Bad Times? Something good can come out of this!

Bad Times? Something good can come out of this!

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the ways we live–including how we serve in the Lord’s ministry. But even if there are physical restrictions, our being fishers of men cannot be deterred.

For Sis. Maricris Pammit of JIL San Isidro, Cabuyao, Laguna and Sis. Karylle Cabugatan of JIL Peace Village/Inarawan and Pinugay, Antipolo City, sharing the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ must continue. This pandemic is all the more reason for them to obey Jesus’ command to go out and proclaim the salvation of Jesus Christ.

Sis. Maricris: rich harvest of souls online

Two weeks before the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine, Sis. Maricris received a revelation from the Lord that made her pray more for family members who were yet to receive Jesus’ salvation.

She held on to God’s promise in Acts 16:31: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” His Word reassured Sis. Maricris that the Lord would never turn His back on her heart’s desire for the salvation of her family members.

And then she acted on her faith. Sis. Maricris invited her mother and siblings last April 10 to an online bible study and, to her surprise, they agreed to join. It was an unforgettable date for her as it was also the day that her mother and siblings finally recognized and accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. To add to the blessing, her mother who had just received Jesus in her heart requested that they do the online bible study every day. Her heart burst in joy.

Henceforth, they hold their online Bible study every day at 8:00 p.m.

Sis. Maricris also encouraged their other relatives to join the online Bible study. They eventually did and they also received Jesus’ gift of salvation. As of now, 12 family members have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior through the online bible study that Sis. Maricris pioneered. Praise God for this rich harvest of souls!

Sis. Karylle: salvation at the perfect time

Sis. Karylle had one precious prayer: that her father would open his heart to the One she serves—Jesus.

Amid this pandemic, she prayed even more that God would answer her precious prayer, especially because her father had a lingering illness due to his old age. She always reminded God of Mark 11:24 that says, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Sis. Karylle felt the urge to make her father watch the JIL Worship and Healing Services aired on Light TV. She admitted that, at first, it was difficult to persuade her father into watching. But by unceasing prayers and perseverance, her father eventually obliged. Sis. Karylle was in awe of the Lord for the answer to her long-standing prayer about her sick dad.

As they watched together Bro. Eddie’s televised messages, she would see her father intensely listening to God’s revelation. There were even instances when tears freely fell from her father’s eyes. Her heart melted every time at the sight of it. Then there was that time when he joined the prayer of acceptance led by Bro. Eddie during the Worship and Healing Service. As he prayed, Sis. Karylle sensed the humility in her dad to come to Jesus.

So when her father passed away last April 28 due to his illness, there was assurance that he received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Personal Savior. While her father’s passing is still painful, Sis. Karylle is thankful because the Lord embraced and comforted her dad up to his last breath.

Sis. Maricris’ and Sis. Karylle’s testimonies are proofs that the God we serve is a God of turnarounds. That even at such a time like this, God can produce something good out of it.

Theirs are testimonies reminding us that if we still have loved ones or friends who have not yet received Jesus’ salvation, we must never give up on praying for them. Because in God’s perfect time – even in the midst of a pandemic – they shall be part of the harvest. Like what they always say, “Faith it until you make it!”

Photo courtesy: Sis. Maricris Pammit and Sis. Karylle Cabugatan

God has Other Plans

God has Other Plans

A Testimony by Sis. Gi Laurel-Emas

Karlo and I have been married for eight years. We have made a conscious decision to wait to have children because of what was happening in the different aspects of our lives for the past seven years. But finally, last summer, after much prayer, we decided to start trying to conceive. After some months, I finally had a positive pregnancy test. That was in March, and we were so happy and thankful to the Lord.

The scheme of the enemy

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” John 10:10 (NIV)

On my sixth week of my pregnancy, my first ultrasound didn’t show any gestational sac. Our family doctor said that it might be because I was still in the early stage of pregnancy, so I didn’t worry much.

But at the same time, the ultrasound showed bilateral dermoid ovarian cysts—four inches of cysts on both my ovaries. This meant that I was at risk for having twisted ovaries or ruptured cysts, which would both require emergency surgery.

After two weeks, I had a bleeding. I was passing huge clots. I was brought to the ER, while Karlo couldn’t stay with me. No visitors were allowed due to Covid-19. I just kept on praying and praying.

“There is no sign of pregnancy.” That was the result of the ultrasound. I had a complete miscarriage. I was devastated. I hugged Karlo when we got home and just cried for the rest of the night. He was trying to comfort me and to keep my spirits up. He prayed for me—for us. For several nights, I cried myself to sleep.

Around four weeks after the bleeding, I was still having symptoms: nausea, on and off pelvic pain, fatigue, and bloating, so my family doctor ordered some tests.

The day before having my the tests done, there was another unfortunate incident. Karlo had a bad nasal congestion. He was having a hard time breathing and swallowing, so I decided to bring him to the ER just to be safe because he has an underlying medical condition. Praise God! Karlo tested negative for COVID-19.

Then, on Sunday morning, I woke up at around 7:30am with an urge to pee. When I got up, I felt a little dizzy. But as soon as I sat down to try to lie down again, I felt a sudden severe pelvic pain that radiated throughout my upper body and to my head. I tried to get up to shake it off, but I got very dizzy—almost close to fainting. We called 911 and we arrived at the ER around 8am. Visitors were still not allowed. I was to face this ordeal alone.

Several tests were done. My pregnancy hormones were very elevated and the CT scan revealed that I was having internal bleeding from a ruptured right fallopian tube due to an ectopic pregnancy. I needed an emergency surgery.

As I was getting transported to the operating room, I started to have bargaining thoughts with God. ‘I’ll settle for the laparotomy just to have my cysts removed now, for as long as a part of my ovaries will be left to give me a glimmer of hope of bearing a child in the future.’

Before they started putting on the general anesthesia, I just prayed to God for His will to be done, to be in control of the surgery since He knows what’s best for me. I whispered with all my heart, ‘I surrender it all to You. In Jesus’ name.’ Just about five seconds of administering the anesthetic, I was out.

After the surgery, while trying to endure the pain from the inside and from the surgical keyhole incisions, other things came up. Due to severe internal bleeding, I lost almost 1.5 litres of blood. My hemoglobin dropped after the surgery and continued to drop over the next two days. On the second day, I continued to have low blood pressure and developed new symptoms that posed the risk of organ failure if not treated immediately. My surgeon decided that I needed blood transfusion.

In addition to my low hemoglobin situation, I also couldn’t pee on my own during those two days. The pain was so severe. As a short-term solution, a catheter was put on me again. Finally, on the second day, I was able to pee. But because of those two days, I developed a bladder infection. I was put on antibiotics to treat the infection.

My throat also started to feel sore from being intubated during the surgery. I would wake up in the middle of the night with a dry throat feeling a scratch and making me cough almost uncontrollably, causing painful pressure on my incisions.

The grace of the Lord

“… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 (NIV)

While I had to deal with complications after my surgery, the surgery itself was a great success. God gave me a compassionate surgeon—someone who didn’t see me as just another ER patient, but as a person, a woman, and a future mother. She had the technical skills to be able to operate on me by laparoscopy (surgical keyhole incisions) instead of laparotomy (long surgical incision) despite my complicated situation. She said she almost switched to laparotomy because there was hardly any space to move around because my cysts were so big, but she persevered for a somehow easier recovery for me.

She was able to remove the ectopic pregnancy and the ruptured right fallopian tube. Moreover, she removed both cysts and was able to save my ovaries. God is so good! I truly believe that God was guiding my surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and the ER nurses. I am also thankful that all the hospital staff I encountered in this journey were all truly caring and compassionate.

Being at the hospital alone during this whole ordeal was very tough. I wouldn’t deny that it was starting to take a toll on me mentally and emotionally. I was getting overwhelmed with emotions, fighting not to get depressed. I was alone at the hospital and longing to at least hold Karlo’s hand for some comfort but couldn’t because of COVID-19 protocols.

I continued to pray. I listened to God’s Word and to worship songs. I texted people to pray for me. I decided for my room not to be a hospital room but a prayer room, and my bed to be a battle bed. It was a fight declaring that God already won the battle for me. The six days at the hospital was my precious time with the Lord. It was Him who carried me through. I believe He is just preparing the best for our future family.

My surgeon herself said that I was a mess… my situation was a mess when I came to the hospital. She further said that she didn’t know how I was able to endure such severe pain. Even with medicines stronger than morphine, I was still in a lot of pain. As cliche as it may sound, but my mess became a message of hope and faith for His glory.

Truly, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). He is always with us, and will never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8). And He definitely knows what is best for us and He has only the best intentions, even though sometimes we do not see it (Jeremiah 29:11).

As I look back, I don’t believe that it was just a coincidence that I celebrated my birthday (April 14) in between the bleeding (March 29) and the ruptured ectopic pregnancy (April 26). Both incidents happened on a Sunday and I believe that it all has a deeper meaning: Karlo and I have been praying for a miracle of life. I received the miracle not in the way I wanted, but definitely the way I needed. The miracle of life… my life. My miracle, my life.

I am home now and on the journey to recovery. I declare that by His stripes, I am healed (Isaiah 53:5).

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, NASB)

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, ESV)

There is hope in Jesus. There is life in Jesus.

*****

Sis. Gi Laurel-Emas is a fulltime staff of the JIL Church Worldwide. She is currently the Administrative Officer of JIL Canada West while her husband, Bro. Karlo Emas, is the MAN Head of JIL Vancouver. They are also both serving as life group leaders for young couples in JIL Vancouver.

Photo courtesy of Sis. Gi.

Healed inside out

Healed inside out

Imagine: You are 15 years old, and living just like any other teen-ager. You have school, you have friends, you have dreams. You dream that 10 years from now, you are already a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher. You think of your family and it drives you all the more to pursue your ambitions. And imagine the unbelief and pain when your normal life was disturbed by one visit to the hospital where the doctors proclaimed, “You have cancer.”

Healed physically

This is the story of Sis. Jeshua Marey Dela Cruz of the Jesus is Lord (JIL) Church San Quintin, Pangasinan Chapter. At 15 years old, she was diagnosed with papillary carcinoma, commonly known as thyroid cancer.

Photo courtesy: Jeshua Marey dela Cruz

At first, she just had a visible lump in her neck that everybody thought as goiter. But when her father got home from overseas work in 2012, the family decided to bring her to the hospital for a checkup.

She had to undergo a biopsy, and soon the doctors were informing them that the lump in her neck was not a simple one, as it was cancer. They suggested a procedure to remove ¾ of her thyroid. When they asked for a second opinion from another hospital, the recommended procedure was the same.

Sis. Jesh felt as if her bright future was stolen from her. Her heart was broken and her hope vanished. Fear started to take over her and she began to question the Lord, “Why me, Lord? Why now? (Bakit ako, Lord? Bakit ngayon pa?)

Sis. Jesh could not accept yet that she had cancer. She did not know how to handle such a dreadful situation at her very young age. So, her parents helped her. They lovingly encouraged her and prayed for her. She never heard her family claim that she had cancer because as Christians, they believed that God is way bigger than her sickness and, by faith, Sis. Jesh was already healed.

On the day of her surgery in August 2012, Sis. Jesh chose to fight the good fight of faith and entrusted her whole life to the Lord. That was the moment that she felt the bravest. With her family praying for her and her JIL San Quintin family interceding for her, she knew she was ready.

The surgery finally began. It lasted for seven hours. Perhaps it was the longest seven hours for Sis. Jesh and her family. But the Lord was indeed faithful. Sis. Jesh woke up full of life. That moment, tears instantly fell down her eyes. Her heart was full of joy and gratefulness for what the Lord has done in her life. True enough, God never fails His children.

Healed emotionally

After Sis. Jesh’s surgery, she realized how important life was. She started to appreciate everything in her life, no matter how small or big it was. She felt blessed for the second chance God had given her.

After her recovery period, Sis. Jesh decided to go back to school, at the Central Luzon State University (CLSU,) and continued to pursue her degree in Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. She studied hard and always did her best because she did not want to waste her second chance in life. And at the same time, she was a servant of the Lord in the Multimedia Arts Network (MAN).

Before she even knew it, she was already back in living her normal life. Her surgery wound healed and it’s just a scar in her neck—a symbol that she went through terrible pain but now it’s all in the past. God restored her emotionally and now, she felt stronger than before.

Healed mentally

Four years later, after Sis. Jesh graduated and was hired at a company in Makati, she observed tremendous changes in her body–weight, bowel movement, and menstruation. She even experienced panic attacks and hormonal imbalance. This was the result of her almost complete thyroid removal.

When she went for a checkup, the doctors suggested that she undergo a whole-body scan to see if there were cancer cells that developed in other parts of her body. Negativity started to settle in her mind.

But because of the encouragement brought by God through her family and churchmates, she had a renewed perspective and she remained in the mindset that Jesus Christ had already healed her 2,000 years ago at the Cross.

Praise be to God because the result of her whole-body scan was negative from cancer cells!

She is now taking maintenance medicine to supplement iodine in her body and she is back to her normal life. Sis. Jesh is currently working in one of the best hospitals in the Philippines as a Developer. Truly, God is good.

“God has extended my life for seven years now and I am praying for more years to come. Praise be to God alone! (Pinahaba ng Diyos ang buhay ko ng pitong taon at patuloy akong nananalangin na pahahabain Niya pa ang aking buhay. Purihin ang ating Panginoon!)

Healed spiritually

Throughout Sis. Jesh’s battle against cancer, she was inspired by the story of the bleeding woman in Matthew 9:20-22:

Photo courtesy: Jeshua Marey dela Cruz

“Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.’ Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed at that moment.”

Photo courtesy: Jeshua Marey dela Cruz

This verse increased her faith and made her more courageous. She said that if God can do miraculous things in the Bible during the ancient times, He can do it again in her situation. And indeed, God healed her.

Hence the verse in Isaiah 53:5, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Sis. Jesh believed that Jesus had already won over all sicknesses and diseases at the Cross. She was restored spiritually.

Healed for a reason

Sis. Jesh believes that the miracle of healing she received has a purpose. She is grateful for what God has done in her life, for it serves a way for her to bless her family and her church in San Quintin, Pangasinan.

And to all JIL people who can relate to her story, Sis. Jesh has this to say:

Do not give up. The Lord is teaching us how to depend on Him and His Word. He wants us to develop a child-like faith. Aside from that, remember that your family, JIL family, friends, and most especially, God will always be there for you. If you are in the Lord, you are forever safe. Keep on fighting! (Huwag kang susuko. Tinuturuan tayo ng Diyos na dumepende sa Kanya at sa mga salita Niya. Gusto Niyang magkaroon tayo ng child-like faith sa atin. Bukod pa roon, nariyan din ang pamilya mo, ang JIL family, mga kaibigan at higit sa lahat, ang Diyos na kasa-kasama mo palagi. Hanggat nasa Panginoon ka, hindi ka mapapahamak. Laban pa!) – Julia Ramos

Photo courtesy: Jeshua Marey dela Cruz