Tonight I’m plopping on my bed with my Bible, a pen and a page to make preparations for the new Victory Group that I’m leading for the first time tomorrow evening.
This afternoon I reminded the girls thru text message about tomorrow’s whereabouts while whispering a prayer to heaven: Jesus have Your way.
Like I couldn’t manage not to pray while texting because… Well, because…
Is it okay if I tell you a little confession tonight?
I have been really anxious about this all. week. long.
It’s not that I don’t want it, this Victory Group I’m leading. Actually, it’s something that I’ve been praying and asking God for. And when it comes to this department, I’ve always known Him to be quick in answering. So when I started praying, I was pretty sure and confident that somewhere down the road not too far, tomorrow is coming.
But the thing is? Sometimes when we take the focus off of Jesus, it’s really gonna be a party of anxiety and worry and fear we see.
So tonight would you let me just write it all down to remind me? Could you just all remind me? Remind me to get these eyes back to focus on Jesus. To remind me that all these,
“What if they get bored with me?”
“What if they won’t like what I will share?”
“What if they feel uncomfortable around me?”
“What if no one will come?!!!! GAAH.”
All these are just trashy, self-reliant thoughts that don’t belong to a child of God.
They’re not worth it.
But to sit around the dinner table and share life with a bunch of girls (even just one girl) tomorrow?
And tell them about Jesus?
And ultimately let Him be in control?
It will be all worth it.
And this anxiety. It ends tonight.
So I was expecting five girls to come but nine showed up tonight.
I don’t know how that happened but what I do know for sure is this: it’s all God’s doing.
And me? Completely undone.
When I decided to follow Jesus, life didn’t become storm free.
On the contrary, if I will think about it, some of the strongest storms that have come in my life happened when I became a Christian. In John 16, Jesus himself said that in this life we will have troubles but we can take heart because He has overcome the world.
The truth is? Following Jesus is not a walk in the park.
It’s not gonna be smooth sailing all the time. And in times when big waves hit and strong winds howl, I’m thankful that our journey of faith is never meant to be done alone.
I’m thankful that for the past seven years of my life as a Christian, God has been faithful in bringing people in my life who have been there to weather with me through this journey of faith. Those who have given of themselves to disciple me. Those who become my anchors in both calm and raging seas.
Today, I want to honour nine women who God has used to become my constant grip, keeping me stable and still in the ocean.
I cannot even begin to tell you the things I’ve learned from Ate Ruby. And truthfully, most of the things I learned from her I learned outside a discipleship group meeting. Her life has been a profound example to me of what a follower of Jesus is. The way she was just so secure in her identity and in the calling that God has in her life spoke volumes to me as a student. I learned through Ate Ruby that discipleship doesn’t just have to happen once a week in a small group setting. It is more than that. Way more than that. It should be a culture. A lifestyle.
When Ate Ru responded to God’s call in her life to leave Manila and go back to her hometown, Domz took over of our discipleship group. She was Joshua personified. I loved the way she took the challenge of being the next leader. If there was anything I appreciated about Domz, it’s her dedication to give so much of herself for the work of the Lord. There was a time our small group with Domz met at 7 in the morning weekly because it was the only schedule most of the girls were available to meet. I mean, who wakes up at 7am to make disciples?!! Domz did. Domz is also my longest prayer partner. I’m more than grateful for how she has always been there covering me in prayer.
Sharon was the person who cheered me on and pushed me to make disciples in my campus. I might have thought many times that she was nuts for believing that a barely year old Christian can make disciples and lead her own small group too. But you know what? Sharon was right all along. You are never too young (or old) to make disciples. I appreciate her also for being so patient with me during the most stubborn years of my life as a Christian. I think more than anyone, it was Sharon who I gave the hardest time. But I’m grateful she never gave up on me.
I’m thankful for Gaviene for teaching how to live a life of strong convictions and no compromise before God. She didn’t just teach it. She lived it. I appreciate her for always spurring me to dig down deep in His word and to not be content with just reading my Bible but go beyond that so I can know God more and deepen my relationship with Him.
Though technically I was never under Babes’ discipleship group, I just have to mention her here. Because discipleship doesn’t have to be limited in a weekly gathering. Because discipleship IS relationship. I appreciate Babes for teaching me to dream big because we have a big God and for teaching me in the areas of identity, character, love and relationships. I’ve always told her if Dennis Sy has Act Like A Man, she’s the best fitting to do an Act Like a Woman or something. ;) ;) And yeah, you guys can thank me later.
Eva has always been oozing with passion to reach out to the lost. I won’t forget the time when we met a handful of Miriam College students at Jollibee Katipunan for the first time and right there she unashamedly shared the Gospel to them to which all the girls responded in faith. I sat there that day profoundly moved thinking I want what she was having. Her heart and compassion for the lost is just too much. I think it is not an accident she was named Evangeline by her parents.
I only need to say one sentence for Dar Unson: “Love people the way Jesus would.” Because BULLS EYE. Like I still need to chew on that every. single. day of my life. I’m thankful for her for that beautiful imprint she left in my heart.
Ate Rache was my first discipler out of college as a single professional. When few of my friends and I went through a season of transition as we graduated in college, we were more than terrified. One Sunday, the girls and I decided to form our own fresh graduate Victory group though no one among us wanted to lead it. So we asked Ate Rache if she was willing to take us under her wings. She said yes to it but with a condition: she will give us a year to transition and by the time it was over, she wanted us to go back leading our own Victory groups again. I appreciate Ate Rache for understanding us through our season. But I appreciate her more for believing we can do more than just being in a care group.
I’ve always admired Ate Jo Anne from afar even back when I was a student. I’m thankful that for the last year and a half, God has given me the opportunity to know her up close and do life with her as my discipler. Some of the most significant decisions I’ve made in my life in the last year it was Ate Jo Anne who guided me through it. I’m thankful for her for always pointing me back to Jesus and for encouraging me to continue on doing the call of God in my life especially in times when it’s hard to understand. I cannot imagine going through this season without her guidance and wise cousel!
And if there is anything that I learned altogether from these people? It’s the importance of surrounding yourself with people who will disciple you, teach you, coach you, spur you, mentor you, correct you and be there for you in this walk of faith.
You don’t have to do it alone. Because you can never do it alone.
Big ships need anchors. :)
MORE BLOGS ON DISCIPLESHIP HERE:
1. Discipleship Works by Perci Paras
2. I strip for discipleship by Ganns Deen
3. More Caught Than Taught by Paolo Punzalan
4. Spiritual Heros Part 1 by Joseph Bonifacio
5. #DFF by Jek Valle
6. My Discipleship Notes by Emmanuelle Gomez
7. On Discipleship by Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio
8. The Defining Minute of My Manhood by Dennis Sy
I have been thinking a lot about my friend Pia* this week.
As we’ve been talking about the value of evangelism in our church the past few days, my mind kept running back to the time God changed my perspective about sharing the Gospel to the lost and how He used Pia’s story as a pivotal part of that lesson.
It all happened in college when I was just new as a Christian.
Very fired up and passionate about my newfound faith at that time, I wanted to give my classmates the same opportunity I had in knowing Jesus. I’d make every effort that I can to share my faith to them — whether that’s through a simple conversation over lunch or extending an invitation to them to come to church with me.
However, there was one person in class that I couldn’t place to share my faith to.
Pia’s life at that time was going in all sorts of direction — wrong relationships, vices, failing grades, family issues. You know the kind. She was that one person who for me looked so far away from God and who I would never dare imagine to believe in Jesus. Do you have any of those in your life?
I didn’t want to reach out to her because she seemed to be not interested. I was reluctant because she seemed like the type who wouldn’t bother listening to me when I talk about God.
But one day she surprised me.
I invited my friends to attend youth service with me that day and they all agreed to come. After class as we were preparing to go, Pia learned about our plan. I didn’t invite her but she said she wanted to come too.
And you know what, she did come.
She came and God came through because that night the person who I was most reluctant to share my faith to attended the youth service with me and gave her life to Christ.
Here’s a lesson for everyone of us: God’s hand is never too short to save anyone. And when it comes to the Gospel? We should NEVER base who we should reach out to on the way people look, on their character, on their situation, their problems or even their past because the truth is — no matter what our backgrounds look like, everyone needs God. Everyone needs to know Jesus.
He died on the cross not for good people but for sinners — meaning everyone of us. So we shouldn’t exclude anyone.
I’ve had the privilege to see Pia’s life transform from old to new since the night she gave her life to Christ.
But I’ve also experienced the pain of seeing how a major crisis in her life shook the core of her faith to a point of questioning the God she once knew.
In those times of shaking and confusion, I took every chance I had to speak into her life, pray for her and stay by her side as a friend but then eventually, she chose to walk away.
After college, Pia moved to a different city. I didn’t hear much from her since then. But even in the years of having no communication with her, I never stopped praying and believing God for her.
This week, after all those years of praying, somehow something cracked.
A message from her popped up in my Inbox Saturday evening. It was a reply from a message I sent her last May.
OF. ALL. THE. DAYS.
Long story short, we ended up on Skype on Tuesday morning.
This time, I did not let the moment pass without sharing the Love I’ve known to be true.
I shared the Gospel to my friend Pia this week. To my friend who God cares for and delights in and loves just the same.
And like the prodigal son coming to back to his senses, Pia came running back to the arms of her Father once again.
Turns out, after all these years, Pia still likes to surprise me.
And God’s hand is still never too short to save anyone.
“You know what? It is hard. Maybe this is why Paul encourages doing the “work” of evangelism. It is work, and a hard work at that. You put your heart out there. You offer grace and acceptance and love to people far from God. You make the phone calls. You extend the hand of friendship. You pick up the phone in the middle of the night. And at the end of the day, you just feel like you’ve been ripped to shreds. But somehow you hang in there, determined to keep sowing seed. Sure you may be a fool, but you’re a special kind of fool. You’re the fool who still believes that a tiny green sprout will one day rise up from the dirt.
Someday, friends, there comes a harvest. Someday there is a payoff. Someday sinners become saints. And between now and then, we get to keep spreading the message. We get to keep playing the roles we are meant to play. We get to keep planting seeds, trusting that God will bring the increase. Because in due time – oh, the increase that he brings!” – Bill Hybels, Just Walk Across The Room
OTHER EVANGELISM STORIES:
1. How Will They Hear by Joseph Bonifacio
2. When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Emmanuelle Gomez
3. Radical Love That Demands a Radical Response by Paolo Punzalan
4. Bad News, Good News by Jenn Punzalan
5. Jesus is More Than a Ticket to Heaven by Dennis Sy
6. Open Door, Closed Heart by Sofia Paderes
7. The Miracle at Kenny Rogers Roasters by Ganns Deen
8. The Great Passion by Ernie Aragon
9. Walk This Way by Karess Rubrico
10. The British Singer by Jek Valle
11. Dare to Share by Carla Peralejo-Bonifacio
12. Let It Glow (and no, this is not about Frozen) by Charles delos Reyes
13. Hair Salon, Battle of the Bands, and Jesus by Erikson Isaga
14.Just One Phrase by Yam Domingo
15. I Shared the Gospel to My Parents; This is How They Responded by Dana Abad
16. Scales by Nate Punzalan
I spent the last summer of high school attending journalism workshop classes. Being an incoming high school senior back then facing a crossroad of what major to take in college, I was hoping that the workshop would solidify my newfound fondness in writing and help me decide whether or not to eventually take a degree in Communications.
At the end of the workshop, what has started to be a plain fascination has eventually grown so deeply in me that I became really passionate about it. I was almost sure that I knew what I wanted to be.
When my senior year classes started, I took interest in joining the school paper publication because PASSION. I was expecting it will be a place where I’ll get to be inspired and encouraged to get better at what I’m doing, but somehow I experienced otherwise.
One afternoon, our school publication teacher sat with me after reading an article I wrote, and then predicted the end of what I thought was just then a budding career for me.
“I don’t get why you write. There’s nothing in here. You can’t be a writer.”
I was barely thirteen. The awkward years of puberty. Didn’t know better. Didn’t have Jesus in her life. Naturally, it pulled me down.
It pulled me down so badly that the rest of my senior year I could not manage to see that teacher without my face turning red from holding tears back because I’d remember her words and it would hurt. Words that eventually I succumbed to and apparently I allowed to define who I am.
I don’t remember going again for something that I want or I love after that. For years, I became someone who played safe because I didn’t want to get hurt again and mostly because I thought I wasn’t any better anyway.
Of course, that all changed when I met Jesus and gave my life to Him. But even after few years of being a disciple and a follower of Christ, I didn’t realize until much later that there was something that I haven’t fully given up to Him yet.
Around year 2009, I was given an opportunity to intern at Philippine Star as a junior reporter. By all means I took the opportunity and I had the privilege to work with the wonderful team for two months.
What I learned during that time about newspaper publications was that not all the articles that journalists write will appear on print. So all throughout the internship, I was very agitated to get a work published. That was where God started to expose the true condition of my heart.
I was motivated to get published because I thought that waving my published article in my high school teacher’s face would be the best vengeance I could ever have for all the words of rejection I received from her. In your face, Ma’am. In your face.
Apparently, after all those years, I still haven’t forgotten.
And obviously still haven’t forgiven.
I don’t know what were the words spoken to you when you were young. And I’m sure we all have our valid reasons to be angry at those whose words have one way or another dictated the course of our lives; but any kind of unforgiveness, big or small, doesn’t please God.
I learned that unforgiveness can rot our hearts and rotten hearts don’t reflect God.
And forgiveness, for the record, is not an option that God gives us to do. It is a mandate. It is a commandment we need to obey. It is a statement that says,
“God, I make you the Lord over this area of my life.”
Just as You should be in everything. Just as You should be.
I knew during that time that God wanted me to extend the grace of forgiveness to my teacher. It was time to let go and surrender, place all that I was holding back from God at the foot of the cross.
It didn’t come easy, I’d be honest to say that.
But when it gets hard to submit, remember that you cannot outgive God. What we surrender to Him out of obedience He always replaces with something better.
I know that to be true because when I decided to forgive, not only did it free me from all the baggage that I had long been carrying, but I also received full healing from all the wounds of negative words that were inflicted on me.
Healing that could only come through a total surrender in Christ.
He’s now in control.
Here are some other great Lordship stories to read. Check out these blogs and be encouraged!
Few weeks ago, in one of my quiet times, I was reminded of a worship song that for a season I used to endlessly listen to.
The day was rough and I wanted to remember again what the song is about and how it means to me – how it ministers to my soul.
On YouTube, I searched up a lyric video of the song so I could play it once more.
I looked for a lyric video because I didn’t just want to listen. I wanted to see and grasp what the lyrics say.
When the song started to play, in the quiet of my room, I worshipped.
You called me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail…
All throughout the song while I was lifting up my praise, my eyes were closed. But when it got to the bridge part, I opened my eyes so I could intentionally look at the very words of the song I was singing.
What I got, however, was more than the lyrics but a God-moment.
Behind the lyrics was a moving background template of a wildly storm raged ocean – sky: dark, waves: big, storm: strong, lighting: sharp.
‘Cause at least for me, when I try to visualize in my head the “ocean” I’m singing about in this song, the image that often comes to mind is an incomprehensibly vast and deep blue body of water which in and of itself is already terrifying, overwhelming and intimidating to think about.
Lest whirled by a storm.
I’ve always sung the song thinking of a calm water to walk on to. Not a raged one (who said it will be easy anyway).
And that makes the meaning I put into the song a thousand more different.
I realized, all these times, I didn’t really know and understand what I was singing about. I had no idea of the true gravity of what I was actually wanting to place myself into. Or what I was really asking God for.
Until I saw that video and in my heart I felt God tugged,
“When you ask me to let you walk upon the waters, that is the kind of water I want to allow you to walk on to. And I know — it looks so fearful and impossible, but you just have to keep your eyes on Me. Will you trust Me?”
I hope for all of us, the answer will still be yes.
And once we start walking on raging waters through Him who holds us close, may it cause us to trust Him all the more in ways deeper than we will ever be.
“So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine”
– Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), Hillsong United