The Truth Shall Make You Free
A Testimony of Freedom from the Philippines
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ They answered Him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, “You will be made free?”’ Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave to sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.’” John 8:31-36.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, are we in bondage to sin or free from it? Are we legally Abraham’s descendants or spiritually with Abraham an heir of salvation in Christ Jesus? Are we a disciple in our own thinking or a Christian abiding in Christ each moment?
We would like to share an interview of a couple who was formerly in bondage to sin by being involved in pagan practices. We praise the Lord that Brother and Sister Bastiano are now real Christians who desire to follow and abide by the law of the Almighty God, and now they attend Upper Tibanban Bible Sabbath Church.
Here is their testimony:
I am old enough in years, but in the faith I am very young. It is my desire to improve my walk with God each day. I am 69 years of age, and my wife and I were given the privilege to raise children. My wife is a gift from above. She is very thoughtful, honest and, above all, understanding. We love each other in spite of our hardships.
People in our village called me Bugoy. That was my name during my evil days. First of all I want to share with you why the people called me Bugoy. I grew up in an evil community and was influenced by it. Vices, rioting and many more evil habits were seen in my life. A life without hope was my joy. When I hurt someone it made me feel exalted. Oh, how I wished to be known by all—known as one who was feared by many. But now I loathe the thought.
When I met the woman who became my wife, little changes happened. When I got married I understood that I needed to work hard to make a living. I used to work on a farm raising cattle to support my family. Because I loved them, though I felt very tired many times, still I was very happy. Oh, love can make burdens seem lighter. If human love can change little things, how much more if such a divine love can be reproduced in us?
My former faith, which was pagan when compared to the Bible, was a very dark one. The Bible speaks against graven images; and now that I understand it I can say, it is truth that sets me free from that kind of sin. Before we became Christians, we had graven images in our local church that we called “saints.” We were not taught to avoid vices. Even our leaders used to have vices. So we were encouraged to do the same. We were being told that good deeds would cover our evil deeds. Anyway, we were told that we had heroes of our country that would pray for our salvation. That is why we did not only worship the so-called “saints,” but heroes as well, especially our national hero here in the Philippines, which was Jose Rizal. We adored him, for we believed that Jose Rizal was Christ Himself bodily. Our supreme leader, the dead father of Pastor Rico Nonog, Jr., taught us that, and that was one of our leading doctrines. We celebrated pagan feasts, heroes’ days and many more unbiblical teachings. We believed before that studying the Bible would make us mad or crazy, so we avoided it.
We were like Roman Catholics before we knew the truth. Only we did not adore the pope, but in his place was our leader standing in our group like the pope himself. Our teachings were almost the same but worse than the Roman Catholics, for they do not worship heroes; but we worshiped our country’s heroes, which was contrary to their practices. That was the reason that they considered us to be a cult group. They feared that we would harm them. We were trained to have power such as that of the magicians, but the military liked us for we helped them to fight the rebels. However, when Reverend Father Nonog, Sr. died, slowly our group collapsed. During that time Pastor Rico was unable to manage the group. It was only Delia (his older sister that until this time along with her mother refused Bible truth), who managed us. Our family and small local church in Upper Tibanban, Sigaboy, still continued to professedly serve God according to the pagan system.
Our district priest was and is Father Vantan. He does not love the Word of God found in the Bible, but he chooses the human traditions of the fathers. Then my grandson Jun Ulit, who was a Bible student in Bukidnon, visited us when he stopped his studies in the training school to help Pastor Aque in the ministry here. When we had a conversation, we studied the Bible and I appreciated those things that he shared with me. I wanted it more than what the world could offer. I wished to have the Word of God in my local church and my family. We desired to live by it .We longed for the truth to set us free from the sins we lived by for so many years in ignorance. Then it happened that one day Pastor Aque visited us, and he informed us that there were a few churches of our group that had already turned to God for spiritual healing and that there were already families that accepted the Bible as the rule of life. Oh, we were very happy for such a light from God’s Holy Word.
Since then, Pastor Aque and his wife have kept visiting us and our church, and Jun did not stop helping us, leading us to the light that guides him. He is imparting to us the blessings he had received. I am thankful to him. Also, both of them happily told us that anywhere around the globe we have brethren in the faith, and that we as Christians must hold on.
They also told us that someday we might hear and see sermon slide shows which were very interesting to understand and learn. That day came, and Pastor Cabahug came and shared with us more truths that I believe will save us. We attended a second session of Bible seminars in the Oregon Church (southern Philippines). Because we learned to love the truth already, for we learned that it was God who first loved us, we decided to accept Jesus publicly in a solemn covenant of water baptism. Twenty-one of us were baptized during that time in one of the rivers in Oregon. We were glad we are as one now with the church above. A God-fearing, commandment-keeping people is how I understand God’s true church, a people that became Christ’s disciples, who abide in His Word that makes them free from all wicked ways. May you remember us here in your prayers that we may be able to continue to grow in the faith and will endure the test until He comes again.
By Nanding Cabahug. Donations for the work in the Philippines can be sent to Mission Projects International, PO Box 59656, Renton, WA 98058.