|The FISHERS Magazine (Issue 233)|
Christ Lives in Me
I was born in 1987 in the province of Negros Occidental, Philippines and was raised in a wonderful Christian family consisting of 4 boys and 1 girl. My father is a pastor and my mother is a Christian educator. Both of them are serving the Lord faithfully. They taught me and my siblings about Christian living: Scripture as the final authority and precepts of life; God as our Creator; Jesus Christ as our Saviour; the Holy Spirit as our Helper. I grew up attending Sunday school, Daily Vacation Bible School (DVBS) and camps which trained me to memorise verses in the Bible and taught me the importance of keeping them in my mind and heart. The first verse of scripture that I memorised was John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
Although I grew up in that environment, I did not fully understand the Gospel. However, I am so grateful to God that growing up in the church taught me to appreciate the grace I had been receiving. Being a pastor’s child is a blessing. At an early age, Scripture was instilled in me by my parents and they also exposed me to the ministry of His Word.
Every summer, we had DVBS at our church. I was eight years old when I understood the Gospel and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour and my only hope. At that DVBS, the teacher taught us about the life of the Apostle Paul. I was blessed and touched by God through the life of Paul who became a firm believer of Christ. Previously a sinner and an ardent persecutor of Christians, he was set apart by God and was called by His grace. Through that account, God taught me about His grace, which I am not worthy to receive. It is His wrath which I rightfully deserve, but He demonstrated His love by giving His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die and to save a wretched man like me. That same day, I confessed to God that I was a sinner and I could not save myself. I asked God to open my heart to receive Jesus so that I could start living for Him. Two years later, at the age of 10, I was baptised.
From then on, I surrendered everything to God and asked Him to take control of my life. My walk with Jesus has not always been easy. There were many struggles and challenges, especially during my high school days. Teenage life saw me exposed to overwhelming external and internal struggles such as peer pressure from unbelieving friends and classmates, and the need to belong. Many a time, I almost fell into temptation and sin, destroying God’s testimony in my life. It is hard to stand tall as a child of God when you are surrounded by the world. These struggles tested the intensity of my faith in Christ and that is why I am so grateful for His abounding grace which equipped me to endure those rough times.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Yes, I still struggle with sin and may fall into wickedness, but I have a God who is ever faithful and gracious. I have His Word as a source of enormous power (Ps 119:11); I have prayer to overcome it; I have godly people whom I can depend on and the Holy Spirit as my Helper. I do not trust in my own strength any more because I rest in God’s care. I cannot do anything without Christ and He strengthens me. Whenever I am tempted, I pray, recall Scripture, and ask God’s Spirit for help.
Another test came when I was in college. During that time, I was studying Engineering at the University of St. La Salle. My scholarship was cut due to the university’s financial problems. I was deeply saddened because I could no longer continue my studies, since my parents could not afford to pay for my tuition fees. However, that depressing event led me into His purpose and will. Everything God does in our lives is for our benefit, including gloomy moments and sufferings. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” It reminded me not to worry about anything but instead, pray about everything. Also, Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” I submitted to the guidance of the Lord, who directed my path to study in the Bible College. The Lord provided throughout my four years of studies. Now, one of my biggest joys is simply following the Great Commission, telling people about what Jesus did for me, teaching God’s Word and living for His Glory.
In 2010, I graduated with a Bachelor of Theology in Biblical Literature at The Centre for Biblical Studies and Seminary, Antipolo City. After the completion of my studies, I returned to my home church in Bacolod where my parents were serving and I served there for 8 years. I am truly grateful to God for the opportunity to be employed in His service.
In May 2018, I married my long-time girlfriend, Donna Diane Lopez. Our constant and earnest prayer was that wherever we are, we will be together, and together serve the Lord. The Lord directed me to follow my wife to Singapore after our marriage. Initially, my immigration application was rejected but after the appeal, it was approved in just one day. We do not know His plans for us but we trust His grace and wisdom that He will eventually reveal them to us.
Settling here in Singapore is very challenging, especially for me. Taking into account the big adjustments and finances, I needed a job to help provide for our needs although my wife was already employed here. After a month, the Lord provided me with a job in school maintenance at an International School. It was not in line with what I had done back in the Philippines. I was not involved in any church ministry and I felt very empty. But I know that the Lord was graciously preparing and teaching me through those experiences. I know everything happened for a purpose. That was always my motivation in every challenge. In God’s timing, He led us to the “Fisherman of Christ” Fellowship, which allowed us to minister to our fellow Filipino brethren and to serve in the church. May the grace of God help me to serve Him faithfully with a joyful and grateful heart.
I love this verse so much; it is my motivation to grow in Christ. It reminds me that I am saved and justified by placing my faith in Christ. In that very sense, I am attached to Christ; I died with Him and He begins to live in me. In short, Galatians 2:20 tells me how to live a life that pleases God. Knowing that I am “crucified with Him” gives me tremendous encouragement in my Christian walk.