Category Archives: Life Stories

A collection of personal testimonies of different people about salvation by grace through saving faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Heed God’s Call

One of the greatest achievements we can have in life is becoming a parent and building our own family. But how do we define the word “parent” and how do we view the definition of “family”?

I became a widow at age 26 and my daughter was only two years old then. My husband was diagnosed with spleen cancer and eventually went home to be with the Lord after five months. I was left with nothing. I didn’t know where and how to start again.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

I was stubborn and did not look unto God and His promises. I did not listen to His Word and did things my way.

I left my daughter in the care of my grandparents in Pangasinan, went back to Manila, and continued working. All I had in mind was to work, earn, and provide for my child.

Then I decided to leave the Philippines to work in another country in hope of having a better life. My daughter was eight years old. I moved her to the care of my younger sister in Baguio.

A 15-20 minute phone call everyday was never enough to satisfy my longing for her. I missed her so much but I had to be strong for her because I was the only “parent” she could depend on.

After years of working in another country, I decided to come home and stay for good. By that time, my daughter was already in her final year in college.

Reality hit me. My daughter’s personality was completely different from what I expected. I sensed a wall between us. She wasn’t even excited to see me. She didn’t even miss me. Well, I couldn’t really say what she was feeling or thinking because the truth was I didn’t even know her.

But life goes on. I must accept the consequences of what I did in the past. The Lord must have been telling me about it but I chose to follow my own decisions.

I went back to Manila and worked hard again since my daughter had yet to finish college. I stayed with my sister who encouraged me to go to church with her. I attended Sunday Worship and even joined a Bible study group. However, due to work demands, I stopped going to church and focused on my work. Going to church was never my priority.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

I continued my life this way, until I got sick. I was diagnosed with leukemia. My hemoglobin dropped too low and I was close to death.

I think this was God’s way of telling me: “Hey, child, this is your time. Return to Me. Give up your pride!” This became my real turning point.

I began to realize what kind of “parent” I was. All those years, I let my heart become so hardened by the experiences I had in life — from a very traumatic childhood to a very dramatic adulthood.

But God is sovereign! Holding onto what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” and Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ” I fully surrendered everything to God.

After my baptism in July 2016, the Lord allowed me to join the music ministry and to also become part of the children’s ministry in our church.

The best thing that happened is God made a way for me to be reunited with my daughter for good.

Last year, I attended #ParentsTalk in our local church. It helped and guided me on how to build my relationship with my daughter. With lots of prayers and through the help of God, my daughter and I celebrated her birthday together for the first time when she turned 22.

I thank God for He has made me the parent I am today. Now I can call my family a “family” with God as the head.

With all of this, I give back all the glory and praises to Him alone!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

A personal testimony of Yolly Guanlao. Her journey of being a parent to her daughter and being a daughter to her heavenly Father.

God’s Irresistible Grace

In August 2007, after the two-month gap in my employment and searching for answers about the meaning of life, I met four Christian co-trainees. I was drawn to them hoping they could tell me what I needed to know about God.

They welcomed my curiosity, shared their stories and the Gospel to me. They did not only tell me the most important truth I needed to know but also showed me how I could learn more about Jesus through their example.

I am a fruit of their obedience and labor in the Lord. I am forever grateful for them for reaching out to me and sharing the most important treasure anyone can ever have.

Understanding The Truth

One day, Angge took me aside and told me she has something important to tell me.

After training, we were assigned to different teams on different floors and had different schedules so we seldom had the opportunity to see each other.

Weeks passed and I couldn’t wait any longer, so I went to her station and reminded her of what she promised to tell me. She took a quick break to accommodate me. We searched for a quiet place. Then she took out a colored booklet with no words in it.

She told me a story about a loving God who created mankind but mankind sinned against Him. Because of sin, they’re condemned to eternal punishment but because of God’s unfailing love He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross as payment for sins. . .

Uh. . . Why is she telling me the Gospel? Is this it? Won’t she tell me something I don’t already know?

Catholics also believe there is one God in three Persons, that the Bible is God’s Word, and that Jesus came to save mankind from sin. Since childhood, I believe that Jesus is God and the Savior of all.

But there were significant details I wasn’t aware of and didn’t understand even after the Gospel was presented to me and I was led to pray.

1) Every sin = Eternal death

We’re taught that sins are classified according to gravity — venial sin (lesser sin) and mortal sin (grave sin) — and each has their own penalty.

While we are aware we are imperfect, we think only criminals are sinners and deserving of hell. But every kind of sin is rebellion in the sight of God. All sin violates God’s holiness.

Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) that anyone who even looks at a woman (or man) with lust has already committed adultery with her/him in his/her heart.

He also said anyone who is angry without cause or hates another person is as guilty as someone who committed murder. Another passage in 1 John 3:15 says: anyone who hates another brother or sister is a murderer at heart.

No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one. Romans 3:10-12

The Bible says: When people sin, they earn what sin pays—death. (Romans 6:23a)

The fitting compensation of every sin is death — punishment with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power.

2) Man’s goodness ≠ God’s holiness

We always hear God is love, merciful, kind, compassionate, etc. But overlook the truth that God is also holy, righteous and just.

God is holy which means He is separate from everything impure. He does not take pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with Him. (Psalm 5:4).

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:23)

God requires holiness. If a person committed even one sin his whole life, that sin makes him fall short of God’s holy standard.

We’re taught that being good or doing good will earn us favor from God. But can this erase our previous sins? Does it bring us to the level of God’s holy standard? Does it make us blameless, spotless and worthy before God? Does God owe us heaven for the “good deeds” we have done?

For if keeping the law — being good, doing good deeds, or following God’s commandments out of our own strength — could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

No one is good–except God alone. (Mark 10:18 b)

God is righteous and just. He does not leave the guilty unpunished. However “good” we try to be, we still have to pay the penalty for the sins we have committed and will continue to commit.

Unless we recognize our sinfulness and God’s holiness, we won’t recognize our need for a savior.

3) Knowing about Jesus knowing Jesus personally.

Since I was a child, we were taught in school and in the church about Jesus and I believe that to be true. But what I didn’t realize is the subtle difference between knowing and believing a piece of information as opposed with trusting and having faith in what you know and believe.

While I believe in Jesus as God and Savior, I didn’t trust Him with my life. I trusted myself with my life. I made my own decisions based on what I thought was right and beneficial for me. This reflects I am the lord of my life. I’d pray to Jesus only when I need Him.

James 2:19 states, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.”

The demons know and believe that there is one God but they don’t have faith in God.

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)

Saving faith is not mere head knowledge. Saving faith is TRUSTING in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. It means resting upon Christ alone and what He has done.

Eternal life is God’s gift to everyone who will humble themselves to God, repent of their sins, and trust Jesus Christ alone for salvation.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. (Acts 3:19)

Those who put their trust in Jesus as the only savior are not righteous in themselves, but God has put them in Christ. So when God the Father looks at them, He sees Christ’s righteousness and holiness.

Only then will we be able to follow God’s righteous standard in a way that is acceptable to Him, not because of ourselves but through the enabling grace of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Unashamed of God’s Word

It was in the wee hours of the morning. I just had my lunch. I went to the main lobby and sat on a couch.

Then I saw Van seated at the end of the room, absorbed in her book. I went up to her and had a quick chat. She said she came in early and was waiting for her shift. I asked her what she was reading and she replied it was her Bible.

She’s not ashamed to read her Bible in public? Who even reads a Bible?

We were taught that the Bible is holy and is the written Word of God. An authority that guides us in our life. Anyone who sincerely believes this should be eagerly reading it and paying close attention to it. But in reality, it is a mere decoration which accumulates dust at home. I didn’t know anyone even opens their Bible.

Her refreshing example inspired me to buy my own Bible and motivated me to read despite the many difficult-to-understand passages.

They advised me to buy a certain version which is easier to read and understand. Then they suggested me to start with the Gospel of John.

The One True Living God

One Sunday, Aiane invited me to their church. It was the first time I attended a Christian worship service.

During the sermon, the pastor mentioned something about idols made by human hands, then quoted Psalm 115:3-8

Our God is in the heavens,
    and He does as He wishes.
Their idols are merely things of silver and gold,
    shaped by human hands.
They have mouths but cannot speak,
    and eyes but cannot see.
They have ears but cannot hear,
    and noses but cannot smell.
They have hands but cannot feel,
    and feet but cannot walk,
    and throats but cannot make a sound.
And those who make idols are just like them,
    as are all who trust in them.

He gave an example, made a comment and everyone laughed about it. Everything he said was practically true and on that sense their reaction was valid but I was offended because my belief was challenged.

So I snapped at my friend, “What’s so funny?!”

The 10 Commandments found in Exodus 20. The topic during the sermon was the same inconsistency I noticed between the Catholic Bible, and what is taught in school and in the church. 

After the service, Aiane toured me around their church. It was completely different from the traditional churches I had been to.

As soon as we stepped out, I found myself praying: “Lord, I also want to attend a church like this but can You bring me to a church near our house or my workplace so I won’t have an excuse not to go.”

Looking back, I was amazed that even though I was offended with the truth, the Lord made me forget the offense and gave me the desire to be part of a Christian community.

More than two months later, the Lord brought me to a church just a block from where we worked. 😉

Growing in Intimacy with Christ

Mommy Mae lent me her Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren which was my first devotional book. As a new believer, this helped me understand Biblical truths that were too complicated or confusing for me. God also used this book to heal a wound in my heart I never thought was there.

She also gave me a Christmas present: Charles Swindoll’s His Name is Wonderful. This was my first Bible study guide. It was very useful in bringing me to a deeper understanding of God’s Word and His character as it examined the different names and titles of Jesus, each introducing a unique aspect of His infinite nature.

The Relentless Love of Jesus to His Unworthy Beloved

I remember those times when I would excitedly go home from work to meet with Jesus in spirit by reading and studying the Bible through the help of study guides.

It is through the reading and study of the Bible that we can come to know Christ more intimately.

For it is God who is producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases Him. (Philippians 2:13)

(This story was first published on August 19, 2017. Rewritten in September 2019)

A personal testimony of Ma. Olivia Jill Temporal. Learn more about her on the Author’s page.

Read the whole series about her life story:

Created For God’s Glory

Who are You, Lord?

June 2007, in the process of changing jobs, I had a two-month gap in my employment. I considered it unacceptable but it can’t be helped.

There were a lot of things I thought of doing, but for some reason I didn’t do what I would have typically done. Instead, I became curious about things I never paid attention to. I was too busy with school and then with work so I didn’t have time to stop and think about life.

Oddly, I wanted to know more about God. I didn’t know what I wanted to know. It just felt like there was something important about God that I had to know but I wasn’t sure because I didn’t know what I needed to know. The feeling was subtle and non-urgent so it could be easily dismissed if I had other more important things to do.

I squinted at the white cottony clouds in the sky, “Are You really that way?” — Distant. Looking down from heaven with raised eyebrows and crossed arms. Recording every action and every word of mankind. Eager to punish every wrongdoing.

I only knew Jesus from Bible stories taught in school. I considered Him as loving, gentle, and gracious contrary to God the Father who I perceived as stern and unapproachable. Then there was little information taught about the Holy Spirit.

How can I get to heaven when I die? I’m afraid to die because I don’t think I’d go to heaven.

They say only good people will go to heaven. But how is it that those who are considered “good”, like priests and nuns, are also uncertain of their destination.

I’m not a good person because I know I am the most ill-tempered in our clan. I have done a lot of wicked things though not as evil as criminals. I don’t think I can be good because it’s difficult to be good. So what will happen to me?

Created For God's Glory

Is There More to Life Than This?

I was raised in a Catholic family in a predominantly Catholic country. My siblings and I went to Catholic schools from grade school through college. Most of my beliefs and what I know about my religion came from school rather than my family or the church.

In college, I found some discrepancies between the Catholic Bible and what is taught in school and in the church. One of which is the teaching about the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20.

I expected to read something familiar but I froze when I got to the second commandment: You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

I scanned the title page and found the imprimatur of the Catholic church. But why is this part of the Bible different from what we memorized in school? Did someone alter the teachings of the church and no one is aware of it? Surely, the Catholic church has a valid explanation.

I dismissed my questions because I had no one to clarify it with.

But more than answers to specific questions about my faith, I wanted to make sense of everything. I wanted to know what life is really all about. Do we live only to study, graduate, make money, get married, raise kids, grow old, then die? Is this all there is to life? These are common pursuits in life but to what end if we can bring none of these to the grave?

Is there really more that can and should be known about Jesus?

Where Do I Find Answers?

Despite attending a Catholic school and following practices of our religion, I never considered myself religious. I’d go to church only when adults initiate or when required in school. I’d remember to pray only when I need something from God.

But this time, I started going to church on my own. I listened attentively to sermons and became aware of the lyrics of songs in hope of finding answers which may be hidden somewhere.

One Sunday, I went to the church office and inquired how I can volunteer as a lector — a parish layperson who publicly reads a Bible passage, other than the four Gospels, during liturgy.

The elder lady advised me to join the choir, told me the meeting time and place, then quickly went back to what she was doing.

But . . . I want to be a lector. I don’t want to sing; I want to read. 😭 Is it because I look like a teenager?!

I had hoped to have access to the priests and other clergies, and use the readings as an opportunity to ask about the Bible, the interpretation of passages, and clarifications about Catholic teachings.

Nevertheless, I decided to attend the choir meeting thinking maybe all volunteers could easily approach a priest to ask about theological questions. After two meetings, I had proven choir is not my thing so I stopped attending.

Then someone (a cousin or a friend) told me about a novena in a parish near our apartment. It was every Thursday but it always seemed like a regular Sunday Mass overflowing with youth and young adults.

I regularly attended the Mass and novena all throughout that year, but I found nothing new and my questions remained unanswered. I didn’t know where to go, who to ask, and even what question to ask. I wasn’t sure if there was more to seek than just those rituals.

God Answers Through His Word

In God’s providence, He had prepared an answer for me even before I asked. At the end of that two months, I met four Christian co-trainees. As soon as they introduced themselves as Christians, I knew they were the right persons to ask.

I was never inclined to asking questions about faith from other religions because I firmly believed my religion is the truth. But the Lord had changed my perception toward Christians when I met someone who had a genuine character.

One day, one of them took me aside and told me she has something important to tell me.

Whoa! This must be the answer I’ve been searching for!

She took out a colored booklet with no words in it then told me a story. A story about a loving God who created mankind but mankind sinned against Him. Because of sin, they’re condemned to eternal punishment but because of God’s unfailing love He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross as payment for sins. . .

Uh. . . Why is she telling me the Gospel? Is this it? Won’t she tell me something I don’t already know?

Catholics also believe that there is one God in three Persons, that the Bible is God’s Word, and that Jesus came to save mankind from sin. Since childhood, I believe that Jesus is God and the Savior of all.

But there were significant details I wasn’t aware of and didn’t understand even after the Gospel was presented to me and I was led to pray.

It was only when I regularly read and studied the Bible using devotional books, attended a Bible study group and listened to Bible-based preaching that I gradually understood the message of salvation through Christ alone.

Through this message of salvation, I found answers to my questions and finally made sense of life.

If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me. Jeremiah 29:13

Created for God’s Glory

God created man in His image to share His love with us, for us to love Him back and give Him glory through that intimate relationship.

Adam and Eve had a perfect relationship with God until they disobeyed Him. Disobedience is sin and sin is rebellion against God. Sin severed their relationship with God and resulted to death — eternal separation from God.

This problem of sin is not just their problem but everyone’s. For all have sinned and fall short of God’s glorious standard.

God’s standard is holiness because He is holy. The idea behind the concept of holiness is “separation.” God is separate or cut off from everything that is sinful and evil. He is without sin and does not tolerate sin. Thus, the relationship was severed.

God is also just. He does not leave the guilty unpunished. The payment for sin is death. None can earn salvation with good deeds because God requires perfect holiness. Therefore, everyone is condemned to eternal separation from God. But this isn’t God’s intention for creating us.

So God made a way. Out of His unfailing love for us, He made a way.

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, left His throne in heaven, came into the world, lived a holy life and willingly sacrificed Himself on the Cross as payment for our sins so that everyone who trusts in His finished work will not perish but have eternal life.

Those who put their trust in Jesus as the only savior are not righteous in themselves, but God has put them in Christ. So when God the Father looks at them, He sees Christ’s righteousness and holiness. Therefore, through Christ’s holy life and sacrifice on the Cross, we can be made holy and be reconciled back to God.

Christ’s sacrifice restores the original intention of God in creating us — to give Him glory and enjoy Him forever.

But for us to receive that reconciliation, we need to repent of our sins and trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13

The real meaning of life / the purpose of our existence, both now and in eternity, is found in the restoration of our relationship with God. He made us for Himself so He alone can fill and satisfy our heart and soul.

For everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory. All glory to him forever! Amen. Romans 11:36

A personal testimony of Ma. Olivia Jill Temporal. Learn more about her on the Author’s page.

Read the whole series about her life story:

A Prodigal Child of God

I am so thankful for this opportunity to share God’s grace in my life.

I am now 45 years old. I was raised in the Faroe Islands, which is in-between Norway and Iceland. Hearing about Jesus Christ and how it is only by grace through faith in Him that we are saved from eternal separation from God, I believed and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I was 7 years old. I was baptized at 11 because I knew it was the right thing to do. I didn’t understand it all so clearly but I believed what I understood.

When I was a teenager I became more interested in all things that God knew would hurt me, but I chose not to believe Him. I followed my desires, thinking I knew better than God. This led my life away from God and into a sin-filled life; living for what I wanted to do. I worked hard and partied hard.

2019. Grandma’s 90th birthday. My parents, my cousin and me.

I moved to England when I was 17 and stayed there until I was 23 years old. But when I moved back to the Faroe Islands, my ‘crazy life’ continued. I even worked on a fishing trawler for two years, which was a rough life but I enjoyed it.

I was almost 30 years old when I saw myself in all the mess I had created and God, in His grace, called me back to Himself. He allowed me to see how far I had wandered away from Him. He offered me a new beginning with Him. I’m so thankful I chose His way and left my own way.

Before my new beginning with God, I had my own plans. I intended to move to Scotland maybe to study but I didn’t find anything there. When God wanted me to follow Him, I didn’t know where to go. I asked Him and He laid in my heart to go to a Bible school to learn about Him. I called a friend who had studied there. After we talked, I decided I would go. The funny thing was, I realized afterward, it was in Scotland. This was such a great gift from God. Praise the Lord!

While at Bible school, I heard about people around the world really wanting to get to know God but there weren’t enough Christians willing to go. I said, “Lord, if you want me to go, I will go.” I had peace about it so I went to England for a year to do mission training. While I was there, there was so much talk about the Philippines and I thought maybe I should go to the Philippines. Again, I had peace about that decision. I didn’t actually know anything about the Philippines back then. But now I know it is so much fun to be there and God knew I’d love it, even before I had seen a jeepney. 😁

And He (Jesus) said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. (Luke 10:2; Matthew 9:37-38)

After mission training in England, I came to Manila in 2006 with New Tribes Mission. I did some Tagalog study and worked at our Mission Centre for 2 years. Then I moved to Malaybalay City, Bukidnon where I did some Visayan study and again worked at our Mission Center there. I stayed in Malaybalay for 6 years then I moved back to Manila to help in our office and in our Mission Center. All in all, I was in the Philippines for 10 years. For that, I am very thankful. It was more than just fun; I loved it.

Meeting interesting sisters in the Lord in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.

I believe God used me in His work while I was in the Philippines and I am forever thankful. He had worked a lot in my personal life. The Philippines was the best place for me to be at that time.

Then I had peace about moving again in 2016. This time I went to Austria, in the middle of the Alps, to study at a Bible Centre. I stayed there for a year. It was like taking a year out to study, enjoy God and nature, be with a lot of Christians, and get refreshed . It really did refresh me. It was amazing.

When that year finished in 2018, I moved back to the Faroe Islands where I now live and work. I work as a building painter and the Lord has even provided me with my own place.

The Lord has been very gracious to me. Though I have not been faithful in all things, He remained faithful to me. He is still working in and thru my life, which is a miracle in itself.

Now it is 2019 and I have been back home for 1,5 years. I am grateful for this opportunity. I had the privilege to visit the Philippines again in February this year and it was of course amazing.

Hanging out again with my good friend, Rajsh, in Manila

I want to say that the Lord is worth waiting for. He said: “I am the LORD; those who hope in Me will not be disappointed” (Isaiah 49:23).

I am the LORD; those who hope in Me will not be disappointed (Isaiah 49:23).

This is an amazing promise that spoke to me again today as I write this, and it helps me to wait on the Lord and hope in Him. And He promised that I will not be disappointed. Our heart’s desire is God Himself first and foremost. He is whom we were created for and our main purpose is to enjoy Him and glorify Him forever.

For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. (Romans 5:10)

My home town, Klaksvík, in the background

Hi! My name is Anja Nielsen, I was born in 1974 in Klaksvík, Faroe Islands. I am an only child but I was never a lonely child. 😊 I was raised hearing about Jesus and I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior at an early age but I spent most of my life away from God. By His grace, I returned to Him 16 years ago and I praise Him for that.

What my future holds, only the Lord knows. I trust Him fully to guide me, provide for me. And because He has promised that He will never leave me, I know that I will never be alone. That peace and knowledge make me hopeful for my future and I praise the Lord for that.

Life-Changing Encounter with Jesus

Undeserved Love

I lay on my bed as steady stream of tears flowed down my left cheek soaking my hair and pillow underneath. I was alone in my unlit room but I clutched another pillow to my face muffling my sobs. No one else would resolve my problems but I.

As I close my eyes, I found myself alone in a place of infinite darkness. There were no walls around me that I could lean on, no roof above me to provide shelter, and the floor I stood on was hidden from my sight. I had no one to turn to, nothing to hold on to and nowhere to go.

I resigned from an Events and PR company in exchange for a higher-paying job in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry. Prior to my resignation, my dad got into an accident and couldn’t work for a few months. I decided to forget having a career in events or in media production. I had hoped for an exciting job but it was also my dream to provide greater comfort for my family, and I figured it may take a long time in a local company.

June 2007, I went to my final appointment with a recruiter. As I scanned the contract, my eyes grew wide when I saw the start of training: August 2007! But I can’t back out now, this is the company I want and the line of business (LOB) I want. I signed it but I was preoccupied with finding a solution on how to fill the two-month gap.

In my ignorance and rigidity, I considered unemployment as incompetence or laziness or both. Even with a definite job waiting for me, it was still unacceptable. I cannot be unproductive for two long months.

Of course, there were a lot of activities that could keep me busy. I could read, study, research, learn a new recipe, a new skill, a new language, etc. One can never run out of things to learn or do.  But it doesn’t change the fact I have two months of unemployment in my résumé!

I searched for a part-time job but found out I needed to commit for at least six months. I had no choice but to wait.

I thought I’d go crazy! Two months of unemployment was like losing what I valued the most – my work – which signifies my usefulness, purpose, value, security, and success.

Having no source of income also defeated my goal of providing for my family. All the emotional and financial stress soon resulted in a conflict with my mom.

Everything I could have held on to and sought after was either gone or distant. For the first time in my life, I experienced how it felt like having nothing. I had nothing I could call my own, I had no one to turn to, nowhere to go and nothing I could do to resolve my problems.

But there’s one last Person I could turn to — Jesus. He had often been my last resort. There was nothing else I could do but pray. I flooded my bed with tears as I recounted all my misery to Him.

I know I had committed a grave sin when I deliberately continued my affair with a married man. My relationship with my family was dysfunctional. Most of all, I was jobless which meant: no achievement, no purpose, no value, no success, no money and I cannot even help my family.

I was alone. Useless. Wretched. Wicked. Worthless. Helpless. Hopeless.

Then, unexpectedly, He spoke to me in a soft and gentle whisper, “I love you.” His voice was not audible yet was very clear.

“But You love me.” I echoed to Him, relishing each word.

After telling Him all my offenses and uselessness, He responded with I love you? Despite my wretchedness, wickedness, and worthlessness, Jesus loves me?!

I never doubted this truth I learned since childhood, but hearing it from Jesus Himself at that moment made it real and relevant in my life. How could He love me even when I was at my lowest and had nothing to offer except my sins?

At that moment, I remembered those times in college when I noticed God answering my prayers. His work was evident because they were desperate prayers of a student asking help from Jesus who had often been the last resort. Jesus is the only one who comes to my rescue, even in seemingly impossible situations. He is the only one who has seen every detail of my life and has stood by me in times of grief.

I grew up self-reliant and I find it difficult to ask for help or entrust other people with things I consider important, such as school or work. Other people, even my own family, have their own responsibilities and problems to attend to, so why and how could they help me? I can never tell if others could help me at the time and the way I need help. There were also instances when I desperately asked for help and was disappointed.

So I learned not to expect help from other people with things I consider important.

But Jesus has always been present every moment of my life, I just didn’t acknowledge it because I was too busy directing my own life.

I remembered a Bible memory verse that was made into a song:

And He said
‘Cast your burdens upon me
Those who are heavily laden
Come to me all of you who are tired
Of carrying heavy loads
For the yoke I will give you is easy
And My burden is light
Come to Me and I will give you rest.’

I have been carrying all my burdens by myself because I knew no one can truly help me the way I needed. But remembering everything Jesus has done helped me understand that I needn’t carry my problems by myself. He has proven Himself ever-present, trustworthy, and dependable. It was no longer just a concept or lesson in school, He showed me through my experiences and His evident answers to my prayers that He truly cares for me.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)

Life-Changing Truths

Jesus used this low point in my life to help me realize that everything I valued in this world, all I have acquired and worked for, everything I do and have achieved, even my knowledge, capabilities and vigor, and everyone I cherish can be taken from me in an instant.

However tightly I hold on to anything or anyone, God is still ultimately in control; the One who gives and takes away. It dawned on me that I cannot define myself with anything in this world because they are all temporal. Once they’re taken from me, they will cease to define me.

After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. (1 Timothy 6:7)

The only thing I can eternally hold on to is Christ’s love which will never be taken from those who truly belong to Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him.

Jesus opened my eyes to see the truth:
who I was — no one
what I had — nothing
what I valued — empty and fleeting
how I lived — sinful
what my condition was — alone and wretched

And there is nothing I can do to save myself from my wretchedness. Jesus is my only hope. He alone can save me.

In my wretchedness, Jesus spoke tenderly to me and told me He loves me. His love for me is not dependent on what I have done (good or bad), nor on what I can do. He doesn’t need anything I can give Him; He is God. He doesn’t love me because I am worthy of His love, I will never ever be worthy, rather He loves me because of who He is.

None is worthy before God. There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.

There is nothing in us that would merit salvation. Because everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. His standard is perfect holiness.

When people sin, they earn what sin pays—death. This death means punishment with eternal destruction; forever separated from the Lord and from His glorious power. Therefore, man is condemned to eternal death and punishment because of sin.

But because of God’s unfailing love for us, He made a way to reconcile us back to Him. God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humbled Himself, came into the world, lived a holy life and willingly sacrificed Himself on the Cross as payment for our sins. So that everyone who believes in Jesus and trusts in His sacrifice on the Cross as payment for sins shall have eternal life.

Eternal life through Christ Jesus is a free gift of God. Salvation is not earned by our own effort or merit. It is a free gift by God’s grace (undeserved favor) in response to our faith in Christ. For if keeping the law (following God’s commandments out of our own strength) could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

It was Jesus, not us, who fulfilled God’s requirement for a holy life and He is the only perfect sacrifice given by God to pay the penalty for our sins. It is all achieved by Jesus, not by us. So none of us can boast about it.

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? (Matthew 16:26)

I planned my activities to fill those two months of unemployment. There were a lot of things I thought of doing, but for reasons I didn’t realize then, I did not do what I would have typically done. I became curious about things I never paid attention to. I was busy with school and then with work, so I didn’t have time to stop and think about life.

Is there more to life than this? Is there more to life than being born, growing up, studying, graduating, working, making money, getting married, raising kids, growing old, then dying? Is that all there is to life? (To be continued next week . . .)

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. (1 John 2:15-17 NLT)

(This story was first published on August 7, 2017. Rewritten in August 2019)

A personal testimony of Ma. Olivia Jill Temporal. Learn more about her on the Author’s page.

Read the whole series about her life story:

Love Is a Decision, Not Just a Feeling

Falling in Love

During summer before our final year in college, we had our On-the-Job-Training (OJT). I met a guy who eventually became my boyfriend. Six months into the relationship he told me he is married. Though I only saw myself being with him for a few months, I was still devastated. I was furious I wanted to hurt him. I was angry at him for lying. I was confused how I got into that situation.

Every night, I cried to Jesus remorseful and ashamed for committing a grave sin. At that time, I thought merely dating a married man already constitutes adultery. I considered it as one of the gravest sins because of the Ten Commandments. I was also afraid I could get imprisoned and would be considered a criminal.

I thought asking forgiveness from God through prayer wasn’t enough. I needed to do something to make amends with Him. So I went to church to participate in the sacrament of confession hoping it would help me find favor from God and be forgiven. It wasn’t easy to confess my sins to a stranger; I was grateful the confessional box provided privacy. After confessing my sins to the priest, he told me to pray three Our Father, three Hail Mary, and three Glory Be. I lingered a few seconds waiting to be counseled, admonished, or even scolded, but that was it. I felt like I was just given a prescription. I followed what I was told but everything felt routinary and void of meaning.

Our relationship went on and off. I wanted to end it but I couldn’t.

Love Is a Decision, Not Just a Feeling

One night, I cried toJesus asking why I couldn’t get out of that sinful relationship. Every direction I took was painful.

I was surprised God answered me right at that moment: “Because you chose to stay.”

This was the first time I heard God’s voice. It wasn’t an audible voice but an answer through reason. I knew it didn’t come from me. I didn’t know the answer and would like to understand, hence I asked. I even thought it may be God’s doing I got into that relationship and continued to stay. In the first place, I didn’t know the guy is married; God knew yet He allowed it to happen. Secondly, I tried so hard to end the relationship but I couldn’t.

But God’s answer made perfect sense! I realized, contrary to what most people say, love is not just a feeling; it’s a decision.

I didn’t “fall in love” like it was out of my control and volition. It didn’t “just happen” as if I couldn’t do anything about it. From the beginning, it had been my choice. I chose to allow that guy to get to know me. I agreed to go out with him. I decided to be in that relationship regardless of what I know or didn’t know. I had the choice to leave or stay regardless of what I felt. And I couldn’t get out of the relationship because I chose to stay. Being faced with difficult or painful choices doesn’t change the fact I have a choice. It was my decision from the beginning.

So I prayed to God, “Jesus, please help me move on even as I stay in the relationship.”

(Word of caution: Choosing to stay in a relationship most probably won’t help in getting out of it. The only way to end it is to end it.)

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23)

It was my final year in college so I got busier as months passed. After graduation, I was determined to get employed within a week, and God answered that prayer. My primary goal was to be successful in my career in the shortest possible time. And I didn’t want anything or anyone to hinder me from my goals.

I got busier and so did he. Our dates became less frequent but also became more intimate.

He brought me to a motel. “How cheap! What do you think of me?! You think you’d get what you want by bringing me here?!” I said to him, but only in my mind.

The mere act of him bringing me to a motel felt disgusting. It was not only offensive but demeaning and shameful.

I will not do it! It is already a sin having a relationship with him; should I commit further sin by giving myself to him?! And then what? A temporary pleasure with permanent consequences? He’d rob what belongs to my future husband!

But I also couldn’t deny I wanted to be with him. The more he brought me to private places, the less degrading it felt, and the more I longed for him. Allowing him to bring me to these places only meant putting myself in a more difficult situation.

If it were not for God, it would’ve been so easy to follow my sinful desires. God used a lot of reasons to keep me sober. The possibility of getting pregnant is a consequence I never ever want to risk.

So I kept telling myself: Learn from other people’s experiences. Do not allow history to repeat itself; do not allow mistakes from the past to happen again. Remember your goals and aspirations; one mistake can ruin everything. Would you allow an unworthy man to ruin everything you’ve worked hard for? What example are you setting for your siblings? Do the right thing, if not for yourself, at least for your family. One mistake may affect a lot of people, even those yet to be conceived.

On our 3rd year anniversary, I called him to plan for a date. He said he was busy. I wasn’t, so I demanded. But he was firm. I got angry and ended the relationship over the phone.

It was out of whim so I thought it was just one of those temporary break-ups. Days passed, I shed no tear. I did not miss him. I got tired of him, of our situation and of all the emotional roller-coaster. I felt relieved I was finally out of it. So I took that opportunity to completely free myself from him and stay away from him.

True Love is More than a Decision

I realized how easy it is to follow my sinful desires, and how difficult, even impossible, it is to obey God. My own desire, strength, and decision to obey God will never suffice. On my own, I will never be able to adhere to His commandments. Even religious traditions and practices were routinary and void of meaning. None of these brought me out of sin.

Despite my sinfulness, God answered my prayer. He helped me move on by tiring me of my pointless relationship. I was freed from that sin and was prevented from committing further sin not because of my own self-control, determination or sobriety but because of God’s enabling power, faithfulness, grace, and mercy. God’s protection and preservation of me all those years, even up to this moment, made a permanent imprint in my heart because I know it would’ve been so easy for me to commit further sin.

If loving God means keeping His commandments, then it is impossible for me to love God according to His righteous and holy standard out of my own decision alone. It is also impossible for me to truly love others out of my choice alone. There is more to love than emotions and decisions. We cannot truly love God and others without God’s enabling power and grace.

We cannot truly love God and others because of our sinful nature. Man’s nature is centered on self, not on God. The Bible says: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

And when people sin, they earn what sin pays—death. This death means punishment with eternal destruction; forever separated from the Lord and from His glorious power. Man is condemned to eternal death and punishment because of sin.

But because of God’s unfailing love for us, He made a way to reconcile us back to Him. God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.

Eternal life through Christ Jesus is a free gift of God. Salvation is not earned by our own effort or merit. It is a free gift by God’s grace (undeserved favor) in response to our faith in Christ. For if keeping the law (following God’s commandments out of our own strength) could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

It was Jesus, not us, who fulfilled God’s requirement for a holy life and He is the only perfect sacrifice given by God to pay the penalty for our sins. It is all achieved by Jesus, not by us. So none of us can boast about it.

When we repent of our sins and turn to Jesus Christ alone for salvation, He promised to give us a new heart. Only then will we be able to truly love God and others through His power and grace.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

June 2007, a month after God removed me from that sin, He gifted me the greatest love anyone could ever have: an unconditional, faithful, steadfast love that belongs to me for all eternity — knowing Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

During our new product launch event in Puerto Galera, Philippines.

A personal testimony of Ma. Olivia Jill Temporal. Learn more about her on the Author’s page.

Read the whole series about her life story:

Rescued from Rebellion, Shaped for Submission

Rebellion against Authority

All throughout my teenage years, I was rebellious. I was disrespectful and often talked back to my mom and aunt. I challenge the status quo. I defy rules I find unreasonable or irrelevant and follow only those I find beneficial. I did things on my own and made decisions for myself. I became independent and self-sufficient. I do what I want not what adults want or what popular opinion dictates.

When I’m told to do something and I don’t find reason to it, I’d do the exact opposite. My mom suggested me to take an in-demand course to have an opportunity to work abroad and get higher pay. I wasn’t convinced so I chose a completely different field of study. And because I know a lot of Filipinos who want to work or live out of the country, I was adamant in staying. There were times I’d go against the flow for the sake of defying social norms.

Many times I planned to run away from home. But considering the possible consequences, especially in my studies, I resorted to postponing it until I graduated and had my own income.

My best friend. She passed away at 18. I think this is the only picture I have of her.

My rebellious attitude wasn’t apparent because I was studious and goal-oriented. My life revolved only around schoolwork and the most important thing in the world for me was my grades. I prioritized learning and personal development over building relationships. I preferred studying and reading more than spending time with family and friends. I even considered interpersonal skills as the least important skill needed for success. Because of this, I found it difficult to empathize with others.

I was a perfectionist and attentive to details. And I imposed my standards to my family. I easily get angry when things are not orderly or when chores are not done the way I wanted. I was blunt, inconsiderate and insensitive. And I became more assertive when I started working.

During the latter half of college, my usual drive to study waned. One time, my friends and I skipped classes to go out of town. In other occasions, whenever our professor in a boring minor subject was late, a close friend and I would skip class, buy snacks, spread out some university newspapers on the football field, and spend the night having picnic, chatting and stargazing. At the end of the semester, we both got an FA (Failure due to Absences). I had to retake the subject I dislike! What foolishness and lack of foresight.

With high school friends.

Submission to God’s Reign

My rebellion didn’t stop at teen. I’m still very much a sinner. Whenever I sin, I rebel against a holy God.

Rebellion is opposition to authority. The ultimate authority is God, Creator of all the heavens and the earth. The LORD is God, and there is no other; apart from Him there is no God. Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God.

Rebellion is against God’s rule and control over all things. Man always resists God’s rule because he wants to rule over himself. Man wants to be his own god and be able to do what seems right in his own eyes. He wants to be free to do everything he desires without accountability to the Creator and His laws. This is the fallenness of every man, not wanting to submit to God’s will but following one’s own desires. This is man’s rebellion.

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart. (Proverbs 21:2)

Whenever we choose to take control of our own lives, we do what we think is right and best for us and fail to realize that our knowledge is limited and what we see is only here and now. We fail to recognize the truth that the Lord is God. He alone is sovereign and all-knowing. He knows infinitely more than what we know and sees from beginning to end. Therefore, the only wise thing to do is to have Him take control of our lives.  His plans for us are for our welfare and not for evil.

Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:6-7)

With college friends.

Power in Meekness

After graduation, I soon found myself in the corporate world. My character in youth molded me into young adulthood and I brought with me those characteristics I thought would be helpful for my career advancement. I was driven and didn’t want anything to hinder me from achieving my goals.

The first time I got employed in a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company, we had a Communications and Culture Trainer whose character made a significant impact on how I view Christianity.

He introduced himself as a Christian. He didn’t share a lot about his religion, I don’t know whether religion and politics were prohibited topics, but he often shared his life story.

He shared his life prior to being a Christian. He told us about the sins he committed especially to his wife and his family. He told us how he lived his life before. It was quite surprising and unbelievable to hear. First, he doesn’t know us personally and would train us only for a few weeks yet he entrusted us with his life story. Second, he was our superior yet he presented himself in meekness and vulnerability by sharing even the sins he committed. Third, what made the most impact on me was the man he was talking about was a completely different person! The man he described was vile but the person talking to us was gentle, kind, humble, considerate and unpretentious.

He also told us about his son Mark Welson Chua. He was a student of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) who was brutally murdered for exposing anomalies in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) unit of the university. I think it was all over the news when it happened although I first heard it from our trainer. He never spoke any grievances toward anyone or any institution. He only recounted the events of his son’s death. There’s a video on YouTube about this news and in the interview, his wife questioned Welson why he hugged one of the convicted murderers of his son and forgave him. The offender also couldn’t believe he was forgiven by Mark’s father.

I remember the time when we visited Welson at the hospital a month after our training. We saw him standing in the hallway. Everyone immediately went to him, greeted him, hugged him, comforted him. I didn’t know how to comfort a sick person. I didn’t know what to say, what to do or how to empathize so I stood a few steps away looking at him. In my heart, I was sorry for him and I sincerely hoped and prayed for his healing and recovery but I didn’t know how to tell him.

When he noticed I just stood there, he approached me, quickly hugged me and patted me at the back. Oh my gosh! I was embarrassed and amazed at the same time! He was sick yet he was still thinking of other people? For most, my action would have been taken as apathy but he responded with concern and humility despite his condition. He did for me what I was supposed to do for him!

Small acts of kindness from a sincere heart goes a long way.

I’m unsure whether we were his last batch of trainees because he didn’t recover from his sickness and passed away three months after our training.

With Welson, our trainer, and fellow trainees.

Prior to this, I often hear people describing Christians as the “Alive, Alive” group. On Sundays, we’d hear them sing in the covered court of our subdivision and I’d picture them singing and dancing “Alive, Alive” with hands raised, swaying from side to side to the beat of the music. 

Before my maternal grandmother passed away, she sternly warned me not to change religion. This confused me because of the timing of her advice and also because it had never crossed my mind. There was no reason for me to change religion.

It was because of our trainer’s life story and character that made me view Christianity differently. It made me consider that they may have reliable character contrary to what others say and therefore may have valid claims in their beliefs about God, Jesus, and the Bible. Almost 2 years later, this paved the way for me to ask questions and seek help from Christians.

daddy A's farewell_jpegfile
XM batch 3.2. Convergys Philippines

By God’s Grace Alone

There’s a popular Tagalog song in the ’90s that says: “Gusto kong bumait pero diko magawa.” I want to be good but I can’t, which implies difficulty in achieving it.

It is indeed impossible to be good in God’s standard on our own strength. I don’t think our trainer had a complete change of character out of his own discipline and willpower. I’ve met and talked to a lot of religious leaders in school and in church but his gentleness and kindness was different; he was sincere.

It isn’t in man’s nature to be good. On the contrary, it is in man’s nature to sin and rebel against God.

The Bible says: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

And when people sin, they earn what sin pays—death. This death means punishment with eternal destruction; forever separated from the Lord and from His glorious power. Man is condemned to eternal death and punishment because of sin.

But because of God’s unfailing love for us, He made a way to reconcile us back to Him. God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humbled Himself, came into the world, lived a holy life and willingly sacrificed Himself on the Cross as payment for our sins. So that everyone who believes in Jesus and trusts in His sacrifice on the Cross as payment for sins shall have eternal life.

We cannot save ourselves by being good because God’s standard is perfect holiness and that is fulfilled by Jesus Christ alone. It is for this reason that Christ came into the world. For if keeping the law (following God’s commandments out of our own strength) could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. 

Therefore, a person’s obedience to God is only because of God’s grace not because of one’s own goodness or willpower.

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Rescued from Rebellion, Shaped for Submission
With college friends.

A personal testimony of Ma. Olivia Jill Temporal. Learn more about her on the Author’s page.

Read the whole series about her life story: