My parents named me Jabez, after a guy in the Bible*, who was born in pain or caused pain. Whichever it was, Jabez still meant pain. But this guy asked God to bless him, expand his borders and keep him away from evil and pain, and GOD DID! And so his name took on a new meaning. God redefined Jabez.
I was 9 when I got saved. My father brought me to one of his new Bible study centers. He was explaining to a bunch of adults about the Salvation that is in Jesus Christ when I felt God talking to me. I heard this same story many times before but it was the first time that I understood it and it drew a response from me. I accepted Jesus Christ that night. Whenever I look back at that incident, I am reminded that no one could ever underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to make a child understand. This has been my motivation why I have a passion for child evangelism. That night, God redefined my childhood.
When I was 18, I attended Faith Baptist Church - Alabang(South Metro). This is where I learned about the Bible doctrines I hold on to until now. I know it wasn’t no accident that I ended up attending that church for a specific ‘season’ in my life. It was there that I met, for the first time, missionaries to foreign lands. Whenever they testified about the ‘work’ I’d always cry. Sometimes, because I am touched by what God is doing but most times, it was for fear that God might call me to the mission field…and I really didn’t want to go. Nevertheless, my eyes were opened to the burden. God redefined my idea of misssions.
I lived a very comfortable Christian life. By that I mean, I had the liberty to worship God, I have access to great Bible teachings, on occasions I get involved in ministries, and well, I can freely tell others about Jesus…whenever I wanted to. I got involved in the ‘education’ ministry since I am a licensed elementary teacher. I was fine. I was really really fine. But being fine and comfortable is not the reason why I got saved. In fact, fine and comfort were not part of Jesus’ agenda when he was on earth. And so, dreadfully, my comfort ended.
September 26, 2009, I attended a seminar on worship. And it was there at the seminar that my spiritual eyes were opened to the fact that if we truly want to worship God, we should take part in His plan to redeem the world. This redemption plan is to bring the lost under the feet of Jesus as it is said in the Bible: “Every knee shall bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”** We must bring God to those who have never heard about Him. John Piper once said, "Missions exist because worship doesn't." Missions will only cease when every single one is already a worshipper of God. God redefined my idea of worship.
It wasn’t comfortable after that. In fact, I couldn’t go anywhere where I wasn't confronted with the idea of missions. I sought God’s word, godly counsel and soaked it in prayer and in January of this year, I said ‘Yes’ to God for missions. I was sure God was calling me to Go. God redefined my idea of my purpose.
I didn’t know where to go or if there’d be any use for a person like me in the field. I thought I’d never qualify to be a missionary. I had no idea what will happen to me. But, as what I always say, When you have no idea what will happen to you, you are in the best position to receive God’s idea for your life. I found out Africa is my heartland. And God showed me little by little everyday what I should do. Fist, I needed to say ‘Yes’ then, he showed me where and how. God redefined my concept of obedience.
Last week, I attended the BLESS training, one of God’s answers to my ‘How will I be of use?” question. BLESS has a literacy program that guarantees children ages 5-8 the capacity to read at the end of an18-20 week period. But it was more than the method that impacted me. It was the foundational truths I rediscovered that made me passionate about this system.
Through the program, we teach children these:
WE teach them the truth that they are made in the likeness of God. And because of that truth, they will know that they are of worth and value. When they hold on to this truth, they will seek to use their bodies to glorify God, they will seek godly pursuits and they will always look back to their Creator.
The program requires parents to assist in their child’s learning process. There is a weekly conference with them which they are required to attend. When parents get involved in the lives of their child, they become responsible. When children see that their parents are responsible, they also grow up to be responsible parents someday. A family lead by responsible parents make up an ideal community. Then, we create a society that is according to how God's original plan.
Let me quote Rev. Delbert Hooge, “Teaching children to read will give them the capacity to live until seventy. But because we also teach them about the salvation that is in Jesus Christ, we give them the capacity to live not just until seventy…but until eternity.
Attending the BLESS training gave me a clear picture of what God wants my role to be in the mission field. When we obey his call, we change lives. God redefined my idea of blessing.
Many areas in my life took on new meaning because God changed them. I trust you would let God do the same to you. Let God redefine your life!!!
Note: This is the testimony I delivered last Sunday at Faith Baptist Church South Metro, the church I attended for 4 years when I was attending college. I regularly attend at my home church, here in Cadiz but I still hold FBC dear to my heart.
* 1 Chronicles 4:9-10
** Romans 14:11 and Philippians 2:10
BLESS Philippines website: www.blessachild.net