I was born in the Philippines to a devout Catholic family where my father worked for the Jesuit priests for the 35 years of his working life. He and my mother were very active with our parochial church. Attending and serving in church was a big part of our family life.
I always believed in God, but that didn’t translate to anything in my life. For me, God was just a higher being you prayed to, requesting his blessings. You tried to earn his favor by performing ceremonies and reciting prayers. The concept of a holy or personal God was not something that I understood.
I considered myself a good and moral person. I had my smoking habit and occasional drinking, but I thought I was a good guy. I lived life carefree and the way I wanted.
It was in my first year of college that I felt God’s sovereign hands working.
It was one of the top engineering schools in Manila, but my grades were bad. So, they kicked me out. I remember spending the entire semester break applying to different schools hoping they would accept me. For a long time, none of them did. It was only my first year of college and I was already desperate, feeling worthless and helpless.
The coming semester was about to start when I was finally accepted by a school. I barely made it in. I changed my major from Engineering to Architecture, and looking back now, I truly believe that God was orchestrating those events in my life.
It was in Architecture School where I met Ron, who became my best friend. Ron is a very friendly guy and there was something very different about him.
He invited me to attend a small group gathering called “student fellowship” where I met people who loved studying the Bible and worshipping Jesus. I met people who were full of love and joy, and who were very sincere and bold in their faith. They were different than anyone I had me before.
I liked hanging out with these people. Through them, God slowly started to work in my heart. I started to read the Bible and join in worship services. I had not yet fully committed my life to God, but there were changes happening in me and the way I thought about God.
Then, at a student summer camp in 1986, I put my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s also when I met Norma, my wife-to-be.
It was that week at camp where I recognized my sinfulness. I felt so broken. Romans 3:23 says – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
The Lord showed how holy he is, and how my sins were an offense to his holiness. I needed His forgiveness and His grace. I needed to humble myself and pray and ask for His forgiveness.
All these years later, I cannot imagine how my life would have been if I didn’t have God in my life. God’s love and forgiveness have given me purpose and direction.
God found me and saved me in His perfect time. He revealed His great love and forgiveness for me even when I wasn’t looking for Him.
He used one person to reach me just by being there as a friend. It wasn’t any deep theological revelations that touched me, it was that sincere and patient love of a friend.
I know that my story is not unique. God can touch a person no matter what stage or situation in life they are in. God immeasurable love can reach any person’s heart.
Now I live my life with my beautiful family under God’s amazing love and grace.
To God be the glory!