“The Bible was not given for our information but for our transformation.”
Coming from a family who struggle to make ends meet all the time, I grew up very ambitious and somewhat insecure. I felt like I always needed to prove myself, to be worthy and to get the validation from others. I got into relationship after relationship since I was 16 to fill the emptiness and the loneliness I am feeling.
After graduating from college, I moved to Manila for better opportunity and I landed my first job with one of the biggest telecom company in the country. Everything was moving so fast and so as my climb to the corporate ladder. As the bread winner of the family, my needs and wants was always the last among my priorities. I remember wearing hand me down clothes, bags, and shoes from my aunties so that I can send big portion of my salary to my family in the province.
This somehow changed when I met someone. He seemed really nice, decent, and of course cute. After a few months of dating, he decided to leave his home abroad and be with me in the Philippines. He asked me to “move in” with him to his place. Thinking about his decision to move was for me, made me feel important and so I said yes to the offer without even thinking twice. So then, I lived in with him in one of their houses in Manila. It felt awkward in the beginning since I have never been into this kind of set up before. However, my boyfriend made sure to make things comfortable for me. I no longer need to pay for my apartment rent, bills, groceries, and other things. He had it all covered. As he provided for the things I need and more, I was very happy thinking I made the right and practical decision since I was my family’s breadwinner and someone was finally taking care of me.
Nothing can be kept a secret forever, my family learned about what I got myself into. Sadness is an understatement to describe what they felt. My response was to distance myself from my family. I cut off any communication except to keep sending their monthly allowance. Little did I know my father started to get sick and in October 2008, he left us. I felt devastated cause I never got the chance to see and talk to him before he died. I never got the chance to ask for forgiveness.
To ease the guilty feeling, I broke up with my boyfriend, resigned from my job, packed my bags, and went back home to my province hoping for a fresh start. My mother was very happy that I finally decided to straighten things out. But not for long, it was less than a month after, Ken and I decided to patch things up. I decided to go back to Manila to live with him again. My mother did not say anything but deep down I know that I broke her heart once again.
Growing up, my parents taught us good values, about Jesus and the Bible. So deep inside me, I knew what I was doing was wrong. But I struggled because everyone else including the world, it seems, is telling me otherwise. Friends were telling me that living in with my boyfriend was cool, and practical, that is why it is the new normal and everyone is doing that nowadays, so why should I be different? Even though I knew I was wrong and it is a sin, my actions were being validated by the fact that I’m not the only one doing it, so I went on.
Then one day, my younger brother who was then 18, sent me a text message telling me that our mother had been sick lately due to high blood pressure and I was the reason. He told me unkind, harsh, and mean words. He made me realize how awful I was, how selfish I became, and how I have forgotten who I really am. I remembered crying so much in the taxi on my way to work because I cannot bear the pain of that realization.
I was not a prayerful person but that night I sincerely prayed to God to guide me and give me a way out. In about a week, I got an offer from a family friend asking if I want to work as an au pair in Denmark for two years. I was skeptical. I didn’t like the idea of being that far away from my family and most especially from my boyfriend. But the royalty sounding country and the chance to see Europe excited me, so I went ahead and processed the application, which was approved in less than a month.
January 2010, when I left for Denmark. My boyfriend promised that he will wait for me and that we will get married when I get back. But shortly after I left, he started seeing someone else. I broke up with him instantly without trying to know the entire story. Looking back now, I think that was God’s answer to my prayers. But it wasn’t easy moving on from more than two years of relationship. There were days of listening to most bitter love songs while pouring bucket of tears, random drinking sessions with friends, numerous dramatic status on Facebook, and countless pity parties in my room when I was all alone. I was in that state for a year, until I finally told myself… I have to get over it, I must get over him.
In January 2012, I came back home after my au pair visa’s expiration. I decided to stay in the Philippines for good. However, I can’t find the peace, and for some strange reason I was not happy, there was something missing in my life that I cannot put my finger on. There were times when the past keeps haunting me. I always thought that God was punishing me because I sinned big time.
Suddenly one day, an opportunity to study and work in Norway arrived and so I grabbed it. So, it was August 6, 2012 when I arrived in the beautiful city of Stavanger, Norway. That same month, I met a Filipina in a grocery store. She invited me and introduced me to a family who held a bible study every Sunday in their home. We will sing songs of praise and worship, then we will watch videos of preaching and will have sharing and reflection time. I was not a very churchy person to begin with, so it felt a bit odd. Attending bible study is far from what I planned to do abroad. But when I finally accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and personal savior, my life changed. It was here that I started reading the bible. I thought I knew God, but it was until I got there that I understood exactly who He is. For the longest time I thought I would suffer forever for things I’ve done. But in my journey in knowing God, revealed to me clearly in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us settle the matter, “says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” I was so relieved! I should have known God earlier, I would have avoided going through what I been through!
But it was also the very reason why I was able to write this testimony, my life is a proof of God’s immeasurable love and forgiveness. Things will not be easy even after having God into your life, there will still be storms, numerous struggles and challenges along the way. I experienced this when I moved back home after four years of living abroad. I have my fair shares of worries. There were and still are many changes in my life that are way tougher than I thought. But in these times, I praise God that He never left my side, He has been my constant then, now and forevermore. I look at life differently now.
Yes, I am still single, and I can confidently say that this is the season of my life that I been the happiest. I never felt so content because of how God have been good and faithful to me to all these years. All my younger brothers have finished college, two were now married, one of which, just migrated to another country. My mother and I have the chance to travel together to four countries for the last 4 years too, something that is beyond our wildest dreams. I am most thankful that my family too, have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. God has been amazing. He made the impossible possible.
Presently, I am working in Dubai and I continue life with Jesus wherever I may be. I have the privilege to serve with my CCF Dubai South Family, being part of B1G Singles, Next Gen Ministry, CCF Tulong Tayo, Welcome Ministry and most importantly leading 5 Single Ladies who’s also started leading other Single ladies.
I learned through all these that loving God is the wisest and most practical thing we can do. He has it all covered. He can give all the things that I need and a lot more. He is faithful and true to His promises and will never break my heart. I never will regret saying yes to Jesus over and over without even thinking twice. HE is the lover of my soul!
To God be all the glory and honor!
“Come now, let us settle the matter, “says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
ESpen & Jenniflor Ludvigsen
I grew up in a harmonious family, with loving and caring parents. I have many happy memories with my family and felt safe and secure growing up. But I did not feel the same outside of our home. I was very shy and had a very low self-esteem. When my best friend moved to another place in my 4th grade, I felt the need to be accepted. I wanted to hang out with the cool kids and so I would do anything to belong like stealing from a grocery store, for example.
Things did not get better in my teenage years. When my friends began dating, I was very jealous and felt so alone, that I had to do what others’ are doing to belong. This led me to masturbation, pornography and later turned into drinking, partying and casual sex. And as I moved from one place to another because of attending military and university, so did my relationship change from one woman to another. I could not be faithful with one woman and long-distance relationships did not work for me because it made me feel sad and alone. My parents were not happy and warned me to slow down. I did not listen and continued living an immoral life.
I grew up in a small island north of the Philippines. I am the eldest of 4 children. When I was 8, my mother began travelling to Manila to work. At times, she would be gone for several weeks and be home for a week or two. While she worked, my father drank a lot. I was most of the time, left alone to take care of my siblings and the home. My father was very strict & overprotective too. Often, I was not allowed to go out especially in the evenings or join school activities outside school hours. Because of this, I did not have many friends and I was always scared of losing the few that I have.
My school grades were very important to my parents. Making sure not to disappoint them was a hard job in itself. I felt that I carried a heavy burden on my own. I always felt I was alone and I thought that pleasing others would help me to be accepted. Opening up to someone and asking for help when I need any was a challenge. I was scared of disappointing others and trusting someone was hard. This is why I never dated anyone either. I looked down on myself and wondered what was wrong with me. I felt it was not normal being single at my age, and so I became ashamed of never having a boyfriend. I secretly felt humiliated every time my friends joke about it.
I continued with my one-night stands and had several lived-in partners, I was even engaged 2 times. It did not bother me that these disappointed my parents. Eventually, I moved to Bergen to start working. My sexual promiscuities finally resulted in one that would change my life. I became a father to my son Markus. I felt very scared because I was not ready for such a responsibility and I did not know how to tell my parents about it. The sad thing is that I did not even have a relationship with my son’s mother.
One summer, with a heavy heart, I confessed everything to my parents. I did not know what to expect but to my surprise, they accepted the situation and assured me of their full support as grandparents. They love Markus very much. I was so relieved.
Lost and stubborn as I am, I still did not learn. I have this belief that happiness and contentment can only be found in relationships. It was not until I met someone that things started to become serious until we decided to move in together. This time, I stopped my online dating and seeing other women. She lives in Trondheim, and had a 9-year-old daughter from a previous relationship. She moved to live with me in Bergen, but I promised her that when Markus is old enough to travel by himself, we will move to Trondheim. We tried to have baby, but she had few miscarriages. We got engaged and had our wedding was all set. Unfortunately, she got sick and was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. A rare disease with no available treatment to this day. We canceled our wedding and put our life on hold. When she was not getting well, I began to get disappointed and unhappy. I went back to my old habit, dating online, and began cheating on her.
We decided to move to Trondheim anyway. My parents disagree with this relationship and this decision. I did not listen and went against their advise to stay close to my son. My son was 9 then. I was immature, selfish and blind to his needs. I was also struggling financially. I could not leave my ex-girlfriend because we had financial commitments together. We used up all our savings; I had to sell my house and rented an apartment instead. We were in so much debt and because I was the only one working, we barely survived. I also took care of our household chores because she was in bed most of the time. Knowing my past with women and given her situation, she became very insecure and suspicious all the time. It limited connections with my friends, and felt that I lost my freedom and felt more unhappy as time goes by.
My parents were right, I became an absentee father which affected my son and our relationship tremendously. He became distant. His visits to me were more of a struggle than an exciting trip. He was not happy to see me anymore. I was losing him, but I was so caught up on my situation that I felt I cannot do anything.
I met Espen in 2008, through social media. He asked me if I was looking for a date and I said no. As tempting as it was to say yes and finally tell everyone I’m in a relationship, I felt it was weird & scary to fake my feelings to a stranger. Also, supporting my family was my priority then. Espen was kind and polite and so we remained friends.
In 2011, I got a contract as an au pair in Denmark and soon after, Espen and I started to reconnect on line. It was not until 2013, when I moved to Norway, that we started a relationship. I immediately learned that he was not who I thought he was. He admitted that he was still in a relationship with someone and that they have been living together for 7 years. I was crushed. However, I still chose to continue our relationship. I was embarrassed to share this with anybody so I kept it to myself. We lived an immoral life, cheating on someone and committed sexual immorality.
In 2014, I met Julie who invited me to WIN Norway. I did not care about the Sunday services and the messages. I just needed friends because I did not have any after a year of living in Norway, and I thought it was ok to be with this church people. Because of my childhood experiences, I had a distorted image of God. I saw God as strict and distant and He only cared for those who do good and work hard. But as I continually heard God’s words, slowly but surely God opened my heart to Him. I learned that He loved me to the point of death. I felt the truth of John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. I was amazed that if God, the King of all kings, Lord or lords, Creator of everything, would give His life for me, it must mean I’m special. I became more interested in God’s word and desired to know more. In January 2015, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. After my au pair contract, I decided to attend bible school.
As I walked with God I began to realize that my relationship with Espen and the things we were doing were wrong and not pleasing to God. God really convicted me in this area of my life but I did not want to give him up, so I secretly continued this immorality, living a double life. I was often depressed and confused, contrary to how I expected I would feel when I finally have a relationship with someone.
In 2014, my mother passed away. That was a very sad moment in my life. But this helped me economically. My brother and I received money as an inheritance and gave me the chance to move out from my situation. In 2015, I finally broke up with my ex-girlfriend, left Trondheim and moved here in Stavanger to secure a job and start a new life. Jhen was attending a bible school then. And in summer of 2016, she moved in with me.
She was very active in church. Her weekends were spent on bible studies and church activities. It was not long after she started inviting me to join her.
I did not grow up in a religious or a Christian family. I did not believe in God at all. I was an atheist. I respected Jhen’s faith and let her do her things but I made it clear to her that “I could never see myself as a Christian”. I did not see the point of spending my Sunday in church when I can be with my family doing other activities. But once in a while I would go with her to church just because I know it makes her happy.
I was so against their teachings. Jhen and I would have heated discussions and arguments. I questioned if there is really a God, why does he allow the sufferings in the world? Why wouldn’t he prevent it? Why is divorce a bad thing, when 2 people no longer love each other, don’t they have the right to leave and start a new and better life with someone else, or why is premarital sex not allowed? I see nothing wrong in having sex with someone as long as both parties permit it to happen. Or what’s wrong with homosexuality or having the same sex marriage? Don’t people have the freedom to choose what they want to be? And lots of other questions…
We would argue every time but I saw that this did not discourage her. She did not give up on me and she did not let this get in the way of her relationship with God. As she grew in her faith, changes in her life became more evident. She became unhappy with our relationship. We seldom had sexual intimacy and she started feeling ashamed to let people know she was living with me.
I was very disappointed every time we would argue about the bible and my faith. I was starting to realize how extremely difficult it will be to raise a family with a husband who doesn’t share my faith. But I love Espen, so I started praying for God to change his heart. In 2016, someone in my bible class told me “I don’t know your boyfriend, but I feel that he is a good man hearing your stories about him. You two, together, are going to do great things for God in the future. But you have to stand firm. Stay pure, don’t move-in with him before marriage. Stand your ground and stand with Jesus”. I doubted that prophesy since Espen was not a believer and was against my faith. I still moved in with him anyway and eventually forgot about all this.
But as my faith grew, my convictions grew stronger too. More importantly, my love for Jesus grew stronger. I became weary and unhappy with our relationship. Sex was no longer fun. And because of the guilt, I was afraid to meet my church family or my small group. Going to church started to became an obligation. True enough, ‘I cannot serve two masters’, one would turn my heart away from the other. Living a double life was really burdensome, I had to choose.
The right thing to do was clear but not easy because it will mean losing Espen. By God’s grace, I chose to trust God. I spent some time praying and talking to God. I told God that I am ready to do His will and prepared myself if Espen is not the one for me. So in 2016, I asked Espen if we can start living a pure life.
On October 2016, during our trip to Oslo together, she asked me if we can stop our sexual intimacy because she wanted to obey the Lord. She also said that she wanted to be proud wearing white on her wedding day. She does not want to bear the guilt any longer and have been praying for the right moment to ask me. She also said that she would understand and accept if I would leave her. I respected her and her decision, we stopped our sexual immorality.
I will never forget how I felt that day. I felt like I won the lotto and I wanted to shout it all over the world. “This is what it feels to trust and obey God”!!
However, towards the end of the same year, my visa was denied and I had to go back to the Philippines. Everything was uncertain, even my relationship with Espen. He was still an unbeliever and knowing his past, long distance relationship was a bad idea. It was painful and felt unfair to be separated. But my disobedience to God hindered His blessings to flow in my life. In Romans 12:2 says, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. All I can do was to trust God and His promises.
When Jhen had to go back, she did not want to continue our relationship knowing my past behavior towards women. But I promised her that I would do what I can to bring her back.
God’s ways are truly perfect. Our separation gave me time to reflect for myself which I never had for a very long time and did not realize I needed. It was during this time that I tried to seek God and understand His plan for me.
This was also an opportunity to reconnect with my son and give him an undivided attention. He shared to me how he felt about everything for the first time and we reconciled. Today, we have a great relationship and we always look forward to seeing each other and spending time together. I’ve never felt so happy.
Above all, God used WIN Norway family to show me that love and acceptance cannot only be found from romantic or sexual relationships. I was welcomed and accepted even when Jhen was not with me. I started attending church regularly and joined small groups. God gave me the desire to know Him more. In Jeremiah 29:13, God promised that if “YOU WILL SEEK ME AND FIND ME WHEN YOU SEEK ME WITH ALL YOUR HEART”. Blessed enough, Pastor Obbie and Maricel and other members of the church were patient enough to teach me, guide me, answer my questions and prayed for me.
In 2017, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior, and got baptized on the 31st of March 2018.
Before I met Jesus Christ, my life was a mess because I was selfish and did not obey my parents. I realized the truth of God’s word in Ephesians 6:3 “Honor your father and mother so that it will go well with you”.
I disappointed my parents too many times, that is why I hesitated to tell them about Jhenn. But Jhenn encouraged me to be honest with my family and told me the importance of honoring them and having their blessings. I introduce Jhenn to my father in 2016. He did not have anything against us, but he told me to be wise this time and not rush into something I will regret later. This is one of the many reasons why Jhenn and I decided not get married just to save her from going back to the Philippines. We decided to wait for God’s time.
Jhenn had an opportunity to visit Norway for a short period of time last winter. And in February 16, 2018 we finally got married. But again, she had to go back to the Philippines and we had to wait for her family immigration visa for another 6 months. I never would have survived a long distance relationship without the help of God.
I understand now that this was God’s perfect way of answering my prayers. It was during these times of being away that God worked in Espen’s life and changed his heart just like prayed. God did not need me for Espen to know Him. It was also a great opportunity while I was in the Philippines, for God to answer my prayers for my parents and siblings to hear the gospel and come to His saving grace. God brought me back to Norway in His perfect time.
In February 2019, we celebrated our one year wedding anniversary with a church ceremony. First, to celebrate our first year anniversary with our dear friends and families. Second and more importantly, to honor God and testify of His faithfulness in answering my prayers to share the rest of my life with a man who fears the Lord.
It is a reminder to me and to all of us that if we choose to love God above all and obey His words, we will enjoy His good, pleasing and perfect will. Today is a testimony of how much God loves you and me and He is a father who wants the best for His children. We celebrate His faithfulness in our lives and give Him all the honor because he deserves it.
God is still working in our lives as I claim that prophesy and pray that God will truly use us mightily for His kingdom and His glory. To God be all be all the glory.
Today, we want to share with all of you God’s grace and the forgiveness that we have from Him, I was an atheist, unfaithful, womanizer, an irresponsible father, a disobedient son, a sinner… but by the grace and love of God displayed on the cross, I am not the person I was before. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here. God Is truly a God of second chances. First John 1:9 says “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. It does not end in forgiveness, we are still in the process of being transformed. He gave me new life, new hope and surrounded me with wonderful people and today, I celebrate a new life with the woman God has given me.
All glory, honor and praises belong to Him, our God almighty.
2 Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.”
Cha de los Santos
I grew up in a difficult home environment with an alcoholic father and both my parents are chain smoker. I have four siblings and I am the middle child. I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ when I was young. I thank God for my aunt who always invited me to attend Sunday’s school and church activities like daily vacation bible school during summer break. My parents did not know the Lord Jesus Christ, and my father forbids us from going to church.
Whenever my father was drunk this always leads to fighting and yelling between my parents. Most of the time my father would hurt my mother not only emotionally but physically. We would often run away from him whenever he is drunk because he waves a “bolo” (a large knife used to chop wood ) and would threaten to hurt or kill.
This crisis in my family motivated me to pray harder for my parents. One of my first prayer as a new Christian was for their salvation. I love my parents so much and I respect them even sometimes I feel that my father didn’t deserve it. My father is a good man when he is not drunk.
By God´s grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit I made a decision to faithfully and sincerely obey the fifth commandment “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12
At the age of thirteen, I truly understood who Jesus Christ is in my life, He is my Lord and personal savior. I was baptized with the Holy Spirit and I committed to serve God through the music ministry in our church in the Philippines. I´m grateful to God that He has blessed me with talents to use for His glory through singing and playing musical instruments. As 1 Peter 4:10 says “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms”.
As I become closer to God and committed to serve Him, my father did not seem to be interested in what had become the most important thing in my life. He persecuted me and tried to stop me from attending church services and serving. One day he was really mad and told me that I should not come home and take all my things and sleep in the church building.
That night I prayed to God and surrendered it to Him and God gave me this passage from the bible “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you ”(1 Peter 4:14) So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.(1 Peter 4:19).
The Spirit of God led me to obey my father. I stopped attending church services and activities for several Sundays. But during this time, I did not stop praying for my father and that God will touch him and make him understand. Until one Sunday morning, my father knocked at my room to wake me up and asked “are you not going to the church today it’s already 7:30 in the morning? I cooked breakfast let´s eat.” I thought I was dreaming but it was real. I praise God for answering my prayer! Truly God will give us the desires of your heart as long as you delight yourself to Him (Psalm 37:4) From that day my father supported me in whatever I do for the church and also my mother too.
I thank God for teaching me to obey and not have a rebellious heart against my father. I realised that as children, we do not get to choose who our parents will be. It is God who appoints our parents and I believe that He has a purpose why I was born & raised in my family. The Bible teaches us to respect authorities even though they are unreasonable (Romans 13:1-5). My love for my father do not come from my own ability, but through the power of the Holy Spirit and it comes from the unconditional love of Jesus Christ who died for me.
I cannot say that my Christian life is easy. I faced many difficulties along the way. I was almost raped twice. First when I was 15. I was sleeping in the middle of the night a man came inside my room thru the window. That time our old house had a window that can easily be opened. It was God’s protection that I woke up and saw the man standing beside my bed and I was able to scream. The man suddenly jumped out of the window and ran away. My family woke up and came inside my room. I did not recognise the face of the man because it was dark. After that incident, I was not able to sleep well because I had bad dreams every night about what happened. It took few months for me to recover. I was very thankful that God did not allow harm to come to me.
As Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
In spite of what happened, I chose to trust God and stay focused on the things that he wants me to do. I became active in the music ministry, teaching songs during Sunday’s school and facilitators for kid’s camp.
When I was 19, I was almost raped for the second time. Our youth pastor tried to force himself on me. This happened on our way home from a kid´s camp at night. The only thing I can do that time is to pray for God´s protection and mercy and he stopped forcing me. God’s power keeps on protecting me! I went home, and locked myself in my room crying, my mother heard me, but I did not tell her about it. I just told her that I and my best friend had a misunderstanding. I keep this as a secret from my father and three brothers because I was so scared of what they will do if they found out what happened. I was able to tell my mother and my sister and we talked to our senior pastor who is the parent of the youth pastor. They were willing to accept whatever my decision was. I respected them, and I considered them my second family so I decided not to file a case against their son. It is only by God´s grace and his love for me why I was able to forgive because God reminded me that I am also a sinner, I was also forgiven, His only son died on the cross for me.
Right after I graduated college, God opened an opportunity for me to work as au pair in Denmark. I took this opportunity and thank God everything went well with my visa. God provided me a good Danish host family. After my 2 years contract they wanted me to stay w/ them, so they helped me to find a school where I can study a care giver course and they supported me with my financial needs in applying a student visa. Six months after I submitted my application I received a decision that my application for student visa was denied. My au pair visa was already expired that time and the Danish immigration only gave me one month notice to leave the country.
I was worried and depressed because I still have to pay for building our house and I don´t have any savings yet. Then I asked God why? I realized this is one way for God to discipline me. God reminded me that I did not seek Him first. During my stay in Denmark, I forgot about my commitment to God. I think I only went to church services three times because I was too busy working to earn money. I was working almost 7 days a week and hanging out with friends during any free time.
I asked forgiveness for not seeking Him and for not making Him as my priority. I prayed that he could bring me into a place again where I can serve him faithfully and grow spiritually.
I only had 2 weeks left to stay in Denmark when one of my friends suggested to try applying in Norway. I didn’t think that I can apply without a valid visa. But he insisted that I just try. So, I registered in an on line au pair site. Thank God a Norwegian family responded to me, and asked to interview me. I passed the interview and they sent the signed contract. Praise God!
When I submitted my application to the Norwegian embassy they told me that It is better for me to go home and wait in the Philippines because there’s a very little chance to my visa will be granted. I told my host family in Norway about what the embassy told me. But they strongly believed that everything will be fine. They asked me If I could travel and stay in Stavanger with them while waiting for my visa. I prayed to God, and by faith I surrendered all my concerns to Him. I asked that His will be done and let His presence be with me. I traveled by bus from Copenhagen to Oslo. I went through all passport control between Denmark, Sweden and Oslo. It took all 17 hours travel time going to Stavanger. I thank God for the strength, peace and for His protection for me throughout the journey.
Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.
I came to Stavanger September 2010 and my visa was granted in December of the same year. Through all this situations, I experienced God´s power and have proven that through Him nothing is impossible, if it is in accordance with His will. The Bible says, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26). God is amazing!
God blessed me again with a good and supportive host family. They helped me with my financial needs in applying for student visa and a place to stay after my au pair contract. In 2011 I enrolled in a Norwegian language school, I met two Filipina who invited me to attend bible study and they introduced me to Obiacoro family. They were facilitating the small group. Since then, I attended bible studies every weekend. This bible study group became bigger and became a church named WORD International Ministries Norway. God answered my prayers to bring me to a place where I can grow spiritually and use my gifts to serve Him.
I thank God for Ate Maricel and Kuya Obie for being my spiritual parents, my spiritual mentors. They asked me if I could be the worship leader in this church and I said Yes! I know God will equip me and give me the strength that I need as I obey Him.
As Hebrews 13:21 He may equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
Before my 2 years au pair contract end I tried to apply in the university, but I was rejected 2 times. So, I tried to apply for a student visa for a skilled worker for 1 year to study the Norwegian language and it was granted. I was so blessed because God used my host family to support me in everything I need with my studies. I applied for authorization to work as a health worker and it was also granted even though I had only 2-year course and not a registered Midwife. I firmly believe it was God’s miraculous provision.
Six months before my student visa ends, God provided me a work into a nursing home (sykehjem). Another answered prayer!
My love life also proved to be a challenge. In 2014, I entered a long-distance relationship with a person I never met personally. I only met his family in Norway and he also met my family in the Philippines. It was a serious relationship for me and I fell in love with him even though I never met him in person. Thankful to technology because we could chat, and video call every day. Everything went well, after 6 months in a relationship He proposed to me and I said yes. We were engaged! Then we planned our wedding date and went through marriage counselling online. Everything was almost set. My dress, venue, godparents, etc.….
Three months before the wedding, he called off and cancelled the wedding for all sorts of reasons. I was broken emotionally, so many sleepless nights, I was depressed and the only thing I could do is to surrender all the broken pieces to God. This brokenness helped me recognise the sufficiency of God. That his grace is sufficient for me. He strengthened and comforted me. I trusted that even in testing such as these God is with me and He did not allow this wedding to happen because many people were praying for me and God has the best plans for my life.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor. 12:9)
What I have learned through seasons of brokenness was that I was never alone. God promised that He will never leave me nor forsake me. (Hebrews13:5). No matter what trials I went through, God surrounded me with beautiful people who are always with me, praying for me and encouraging me, assuring me … “I know. me too, we are here for you and we love you! You will get through this!”
“What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.” (Psalm 84:5-7 NLT)
It is only by God´s grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit that I remain standing and believing His promise that He will make everything beautiful in His time. As Romans 8:28 says: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Through all the trials, the pains and brokenness I´ve experienced, I learned that staying close to Jesus is the best decision. He made me stronger, wiser and more Christ-like. And I know the best is yet to come…
By God´s grace and for God´s glory I am leading a young adults’ small group and worship leader. For those who do not know me I’m Charisma de los Santos, known as Cha. Blessed by God to blessed others. Found satisfaction with Christ, He alone is enough to satisfy my heart. Devoted follower of Jesus Christ!
To God be all the glory!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”