God Loves You
A Philippine Young Man Learns of God’s Power and Love
“Without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5
Since I was a child, my life has been in peril. When I was only one year old, I was bitten by a dog, which almost took my life. My parents rushed me to the hospital. My color was almost violet, but I recovered. Once, I drank a bottle of poison which I thought was juice. Again, it almost took my life. In spite of these dangers, I’m still alive.
I was raised in a poor family. My parents were strict, especially my father, whom I might say was like Hitler. Many times he punished me for the bad things that I really did. Other times, he just got angry and drunk and hit me it the back of my head. He woke me up by throwing coffee or hot water on my face, then beat me. There were times he put me in a sack of rice and beat me like a punching bag, or tied my hands and feet to a post to beat me. He beat me with bamboo, wood as thick as a 2×2, or anything he could grasp at the time.
Due to this, and the bad influences of my surroundings, I had emotional dysfunctions and didn’t know how to express myself. During my 6th grade school year, I discovered that I was gay. The next year, I had no choice but to quit, for my parents were not able to continue supporting my schooling. Instead, I helped my mother sell vegetables in the neighborhood and nearby barrios. During this time I joined dance contests, going to almost all the parties that I knew. I became a junior dance instructor, and I loved singing and reading pocket books. I felt that I was free to do any thing I wanted, and felt like I was really a girl. At that time my mother was not mad at me because she thought that even if I were gay, I could earn a lot of money. She supported me in almost all the contests I joined.
When my father confirmed that I was gay, he hit me more often and I suffered a lot of bruises, bleeding in different parts of my body, and a blood clot. Three times, he used a stingray tail to hit me and said that he wanted to kill me. This led me to think that he is not my father because of the way he treated me. My parents eventually separated, as they couldn’t resolve their quarrels.
At that time, I didn’t know the Word of God. Although we were Catholic, there was no Bible in our home. I was never able to read it until I was 15 years old. We went to church occasionally at Christmas, New Years, Easter, Halloween, Fiestas, funerals and weddings. Going to church didn’t change my life principles. Our life was simple but we didn’t have a real faith or true knowledge of God. All I knew about the cycle of life is that people work, eat and live. A child may go to school if his parents could afford it. When he reached maturity he worked, got married, had children and grandchildren, then went to the grave. So anyone could do whatever he purposed, and live selfishly.
When I was 15 years old, my mother told me that she would enroll me to finish my high school studies. I was so happy. I studied hard and decreased my social activities. One day, at my friend’s house, I met some missionaries named Sister Yeyen, Brother Roned and Sister Mona. They were teaching religious songs and telling Bible stories to children every Saturday afternoon. They called it Branch Sabbath School. The missionaries were very quick to invite me to attend their Sabbath worship. To my shock, my reply was yes! I went to their worship place the next Saturday. My first time attending, I didn’t know what to do because the whole church was very different from the religion I had. Even the house of worship was not like what I expected, for they were just using their house. The songs, prayers, and truths being presented were new as well. I enjoyed seeing them greet one another with “Happy Sabbath,” while shaking each other’s hands. Although I didn’t know what “Sabbath” was. I enjoyed it so much, I tried my best to return every Sabbath.
When my parents learned that I was attending Saturday worship, they tried to hinder me by not allowing me to leave the house on Saturday. I was not able to attend several Sabbaths, but God really is great. I met those missionaries again at another friend’s house. Then, I met Brother Aldin and Sister Grace’s family, who happened to be the cousin of my friend’s father. Brother Aldin invited me to come the next Sabbath but I was not able to attend. The third time we met at the house of yet another friend who happened to be Sister Grace’s sister. Again, Brother Aldin invited me to attend Sabbath worship, and I went. Since I was always happy when I was with them, I kept going to their house and learned more truths. When they had Vacation Bible School near our place in April 2008, I brought my little sister to attend the program. Since then, she has always come with me to Sabbath worship.
Many times I was not able to attend fellowships and other gatherings because my mother did not allow me. She did not want me to attend Sabbath worship and she got mad if I attended. She wanted me to do something else on the Sabbaths. A relative told me, “Those people are of the devil. Do not join them. They are not of God. If you will join them, you cannot eat meat and more delicious foods. You cannot enjoy your life”.
On one occasion, there was a fellowship to be held in Pasig and I really wanted to attend. In my desire to be there, I repeatedly asked permission from my mother, but she didn’t want me to go. Even Sister Grace and Brother Aldin asked permission to allow me to go, but she refused. I escaped from our house the night before and went to the house of the missionaries early Saturday morning. I saw and met many brethren and I was so blessed. After the Sabbath service, when we were going home, the vehicle we were riding in broke down. We were not able to get home that night. When I arrived home the next day, my mother was so angry she said words that even a dog cannot accept. She drove me out of our house because of what I had done. Before that, she had always told me, “Do not come back if you attend the Sabbath worship.” I felt very sad and troubled. I pleaded with her many times, but she didn’t want me come home. I didn’t know where were to go. All my relatives were mad at me because I had disobeyed my mother. I prayed, and God led me to the house of the missionaries. They tried to talk to my mother but she was firm that she would not accept me any more. I asked the missionaries if they would allow me to live with them. Once again, I found the goodness of the Lord; they accepted me to live with them. I experienced the need to join their activities daily, especially in evening and morning worships, which I never had before. I learned so many lessons about faith and following Christ by living with the missionaries. By God’s grace, my personality changed dramatically. In the way I speak, sing, act, walk and dress, God has helped me become a real man, a man of God. Now I realize why God saved my life when I was a child and experienced maltreatment and why I later met the missionaries! Without a doubt God loves me.
I also learned from the Bible how important it is to obey God rather than man, give importance to others and not to think selfishly. Matthew 10:37-39 says, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me… he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me… He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
I discovered that only in God can I find true happiness. I was baptized January 2, 2010, because I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I want to be a new creation. I love what is written in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away.” No matter what happens, He is always there till the end. Accepting Christ in my life brings more trials and challenges, but I know that I’m not alone. Your prayers will always be with me.
By Geramie San Pedro, 18 years old, Philippines.