By: Ptr. Jebo Banzuelo

“A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, but our Lord continues to stretch and strain, and every once in a while the saint says, “I can’t take it anymore”.  Yet God pays no attention; He goes on stretching until His purpose is in sight, and then He lets the arrow fly.”   -  Oswald Chambers

The beginning of  a new school year  reminds us of the value of formal education.  Despite the heavy traffic and bills that come with it, we still pursue formal school training not just because it promises personal improvement but also because it can open doors of opportunity for those who take it seriously.

School is a microcosm of life.  Formal education, like life, is a process of learning and unlearning.  It gives us the necessary foundation for further growth and development. Come to think of it, the money you spend in education-related bills (tuition fees, books, uniforms, transportation and food allowances, etc.) from the moment you step in school may even surpass the amount you can earn in the first 20 years of employment.  But we know that those who go through the process of formal training come out prepared and better-equipped to face the challenges of the careers they pursue.

Life is like a big classroom, there are lessons to be learned and misconceptions and bad habits to be unlearned.  The ups and downs of life serve as lessons that mould us to maturity and prepare us to receive deeper truths and greater challenges. Unlike school, there is no syllabus, no class notes, no textbook.  We don’t know how long the course would last or what tuition we would have to pay before it was over.  We disagree with our teacher, sometimes angrily, sometimes disrespectfully.  We complain about the course load and want to drop the class.  But it is a required course, not an elective, and this was the only time it was being offered. Maturity does have a price and only those who are willing to pay the price benefit from the privileges of being “trained and educated”.

As parents are delighted to see their children become successful in their formal training God is also delighted to see His children grow into maturity.  That’s why He never wastes a hurt.  He controls life’s experiences so that they would shape us into persons that would give Him joy.  Not giving us too much nor too little — just enough for our level.

As you go through His process of preparation, here are some pointers to help you get by with joy:

God is never caught by surprise by your experience — He has already been there.  He is prepared to meet every need because He has gone before you and He knows exactly what you will need for your ordeal. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

God never sends you into a situation alone.  He always precedes you in any situation you encounter.  Not only does God go before you, but He also stands beside you and behind you, to provide protection and comfort. (Psalm 139:3, Isaiah 41:10)

If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a number of experiences that are not meant for you personally at all.  They are designed to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what takes place in the lives of others.  (2 Corinthians 1:4)

When God delays, He is not inactive.  This is when He prepares His instruments and matures our strength.  Then at the appointed time we will rise up and be equal to our task. (Philippians 1:6)

It is through the most difficult times that God often brings the sweetest discoveries of Himself.  (Lamentations 3:20-24)

“Give me the strength to hold on to that which now may seem most painful but in the end will turn out to be that which best serves my soul.”  -  Ken Gire

A Testimony by Rev. Willie Basilio

The morning of January 30, 2011 was just one ordinary Sunday for me. But before that day ended, I was rushed to the Marikina  Valley Medical  Center for an emergency CT Scan 1 for a blood clot and swelling that was affecting my brain.

Later, I was admitted to the St. Luke’s Medical Center’s Acute Stroke Unit for a CT Scan 2. During my stay at the hospital for 12 days, I was totally dependent on the Lord. I entrusted everything to Him – my life, my family, my church and my ministry. I trusted in what God was doing in me at that time because I knew it was for a purpose.

During the time that I was in both hospitals, I never had thoughts of dying. God made me feel that I was going to live through this ordeal and that I would come back for my wife Edna, to my family, my church and my ministry. It was a very peaceful experience. I realized that my recovery would be a display of His greatness!

After my CT Scan 3 exam, I began thinking about the cost being incurred by my family for my rehabilitation. It was time for me to trust the Lord again for His financial provisions. As He has supplied me in my ministry, I knew He would continually extend His gracious hand in my moment of need.

The Lord  used many and various people as channels of His blessings – my church, friends from abroad, listeners of DZAS, private groups and even other churches.

Looking back at that incident in my life, I realized so many things. I began to be a good steward not only of my time and ministry but also of the body that the Lord has given me. After all, we are not just spirits but also physical beings. If I am to serve my church and my family effectively, I need to be healthy both in mind and spirit.

Every day I live is enough reason for me to praise God. And it’s only because He protects us from harm or sickness — God continuously works wonders in our lives by granting us another day to love our family, our friends, our countrymen and people who still need to hear the Gospel message.

I live – we all live – to praise God!

Heart Line, KaPamilya host and Back to the Bible broadcaster Merlyn Guillermo was the keynote speaker for the first women’s empowerment meet held in November 2011 at Doha, Qatar.

The two-day event titled Women at Work was the first empowerment conference to be organized for Filipino women expatriates in Qatar. About 250 women attended the series of seminars held at the country’s capital.

Merlyn discussed various problems confronting women in different spheres of life, including personal, family, work and the community. She urged the participants to identify their unique qualities in order to bear the challenges. Talking about responsibilities of women to their husbands, Merlyn stated, “Women were created to help their husbands. The role of a wife as a helper is to assist, encourage and support her man. Her responsibility is to submit to the husband in everything while the husband’s role is to protect, provide basic requirements and love his wife”.

She also reminded the older women of their role to be mentors to the younger generation. “In the past, women were neither required to pursue education nor were they spoken to in public. They were considered second class citizens without any legal status. Today, women occupy job positions which were previously reserved for men only. The role and positions of women may change but their true identity remains. Therefore, you should make a positive difference wherever you are,” she added.

Merlyn further cited a number of internationally known women who fought for various causes and pioneered significant endeavors. She also encouraged those who were going through difficulties in life to put their hope and trust in God. The conference concluded with an interactive session in which the participants were divided into smaller groups.

The event gave the women some time to reflect on the lessons and the opportunities to learn from one another as they shared their life struggles with fellow women. Marie, a 55-year-old mother said, “It was encouraging to listen to other women speak about what they were going through because it reminded me that I am not alone in my struggles. We may have different issues as single and married women. There are those who struggle with delayed marriage while others have problems with their husbands and children. But we’ve all been reminded to remain patient and faithful in prayer. I personally  learned the value of humility.”

Jesyrein Robles, one of the organizers of the event said, “One of the objectives of the conference was to empower Filipino women in Doha as there has been no special conference to help them. The event reminded the women of their inherent values and potentials”.

The event also raised some funds which would be donated for the projects of Friends of Qatar, a Filipino organization which seeks to aid the distressed Filipino workers in the country.