Sis. Chenneth Sangil Dabu, JIL Church Hong Kong

Life is filled with many circumstances: a mixture of high, mountaintop experiences of joy and low, under-the-sea experiences of sorrow. But despite life’s changing circumstances, there is One who changes not: God.

Sis. Chenneth Dabu of Jesus Is Lord (JIL) Chaiwan, Hong Kong and Sis. Gladys Francisco of JIL Singapore know this full well.

Sis. Chenneth and Sis. Gladys are both Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). How are they able to survive the difficulty of being in a foreign land, away from family and loved ones? Their answer is the God Almighty.

Sis. Gladeys Francisco, JIL Church Singapore

True, there sure was uncertainty and fear in their hearts when they first went out of the country, but God’s ever-satisfying presence has kept them standing up to this day. Just the certainty that they are not alone, that God is with them, has allowed them to endure and overcome the many battles of an OFW.

Sis. Chenneth Sangil Dabu, JIL Church Hong Kong

Joy in the House of God

Being the youngest in their family, Sis. Gladeys had a hard time coping with her situation of being miles away from her family. But because of JIL Singapore, her “home away from home,” she was able to successfully go through a lot of battles in her life.

“Being surrounded with people who has the same faith and being one in spirit with the Lord, JIL SG helped sustain that joy—that kind of joy that is unspeakable.”

God used her life group for her to have a source of joy, strength, and peace. Though they are not of the same blood type, the same Spirit lives in them.

For Sis. Chenneth, the JIL Church has helped her even in the non-spiritual things of life. She was experiencing continuous bleeding and was having a hard time to tell her employer. But her brothers and sisters in Christ encouraged her to speak up, so she did. She discussed her health condition to her boss. What amazed her was the reply of her employer: “I’ll take care of it.”

Sis. Gladeys Francisco, JIL Church Singapore

Now, Sis. Chenneth is a servant of God in the LGN ministry of JIL Chaiwan. What strengthens her and brings joy in her heart are the members of the church who ask for her counsel and prayer. She feels that by giving advice to others, she herself is also learning.

The JILCW has truly helped OFW’s such as Sis. Chenneth and Sis. Gladeys in maintaining and sustaining the joy deep in their hearts.

Sis. Chenneth Sangil Dabu, JIL Church Hong Kong

Joy in life battles

Being an OFW is tough enough, but certain circumstances pushed Sis. Chenneth and Sis. Gladeys to hold on to God more.

For Sis. Chenneth, her toughest battle was that time when she had just arrived from vacation. The mother of her boss told her that she had an emergency call from the Philippines. When she called back, she learned about her father’s passing away.

It was devastating news. But Sis. Chenneth was able to press on. Earlier that day, she was singing in her heart songs of praise such as The Joy of the Lord is my strength and There’s Joy, Joy, Joy in the Presence of the Lord. She remembered those songs and held on to the message they carried.

Sis. Gladeys experienced the same tragedy of losing her father while she was in another country. Her father was already being repeatedly sent to the ICU while she was looking for a job in Singapore. When she finally found a job, her visit pass expired and she had to come back to the Philippines until her employer could apply for her working visa. Upon returning to the Philippines, her aunt and her cousin told her the most painful words: “Wala na si daddy mo.” (“Your father has died.”)

Sis. Gladeys Francisco, JIL Church Singapore

When Sis. Gladeys arrived home, her father was already in his coffin bed. Completely lifeless. All she could think was, “Hindi na niya maririnig ang mga kwento ko. At ‘di ko na rin maririnig ang tawa niya.” (“He can’t listen to my stories anymore and I won’t be able to hear his laughter anymore.”)

Both Sis. Chenneth and Sis. Gladeys embraced Habakkuk 3:17-18. That even though they were at the most unwanted place at the most unwanted time, even though they were mourning and feeling empty, still their spirit rejoiced in God’s presence.

Joy found in our hearts

Sis. Chenneth and Sis. Gladeys may have experienced pain and sorrow with the deaths of their fathers. They may also have bouts of sadness and homesickness as they live away from their homeland and far from their loved ones. But they would not let the enemy steal the joy in their hearts. With God beside them and His people around them, they are able to prevail and still choose to rejoice. – Julia Ramos

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