Tuesday, April 25, 2006

KAREN A. SILVA's Testimony

This is not about my life story. This is not about me, or my existence. I’m not here to tell you about myself, my life, my experiences, my achievements, my failures, my pains, my fears or even my struggles but I’m here to tell you of the one great SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST who changed it all.

I was born on November 13, 1977, but for me life only began 13 years ago. I grew up in a Christian home. When I was 4 years old my parents got saved, but it was only when I was 14 that I have truly accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. For a time I enjoyed my newfound relationship with Him, but when I was 16, I was sent to Iloilo to study at the University of the Philippines where I lived independently at a young age and with no one to guide me at a very crucial moment of my life. I was exposed to so much academic freedom, with nobody to disciple me, I looked up instead to people who value the wisdom of the world than the wisdom of God. At the university, we studied about the great philosophies and religions of the world which breed confusion into my young mind. Little by little, I drifted away from the faith and went back into the world. I was plagued with skepticism. I’ve done things that were so displeasing in the eyes of the Lord even after having received the truth. My heart grew calloused because I ignored the conviction of the Holy Spirit and I continue to live in sin.

A few years later, I was again convicted of my sins. God in His faithfulness did not give up on me but my initial reaction after the realization was “How could I sin against God?” My self-righteousness got the worst of me. I could not believe that I’m capable of sinning against God when the truth is I have no righteousness at all apart from Him. So instead of repentance, I experienced remorse. I kept on asking God for forgiveness but I could not believe He could forgive me and at the same time, I couldn’t forgive myself. Instead of Godly sorrow that leads to salvation and repentance, I experienced a worldly sorrow that leads to death (II Corinthians 7:10). Although I never attempted to do so, I have contemplated of ending my own life many times. I believed it was the voice of the Holy Spirit that prevented me. When I was 18 years old, I went to the psychiatrist because I have suffered from an anxiety disorder and clinical depression. I had panic attacks. My heart would beat wildly, my palms would sweat profusely and I felt so uncomfortable even in the midst of a sea of people. I have doubted my salvation, thinking that if I’m a Christian, how could I do such things against God and why am I experiencing such agony. I was always attacked with great fear because I’m afraid that when I die I will go to hell because of my sins. I wanted to repent because I am afraid of the punishment and not because I have hurt and offended God. It was only later that I understood that repentance is not just being sorrowful over my sins but it is a 180-degree turn away from my sins. In my affliction, the voice of the enemy is clearer than the voice of God calling out to me. Those were the darkest moments of my life. I have struggled and have been oppressed by the enemy on every side because I have given him a foothold in my life. For years, I wailed and howled from the bondages I was in. I still went to church regularly out of obligation, but I was suffering in silence because my former church does not believe in spiritual warfare. I was afraid to reveal my struggles to my fellow Christians because of the fear that they would think of me less as a Christian and that others would think I’m just insane.

This went on for years. I’ve struggled with worthless, incessant thoughts and I didn’t even know where they came from. In psychology it’s called “obsessive compulsive disorder” but it was only when I got hold of the book “Bondage Breaker” by Neil Anderson that I understood the possibility of a Christian being oppressed by the enemy. Initially when we sin, the accuser of the brethren, Satan – he accuses us before God day and night - (Revelation 12:10), will deceive us into believing that God will not forgive us and even cause us to doubt our salvation. I’ve learned then that the weapon against the deception of the enemy is the TRUTH. He is a defeated foe who is out to deceive, steal, kill and destroy many. But God has given us the full armor against him (Ephesians 6:10-18).

I’m not here to talk about the enemy but to proclaim that we have a deliverer, JESUS CHRIST!

Crushed and broken because of the constant battle in my mind, I sought healing and cried out for freedom. I went through several inner healing and deliverances seminars such as the Ancient Paths and the Encounter with God retreat which helped me find freedom in HIM. “He came to set the captives free, and release from darkness for the prisoners.” (Isaiah 61:1). Through constantly reading God’s word, I was able to overcome fear. “God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.”

I was just one of those many Christians who lived defeated lives because I didn’t know my position and authority in Christ. If we have a limited knowledge of who God is, we will also have a vague idea of His grace, mercy and forgiveness. When we fall which is more likely to happen because we are not perfect, let us be reminded that His mercies are new every morning. If we have little knowledge of God’s word, we will live in poverty and we will have no effective weapon to counteract the deceit of the enemy.

Now I can say that I’m a person who has totally found her identity and destiny in Christ. I still struggle at times but now I understand that we should be thankful when we struggle because it means that we are indeed in Christ. There is constantly a battle between the flesh and the spirit. Unbelievers don’t even struggle because they are comfortable with sin. However, we can have the victory if we walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

There are many Christians out there who may look normal on the outside but are being oppressed by the enemy. Do not allow yourselves to be bound nor allow your diseases to afflict you. “By His wounds you are healed” (Isaiah 53:5) and “He came to set the captives free.” (Isaiah 61:1). “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1). Cry out for your freedom! JESUS CHRIST is your deliverer!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

From PASTOR DANTE - His Life Cagayan

God is Faithful! He keeps on bringing souls in the fold.
This month of March, 2 Open Cell Groups were opened. Both have at least 8 members and composed of young people.
God is working in a special way in every individual. Testimonies of answered prayer were celebrated with gladness in the group especially among the graduates in High School & College. Passing the Final Exams and even Qualifying exams to the level were really a big blessing to our young people here.
A special testimony was shared to me by Tita Merlita, the mother of my disciple Kenneth Generalao. According to her, something is going on in the life of his son Kenneth. For the past weeks, Kenneth would seriously tell her that he wanted to be a pastor. Early in the morning and late at night he would keep on telling tita Merlita about his desire. “A deep passion to serve God and compassion to the youth are burning in my heart” as Kenneth gave the confirmation to what tita Merlita has told me.
Kenneth has been attending our church since November. He accepted Jesus last November 6, 2006 during our SWC at KFC. He also invited and brought her ate Maricel the following Sunday. Since then, both attended our services without miss, except the time his father died last January - at that time he needed to be home to mourn with the family. I visited them during their saddest moment and that’s the chance I met tita Merlita. Right now we’re having a Home Cell Group at their house every Sunday night. In fact, one of our High School Open Cell Groups was organized by Kenneth. So far it is my biggest group, attended by atleast 8 young people consistently.
As of now, only time, prayer, love and discipleship can keep him right on track until the time he’ll be thoroughly equipped to do the work of service. Our God is Alive and Amazing! GLORY! GLORY! GLORY! to Him Alone!

I am Ruseller Mondragon Malinao, happily married blessed with a 5 year old son. Another blessing from heaven is expected to be added in my family this coming October. At present, we are happy, contented and secured in God’s loving embrace. But like just other children of God, I was once astray until he took me home again.

In college, I was one of the most popular student in school, not to mention that I was the student council president. Prestige and honor was on me - or so I thought. I met my wife Natalie also in school where I am studying and our relationship started while we were still Freshmen.

We engaged in pre marital sex and before our graduation, she got pregnant. Faced with circumstance and the threat in school not to let us graduate until we get married, we tied the knot. But young as I am, shocked by realities that I am not ready to receive, I engaged myself in sin. My wife lived in my fathers house waiting for her delivery. We stayed in one room. But she was there, always alone while I went out, engaging myself in festive socialization with my friends.

I drank like a fish, I smoked like chimney and I was involved in relationship outside marriage. But my wife never left my side. She never spoke bad of me. Until this day, I cannot imagine how she was able to take it all and just being silent, it so happen that my wife had a sponsor abroad since she was young. After learning about her situation, they committed to support her and her new family. Was I ever grateful about that? Yes, I was but not to God. I was just thankful because of their monthly financial support from her sponsors, I can continually plunder in sin.

When I got a teaching position I spent my salary only for myself. My night life is my only life. I never shared my salary with my family but my wife shares with me her monthly financial support . Everything was provided. From rent of our apartment, to the electric bill, the food on our table everyday and even the milk for my son. I felt like I need not work.

In May 2004, My wife and I transferred to Bacolod City. She took CareGiving at the Lifeline Training Center. I was suppose to take some credits for special education at Riverside College but some problems in the program arose and I wasn’t able to enroll. But I still continued to receive my allowance & tuition fee for 6 months from our dedicated sponsor who did not know even to this time that I wasn’t able to enroll at Riverside.

All the money they were sending to me for my education aside from our monthly budget that shall cover all our expenses in Bacolod were spent by me in worldly things. After 6 months, my wife finished her training at Lifeline and I had no other choice but to take the training as well. My wife and my son went back to San Carlos. I stayed in Bacolod. When I was already alone here in Bacolod, I realized that I miss my wife and son, but this feeling is very easy to shake off my system. Until one day, God made His own move to save me from complete destruction.

On my 2nd to the last module at Lifeline in April of this year, I got to have Ms. Ge Despojo as my teacher in the “Fundamentals of Caregiving”. One day, she shared the story of her daughter to the class – the story of Baby Ice. She attested to how God worked in miracles during these trying times of her life and her husband, and how her husband has surrendered their daughter back to God. At the end of her sharing, I felt nothing extraordinary. I sat there listening and that was it. But when I went inside my room at my boarding house, alone, I can feel God knocking at the door of my heart and I just can’t take it for granted. For no reason at all, tears started to drop like rain from my eyes and with my failing vision, I saw my salvation.

I rose up from my bed and talked to the Father like a son from a very long journey, now tired and totally consumed and just needs the comforting arms of His Creator. I knelt, I prayed like never before. I realized how much I love my wife and my son and how fortunate I am to have them in my life and I said “My God, my God, what have I done to my life?”

Total acceptance and surrender followed. There were no “if’s”, no doubts and right there and then I turned away from sin. I did not quit drinking, smoking and other worldly behavior gradually -- for right at that moment I was born again! Right there and then I quit drinking & all other vices!

On May 5, 2005. I and Ms. Ge Despojo had a talk in our classroom. It was my formal acceptance. I cried like a baby but I did not feel like a weakling. In contrast, I felt victorious for I know that I was lost but God looked for me and took me in.

After a week, My wife Nathalie shared with me my happiness with the Lord. I had been a living miracle of God’s grace and love and at the present were serving God as a family, praying as a family, making our journey together as a family of God.

But our journey does not end here. Last week my wife sponsor sent us an email informing us that we need to find a job, because in 6 months time our financial support will soon cease. That was just last week but the truth is our financial support did not arrive. I don’t know if they will give us time to look for a job or just let us go. This is a very uncertain time in my whole life. As a matter of fact I am sure that God will take care of us. I am no longer afraid for now I am complete with the God. And my family and there is nothing that I fear of, not even death.

I thank God for bringing me back home through Ms. Ge, her husband Jay and the story of Baby Ice. Life is a constant war against evil but I am now at peace with the Lord and I know that he will take care of me until the last days of my life. I thank Him for saving me at the time when I am leading my life to damnation. Until the day that I will meet my Creator in heaven, I and my family will constantly sing songs of praise and worship for His Glory.

Good morning! I am Arnee Grace, married to Dr. Jimmy Pacete and we have 4 beautiful children.
I have been bom to a Christian family and as a kid, I was immersed in the word of God. Since my aunties were active in the ministry, I was often made to tag along with them during outreach evangelism, and every summer in daily vacation bible schools for kids. As a teenager, I was involved in campus ministries. Later as an adult, I sometimes went to church on Sunday mornings, feeling obligated, but mainly because I knew it was the right thing to do. Attending Sunday worship services was more of a tradition to keep, and at every flimsy excuse I had, I was readily absent in church. Somehow on Sundays I would manage to develop headaches or wouldn't feel well at all! I also had a lot of excuses for not having a personal daily quiet time with the Lord!
After medical school, I met and got married to a wonderful man, and we've been blessed with 4 beautiful, healthy children these past 12 years. The Lord is really good to me! I had a comfortable life, a thriving career, a happy marriage, healthy children, and a supportive and loving family. I had what I have dreamed of. And yet, there was a nagging feeling deep inside. There was a certain stateness to my Christian life. Deep down, I knew something was missing in my life. What I didn't realize was that God wanted more than head knowledge of Him.
During one of my grocery trips to Robinson's Supermarket, someone handed me an invitation for His Life Ministry's 40 Days of Purpose late February of last year. I made one small step ... I attended the service that fateful Sunday, and my life was changed forever! The pastor said: the purpose of my life was more than my wildest dreams, more than my ambitions, and more than my own success or happiness. For me, that was a radical statement! Perhaps it is time to re-order my life, not around me or my family, but I'll start with God! Right then and there I recommitted my life to the Lord... I certainly wanted to know what He has in store for me, I wanted to discover my purpose in life. Pastor Joebert then made an invitation to be a part of a small group that meets every week. I made another small step... I still remember sister Mabol Armada who texted me and invited me to join in the cell led by Pastor Dante Montano.
For the next 7 weeks, we went on a journey together with our other group mates, and I rediscovered myself, and found the answer to the nagging feeling I had deep inside. In its place is the fullness of God in my heart. I had what they call a breakthrough! I now have more than just head knowledge of the LORD, this time I now have an intimate experience of him everyday of my life. He has shown me my purpose, and the happiness I now feel is much more fulfilling than the one I had before. And each day, I get more excited because I know the Lord can do great wonders in my life! Each day I feel that I'n at the verge of a journey to greater heights with the Lord!
I continually pray that the Lord will use me to touch other people through the ministries that God had put me.
I thank the Lord for giving me the courage to take those first small steps. It is by His Grace that we get to accomplish anything!
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