“This is it!” I told myself as I was packing up my things for a 9-day mission trip to Zamboanga. After a week of fasting and months of preparation, I still couldn’t believe that God was commissioning us (me and my mentor) to embark on this journey. A day before our departure, as I was praying, I heard God audibly as He spoke a verse. I opened the bible as instructed and was left speechless by His message.
Tears fell from my eyes knowing that that He is truly a God of assurance. I did not deserve to be sent to this trip, but His love and trust made me worthy of the call. God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
THE BEGINNING OF AN EXCITING JOURNEY
My mentor and I arrived at the airport as early as 11pm because our flight was scheduled at 5:15 in the morning the following day. We spent our waiting time pondering about the greatness of God with regard to this trip. We were so amazed on how God has arranged every detail – from our schedule, to our finances, down to His great revelations that confirmed His go signal to pursue this journey.
Our flight was delayed for about an hour due to some electrical problems in the aircraft. But even so, we thank God for that delay because it assured us of our safety during the flight.
“Most of the time, the delays that happen in our life are for our own benefit”
THE EMOTIONS THAT CAME ALONG
I did not know what to expect about this trip. All I know is that I am ready to be used by God in that place. I had mixed emotions. I felt excited, anxious, grateful, and blessed all at the same time. This was my first time to be away from my family for quite a number of days; and going somewhere known to be one of the high risk places in the Philippines (according to media reports) added up to my anxiety. Nevertheless, my excitement about what God will be doing in that place has overruled my anxiousness.
Little did I know that this whole trip would turn my world upside-down.
MEETING MY SECOND HOME
We arrived at Pagadian airport at around 7:30 in the morning. We were welcomed by a fine weather and the sweet smiles of Roldan family, who gladly hosted us in their cozy home during our entire stay at Molave. The place was very peaceful and the people were all warm – a scene that is completely OPPOSITE from what we heard on the news.
We had to take a tricycle from the airport going to the city proper. They have beautiful huge capacity tricycles there specifically designed to travel on rough roads and farms with its reclining body. It can carry up to 8-10 people, I think.
We ate our breakfast at Jollibee and rode a tricycle again going to the bus terminal. It took us an hour of travel from Pagadian to Molave via an aircon bus which costs P30.00 per person (glad they are on promo).
THE START OF GOD’S GREAT WORK
We spent our first day at the field resting, recharging our energy, and fellowshipping with some friends who later on became our spiritual family. At first, I found it hard to jump into a conversation with them because of language barriers. But later on, I learned some basic Visayan words and understood 80% of what they were saying. Thanks to Kuya (pastor) George who became my tutor throughout our stay. Thank God as well because most of them know how to speak Tagalog.
ONLY GOD’S LOVE CAN HEAL
Early morning the next day, we headed out to visit a church in Mahayag, just a few kilometres away from Molave. The church was established 8 years ago but has been non-operational for quite a number of months now. The church’s structure has been damaged by the typhoon causing some parts of its roof to fall off.
The whole team prayed for restoration, not only of the physical aspect of the church but for the whole Church (body of Christ) to rekindle the flame of their love for Jesus and to reignite their passion to serve.
As soon as we finished praying, there was an instant change in the atmosphere. A spirit of revival has been installed in the place and the glory of God was seen. Let this photo speak for itself
After speaking of blessings to the church, we headed to a nearby house where we met a man who was suffering from a lung problem. This ailment had also affected his throat which caused him to have difficulty in speaking. Apart from that, he was also suffering from allergies that made a major portion of his legs turn black.
He was asked if he believes that God’s love can heal and he said “yes”. Pastora Cherie prayed over him and declared healing over his illness. Through God’s power, the man’s voice suddenly became more audible as he started saying “JESUS!” Likewise, the team of pastors also prayed over the man’s allergies. True enough, after they prayed, the allergies on his legs turned from black to white and the skin dried up.
This was the first miracle we witnessed during the trip. And God’s work had only just begun.
In the same house, we also met this smiling face 90-year-old woman. She was complaining about her aching back probably due to her old age. As soon as she was prayed over, she stood upright and straightened her back.
We were amazed by how God has shown His great power to those who believe in Him.
We can never belittle our faith because it can take us into greater heights. Through our faith in God alone, we can be healed and He can do wonders in our lives.
“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34
THE POWER OF CORPORATE PRAYER
God’s great work continued on that day. We held our prayer meeting that evening with the theme “Soaking in the River” where all of the pastors and members of different churches gathered together to pray for the following:
There is power when God’s people are united as one. This night was historical. The Holy Spirit moved mightily and many people were healed and delivered from their sickness.
This was one of God’s many miracles during our Interdenominational Prayer Gathering. A man who was having numbness on both of his legs couldn’t walk without his crutches for years. He came to our prayer gathering with faith in his heart that Jesus will show up in his situation. True enough, Jesus touched him and he was able to walk without his crutches right on that night. The best part of it was, he gave his life to Jesus Christ after his personal encounter with Him through his healing. To God be all the glory!
THE POWER OF LOVE – A POWERFUL BOND THAT CAN HEAL AND SET CAPTIVES FREE
Friday morning, we were visited by one of the pastors (Ptr. Bloso) and his wife in the house we were staying in. He invited his friend and his wife (Mommy Rebecca) over to be prayed over for healing. Mommy Rebecca has been suffering from memory loss for over 15 years. She couldn’t remember a thing nor can express any emotion since then.
Her husband was in great faith that she would be healed. As the pastors laid their hands over her, her memory gradually came back. She was able to recognize her husband and was able to remember that she has 3 children. In the middle of our prayer, an instruction was given that his husband’s love and prayer would be a powerful tool for her healing to take place. As soon as her husband held her hand and prayed for her, she broke into tears and recognized the love that his husband has for her. This great love and faith has brought healing to the wife. She was able to recall the names of their children and even the date of her birth.
As I witnessed this miracle, I couldn’t help but shed a tear. This just proves that love has such a great power over any circumstance. God is not moved by our situation but by our faith and by our heart that is full of love.
TRUE LEADEARSHIP IS SERVANTHOOD
One of things that made me love these people more is their humility. No wonder they are humble because all their leaders have displayed such great humility as well. In all of the activities held throughout the week, the pastors were very hands-on in preparing the things needed for the event. They were even used mightily by God during the praise and worship. The members of the music team were all pastors. I was also surprised when I found that out.
Our activity for this day was a Leadership Training exclusively for pastors and leaders (and those who are next in line in leadership). Pastora Cherie discussed about Discipleship and Biblical Foundation. The meeting was attended by many pastors and leaders who willingly dedicated themselves to be of service to the Lord through their respective ministries.
The activity was sealed by commissioning future leaders through installation of spiritual gifts and through spiritual revival. It was not an accident because those who attended were truly handpicked by the Lord to be used greatly in His ministry.
To cap off the night, the group had a celebratory dinner as a form of thanksgiving for the success of the event. This has truly been a night to remember for the whole team.
TELL YOUR STORY. IT CAN CHANGE LIVES.
Today was a day set apart especially for the victorious women of faith.
We excitedly got out of bed as we headed on to a nearby hotel where the sweet ladies were waiting for us. They rented a room which was initially reserved for 6 hours only. Time flies when you’re having fun… especially with those whom you are connected by Spirit.
This was a night of freedom and revival. Each of us had her own story to tell -a story that has inspired everyone in many ways. It is through those stories that we have bonded as one, as a precious bride of Christ… a promising soul, a woman of valour and victory. I have found my soul sisters in the person of these wonderful women of God.
“Use your pain to inspire others. Share your tests as living testimonies of God’s love.”
Tears were shed, our hearts were freed. God has reclaimed His throne over all the aspects of our lives. There was total revival and freedom during this night. As a result, we ended up staying at the hotel for a total of 12 hours. Hahaha!
But the hand of the Lord is always at work and His favor is always available. Just when we were about to pay for our room rent, the owner refused to take our money and gave us the stay for free! My heart leaped for joy, not only because of the free stay but because I was amazed on how the Lord can use people to bless us if He wanted to.
The best we can do to give back the favor to the owner is to speak blessings over his life. May you be blessed abundantly, sir!
P.S. Thank you Ptr. Darwin for the sweet gesture of bringing us lots of food and for buying this cake for us. Thank you Ptr. George for our yummy lunch! (that was supposed to be our breakfast. LOL)
As soon as we arrived home, a group of youth came over to practice for their special number for tomorrow’s worship service. Seeing their eagerness to serve and be used for God’s glory made us so inspired. What a great way to end the day!
AN EXTENDED FAMILY
Hooray for Sunday! This marks our 5th day at the field and we’re happy to have spent our Sunday morning with our extended family at N.E.W.S. Life Ministries, Zamboanga. They are our very first daughter church and we are very happy to call them as family. In fact, I no longer call their head pastor, ”Pastor George”. Instead, I call him Kuya George because he has really been like a true brother to me.
Our place there is not that big but still, our members were happily squeezing themselves in, hungry for the Word of God. As Kuya George led the praise and worship, there was a sudden change in the atmosphere. I felt God’s presence stretching throughout the place as if we were worshipping God in Araneta Coliseum. Truly, when the presence of God is felt in the Church, the place you are in will not matter anymore. Even our very hearts is not big enough to contain His presence. We sang some Visayan songs. And even if I don’t fully understand the lyrics, the Spirit within me was singing praises to the Most High.
I was trying to hold back my tears when we were watching the youth’s interpretative dance of the song “Who am I” by Casting Crowns. Seeing these young souls dedicating their lives to the work of the Lord made me say that the future is indeed bright. If only every child is like this, I could not begin to imagine how much impact they can make to the betterment of the world.
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT
This is a monumental day not only for the team and the participants, but also for me. This afternoon, we held a Youth gathering attended by youths of all ages and denominations.
When my mentor asked me to share my testimony, I agreed. But deep inside me, I was quite hesitant since I am intimidated by the nature of the task. Yes, I have experienced giving talks in secular institutions, but never in a church. But the Holy Spirit rebuked me and asked me to confront my intimidation. Fear is not from the Lord. Knowing that the Lord loves me and wants to use me gave me the courage that I needed to stand in front and share my story.
The Lord’s perfect love drove out my fear.
The Lord has moved in a mighty way in the lives of the youth. Many received emotional healing. The Lord’s tender embrace and undying love was all that they needed to feel better. Likewise, many of them received Spiritual gifts – speaking in tounges, dancing in the Spirit, and gift of vision and prophecy.
After all the manifestation, one lady approached the microphone and shared what God allowed her to see in a vision. She even mentioned the same thing that was prophesied in the National Prayer Gathering held at Cuneta Astrodome last April.
We were so blessed with was God has done in this new generation of leaders. He has made them a very promising generation that would stir up the hopes of our nation. A generation that would bring a great revival and one that carries a great anointing. They are giant slayers and would bring victories over victories. God will build them up from glory to glory, in Jesus’ Name!
We spent the night at Kuya George’s ancestral house where we ate dinner. I enjoyed the trip going there. Riding on a motorcycle in the middle of the rice fields with the moon as our only source of light was what made it very exciting. It was that time when I told them that I wanted a house in the middle of the fields. The environment was so quiet and peaceful. The air is fresh and the view of the sky was just sooo amazing.
Going home, we had a joy ride in the town. Upon realizing that Kuya George left the key in their ancestral house, we decided to wait for him at the park. It was a lively place full young people meeting together having their late-night conversations, giggling and laughing together, while I was there with my mentor who fell asleep on the other bench. That tired feeling was a great feeling after all when you have spent your energy doing God’s work. Hooray for this memorable night in the park!
A PLEASING SACRIFICE
We woke up at 5 in the morning to go to Pastor Bloso’s place. We were supposed to have a dawn watch. However, we arrived at their place at around 8 a.m. already.
Mornings in Zamboanga are foggy and cold. Sometimes, it’s a risk to hit the road this early, since it is zero visibility during this time of day. Glad we got to the place safe and sound. Special thanks to Ptr. Glenn whom God used to provide for our transportation.
This special meeting of the pastors was held to plan about the upcoming dedication of a part of Pastor Bloso’s land to be made as a special place of prayer – Prayer Mountain. The generosity of this pastor has opened my eyes that wealth and possessions are made to be dedicated to the works of the Lord. In the first place, it is God who gave us everything that we have. Therefore, whatever is ours is His to begin with.“I will not sacrifice to the Lord, my God, that which costs me nothing.” 1 Samuel 24:24
How could we forget the delicious food that Pastora Nena has prepared for us! With matching pomelo and plants for us to take home.
“Tatay” (as what he wants me to call him) took us for a tour around their place. The mountain is abundant with natural resources that those who are living there will surely never go hungry. He picked some fresh coconuts for us which was perfect to sooth the heat we felt as we climbed to the mountain top. The view from above was astonishing. We were all in awe over God’s creation. This is truly a perfect spot for prayer, reflection, and meditation. Closer to nature, closer to God. We’re glad that we were given the opportunity to experience the serenity of this place in its raw form. Soon to rise here is a place of refuge and prayer. I will surely come back to this place.
After our descent from the prayer mountain, we were fetched by mommy Rebecca and his husband and invited us over to their place. We had to cross a rough road and travel nearly an hour going to their house. We were all exhausted but seeing the smile from the face of Mommy Rebecca was really worth the travel. Her husband reported that she is doing better and better as days went on and they just continue to pray to God for her total recovery.
EMPOWERED TO EMPOWER
WOMEN ARISE DAY 1
This is the first day of the final activity for this mission trip. This event catered to the finale of all creation, the women. The program was entitled “Women Arise” which talked about being ‘A Woman Seeking God’ in all the days of her life.
We were overwhelmed with a huge number of attendees all prepared with their sleeping mats and clothes. All of them were very excited for this overnight retreat. Women from different age groups gathered together for one goal: to seek God and be empowered, for them to empower others. I truly admire these women who gladly invested their time and resources for the work of the Lord. They acknowledged that they have a significant role to play in the lives of their husbands and children, in their spiritual community, in the society, nation, and the whole world.
The first session was about IDENTITY – taken from the book of Ruth
Let me share to you a summary of what has been discussed during the session.
A woman seeking God redeems her Identity
What we can learn in the lives of the following women:
- Naomi-Forgiven – she learned that survival is worth everything it costs. Likewise, she discovered that it is never too late for God to redeem her,
- Orpah – say goodbye to some people in your present. Some people in your life today are just curious but they are not committed. They are the ones who block and hamper your way to your destiny. You must learn to let them go as you move on in your journey, for these people in your life are probably not part of your future’s harvest.
- Ruth – A Risk-taker
We should be like Ruth, a fearless woman who’s willing to take the risk and is not afraid to fail. She understood that it is in this life’s journey that she will find strength.
CHALLENGE: If you know your future, you will leave your past and march forward towards your destiny.
This has been a night of revival. Many eyes were opened and many captives were set free by the love of the Lord. The courageous women who attended had accepted the challenge wholeheartedly and are ready to face the days ahead.
WOMEN ARISE DAY 2
As soon as we woke up, we eagerly changed to our sporty outfits for the warm-up activity for the women. We were greeted with warm smiles from the women whose joy radiated from within.
After the morning devotion, we had a wonderful, Spirit-filled workout to the tune of victorious songs declaring God’s promises over our lives. We were happy that we’re able to bond with some women while taking a short jog/photo session around the sports complex. The smell of the fresh air and the cool wind made me love the place even more. We’re blessed to have a break away from the city while having the privilege to do God’s work.
And of course, how can we forget the hospitality, love, care, and true servanthood that the men have shown throughout the 2-day event for the women. The pastors along with the other men were busy being the tech, cook, maintenance, errand boys etc. We are truly grateful for the support they have given to us all. They have just proven that real MEN do exist, and that real men who truly love God have a servant heart. We hope to meet more men like you. May God bless you more and more.
To celebrate the victorious work that the Lord has done, we had a celebratory dinner attended by all the pastors from different congregations together with their families. Together, we believed for greater things to come and greater things to be done in this city, all for God’s glory!
NO CHAIN STRONG ENOUGH TO DENY THE GRACE OF GOD
This day marked our final day for home visitations before we leave for Manila. Our morning was spent visiting the home of a dear friend who is part of our spiritual family. As soon as we stepped inside their house, we felt that God had administered healing and deliverance for the family members who needed it most. As their family members were prayed over, we sang songs of worship to cancel the strongholds and the schemes that the enemy has plotted.
The wisdom that came with the experience was this: When the glory of God is released and revealed over your life, there is no place for sickness, negativity, and all the evil schemes to dwell in. When you receive the glory of God and have faith (even if it’s as small as a mustard seed) that you will be healed, then that’s the time that miracles take place. You will be instantly delivered and freed from the situation that the enemy has put you in.
I have witnessed a lot of miracles for the past days. Sometimes, even the unlikely situations that we are currently facing turn out to be the ones that would draw us closer to each other… believing that our faith will get us through. And this faith that has been strengthened by the storms in our lives is the key to many miracles that God wants us to experience. Just hold on…help is just a prayer away.
We spent the whole afternoon exploring the town as this was our only chance to do so. We went to the market to buy pasalubong. There were many good finds there. In fact, I was able to buy a top for a very very cheap price. I needed to buy since I ran out of clothes to wear (Note to self: be more prepared on your next mission trip LOL).
I truly enjoyed our short trip to the market. I was finally able to use some Visayan words that Kuya George has taught me. (ex. Tagpila = Magkano? Tagpila ang plete=magkano ang bayad/pamasahe?). Nothing beats indulging in our simple joys such as this. As what they say, the best things in life are free!
We chose to spend the night with the members of our church in Molave. We had a simple gathering celebrated with lots of food and stories to share. Even though we experienced power interruption that time, it didn’t stop us from praising God. With all the candles lit over the place, we were reminded that God is our light and darkness cannot overcome it. “The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5
We capped off the night by visiting the house of Pastor Glen for some fellowship with the other pastors and their families before we leave for Manila the following day.
GOING HOME BUT LEAVING ANOTHER HOME
I opened my eyes at 5 in the morning. My body’s awake but my mind is in trance as I listened to the worship song playing in the background. I heard someone cooking in the kitchen like the usual mornings in the past days. I refused to believe that this mission trip has come to an end. It was only like yesterday when I first slept in my warm and comfy sofa bed playing with the kids and asking God for directions for this mission trip. And now, I see that our bags were all packed.
I got out of bed and approached my ever loving kuya who was then busy making a cup of coffee for us. As I sipped my coffee from my orange mug (a mug they bought especially for us), kuya George was busy teasing me that I would cry when they send us to the airport. I just kept on laughing but deep inside I really didn’t want to leave.
It is inevitable for some (if not all) missionaries, to be so attached to the people they meet during mission trips. Well, we didn’t just “meet” these people. . . in our case, we have created a bond- a spiritual bond that transcends physicality. They have treated us like family. Together, we prayed, we witnessed miracles, we have seen prayers being answered before our very eyes, and shared many experiences that proved how great and mighty our God is. I believe that there is always a reason why God allows us to cross paths with certain people. I am very grateful to God for bringing us together as one spiritual family. Even though I felt sad that we had to leave, I told myself that this is just the beginning of our wonderful journey in His ministry, and that there will be more great things in store for us in the future.
NOTHING BUT A BIG “THANK YOU!”
We’re all set to go home… we’re leaving with one extra luggage filled with fruits and plants from Pastor Bloso’s farm. A big thank you Pastor Bloso and to Pastora Nena for your thoughtfulness! We also have one plastic of malagkit – a kind of rice used to prepare kakain. A big thank you as well, Ate May! (not to mention, for being my maid-of-honor.. hahahahahaha!). Of course a big thank you as well to Pastor Darwin who woke up early to be with us going to the bus terminal. Sending also our big thank you to all the Pastors and their families.. Pastora Ga, Pastor Israel and Pastora Angel, Pastor Joel and Pastora Juliet, Pastor Glen and Pastora Bhing, and Pastora Beb. To all the friends, Ate Karenn, Mark Austero, Mark Alah, to the mom and sister of Pastor George, thank you for welcoming us to you home and for the sumptuous dinner you have prepared for us. To all the youth who attended the interdom gathering and to all the women who attended the women arise event. To all the members of NEWS Life Ministries Molave and Manila..to all our prayers warriors.. to Momi Velma Waters and many other whom I failed to mention here. You are all partakers of the harvest. Your success in your walk with God is also our success.
And lastly, we’d like to throw a big THANK YOU to Pastor (Kuya) George and Pastora (Ate) Arlene, for opening up their home to us for the entire duration of this mission trip. Thank you for standing with us in prayer and for staying up until dawn for our soaking and waking up early the next morning to prepare our breakfast..served with coffee and a variety of fruits. Thank you for letting us stay in your room and giving us the best accommodation that you can offer. Thank you for the late night talks, and for sharing with us your one-of-a-kind God-written lovestory. Thank you for waking up early to fetch us from the airport and for dropping us back, even if it means spending hours on a bus ride to and from Pagadian. Thanks as well to my two loves GB and GD who made my stay in their home really very happy because of their hospitality. They sang songs to me and even told me stories about Jesus even if I cannot understand their language. They even taught me some Visayan words so that I can talk to them properly. I will terribly miss you my kiddos! Thank you so much Roldan family from the bottom of our hearts!
A VICTORIOUS JOURNEY
I couldn’t help but shed a tear after saying a prayer before we went inside the airport. Yeah, Kuya George was right, the separation anxiety kicked in, big time! I was crying but my heart was filled with joy, not because we’re leaving but because I know that we left a mark in their hearts.
We headed back to Manila with big smiles on our faces for a victorious work that the Lord has done in Zamboanga. I consider this trip as one of the highlights of 2015! Praying for more trips and more exciting work in His vineyard!
ALL GLORY AND PRAISES BELONG TO JESUS CHRIST ALONE! THANK YOU, LORD!