My childhood is tainted with violence and abuse instigated by my own father. I was in my first year of high school when a tragedy happened, my father was killed by his own father. I was confused at that time about what to feel. Should I be happy for there’s no father to harm us? Or should I grieve because my siblings are still young and they will grow without a father by their side?
From dull darkness, my life suddenly came to light. Determined to be nurtured spiritually, I found refuge and healing from my broken state. Henri Nouwen commented: “Even hard and painful times can be converted to occasions for learning, shaping influences forming us into the persons we are and leading us to the Source of healing and salvation. “ Joining church activities revived me, and slowly the fear and uncertainty of my life were replaced with joy and hope.
Trash turned into treasures; mess into a message; trials into triumphs; pain into gain; brokenness into blessings. Songwriter Gloria Gaither puts it this way: “Something beautiful, something good! All my confusion He understood! All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife, but He made something beautiful out of my life!”
I’ve encountered God in many ways, sizes, shapes, colors, textures, and up to now, the revelation of Their glory continues. As Leighton Ford quoted Luci Shaw: “Time is not our enemy, nor is it a hostile place from which we must flee. It is a meeting place, a point of rendezvous with God.”
We didn’t find justice for the death of my father. We were left with “nothing” for survival. But what about my dream and the future of my three other siblings? Times of trials are times of learning, growing, and excelling. Times of challenges are times of nurturing, pursuing, and trusting. Even with so many challenges and persecutions, I always positioned myself in love with my calling, and I entered the ministry at 18 years old.
My mother has been an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) since my father died in 1993 and I became the primary caregiver of my family since I am the eldest. I worked from high school to my graduate studies to support and care for my family. In 2014 I was appointed as the first-woman Administrative Pastor to a Centennial Church (109 years old), a big church with five satellite churches with an average attendance of 500-600 weekly, and as a Chaplain of its school with almost 1,500 students from Preschool to Grade 10.
C. S. Lewis, a British novelist, poet, academic, literary critic, essayist, and lay theologian made this statement: “ Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” My family’s story is full of violence, harassment, and laments, but God has walked with us through our struggles. God will continue to walk alongside all of us as we struggle to seek justice and love one another.
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