I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord! (Psalm 27:13-14 NKJV)
Before life goes any further, I would like to testify about an event which happened a few nights ago while I was in Manila. See, I went down to Manila to pay taxes and to do some work on the lots our family was blessed with. Of course, I also went to see Paola again, but I also intended to speak with two of my good friends, Melai and Jojo. I wanted to talk to them in particular because I know their own personal lives haven’t exactly been easy in the recent days, to the point that they began entertaining the thought to question God and His existence.
I intended to listen to them and to give my own feedback, and I was able to spend some good time with Jojo on the first night I spent in Manila. I learned more specific details about the loss of his fiancé to leukemia. It was devastating for my friend, and as I tried to bring his hopes back up, I had to stop the conversation every now and then to pray, because I literally did not know what to tell him that would at least make him feel better. I took my best shots in saying how God is sovereign and how God loves us in all that is going on, but my friend still had questions in the back of his mind.
I had to leave to resume my responsibilities early the next morning. I met up with Paola again, and we did what we had to do, with less favorable results this time. Feeling disappointed, I decided that we go to SM Megamall to watch a movie, only to find out that Jojo was there too. So we all met up, and found out Melai was assigned to work somewhere near Gateway Cubao that day. We scratched the initial plan of eating or watching (or doing anything) in the Megamall, and took a (crowded) MRT ride to Cubao.
When we got there, we had dinner. According to Jojo, Melai wanted to open up to me too, but our conversation involved more on catching up than anything else, even when we all went to a nearby Coffee Bean to chat more. Eventually Melai needed to go to her other office in the Pioneer area, so we took another (crowded) MRT ride, getting off at the Bonifacio station.
Melai left us to go to her office, and we started walking to the Robinson Forum cinemas, intending to watch The Expendables 2. When we got there, not only wasn’t it showing, the movies that were on weren’t very appealing. We held off on eating and just kept walking around, stopping once to look at shoes, then eventually walking towards Starbucks.
When we got there, Jojo was pleasantly surprised to see a Starbucks with a dining (drinking?) area that was downstairs instead of upstairs, as he was used to. I personally liked the whole ‘cellar’ like theme it had. Sadly, when we got there, we found out that there wasn’t any wifi, and we had less options to kill time.
Knowing that Paola had issues she wanted to talk to me about, I began a conversation with her. I remember kicking it off by asking her, ‘Babe, what are your options?’ When I saw Paola and Jojo getting situated I decided to go upstairs to buy a drink, just to support our hosts.
And so the conversation continued. We talked about Paola’s options, and eventually we talked to Jojo again, allowing him to open up, and responding accordingly. The subject of God’s sovereignty and love was on our lips. I recall that at least Paola and I were so engaged, with the purpose of praising God through conversation.
We took a breather of sorts, each of us looking at our cellphones. Suddenly a man who I recall was seated around 20 feet behind us approached us, asking, ‘Excuse me, are you guys Christians?’, to which I replied, ‘Yes, we are.’
‘I was wondering if you could pray for me?’
‘Sure! This seat here was prepared for you.’
The man gestured to the table he was in.
‘Actually, there are 3 seats in my table prepared for you.’
So we moved and met Patrick, a 41-year old man who thought of approaching us when he heard what he called the ‘magic words’, ‘Jesus Christ.’ He went on by sharing that he goes to CCF Ortigas, and that he was going to approach a shady-looking man in black who was closer to him when he heard us talking about Jesus. Though he said that he wasn’t much of a sharing person, he went on by passionately sharing how his dad left their family when he was 6, and shortly after his decision to accept Christ, his brother received a text from his dad, who wanted to meet his family again. What made him so passionate in telling this story is that he believed that there was no one here involved in this reunion and reconciliation; he was adamant that God made it happen.
Melai followed, and as we were getting to know our newfound friend, she began opening up regarding her own plights, specifically her issues with her children. I was about to engage her when Patrick (who said he wasn’t much into sharing) opened up too. His marriage was annulled and his daughter is in the custody of his wife. He also shared the same story regarding his father, repeating another point he emphasized when he said the story the first time: we may know what we want, but it could be possible that our hearts aren’t ready for it yet.
Through all this time, Jojo didn’t talk, but he was looking straight to Patrick. When I asked him how he felt, he said that he was speechless – he hung on to what I prayed for the night before, when we asked for the Holy Spirit to minister to him. He went on by saying how amazed he was that we didn’t intend to hang out in Starbucks, and how he heard the same message I was preaching from a complete stranger.
We prayed, and we prayed again. I was supposed to be on my way back to Baguio earlier that evening, but I simply couldn’t resist passing up this opportunity to see how the Holy Spirit works – and boy, did He work!
Jojo said he got his answers. Melai was brought back to seeking the Lord instead of questioning Him in a (brutally) cynical approach. Paola was refreshed. Patrick was ‘recharged’ while he was sharing. I was humbled seeing all of this work not through my own words, but by the words of a stranger brought to us by His wonderful grace.
And so we prayed, and we prayed again. 5 people entered feeling they were at rock bottom or close to it – 5 people left giving God all the glory. The Holy Spirit worked, and worked mightily in our midst, and I am certain that even if we are all away from each other right now, a seed has been planted, and all of us were brought back to the right direction.
Lord, thank You for Your Spirit, which gives us power, love, and sound judgment. Thank You for Your Spirit, which leads us into all truth. Please continue to work in and through myself, Paola, Jojo, Melai, and Patrick. Let the whole world know of Your love and grace through us. Take all the glory, Lord; You deserve it! In Jesus Christ’s Name I pray, amen!