here serving God.
In the year of our Lord 2008, looking back into my life, I have no fame and fortune but what I have is the reward of eternal life through faith in Christ. What would a man profit if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? What I did many summer nights ago was the turning point in my life and God carried me through all the way!