All it took was a repeated invitation.
Nenen Baraquias grew up a Seventh-day Adventist, and if you had told her that one day she would leave her faith, she probably would not have believed you. Far from it. Nenen taught in a Seventh-day Adventist elementary school that her father had founded. She attended a Seventh-day Adventist church that her father had built. She had lots of friends in her church—people like the Piedraverde family, whose children attended Nenen’s classes. But as it happened, the school became the very reason Nenen’s whole family left the church.
In 1994, the school closed, causing hard feelings between Nenen’s family and the church brethren. Nenen’s family felt so bitter about it that they moved away to Davao City. After they moved, the whole family stopped going to church and focused on work instead. Absorbed in the world, they forgot God and His Sabbath and began selling cigarettes and liquor for a living, especially at the fiestas they helped to facilitate.
Nenen’s family went on like this until tragedy came. First, her mother died. Next, the family lost their source of income. Destitute, they returned to the Cotabato area, where Nenen had grown up. Nenen and her husband bought a milling machine for refining rice, but they let one of her brothers manage the business. For three years, he didn’t submit payments to them, and they finally decided to do the milling themselves. Asserting that the rice business belonged to him now, Nenen’s brother fought their decision. When they filed a case against him in court, he became furious and eventually left town with his children.
Then another tragedy arose: Nenen’s father got in a car accident. Everyone thought he wouldn’t survive, but God gave him another chance. “I want to get back to serving God as I did when I was young,” Nenen’s father confided in her. “I’m glad I didn’t die in the accident.”
More years passed. Nenen’s son, Garren, started a business selling motor parts, and Nenen often helped. The business was going smoothly when, one day in December, a man walked in who looked familiar. “Temtem Piedraverde?” Nenen asked. “I haven’t seen you in 20 years.”
“Yes, teacher!” Temtem smiled. “I didn’t know you had come back to town!”
Not long after that, Temtem stopped by with his wife and invited Nenen’s family to worship with them the next Sabbath. Nenen just smiled. How could they go to church? After 20 years away from God, it would be difficult to return. But Temtem and his family would not give up. Every time one of them saw someone in Nenen’s family, they invited them to church.
At last Nenen’s father decided to visit. Soon after, Nenen and her husband and son decided to go too. It really was awkward at first. They had forgotten the hymns they used to sing, and they felt like outsiders. At the same time, they remembered how good God had always been. The brethren treated them warmly and even helped them relearn the songs.
Nenen’s family, together with her father, have now fully returned to their faith, fulfilling her 84-year-old father’s last wish. “I regret that we quit serving God,” he says. “I want to serve Him until the end.”
“I am thankful to Temtem, my former student,” Nenen says. “His family never tired of inviting us and reminding us that Jesus will come soon. I am happy to be back on God’s path.”
Yanyan Piedraverde and her husband Temtem are Bible workers in South Cotabato, Philippines.
How You Can Help
Pray for the Baraquias family to remain faithful to the Lord and serve Him with their whole hearts.
Pray for the Bible workers in the Philippines to be able to find honest souls and win them to the truth!
Give to the work in the Philippines by sending your donation marked “Philippines” to:
Mission Projects International
PO Box 151
Inchelium, WA 99138
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