by Jastine Lee
by Jastine Lee
Last June 2-3, Ms. Amy Lubo-Idio, together with the pastors’ wives and Leadership Group Leaders, formed the core that pioneered and facilitated the whole event at the Ciudad Christia Resort 9 Waves in San Mateo, Rizal. Interestingly, the event just started out as an idea three months before it was materialized. Extraordinary, as its title was a 2-day contemplative retreat for the single mothers “to grow in the knowledge and grace of God”. More than 50 single moms participated to be refreshed and have a rest from their everyday busyness and responsibilities.
Testimonies from the participants:
The first time I met Ms. Neth Lopez was way back last year when I attended the Purple Book Class. I could still remember the time when she denied my registration to the said class the first time I applied because I simply walked in on the first day of the class without confirming my attendance beforehand. Every time I see her, she’s very energetic, vivacious and outspoken. In short, you just couldn’t help but notice her. Although she’s very welcoming, she appears to be a bit intimidating to some. So when David (the Communications’ Ministry Head) introduced her to me for an ambush interview, I admit I could barely contain my uneasiness. But with God’s grace and provision, it turned out to be one of the most encouraging stories I heard, how God’s goodness and faithfulness shine through in a person’s life.
Neth Lopez, a mother of three full grown children, started in the ministry since 2007 when Victory Nova was then Victory Fairview. Having a sanguine temperament, you would never thought of her as someone who had gone through difficult times. Her husband left her for another woman 12 years ago. Last year, her youngest daughter was rushed to a hospital due to chronic pain in her stomach. Doctors could not diagnose the cause of the pain. After a few hours had past she died. When autopsied, it was found out to be undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy.
Asking about how she felt with what she’d been through, unruffled and with an evident peace on her face, she answered, “In every trial, there’s a reason. God sometimes had to take things away from our lives to strengthen us for the future.” As an only child, she grew up, as she termed it, “spoiled” by her parents. “God allows trials to make you strong”, she emphasized. The retreat has made her realized that being a solo mom is not a hindrance. “God is there to help and guide you. Believe that He’s with you no matter what and that He will provide for you.” She continued, “I can live without my family but I can’t live without my God. Your loved ones would someday leave you but the Lord will stay with you though you cannot see Him.” God has blessed ate Neth because of her faith. She testified, “I have no work yet I was able to travel to various countries, and how could that be? Truly it’s just God’s provision.” Her advice to people who are going through trials and testing is, “Hold on to God. Don’t lose hope. It’s not a one-time big-time relationship with God. We should find a way to overcome our feeble relationship with God.” She ended the interview by quoting Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV):
“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.”
Ms. Laarni Jose is a tall, brunette woman with pleasing countenance and exuding with confidence, which is no wonder why she was crowned as the “Star of the Night” during the evening dress event in the retreat. When Gina Llamas, one of the volunteers, introduced her to me on the 2nd day of Victory Weekend, I took that opportunity to interview her.
Laarni joined the ministry last September 2016 and has grown quickly to become an intern under Rosie Rayos. Because she works in the sales, she immediately felt comfortable talking. Her story is filled with testimonies of God’s faithfulness as she constantly walks with Him and obeys Him.
It was May of this year when she was faced with the dilemma of whether to resign from her job for two-and-a-half year, or to risk her faith in God because of an apparent temptation. The same litany as many Christians encountering trials, she asked God, “Why God life seems more difficult for me, yet I’m following you?” Being the breadwinner of her family, resigning from work would mean losing their financial support. Before making such decision, she fasted for 3 days last April. Firmly, she said “God revealed this word to me…. When you obey, God will give you what you asked for. For He said, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ Your sorrow will turn into joy. There’s light in darkness” And with that, she resigned all her concerns to God.
When I asked her which part of the retreat that strikes her the most, she answered, “It’s about establishing your kid’s relationship with Jesus Christ.” She has a 6-year-old daughter who’s now in Grade 1. Filled with gratitude to God, she narrated how her daughter has grown to love God and would even sometimes remind her, “Mom, let’s worship the Lord now.” Seeing her daughter worshipping God, with eyes closed and arms lifted up, she would attribute it all to God and said, “It’s all because of You Lord, the strength that comes from You is also extended to others.”
Ms. Laarni, also testified that, “Now, I no longer want to make any decision if it’s not in line with God’s will.” and she went on saying, “It’s when I lost my job that I became happier. Before, I could get whatever I want, but it only gives me temporary happiness and not that kind of unspeakable joy that comes from God…. Though I’m a single mom, I’m not alone because I have Jesus in my life who loves me. …Single moms like me do not need other people to make us complete for Jesus completes us. I am not perfect for I think God didn’t make life perfect. Knowing how I was saved is priceless for me.”
“I gave up my career in order to seek God’s Kingdom first. I just believe that God will provide. And indeed He does. His grace is extended throughout my family” She testified that during her season of rest from work, she prayed to God for a 25k pesos. Then the Holy Spirit impressed on her to call this particular office where she worked 5 years ago. Baffled yet she obeyed. And God gave her more than she asked. She received 60k pesos, more than twice she prayed for. After a month, she received another huge amount of money to sustain her and her family for the next 2 months. “Whenever I have financial problem, I just remember that I have a big God who will provide for me,” she said.
After listening to the stories of Neth Lopez and Laarni Jose, these wonderful women whose faith in God are tested, I realized that even in our weaknesses and failures, there is only one who will succeed for us – God, through Jesus Christ who came and suffered for us. He loved us and died for our sins even when we cannot do anything for Him. Isaiah 48:10-11 says,
“I have refined you but not in the way silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering. I will rescue you for my sake – yes, for my own sake!”
It is the saving truth of Jesus that transforms lives. On the Cross, He demonstrated that He loves us, even with our sins, even when we sin against Him over and over again. Jesus truly is the only one who embodied what it means to love for who we are, not for what we can give or what we can do. And because of our real experience with Him, we can be a confident living testimony to anyone who sees us.
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