It is unfortunate to hear some Christians today glorifying their church rather than Jesus Christ in their testimonies. “I was invited to this church by a friend, and my life was never the same again,” some will claim. “We didn’t do this in my former church,” they could add, “but when I came to this church, I became so serious about my spiritual walk.” I’m not dismissing their decision to surrender their lives to Jesus Christ. However, it is disheartening to learn that when they highlight the church they attend, some of their testimony about Jesus Christ is tainted. It is my hope that Jesus Christ will be praised and honored in this story of salvation and transformation. May you be encouraged as you read about how I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ.
Every person who claims to have experienced salvation must have a personal life-changing testimony to share about how they surrendered their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Charles “Chuck” Colson, a former “hatchet-man” for late US President Richard Nixon, has also shared his own story of spiritual transformation. William “Billy” Graham, a happy-go-lucky young teenager, also narrated how he responded to the altar call that night. The apostle Paul, a former persecutor and murderer of believers, also testified before kings and public officials. (Also see Acts 26.) I, too, am fortunate to have one. While many Filipinos remember 1986 as the year of People Power, I return to that same year to remember how I raised my hands to surrender my life to the Lord Jesus Christ inside that small canteen beside Guzman Institute Technology near Centro Escolar University. Allow me to tell you about what happened that year.
A born-again Christian classmate and friend invited me to a small bible study group near a well-known university in the Mendiola area. In fact, it was a canteen that easily converted into a place for Bible study so that a group of students like us could hear a passionate female evangelist speaker who happened to be a schoolmate friend. Following her brief and clear gospel message, she issued a challenge to all students present to surrender our lives to Jesus Christ and receive salvation in Him. It wasn’t a pleasant atmosphere, and there was no background music, but I found myself slowly raising my hands in surrender to my new Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. I have no idea if this is what the Bible refers to as a born again experience or spiritual rebirth. All I knew at the time was that I had already given my life to Him and was saved.
My First Encounter With A Protestant
Let me tell you a little bit about my background. I was born into a devout Roman Catholic family. Every weekend, my grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, and cousins attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. During Holy Week, our aunt’s house sometimes serves as a stop-over for statues and images of saints. She was the president of the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) and a Brown Sister (Our Lady of the Mount Carmel). This is why the people in that household learned to pray novenas. I first became acquainted with the Holy Bible when I was in elementary school. This is because my mother enrolled me in an English-speaking Seventh-day Adventist school in our province. Later, I discovered that this religious organization was also a Christian cult founded by a certain Ellen G. White, who is regarded as the movement’s prophetess and messenger. When it came time for me to start high school, I was fortunate once more to be accepted into a prominent Roman Catholic school for boys on C.M. Recto Avenue at the time.
I didn’t meet a fully committed Protestant believer until my fourth year of high school. In our religion class, we had a discussion about Mary’s role in the Church. In my mind, I can still see the Protestant believer’s face as he gently explained to everyone why Mary is not the Mediatrix of all Grace. As a result, the majority of my devout Roman Catholic classmates vigorously debated with him during that class. Because I was uninterested in spiritual matters at the time, I simply ignored everything.
Being Born Again Is Not A Religion — It’s About Relationship and Transformation
But the Lord wasn’t finished with me yet. After graduating from high school, I enrolled in a university in the U-belt region. And for the first few days of classes, I was seated next to a strong and zealous Christian believer. While we were waiting for our chemistry teacher, he began telling me about his faith. I can still hear him say seriously, “You know Jun, the Bible says, ‘Unless a man be born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.'” (John 3:3) I was puzzled and asked him, “Is that another religion?” His response was so quick, “No. It isn’t. It has to do with Jesus Christ.” Of course, I debated with him about my Roman Catholic faith, defending what I believed to be correct. After that brief conversation, Roger always invites me to join him at a campus Bible study. He had no idea I was watching his every move. I noticed he practices what he preaches. What’s interesting is that the man not only professes his faith, but his life is a witness for Christ. Our friends and classmates ridiculed, provoked, persecuted, and even mocked him for his faith, 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 saw how he refused to smoke, drink alcohol or beer, or have premarital sex. I was also impressed by how the man rejects cheating during minor quizzes and major exams. I was smoking one cigarette outside the campus one afternoon while waiting for our next subject. He suddenly approached me and said, “Jun, you can decide to quit smoking for a month or even a year, but that bad habit will undoubtedly return.” But if you surrender your life to Jesus Christ, He will help you in quitting smoking.” His words stayed with me. I finally agreed to his invitation to attend a small group campus Bible study held near our campus one afternoon in between classes. I gave my life to Jesus Christ after hearing that simple message shared by our female Christian classmate. I didn’t get goose bumps or even a tear drop from my eyes after surrendering my life to Jesus Christ, but I do have a strong sense of assurance of salvation. Many people accept Jesus as a result of relationship dysfunction, habitual bondages, financial difficulties, or physical illness. I am grateful to God for sparing me from all of those things. However, the main reason I accepted Jesus Christ was to have assurance of salvation — to know that when I died, I would be with Him. Transformation occurred slowly after I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour.
From Religiosity To Relationship
In comparison to others, my personal transformation was not as intriguing. I am fortunate to come from a close-knit family. I get along well with my two female siblings. My father and mother showed their love for each other the majority of the time. My sisters and I were all very serious about our studies. As part of our religious practice, our family attends Holy Mass on a regular basis. Despite my religious beliefs, I found myself enslaved to sin. When Jesus saved me, He forgave and cleansed me of all my sins, both past, present, and future. The Lord release me of all guilt and condemnation. There was no pressure to change because the believers who discipled me did not impose any rules on me. Christianity is not like any other religious cult that requires you to follow their dietary and clothing rules. I’m glad that when the Holy Spirit entered my heart, I was set free. The freedom I have is not a freedom to sin, but rather a freedom to honor God in a variety of ways. My outward religiosity developed into a living relationship with Him. Thank you to those who discipled me and assisted me in my spiritual growth. I discovered that my relationship with Jesus Christ was deepening. I gradually develop the desire to understand why I believe what I believe. I develop a motivation to know and study God’s word. In fact, the various Bible versions stacked in my uncle’s basement library became the focus of my attention. The word of God became so relevant all of a sudden. I finally discovered that God forbids all forms of idolatry in the pages of the Old Testament. I even realized that my body is the Holy Spirit’s temple. His divine grace was at work in me, causing me to give up smoking, and drinking as well as a number of other bad habits. When I started spending time with God on a daily basis, I noticed some changes in my life. I had a strong desire to read the Bible and a strong desire to grow spiritually. The tongue that normally curses now praises my Lord, God, and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
I can’t contain my joy, which has begun to overflow as I share the gospel with my siblings, relatives, and friends. Some of them became Christians, including a cousin named Eyriche, who went on to become a pastor. My father once threatened to burn my Bible in front of me because I am so outspoken about being a Christian. He has always been proud of his father, who was a devout Roman Catholic who continued to practice his faith. I prayed for my family, especially for my father. I had faith in the Lord that He would one day soften my father’s heart to accept Him. Later my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was given a six-month life expectancy by the oncologist. But the Lord was so gracious that He gave me twelve months to share the gospel with my father. During his final days in the hospital, I had the opportunity to pray for him and read the Scripture just for him to hear. I once asked my father the most important question in the world. “Daddy, would you like to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour?” I asked. Because his vocal cords were affected by that dreadful disease, he could no longer speak, so I instructed him to press my hand to signify his intention to receive Him, which he did. I was so happy that I invited my mother and two sisters to join him in that sinner’s prayer. The former persecutor became humble in order to admit his need for salvation. Since my father is already bedridden, I haven’t seen any visible changes in his life. But one thing I understand is that the peace of God is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit that a sincere and dying person can experience after receiving Jesus Christ.
He Gave Me the Victory!
In 1991, the Lord led me to grow in Victory U-Belt, which puts premium in the lives of young people like me. I am grateful to those people who discipled me along the way. It was also in that local church that I became actively involved in a ministry and became the leader of a small group that meets every Sunday. I recognize the significance of discipleship and biblical foundation. As I followed Christ as a single professional, I became more serious about purity and holiness. Christianity evolved into a way of life, with Jesus Christ at the center. Through discipleship, I became completely committed to honoring God and advancing His kingdom. In that church, twelve years after surrendering my life to Jesus Christ, I met my wife. I am grateful to have met such a lovely, beautiful, and godly lady who is not only committed to the same vision as I am but also loves the Lord more than anything or anyone else. Our wedding is a story in and of itself about God’s goodness. The Lord blessed us with two handsome sons, whom we are raising in the fear of the Lord and His word.
The Lord also provided me with the opportunity to work for a well-known airline. Since the airline businesses are operational, I am ready to stand firm in my conviction to prioritize God above all else. One of my senior officers at work once told me that I would never be able to get a Sunday off because I am a junior. Because there were no other days of worship services in our church besides Sunday at that time, I discussed this crucial issue with my wife. I told her that I feel compelled to worship the Lord every Sunday. If that airline company won’t give me a Sunday off, I might as well resign because the Lord will open up a new and exciting opportunity for me to be financially blessed out there. My wife respected my decision. But before I made that final move, the Lord gave me the wisdom to write a one-page formal letter addressed to my superior, imploring for favor if she could grant me this request. I mentioned in that letter that I am a Christian believer who actively serves the Lord, and that I would be grateful if she could give me a Sunday off so that I can fulfill my role as a leader in our church. When I handed her a letter that day, I prayed that she would let me, and she did. The same senior officer at my workplace was taken aback and asked, “Do you have a ‘backer’ inside this company?” “No,” I said emphatically. The one who “backed me up” was the Lord!” Since then, I’ve been able to worship the Lord every Sunday in that company for nearly seven years. Because of my stand and conviction as a follower of Christ within that company, I gradually gained the respect of my coworkers. I also had the rare opportunity to pray for the company’s second highest-ranking official. During the final year of my employment before resigning, I printed several copies of a one-page letter to be distributed to my coworkers and superiors. This time, it’s a written account of how I came to know the Lord.
In my three decades of walking and fellowship with the Lord, I encountered many more trials, tests, and victories. Currently, the Lord was transforming me from glory to glory. I couldn’t imagine my life without Jesus Christ because my life revolves around Him. I am very involved in the ministry, but it is not my life. My wife and two sons are wonderful people, but my life does not revolve around them. My life revolves around Jesus Christ, who saved and sacrificed Himself for me. Everything will fall into place once I understand this. I also learned to rely on the Holy Spirit’s power and to fully trust Him with my future. I truly live, move, and have my being in Him.
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 in the world today who claim to know God but only give Him lip service. Others, on the other hand, tend to dismiss the Lord’s offer of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, who died for them on the cross of Calvary. When Jesus Christ came to this world, He warned His followers about a place of torment where they would weep and gnash their teeth. You and I will both die one day, and then we will each face His judgment individually. Accept His invitation as soon as possible. Today is the Day of Salvation. The Bible instructs us to seek Him. If we seek Him with all our hearts, we will eventually find Him. While you are still on this earth, the Lord desires that you experience an abundant life in Him and that you live your life to the fullest. He desires that you spend eternal life with Him. Why don’t you ask God’s forgiveness today and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour? You will undoubtedly experience His mercy, grace, and forgiveness if you do this. In Him, you will have the assurance of eternal life and transformation. Remember that it is His grace, not your good works, that will save you if you believe in Jesus Christ. Your transformation will be accomplish by the Holy Spirit. You must simply leave that to Him. The same Holy Spirit will also give you the ability to be a powerful witness. You can pray the same prayer I did when I gave my life to Jesus Christ in that small canteen.
Today, Father, I acknowledge that I am a sinner. I understand that I cannot save myself. I believe Jesus Christ your Son died for me and rose again from the grave.
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.
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 sincerely praying this prayer in your heart, make it a habit to read the Bible every day. Tell someone about your newfound relationship in the Lord. Find a church that will help teach you how to honor God in your daily life. And make a commitment to spiritual growth in that church through discipleship. Do not be satisfied with simply attending a local church; instead, envision 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