There are many stories of men and women who came to know Christ in their darkest and most desperate moments. Some were struggling with drugs, dire poverty, prostitution, gambling, sickness or tragedy among others.
A number of stories included supernatural and miraculous events. The Apostle Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus is one of the more famous examples. While travelling towards the city to continue his persecution of Christians, Jesus Himself met him with these powerful words, “Saul, Saul why do you persecute me?”
I write these in contrast with my own story—where I was before I came to Christ and the manner by which He drew me to Himself.
From the world’s standard, we were religious and devout but tolerant to other faiths. When I was a child, we went to mass early every Sunday. I experienced serving as a sacristan, a passage reader and a commentator for our school mass. I often wrote and delivered the introduction of the religious program being among the top writers and orators of our school.
We were steeped with church traditions like the rosary, “padasal" (prayer vigils), “libot” (religious processions), “atang” (offerings), icons and the like. But interspersed with these was a mixture of superstitious and eastern beliefs in luck, astrology, and feng shui among others.
In the eyes of my teachers and classmates, I was a good student, responsible and trustworthy. My mother is a college instructor and she instilled in me the love for learning early on.
My passion for writing began when an English teacher noticed my potential. I actually owe it to my sister who, during that time, was already being trained as writer for our campus paper. I was also recruited and trained. I ended up becoming the editor-in-chief in my final years in elementary and high school.
Campus politics was also my turf. I actively joined the student government and experienced many leadership roles in the classroom and the school as a whole. During my senior year in high school, I ran and won as the Student Body president while serving as EIC for our official organ. I was also recruited in our school’s debate club and became a frontline debater, graduating with a perfect record of wins. I had to muster all my time management skills in order to juggle these extra-curricular activities with my academic load.
My life, then, revolved around my studies, contests, achievements, grades, fame and image. Even now as I remember all these, I pray to God to make me humble because all these years of praise, admiration and commendation from my friends, teachers and family made me puff with pride, conceit and selfishness. I looked highly on my self and looked down on others.
Though I was popular in school, I never noticed how my academics eroded my relationship with my parents and family. I was always busy with requirements. I studied even on weekends and rarely went out to play or hang out with friends. I would miss family reunions and gatherings to finish an essay or to review for an exam. Even if I’m physically present, I would be consumed by a book I’m reading and be very irritable.
I never realized this because I thought the honor I’m giving my father and mother was enough. In my heart I felt that by doing my best in school, I would be repaying them for their love and sacrifices to give me good education. Though I was a writer, I wasn’t expressive with my family. Statements like “I love you,” “Thank you,” “I miss you,” and “Take care” were rarely heard in our home.
But even during this time, I had some doubts on what we were being taught, especially on the worship of images and statues. This was compounded by my discovery that the 10 Commandments I knew actually lacked one when compared to what is written the Bible (Exodus 20:1-17). Incidentally, the missing commandment had to do with worshipping idols and statues.
I kept this doubt to my self and never really gave it a thought.
Though I was immersed in my academic pursuit, I could remember how God allowed a girl to break my heart to get me interested in the Catholic group, “Youth for Christ.” I was looking for activities to divert my attention when a long-time friend invited me to one of their camps. Though I never heard the Good News during the camp, I still praise God because looking back, it was during this camp that I was introduced to contemporary Christian songs. It was my first time to hear the music of Hillsong and I grew fond of them. This became a bridge for my future involvement with Christian groups in college.
I took the UPCAT and passed. I entered the University of the Philippines Diliman where I took up BA Journalism. It was during college when I heard the Good News of Salvation, but it took time before I accepted Jesus as personal Lord and Savior.
My older sister also passed UPCAT, and unknown to me, she heard the Gospel and placed her faith in Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior. Long before I entered UP, she had asked her friends and church-mates to pray for my salvation. She was very persistent and invited me often to join a fellowship while I was still in the Kalayaan Residence Hall.
At first I was reluctant to join any event because I thought my sister got involved in some weird, “cultic” religion in UP. In fact, the first time she shared the Good News of Jesus to me, we ended up debating. I could not accept that the salvation of my soul was by grace through faith in Jesus alone and not by the good things I have done. At the same time I didn’t want to be involved in any of their activities for fear of expulsion from YFC.
My sister did not give up on me. During the first meeting of the Kalayaan Christian Fellowship, she invited me to join. She told me that if I felt like leaving anytime during the fellowship, I could approach her and she would accompany me back to the dorm. I was really reluctant to join but because I could not come up with a fool-proof alibi, I decided to just give it a try.
I attended the fellowship and the first thing that struck me was the praise and worship. I was attracted to the songs and the manner of worship. I thought to myself, “It wasn’t too bad after all. At least I get to enjoy the songs.”
I also listened to the message and even took down notes. For the first few meetings, however, I felt like nothing was different with the teachings. They prayed to the same God, preached the same Jesus and did not attack the teachings of the Catholic Church. Slowly I felt comfortable with the group and kept coming back to join in the singing and to listen to the preaching.
However, I was absent on the night when the fellowship discussed how one can become a Christian, so I once more failed to understand the meaning of Jesus' death on the cross. I could no longer recall why I did not attend that night, but chances were I was finishing a requirement or reviewing for an exam. So I wasn’t able to hear the message of salvation, but I continued to attend, to learn new songs, gain new friends and listen to wonderful teachings.
Though I wasn’t able to hear the Gospel in the fellowship, I praise God because He used a fellow KalCFer to share it to me. One afternoon, just being curious about the difference of a Christian and a Catholic, I blurted out to a Baptist friend, “What exactly differentiates you from us, Catholics?”
He said that Jesus died on the cross as our substitute. I am the one supposed to be punished with death, not just physical but also spiritual, because I am guilty of sin. This meant that I must be cast out from the Lord's presence because of the sin and the sin nature in me. This is God's justice because being holy and sinless, He cannot tolerate sin or leave it unpunished.
But in His love, God gave Jesus to take up our punishment on the cross. Jesus was the only perfect and sufficient substitute because He is the only sinless person who lived on earth. This is true because He is God in human flesh. When He shouted on the cross, "It is finished!" He meant that all the sins of God's people are forgiven-- past, present and future.
What is left for us to do is to believe and trust in what Jesus did as Savior, surrender to Him as Lord and turn from a life of sin through repentance for us to receive eternal life and forgiveness of sins. And we can do these things only by God's grace, nothing more.
Though I had heard it before from my sister, I got more interested with the message because I understood that a Christian still does good works. By explaining that they were products, it dawned on me that having faith in Jesus didn’t mean being passive and doing nothing but believing. Instead, Christians are saved by grace through faith in Jesus alone for a life of good works for the glory of God (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Having heard about this, I reconsidered my stand and became more interested with the topic. I prayed the prayer of acceptance after our conversation, but I felt that it was still a hollow prayer because I wasn’t willing to submit to the Lordship of Christ. My acads, my pride, lust and my self were still the gods of my life.
Throughout my first year in college, I got really involved with KalCF. It even reached a point where I had three Bible Studies in a week, apart from my fellowship every Thursday. Of course, I tried hard to evade because my priorities were different and God wasn’t really the center of my life yet. But still, I praise the Lord because He used many Ates and Kuyas to minister to me. I had BS leaders who satisfied my intellectual curiosity and friends who stayed beside me and comforted me in lonely times.
During one camp in my second year, God convicted me to finally face the issues and questions raging inside me. I woke up very early one morning with an unexplained heaviness in my heart. I felt like a hypocrite because I knew that I had no relationship with Jesus but kept on joining fellowships as if I were a Christian.
I still tried to shrug off the feeling by going to sleep again, but when I woke up, God did not remove the heaviness in my heart. He even made it greater. With this, I had to finally confront myself saying, “If you truly want to follow Jesus, you have to give up all the other gods in your life. It can’t go on like this. Your faith in Christ is not just a lip service; it must become a reality in your life.”
With much difficulty, I submitted everything to Jesus. I asked Him to forgive me for being stubborn and for continuously cherishing sin despite hearing the demand of the Gospel several times. I was listening to Hillsong’s “Lead me to the Cross” while I prayed to God. With tears in my eyes, I submitted to Jesus as my personal Savior and Lord. I fully placed my faith and trust to Him.
All these happened early one morning. There was no bright light nor a miraculous voice nor thunder nor earthquake. There was just me and God’s Word. But now I know that the Holy Spirit was present too, convicting me of sin and giving me the grace to believe and accept Jesus as personal Lord and Savior.
From that day on, I could honestly say that Jesus occupied the throne of my life. This did not mean, however, that I neglected my studies. Instead, Christ changed my perspective in many things. I continued to take my acads seriously but no longer for my glory. Instead, I offered all my achievements to God. I gave Him all the praises and the glory.
As to my relationship with my family, God convicted me to be more loving to them. It was really a big shift but I committed to express my affection more in words and deeds. I praise God because He gave me the strength to change. Now I continue to include them in my prayers that they may also come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.
Looking back, I want to quote Philippians 3:7-11 to summarize my faith walk:
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
God bless you all!
I pray that my story ministered to you. I testify to the saving power of the cross of Jesus. My life is my proof and God is my witness. Maybe you also want to believe in Jesus, to turn from a life of sin, to be His son or daughter? I urge you to understand that Jesus died on the cross to pay the punishment of sin. There is no other way for you to be saved and forgiven apart from Him. If you believe this message and you know that Jesus alone can rescue you from a life of sin, know that God is working in you! He is giving you the grace to respond. Do not harden your heart, instead, surrender yourself to the one, true Savior-- Jesus Christ!
If you have placed your faith in Jesus or if you have any questions about the Good News of Christ, please let me know through a comment or a personal message in my email: email@example.com. It is an honor for me to help you more in your faith journey. To God be all the glory and praise!