I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
— Philippians 4:13
I OFTEN repeat this verse to myself since I learned about it when I joined the Light of Jesus Family.
First off, I had an ordinary, simple life. I went to the Belarmino Elementary School in Project 4, Quezon City. My family moved to Maasin, Iloilo, so for high school, I studied at the St. James High School in Iloilo where I learned basics of our Catholic faith.
Then for college, I went to the University of San Agustin also in Iloilo where I took up Mechanical Engineering. I then worked as mechanical engineer at the San Miguel Corporation’s Yamamura Asia Corporation.
I joined LOJ on January 17, 1984, following an invitation from an officemate at San Miguel. I will never forget the first time I attended the LOJ prayer meeting at the garage of the Sanchezes at 56 Chicago Street, Cubao, Quezon City.
Instantly, I felt so touched by God’s Word, especially His unconditionally love for His people, for me.
I will never forget this big blessing— meeting in LOJ Maria Lynn, who would be my wife and my faithful, devoted partner in serving the Lord.
Here we are, with our children: Joab with wife Joyce; and Joel.
I am forever grateful that my very first Caring Group (CG) leader was no less than our founder, Bro. Bo Sanchez, who painstakingly took care of us single men in LOJ, forming us as disciples and preparing us to be servant leaders of our faith community.
At the time, LOJ members were grouped into “families”. Lynn and I belonged to the Strength Family. Here we are with Bro. Bo during a recent reunion.
Lynn was also blessed to have as her first CG head May Ulanday, one of the LOJ pioneers.
A New Way of Life
In LOJ, we learned a new way of life.
For us singles, a way of life in LOJ was to go through what was called SOLD— State of Life Discernment— to know the Lord’s call for us— either for single blessedness or for married life. At about this time, I was falling in love with Lynn and well, she was going head over heels for me. He-he. In time, we were already thinking of marriage. Now, another way of life for singles in LOJ engaged to be married was joining a Caring Group of married couples— I guess to find out realities of marriage so we can either back out, or go on with our plan to be together forever. Lynn and I were assigned to the Caring Group of Bro. Ed and Sis. Chay Santiago who eventually became our pastors when Lynn and I got married— who brought Lynn to the hospital when she was about to give birth to our first child, because she started feeling labor pains while we were attending a Community assembly— and who brought Lynn to the hospital — again— as she began labor for our second boy, while yes, again, we were attending yet another Community assembly. Above, our Caring Group, counterclockwise from foreground, Allan and Elvie Arpon; Caloy and Vicky Ortiz; Ed and Chay Santiago; Lynn and me.
A Life of Serving the Lord
Yes, we were almost always in a Community gathering because we were always serving in various LOJ ministries— from the Discipleship Communities for Christ, Dakilang Pag-Ibig ng Diyos, the Singles Ministries, and Homes for Christ.
Lynn worked at the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) where she helped LOJ in holding many a prayer meeting at the PCA basketball court during LOJ’s
In time, we settled in Cavite and there, we continued serving as Caring Group leaders for a couples’ group.
Now I am Builder of Feast Dasmariñas, with Lynn still by my side, my inspiration, my worthy co-servant for the Lord. And He continues to shower us with more priceless blessings.
By God’s grace, both our sons have turned out to be LOJ servant leaders too. Joab, now 29 years old, served as member of the Media Ministry of Feast Cavite. Joel, now 26 years old, became head of our Feast Youth Ministry in Feast Dasmariñas and Feast Cavite, and then transitioned as Light Group head in Feast Dasmariñas’ Singles Ministry. Lynn and I now serve as head of the Couples’ Ministry of Feast Dasma.
We attend Feast SM Dasmariñas, with Melvin Mamado as Builder, supporting him the best we can as our Feast struggles through the Coronavirus Pandemic.
We have been meeting online through The Feast at Home, taking care of each other through online Caring Group meetings, sharing our tithes also through online depositing in our designated bank.
People have questions why this cruel virus, why we are separated from each other, and when this menace will go away. There are a number of answers too. But what we really hang on to is this LOJ favorite Bible guide in Proverbs 3:5- 6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways, submit to him, And he will make your paths straight.
Yes, God has seen me through my spiritual journey, and I am able to walk a straight path to Him, knowing that I can do all things through my Jesus who strengthens me.