The decision to live in the United States came as yet another blessing in my life. I lived in the Philippines for thirty one years. I was raised in a family of Christians but it was not until 2002 when a spiritual breakthrough took place.
I was a university student then—idealistic and passionate. In school, I served as editor in chief of one of the student newspapers. I had the opportunity to share my ideas with fellow students, and it felt great to have my own writing space through opinion columns and feature stories. Yes, I was active in school. But not in church. So when the invitation to study under the lay formation program was given to me, I said yes. The two pastors who invited me told me I would study for a couple of months and that would prepare me to become a church worker. I studied for half a year and went on to become a lay leader for more than ten years. I and other church workers went to far-flung local churches and shared the word of God with fellow members of our church. Besides that, I and some other church workers also produced newsletters focused on church activities. Everything happened altogether—graduate studies, jobs, and church ministry. God’s grace and providence made possible the balance I needed to accomplish the responsibilities.
I moved to the US last year to be with my husband. Apparently, I left everything I had in the Philippines, church ministry included. Despite that, I chose to have peace, for I have always believed that God prepared something for me. “God is with us wherever we go,” I told myself.
I would always remember that moment when one of our pastors went to our house to pray for me on one of my trips abroad. In his message, he shared how amazingly “God is with us” in every circumstance, in every experience.
And that was absolutely right for He made a way. One Sunday, my husband asked me to go with him to this christian fellowship church. It was my first time to go to a christian church in the US and my first time to attend a fellowship as a married woman. I was amazed by the energetic band, the huge hall and the profound sermon. I was impressed by the manner they welcomed first-time guests like myself. They have leaflets and forms for first-time guests. I brought them home with me, and filled them up with information like my contact details. The following day, I was delighted to see an email from them. And a few days after that, I received a handwritten letter from one of their members which included lines from the poem “A Vessel”. My favorite line was “Make my life a beacon, Lord, from which Your love can shine, and let me be your servant, Lord, to make it more divine.” It did not stop there. I received a card from one of their welcoming team and there was a handwritten note inside and gift certificates from the church bookstore and coffee shop. I told my husband that that was such an amazing way to welcome someone to a church. In those events, I am reminded with these words from Deuteronomy 10:21, “He is the one you praise; He is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.”
The questions I had before moving to the US now vanished. God gave me a wonderful husband whose faith was made evident by his willingness to share His word and His message of hope and love with other people. I knew that when I moved to the US, He would give me everything I need and more to be able to continue my faith and my ministry—from my supportive husband to a transformative community of Christians. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Transitioning from one country to another country and from a church to another church could be overwhelming if dealt only with human strength. But then again, I submit, offer, and surrender all my dealings, plans, and hope for the future to God. I decided on writing about God’s graces, in particular how He carries me through my new life in a foreign land. That and His amazing love for us would be my themes for my writing ministry. This could be the beginning of another grace-filled journey with Him. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)