Thursday, November 27, 2008


A striking advertisement on cable channel shows a former runner, who became blind, running a marathon once again and reaching the finish line. How is it possible? Well, tied to him is another man who runs with him and serves as his guide. Together, they finish the race with jubilation.

I wasn’t sure at first if it was the blind yet courageous marathoner, or the selfless running partner, that struck a chord in me. On second thought, I realized it was both of them. Both were admirable in overcoming obstacles to victory, and only in partnership did each one’s luster shine ever brighter.

In the months of my journey, God sent me partners to run this race of faith with me. They lifted my spirit and made my load lighter. Actually, I don’t know all of them by names, for some have chosen to remain anonymous, but I am truly grateful for these wonderful people. Allow me to introduce some of them to you:

o My husband, whose big listening ears allow me to share endlessly what God has revealed to me from the Scriptures. He has an open mind and heart and he encourages me to pursue what I believe is God’s plan and purpose for me—truly a loving partner in every of my life;

o Families, friends, and churchmates who readily prayed for me whenever I asked for prayer support;

o A pastor who tapped his network of friends and churches to help me raise funds for the trip;

o Individuals who surprised me with their pledges and financial gifts; some of them have even given sacrificially, others anonymously;

o A busy executive who took the time to help me scout for cheap airfare;

o A friend who had been to Brazil and who promised to give me some Brazilian real coins for emergency and who would lend me his Portuguese-English dictionary;

o Missionary friends who shared testimonies of their own journey of faith. I’m particularly blessed with a former classmate in Bible school who reached a London airport with only $10 as show money. God proved Himself faithful by sustaining my friend and brought her even to 20 countries afterwards. Another friend, armed only with God’s promise, marched to the US embassy and miraculously got a visa for religious training from the often strict consul;
o Inspiring individuals who sent me text messages which came at the right time. Their words of wisdom were manna from heaven;
o A spiritual mentor who reminded me of my spiritual inheritance and who at times gently rebuked me when my faith was faltering;
o Like-minded people who rooted for me, supporting me enthusiastically with words like, “Nothing is impossible with God”, “God will fulfill His promise to you”, “As God enables, I’ll make sure you get to Brazil”, and other encouraging and faith-building words.

There could be others whom I failed to mention but who, unknown to me, had done something beneficial for me. I may not be aware of it, but God certainly takes notice. I’m truly grateful He sent me wonderful people to join me in my journey. These human partners are in fact, a reflection of a greater truth—that I have an invisible God walking with me and making Himself known through these visible people.
Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? Amos 3:3

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sowing and Reaping

I know God is able to provide everything we would need to accomplish His will, so I asked Him early in the journey how I would get the resources for the trip to Brazil. God told me to sow a seed.

The Bible speaks much about the law of sowing and reaping. Proverbs 11:18 says, “…he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.” Hosea 10:12 adds, “Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love…” The Apostle Paul confirms this principle when he exhorted the Galatians, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10). And of course, who wouldn’t be encouraged by the promise of a generous financial harvest as expounded once again by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:6-15?

Since I started on this journey to Brazil, my journey of faith, God has given me various opportunities to sow a seed—a seed of the word of God, a seed of encouragement, a seed of good deed, a seed of generosity. And as I obeyed Him in sowing where He directed me, I am assured of a harvest of blessing and a realization of how God designed us to work together to accomplish a goal for the glory of God.

For instance, I realized that months before Littworld in November, I had been receiving prayer requests from friends and a relative for the approval of their visas in order to study abroad or go on a mission—from Hungary to Norway, from the United Kingdom to the United States, from Kuwait to South Africa. So I prayed for them and in doing so, I expected to receive answers to my own prayer for my trip abroad.

Months before, God gave me a chance to sow a seed of hospitality. What’s striking is that one particular morning, I was thinking about my accommodations abroad. In the afternoon, my daughter excitedly called from school, and asked if she could come home that day with a young Korean girl who visited their school and was on a mission exposure, looking for a Filipino family to stay with overnight. I readily said yes! Even with only a couple of hours left, I dashed to Makro to buy kimchi and prepared dinner for our little young missionary in the making. Also last week, a friend and his companion visited us on their way to Boracay, a famous beach destination in Aklan that’s easily accessible from the Batangas City pier. Fresh from a tour of three countries in Asia, they gave me traveling stories and tips while I shared with them a hot lunch and free rest stop.

Often too, God would gently nudge me to give to someone in need. At times, I had the money on hand to give, but at other times I didn’t have any extra and had to give sacrificially. One time, while looking at my bank account, I thought, This isn’t yet enough to buy me a ticket to Brazil. Quickly, God showed me John 6, where Jesus fed the five thousand. The only available food was five small barley loaves and two small fish from a hungry boy. Jesus took whatever little there was, prayed for the loaves and fish and asked the disciples to distribute them. And behold, all were fed and there was even a left over!

Prompted by that powerful Scripture, I offered to God from my savings, a portion, which He has impressed in my heart and sowed that seed to someone who was greatly in need. What’s amazing is that, my husband and I came to know about this person’s great need on the day I was asking God to whom I should sow a seed. Would you believe, this person’s need was almost the same amount I needed to raise for the trip to Brazil? I had no doubt God wanted me to share to this needy person. And so I did. About two weeks later, I received a call from someone asking me to pray with him as he help raise funds for the trip. Within a few weeks, I received enough funds to cover my round trip ticket!

When we sow, we reap. When we give, we receive. More so, when we sow generously, we reap generously. When we give generously, we receive generously. When we help others, we are helped in return. It's like passing on a favor. You'll never know, one day it will come back to you.
I learned that when God wants to accomplish something, He uses a person, a willing individual, someone who’s daring enough to place his confidence in the Almighty God. But He carries out His plan and provides for the fulfillment of that plan together with and through others who are also like-minded. When we do the part that God wants us to fulfill and when we also help others reach the goals that God has for them, God blesses us and we realize how great God is.

I also realized that the law of sowing and reaping is a great motivator for us to be like Jesus Christ. The grace of giving liberates us—it brings us to a deeper level of trust in God, and it makes us more selfless like Jesus Christ who gave Himself to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus reached the point when He found joy in sacrificing His very self (Hebrews 12:2) because it resulted in the salvation of our souls. May we all experience overflowing joy and abundance today as we sow seeds as God leads.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Twice Denied, Twice Confirmed

“Recently you submitted a request for scholarship assistance for the LITTWORLD 2006 conference in Brazil…Unfortunately, we do not have sufficient resources to provide you with scholarship assistance for LITTWORLD. We are sorry not to be able to help in this way.

We hope the Lord will provide you with funding from other sources, so that you can still join us at the conference.”

This was the email I received last Aug. 4 from Media Associates International, the sponsor of the LITTWORLD conference. While I was reading it, I felt at peace, even if the message meant I can not get financial assistance from them. Two years ago, I was able to attend the conference in the Philippines on a partial scholarship granted by them. It was a big help for me. I understood that this time, they had prioritized others. But even then, I was not disappointed. I know God could provide in some other ways.

I kept repeating to myself and to God that I trust Him and that with Him, nothing is impossible. He will make a way for me to get to the conference in Brazil. As I did so, I found myself crying. Have you ever felt that way? I don’t exactly know how to explain it. I was just pouring out my heart to God and telling Him He’s my only hope. Then the tears just kept flowing.

Within 30 minutes after I read the e-mail, I received a text message from someone I met in church recently. She said, “God loves you so much that He turns His ears to you constantly. He always answers your requests. Maybe not with a yes, but always with what’s best.”

I cried all the more. God loves me indeed He sent me this message through someone I barely knew and who didn’t know what I was going through. I felt so comforted. It was God’s soothing voice to me at a time I needed to hear from Him. It was an embrace from my heavenly Father. I lay down to sleep that night still in tears, but comforted by His loving kindness.

The following morning, another person sent me a text message at around 5:30. The message was sent so early, but it was so refreshing. The message read, “Praise the Lord, I’m setting aside $100 for your trip to Brazil…” My jaw dropped. I looked out the window, and saw the sun rising in the east. I raised my eyes to the heaven, and I could not help but cry again. In awe, I worshipped God, and thanked Him. I felt comforted again.

I was so amazed at how God could comfort me so quickly and assure me of His loving presence and provision. Three days later, I realized something else.

While reading the incident of how Jesus miraculously fed the 4,000 after He had earlier fed 5,000 people (Mark 8), I realized that this is the second time God had quickly assured me of his provision for my trip to Brazil. If you remember, last June, I was also hoping I would win the literary contest so I could be awarded the $425 scholarship (See “And the Winner Is…”). As you know, I didn’t win, but immediately, in just one day, I received financial gifts from three different people (well, they’re three couples actually). What’s so inspiring was that these generous people are full-time workers in the kingdom of God who also raise funds to support their family and their ministry. Yet they were more than willing to be vessels of God’s blessings.

And now, my earlier application for scholarship was not granted by the sponsor, but again, immediately, within 30 minutes and the morning after, God sent another confirmation of His provision. After feeding the 4,000, Jesus asked His disciples, “Don’t you understand yet?” (Mark 8:21). I felt a bit embarrassed when I realized that Jesus wasn’t just talking to His disciples, He was also speaking to me personally. Now I understand. Twice, He fed two different groups of hungry followers. Twice, I was denied the chance to earn for my conference fee, but immediately, in both instances God touched different people to share with me a portion of their God-given resources.

Are you in need of comfort and assurance that God will meet your needs? Remember your past victories and miracles. If God has done it before, He will do it again. God is not a one hit wonder. He has done it twice to me. On the other hand, if you think you have no miracle to remember, then begin trusting God that He is able to help those who humble themselves and call on Him. When we submit to His will, His method and timing, we set the stage for God to do a miracle. A door may be closed, but God can certainly open the windows of heaven to pour out His resources. Man’s denials could be God’s confirmation of His abundant blessings.

“So many are saying, “God will never rescue him!” But You, O Lord, are a shield around me; You are my glory, the one who holds my head high. I cried out to the Lord, and He answered me from His holy mountain. I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me.” Psalm 3:2-5

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

And the Winner Is...

June 30, 2006 was judgment day, at least for me and the other writers from other nations who joined LITTWORLD’s writing contest. June 30 was the day the organizers notified the winners of the said contest.
I joined the writing contest with hopes of winning, especially since the first place winner would be awarded a full scholarship to the conference in Brazil. That’s equivalent to $US 425 which covers registration fee, hotel accommodation, 14 meals, and tour. It would not only be an honor for any writer to win this international contest, but it would also be a big financial bonus. I figured if I win this contest, I would just have to raise funds for my airfare and pocket money.
Earlier that year, I also joined a lifestyle journalism contest sponsored by a national newspaper. The prize at stake was P25,000 plus gift certificates. Earlier I was hoping to win so I could use the money as start-up fund. I didn’t win and that somehow caused me to doubt God’s provision for a while (See “Have You Been Afraid?”).
Did I win LITTWORLD’s writing contest this time? Did God provide for the $US 425 by causing the judges to award me with the prize money?

No, I didn’t win the contest. I didn’t get any notice on June 30 that I won, not even honorable mention. I would not be awarded the $US 425 prize money, but YES, I believed God would provide that amount to cover my registration expense.
When I joined the lifestyle journalism contest, I was confident God would give me favor and let me win. When I didn’t, I learned to be more open and submissive to God’s ways and means. So even before June 30, I was already convinced that whatever the outcome, in the end, God will still provide for me.
I needed to be convinced of this so one morning, I turned to Psalm 74:12-17:

You, O God, are my king from ages past,
bringing salvation to the earth
You split the sea by your strength
and smashed the head of the sea monsters
You crushed the heads of Leviathan
and let the desert animals eat him.
You caused the springs and streams to gush forth
and you dried up rivers that never run dry.
Both day and night belong to you;
you made the starlight and the sun.
You set the boundaries of the earth,
and you made both summer and winter.

God is King of all the earth. He is the Almighty God who does the impossible and the unexpected. Everything is at His disposal and He sets the limits. He is the God whose blessings can be limitless to those who trust Him.

The following day, I went to the bank to check if the deposit promised by someone has been made already. I was pleasantly surprised to see that a generous gift has indeed been quickly debited. After about two hours, I went to the grocery to buy something when I bumped into a missionary couple whom I’ve known for some years. Before we parted, the wife apologetically handed me a few dollar bills, saying they’re seed money for the trip to Brazil. I was humbled by their selfless giving and willingness to help in spite of their own need. They truly blessed my heart.
I was already exhilarated by this turn of events when another surprise came. On my way home, I received a text message from a friend asking if I prefer a peso or dollar deposit. God is pouring out His resources just as He promised!

Sometimes, we second-guess God in the way He would bless us. But often, God would not let us win. He has plenty of surprises up His sleeve. It would be best for us to trust His judgment because if we do, we come out as winners in the end.

A Container with a Little Oil

One morning, while waiting for my turn to be served by the bank teller, an idea hit me. Why not open a separate savings account where I could deposit my incoming funds for my trip to Brazil?
I remembered the story of the widow of a prophet who was greatly in debt that the creditors were coming to take her two boys as his slaves (2 Kings 4:1-7). The prophet Elisha told the widow to gather all the empty jars she could ask from her neighbors. She was in debt. How could several empty jars pay off her debt?
The prophet of God required her first to gather as many containers as she could. The second step she was told to do was to go inside her house and together with her sons, pour oil into the empty jars.

Those were two things she could do naturally. Get empty jars. Pour oil. Now God would have to do His part supernaturally.
According to the Bible, the widow had nothing but “a little oil”. But as the widow obeyed the prophet’s word, the oil kept flowing. It kept flowing and flowing, filling all the other jars!
In the natural, she had little oil, but God, the Source of all resource, increased it supernaturally such that she and her sons had enough to sell in order to pay off their debts and live on what was left. Enough to buy some meat and bread they hadn’t tasted in a long time, and perhaps enough to buy some new clothes for her family.
God could also multiply my financial resources no matter how small, in the natural, it may initially be. I need to have a container too, so He could supernaturally fill it up! So prompted by this thought, I took another step of faith closer to Brazil—five months before Littworld, I opened a savings account with an initial deposit of P1,000.00 (around $20 at that time) to store the financial resources God would pour to finance my trip to Brazil. A container with a “little oil” is a good start for God to work on His miracle.

Twelve days after I opened an account for the trip to Brazil, a friend asked me for my bank account number and expressed willingness to extend financial support. Praise God!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Have You Been Afraid?

Whenever I prayed about going to Brazil to attend Littworld, I was led to Bible verses that talk about God’s sovereignty over the nations and supernatural provisions ( Acts 17:26; Psalms 74; Exodus 14, 17:6; 2 Kings 3). Those Bible verses greatly encouraged me to trust God and the impression to go to Brazil became even stronger.

But there came a point when my faith quivered. I became afraid.

This happened when I learned that I didn’t win in the writing contest in which I joined. I was hoping I could use the P25,000 (about $500) prize as start-up fund for the trip. Initially, I didn’t lose heart when I learned about it. I believed God had a better plan.

But a few days after, I began to doubt. I was then planning on sharing my journal with my family members and friends so they could also pray with and for me. But a thought struck me: What if I end up not attending the conference at all? I would end up being presumptuous, foolish.

I became afraid.

I cried and asked God to forgive me for wavering. Afterwards, I dared to be bold. I asked God to please grant me the favor of giving me another word to let me know if it is really His will for me to go to Brazil. Just one more word. Jesus, you’re the Author and Perfecter of my faith. Help my unbelief. I don't do this often, but out of desperation, I told God that I wanted to see a specific word that tells me to “go”. I want to hear that specific word: GO. Please, God, don’t be angry. If I hear that word, I’ll go on with this. No more turning back.

You see, for that day, I have a portion of Scripture to read. I have been reading a specific book from the Old Testament but I didn’t feel like reading that portion for that day. I did something which I don’t usually do. I asked God to speak to me through the part where I will randomly open the Bible. I was led to Matthew 14:22-33.

It is the story of Peter who dared to walk on the water when he saw that Jesus was walking on the lake. "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."

"Come," Jesus said.

And Peter did. But when he saw the waves, his faith wavered. But Jesus immediately caught him and said, "You of little faith. Why did you doubt?"

My heart melted, ashamed that I doubted God. But I believed again, confident of His promise. Before I ended my quiet time that day, I thought I'd take a look at what I was supposed to really read for that day—my portion of Scripture which was Genesis 46. And the words of Genesis 46:3 stood out: "I am God, the God of your father," He said. "Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt..." Either way, God would speak to me that day to strengthen me!

The following day, a high school friend who rarely sends me a message, sent me a text message: "The verse “DON’T BE AFRAID” appears 365 times in the Bible…enough ASSURANCE that for each day we can trust God to help us 2 face our day."

Are you afraid? Don’t be, for God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never forsake you.” That is why we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my Helper, so I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Heb.13:5-6).

Thursday, November 6, 2008


A passport allows a citizen to travel abroad and discover new horizons. Last June 6, 2006, my expired green passport also provided me with an opportunity to break through in my journey of faith.

Because my passport expired last June 4 (again this was two years ago), I planned on renewing it as part of my preparation for the trip to Brazil. Two days after it expired, I went to a travel agency to ask for assistance. The woman at the desk asked for my passport and quickly flipped it to see the inside front cover that bears my picture, name, and other information. She then frowned, and turned over my passport to the woman beside her who was busy typing something on the computer.

I got the same response from the second lady after she examined my passport. She then asked me, “Where did you get this?” I was beginning to sense that something was wrong but I tried to keep my peace. What could be wrong with my passport?

“I lined up myself to get that from Lucena,” I confidently said. The regional consular office of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) covering the place where I live was located in Lucena, Quezon.

“Sorry, we can’t accept this,” the second woman said, suspiciously returning the passport to me. “It might be tampered.”

How can it be? Five years ago, I went through the tedious process of securing my authenticated birth and marriage certificates, traveled all the way to Lucena, waited for hours for my turn, filled up the forms, and presented my IDs. I didn’t use a fixer. After a few days, the man at the window of the DFA issued to me a crisp, green passport. What could be wrong with my passport?

I calmly walked out of the travel agency, thinking nothing could be wrong with my passport. I quickly uttered a prayer. Lord, this can’t be happening. I need to get a passport to get to Brazil!

I decided to go to another travel agency. But when the lady looked into my passport, she said, “This is weird.” Then I was subjected to the same interrogation I had in the first travel agency.

“This is the first time I saw a passport like this,” the lady said. To prove her point, she randomly picked a sample from a box full of passports. “Look,” she pointed to the inside front cover, “all passports are laminated. Yours isn’t.”

I tried to keep my peace that was being threatened by this bad news. Be calm, I instructed myself. God is in control. If there’s trouble, God can iron this out.

The lady asked me if I wanted to leave my passport so that their liaison officer could consult the DFA about it. With nothing left to do, I consented.

When I went home, I was somewhat bothered by the thought that I might be accused of conniving with fixers or with syndicates falsifying passports. For a while, I was afraid. But before any disheartening thoughts could creep into my heart, I took hold of my thoughts and convinced myself that I didn’t do anything wrong. God will clear this thing for me. He will make sure I get a passport and that I will not be held accountable for doing something I didn’t do.

I asked all those who knew that I’ve been praying to go to Brazil to please pray regarding my passport. I don’t want to worry about the passport because that day, I needed to translate five scripts and I have an after midnight deadline. I can’t spend the rest of the day and night worrying. I won’t be fearful. I shouldn’t be.

After praying and confessing some promises from the Bible, I felt at peace for the rest of that day. I was flooded by an assurance that everything is under God’s control. I was able to finish the five scripts on time.

The following morning, I remembered the story of Miriam, who watched at a distance the basket carrying his baby brother Moses as it floats along the Nile River(Exodus 2:4). She quietly expected God to save her helpless baby brother. And true enough, God maneuvered the basket and Moses was brought to safety in the arms of the pharaoh’s daughter who was bathing at the river. That’s faith. I realized that God is perfecting in me that childlike, quiet trust mentioned in Psalm 131:2: “Surely, I have calmed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me [ceased from fretting].” I also realized that it’s possible to be like an eagle that soars above the storm, undisturbed because he is flying high above where peace and quiet reigns. It is possible when you wait upon God and trust Him to act on your behalf (Isaiah 40:31). It's not easy to wait, but it is possible. And if you wait and trust God, He will flood you with such peace. (See my blog entry last September "Why Wait?")

As for the passport, the people at DFA allowed me to get a new passport, but not without being puzzled first as to why the passport released to me five years earlier was not laminated. Well, God definitely knew about it even then, and maybe, He used that incident to test my faith and make me trust Him more. It also drew me a step closer to Brazil, my journey of faith.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Starting Today: Journey of Faith

Exactly two years ago, in November 2006, I embarked on my first overseas trip. I was blessed to have toured Germany for a week, visited Strasbourg, France, and attended a six-day international publishing conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I called it my journey of faith because I went through situations that seemed impossible had it not been for divine intervention. Many times, my faith in God was tested, and in those times my weaknesses and limitations were magnified, but the power and limitlessness of God was certainly manifested. I kept a journal as I embarked on that trip and starting today, I would like to share with you the memories and lessons I learned along the way, hoping that one day, you too, will respond to the call of a journey of faith.

Journey to Brazil: A Journey of Faith

Where the journey began

It began last November 2004. Through a tip passed on to me by an editor, I was able to get a scholarship and attend LITTWORLD 2004 at Tagaytay City. LITTWORLD is an international Christian publishing conference held every two years in different parts of the world.

LITTWORLD 2004 was the first international publishing conference I had attended and it had greatly impacted me. I learned many things about writing, editing, graphic design, marketing, and publishing in general.

Aside from listening to Philip Yancey’s talk, I also met and had a chat with an old, bearded Russian philosopher/mathematician and writer of fairy tales; an Australian editor who edited an inspirational story contributed by worship leader Darlene Zschech for an inspirational collection of stories; a warm, gentlemanly publisher from Kenya; a Chinese based in Hong Kong who smuggles Bibles and Christian books to mainland China; an American female novelist; Malaysian, Russian, and Greek translators; and other interesting peers. I also met other Filipino editors and publishers.

I came out of the conference fueled by a vision, recharged to write, more equipped to battle and build with the pen (aahh…most of the time, with the computer), humbled by the experience, and wanting to attend the next conference.

And that leads my journey to Brazil.

Where the journey leads

LITTWORLD 2006 heads to Sao Paulo, Brazil in November 2006. At first, when I learned about it, I wasn’t sure if I should attend. Go get a globe or map and you’ll see that Brazil is half-way around the globe from the Philippines. It’s just too far, and that means, the air fare would definitely be very expensive. And the conference fee alone costs $425!

But as I prayed about it, I felt the urge to trust God for the trip. At first, I wanted to go because I wanted to be further trained as a Christian writer, and honestly, I wanted to go abroad for some sight seeing. But as I seek God’s will, my motive was redirected to a desire to glorify God and encourage others in their walk of faith. By journeying to Brazil, I am willing to let God do for me the impossible and I am hoping that in the process I could inspire others to trust God also for the great things God has planned for them. I wanted to be sure this is part of God’s good plan for me so I asked my mother and husband to pray for me and ask God for a confirmation. After they’ve asked God for guidance through the Scriptures, I beefed up my preparation for the journey.

Find out in my next blog how a passport can test your faith as it did mine.