Belonging to Christ
My biological parents “gave” me to my Aunt Josephine when I was three years old. There were no legal papers involved, but from my understanding, my parents believed that my aunt could provide a better life for me. Therefore, my Aunt Josephine and her family became my family, and have supported me throughout my life until now…
When I was 9 years old, Aunt Josephine enrolled me at the local center of Compassion International in the Philippines (a child sponsorship program).
My sponsor through Compassion provided me my education – from elementary school to college. I heard about Jesus Christ, and learned about what he did on the cross and the reason for his sacrifice from Compassion and the local church connected to it, which was Bacolod Cosmopolitan Christian Church, Inc. or BCCCI. There were no dramatic moments involved. But one day, I just surrendered my life to Him and accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. As a result, I became an active member of BCCCI.
Nevertheless, being “given away” by my biological family left a deep wound in my heart. I asked God: “Why am I not with my family? My parents are supposed to support me in my schooling, help me with homework, attend my school meetings, and take care of me when I am sick.” I longed for the love of my biological father, mother, and siblings.
Seeds of IVCFP…
By the time I started college at Bacolod City College in 2010 , I was one of the officers at our church’s youth ministry. Because of this, I was invited as a church delegate to the IVCFP’s Discipleship-Leadership Training Camp (DLTC) in 2010 at Camp Humayan, Western Visayas. After the camp, I continued to become an active leader in our church’s ministries.
In 2011, April Joy Mabuyao, my DLTC batch mate, invited me to a Prayer Retreat where I met student-leaders from different colleges and universities in Bacolod. They shared their stories and experiences about leading their IVCFP chapters. I was so blessed by their stories that I was inspired to start a fellowship in my campus too. Later, I became part of the Bacolod Leaders’ Council where I joined fellowships, trainings, Bible studies, prayer meetings, big events and outings. We also served people who were in need, especially typhoon victims. I even volunteered as an Intershool Christian Fellowship (ISCF) counselor in a few Bacolod City high school ISCF chapters and in IVCFP’s high school summer camps. One of the joys I experienced as an IVCFP student leader was eating meals together at an IV Home (an apartment where IVCFP staff and students live). Even if the dining table was very small, we tried to fit at least ten people in it so that everyone could enjoy the meal. This was a touching event for me because I did not experience sharing meals with my biological and adoptive families.
God’s Gift: My IVCFP Family
Through IVCFP, I learned to appreciate the words ‘family’ and ‘community’, because IVCFP people have been more than willing to listen to me. This prayerful and God-devoted group became my family. Likewise, through IVCFP camps, retreats, and conferences, I learned to accept the life I had of being separated from my biological family. I forgave my parents for giving me to Aunt Josephine. I experienced God’s healing from the pains and hurts of my childhood, and the angry feeling towards my biological parents. I received affirmation from my IVCFP family. I was taught to depend on God’s strength.
Commitment to Serve & Request for Prayer
After graduating from college in 2014, I decided to join IVCFP as a Field Staff assigned to the Western Visayas Regional Unit. I chose to serve God through IVCFP because I saw how He changed the lives of students and graduates through this ministry. I saw the need to reach out to more students. I accepted Jesus’ invitation as a response to His undying love, because He loved me first.
Please pray for me that the Lord will grant me strength and wisdom as I work with ISCFs in Bacolod City National High School, Luis Hervias National High School, Riverside College-Senior High School, and Mansilingan Christian Academy, and for provision as I financially support my youngest (biological) sister in her schooling.
During our Junior Staff Training in 2015 in Manila, the Lord impressed on me that He had already planned my life. He had a purpose for my growing up away from my biological family. If I were not living away from them, I may never have encountered Jesus. Also, I cannot share “His unfolding story in me” if I didn’t have the emptiness that made me seek the Lord in my life. Lastly, He allowed me to be raised by Aunt Josephine and her family to give me more opportunities to become a broader channel of blessing to others.
I visited my biological parents and siblings in Bohol in the summer of 2015 right after serving at Kawayan Camp in Cebu. It had been my prayer and commitment to visit and spend time with them after being separated for 21 years. We had a good time catching up with one another, but I never got the chance to ask to my mother the entire story behind my being given to Aunt Josephine. I’m planning to visit them again. May the Lord grant me the courage to speak about this difficult topic with my parents.