It is unfortunate to hear some believers today lifting up the name of their church instead of Jesus Christ in their testimony. Some will say, “I was invited by my friend to this church and my life was never the same again.” Or sometimes they will even say, “In my previous church we are not doing this but when I came to this church I became so serious with my spiritual walk.” I am not discounting the fact that they have surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ. But it’s sad to know that some testimony about Jesus Christ is shadowed by the church they’re attending. It is my hope to give glory and honor to Jesus Christ in this story of salvation and transformation. May you learn something about how I met the Lord Jesus Christ.
Every individual who claims to have experienced salvation must have a personal life transforming testimony to tell of how they surrendered their lives to the lordship of Jesus Christ. The former “hatchet-man” of the late US President Richard Nixon named Charles “Chuck” Colson also has given his own story of spiritual transformation. A happy-go-lucky young teenager named William “Billy” Graham also narrated how he responded to the altar call that night. The apostle Paul, a former persecutor and murderer of the believers also gave his testimony in front of kings and public officials. (See Acts 26) I am also fortunate to have one. While many fellow Filipinos reminisce 1986 as the year when People Power took place, I travel back on that same year to be reminded of how I raise my hands to yield my life to the Lord Jesus Christ inside that small canteen beside Guzman Institute Technology near Centro Escolar University. Allow me to share what occurred during that year.
I was invited by a born again Christian classmate and friend to attend a small bible study group near a known university in Mendiola area. In fact, it was a canteen that easily converts to become a place for studying the Bible so a number of students like us could listen to a passionate female evangelist speaker who happened to be a schoolmate friend. After her brief and clear message of the gospel she issued a challenge to every students listening if we wanted to surrender our lives to Jesus Christ and received salvation in Him. It was not a nice ambience and no background music but I found my hands slowly raising as a sign of surrender to my new Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I have no idea that this is what the Scripture labels born again experience or spiritual rebirth. All I understand during that time was I already gave my life to Him and I am saved.
My First Encounter With A Protestant
Let me tell you something about my background. I was born in a family of staunch Roman Catholics. My grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, and cousins attends the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass every weekend. Our aunt’s house sometimes serves as stop-over for statues and images of saints during the Holy Week. She was the president of the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) and a member of the Brown Sisters (Our Lady of the Mount Carmel). This is why the people inside that household learned to take part in praying novenas. It was during my elementary days that I became familiar with the Holy Bible. This is because my mom enrolled me in a Seventh-day Adventist school in our province that utilized the English language . Later did I realized that this religious group was also a cult of Christianity founded by a certain Ellen G. White who’s considered to be the prophetess and messenger of this movement. Now when it was time for me to enter high school, I was fortunate once more to be accepted in a prominent Roman Catholic school exclusive for boys during that time along C.M. Recto Avenue.
It was not until my fourth year high school did I meet a fully committed Protestant believer. A discussion took place in our religion subject class about the role of Mary in the Church. I can still picture the face of this Protestant believer in my mind where he gently reasoned to everyone why Mary is not the Mediatrix of all Grace. As a result of this most of my staunch Roman Catholic classmates debated with him vigorously during that class. Since I do not have any interest in spiritual matters that time, I just brushed everything aside.
Being Born Again Is Not A Religion — It’s About Relationship and Transformation
But the Lord was not yet done with me. I enrolled in one university in the U-belt area after I graduated from high school. And during the first few days of classes, I was seated beside a person who was a bold and zealous Christian believer. While waiting for our chemistry teacher, he started sharing his faith to me. I can still vividly recall his words when he seriously shared, “You know Jun, the Bible says, ‘Unless a man be born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’” (Jn. 3:3) A bit puzzled, I asked him: “Is that another religion?” His response was so quick saying, “No. It’s not. It’s relationship with Jesus Christ.” Of course, I argued with him about my Roman Catholic faith defending what I thought was right. After that short talk with Roger, he always invite me to attend a campus Bible study with him. He wasn’t aware that I am carefully observing his life. I noticed that he lives what he preaches. What’s interesting is the guy does not only professed what he believes, but his life is a witness for Christ. He was taunted, provoke, persecuted, and even mocked for his faith by our friends and classmates but because of his deep spiritual conviction, he managed to smile and show Jesus Christ in his life and would not compromise his faith. I witness how he turned down cigarette smoking, alcohol and beer drinking, and premarital sex. I was also amazed how the guy rejects cheating during minor quizzes and major examinations. One afternoon, I was smoking one stick of cigarette outside the campus while waiting for our next subject. All of a sudden, he approached and told me, “Jun, you can decide to quit smoking for a month or even a year but that bad habit will surely return. But if you hand over your life to Jesus Christ, He will help you stop smoking.” His words stuck in my mind. One afternoon, in between classes, I finally gave in to his invitation to attend a small group campus Bible study conducted near our campus. After listening to that simple message shared by our female Christian classmate, It was there that I gave my life to Jesus Christ. I did not experience any goose bumps, not even a tear drop from my eyes, but I fully sense the assurance of salvation after surrendering my life to Jesus Christ. Many individuals accept Jesus probably because of relational problems, personal bondages, financial difficulties, or physical sickness. I am glad that God spared me from all those things. However, the primary reason for accepting Jesus Christ was my assurance for salvation — that when I die I would be with Him. After surrendering my life to Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour, transformation slowly and gradually took place.
From Religiosity To Relationship
My personal transformation was not stirring compared to others. I am fortunate to be in a very tightly knit family. I have good a relationship with my two female siblings. My father and mother most of the time showed their love for each other. Me and my sisters were all serious with our studies. Our family regularly attends the Holy Mass as part of our religious practice. However, despite my being religious, I still found myself in bondage to sin. When Jesus saved me, He forgave and cleanse me from all sins: past, present, and future. The Lord released me from guilt and condemnation. There was no pressure to transform because I was not given any rules to follow by the believers who discipled me. Christianity is unlike any religious cult groups that mandates you to conform to their dietary rules and clothing styles. I am glad that when the Holy Spirit took residence in my heart I became free. The freedom that I have is not a freedom to sin, but the freedom to honour God in many ways. My external religiosity turned into a living relationship with Him. Thanks to those who discipled me and helped me in my spiritual growth. I found myself growing in my relationship with Jesus Christ. I slowly develop that desire to know why I believe what I believed. I develop this passion to read and study the word of God. In fact, the different versions of Bible stacked in the basement library of my uncle became the focus of my interest. All of a sudden the word of God became so relevant. I finally discovered from the pages of the Old Testament that God condemns idolatry. I even realized that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. There was His divine grace working in me to quit smoking and drinking along with a number of bad habits. I also noticed some changes in my life when I began fellowshipping daily with God. I had this desire to read His word and commitment to spiritual growth. The tongue that usually cuss now utters praises to my Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
I cannot contain the joy that it started overflowing as I share the gospel with my sibling, relatives, and friends. Some of them came to know the Lord, including a cousin named Eyriche Noche who ended up becoming a pastor. I am very vocal with my being a follower of Christ that my father once promised that he will burn my Bible in front of me. He has always boasted of his father who was a devoted Roman Catholic and continued to stay in that religious tradition. I prayed for my family, including my dad. I trusted the Lord that He will one day soften the heart of my father to receive Him. Several years ago my father discovered he had a pancreatic cancer. The oncologist gave him a six-month lifespan. But the Lord became so gracious that He gave my father twelve months so I could share the gospel to him. In those few remaining days of his life in the hospital, I had the opportunity to pray for him and read the Scripture just for him to hear it. One day, I asked my father the most important question in the whole world. I said, “Daddy, would you like to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour?” He could not speak anymore because his vocal cords were affected by that dreadful disease so I instructed him to press my hand to signify his intention to receive Him which he did. I was delighted that I asked my mom and two sisters to join him in that sinner’s prayer. The once persecutor became humble to acknowledge his need of salvation. I have not witness any outward transformation in the life of my dad since he is already bed ridden. But one thing I understand, the peace of God is one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit that can be experienced by a sincere and dying person after receiving Jesus Christ.
He Gave Me the Victory!
I was led in 1991 by the Lord to grow in Victory U-Belt that puts premium in the life of young people like me. There were several people along the way who discipled me during that time. It was also in that local church that I became actively involved in a ministry and as a leader of a small group that meets every Sunday. I understand the importance of discipleship and biblical foundation. I also became serious with purity and holiness as I followed Christ. Christianity became a way of life with Jesus Christ in the center of it all. I became totally committed to honouring God and advancing His kingdom through discipleship. In a span of twelve years after surrendering my life to Jesus Christ, I met my future wife in that church. I am glad to have met such a beautiful, lovely, and godly lady who is not only committed to the same vision that I have but love the Lord more than anything or anyone else. Our wedding is another story of God’s goodness in itself. The Lord blessed us with two handsome sons whom we train up in the fear of the Lord and His word.
The Lord also gave me the opportunity to work in a prominent airline company. Since airline businesses are operational then I am prepared to stand on my conviction to put God as my priority more than anything else. There was a time when one of my senior officers at work warned me that it is impossible for me to get a Sunday-off because I am just a novice. Since there were no other days of worship services yet in our church other than Sunday I discussed this very important subject with my wife. I told her that it is my conviction to worship the Lord every Sunday. If that airline company will not give me a Sunday-off, then I might as well resign for the Lord will open up a new and exciting opportunity for me out there to be financially blessed. My wife honored my conviction. But before the Lord allowed me to make that final move, He gave me the wisdom to compose a one-page formal letter address to my superior appealing for favor if she could grant me this request. I included in that letter that I am a Christian believer who serves the Lord actively indicating that I will truly appreciate if she can give me a Sunday-off so I can fulfill my function as a leader in our church. When I handed that letter to her on that day, I was praying that she would allow me which she did. The same senior officer in my work place was flabbergasted asking, “Do you have a ‘backer’ inside this company?” I told him boldly, “No. My ‘backer’ is the Lord!” Since then, I was able to worship the Lord every Sunday for almost seven years in that company. I slowly won the respect of my colleagues at work because of my stand and conviction as a follower of Christ inside that company. I also had that rare opportunity to pray for the second high ranking individual of that company. On the final year of my stay before my resignation, I produced several copies of a one-page letter to be given to my colleagues and superiors. This time it’s a written testimony of how I came to know the Lord.
There were many more trials, testings, and victories that I experienced in my three decades of walk and fellowship with the Lord. Presently, the Lord continued to transform me from glory to glory. I could not see my life living without Jesus Christ because my life revolves around Him. I am so involved in the ministry, but my ministry is not my life. I love my wife and my two sons, but my life does not revolve around my family. My life is revolving around Jesus Christ who saved me and gave Himself for me. Once I understand this then everything falls into its proper place. I also learned to depend on the power of the Holy Spirit and fully trusting Him for my future. Truly in Him I live, I move, and I have my being.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV
Receiving Eternal Life
There are many people around the world today who claimed to know God, but pays a lip service only to Him. While others tend to neglect the Lord’s offer of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, who died for them on Calvary’s cross. When Jesus Christ came to this world He warned His listeners so much about a place of torment where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. You and I will die one day, then after that we will face His judgment individually. Do not delay in accepting His invitation. Today is the day of salvation. The Scripture commands us to seek Him. Once we seek Him, then we will find Him if we seek Him with all our heart. The Lord want’s you to experience abundant life or life to the fullest while you are still living on this earth. He wants you to spend your life with Him forever. Why don’t you ask God’s forgiveness today and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of your life. Once you do this you will surely experience His mercy, grace, and forgiveness. You will also have that assurance of eternal life and transformation in Him. Remember, it is not your good works that will save you but His grace if you believed in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will take care of your transformation. You just need to leave that to Him. The same Holy Spirit will also empower you to become a powerful witness. You can follow this prayer that I did when I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ in that small canteen.
Today, Father, I acknowledge that I am a sinner. Forgive me of all my sins. I understand that I cannot save myself. I believe Jesus Christ your Son died for me and rose again from the grave.
And Jesus, I open my heart and give you my life. I received you into my heart as Lord and Saviour of my life. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sake. Thank you for your blood that cleansed me from all my sins.
And Holy Spirit, I asked that You empower me to be a mighty witness for Jesus Christ. May you change and transform me daily so I can honor God and advance His kingdom.
I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen!
After praying this prayer sincerely in your heart, start a good habit by reading the Bible everyday. Tell somebody about your new relationship with the Lord. Find a church that will teach you to honour God in your life. And be committed to growing spiritually in that church through discipleship. Do not just be contented in attending a local church but see yourself discipling more people for Jesus Christ someday.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, – Matthew 28:19, ESV