In the depths of darkness and solitude, I was captured by His radiance and I was brought to light.
I am Lyka, a 24-year-old woman, currently living by faith, hope, and grace of the Lord. I was once a sheep gone astray but a good shepherd has found me, washed all my dirt, and secured me inside His fence. That good shepherd is Jesus.
Before my encounter with Jesus, I was living a life marching into darkness and going in the wrong direction. I was raised by my family, though with love, yet suffocating because of the corrupted principles and evil desires. Both my parents were gamblers, and my mother frequently got drunk and partied with her friends. My relatives on my mother’s side were the same and I witnessed their shameful works and lustful cravings. Those times, it felt like living in the midst of great chaos and I asked myself if there is anything that could break through this high wall that surrounded us. “Is there a possibility that things would be better?” These things in my childhood had a great impact on my growth, attitude, and principles I created. I became a liar, disrespectful to my parents, and selfish. With all this havoc in my life, I turned to education as my defense mechanism. During my childhood, I was the best among all. I exemplified excellence and achievements became my inspirations. During my elementary days, books were always what I held in my hand. I wanted to win. I wanted to overcome my classmates. I wanted to be recognized as “the best.” Wanting to be the best earned me no long-term friends. Even in the midst of companions, I always felt alone. In my family, I felt so distant even with my sisters. We always had fights. Despite my achievements, I was a big mess. The hole in my heart kept getting bigger.
August 24, 2008, a day after my 12th birthday, one of my aunts who worked abroad and just returned to our hometown invited us to their home because she said that there were some missionaries who will bring some good news to us. And that day, I received the good news. I met Jesus. The prayer we had was very different from what was taught in school – it was so comforting and assuring. For the first time, I was able to come to our Father God and say “Forgive me” for all my shortcomings, for all my selfishness, and for all the evil desires of my heart. Then, I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior and thanked God for the gift of eternal life. My heart was so delighted that I kept returning again and again to my auntie’s house to listen to bible stories about Jesus. This joy I had in my heart moved me to invite my friends and schoolmates to also attend Sunday School. It was not only I who was redeemed, but almost all my family – my mother, my sister, my cousins, and aunts. Our family has started to break out of the dark wall that surrounded us – we are being freed by the love of Jesus.
Entering high school life, I had a new vision and inspiration – “to do all things for God’s glory”. I studied hard not to be the “best” but because God told me in His words that “Whatever I do, in word or deed, I must do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). My principle became “if it is for the Lord, then I must give my all.” Through all the hard times, God became my shelter and comforter. Proudly saying, because of God who is great in my life, I graduated as Valedictorian of our class, year 2013.
Without noticing, the sheep that God put together started to leave one by one, until only one was left – our current Pastora Melit Gabion from Laguna. Father God used her life to not give up on us. She continued following up on all members and went from house to house every Sunday. Some members hid from her, some closed their houses, and some were busy with their own household duties. But God didn’t stop holding every one of us. His love endures and is patient until some came back. I was blessed that I was one who was able to return. Alongside that, “Taysan Full Gospel Church” was born.
Since we do not have a permanent building to gather during Sunday Service, we met in the houses of the church members. Then we offered a small area in our home under a big tree to be our temporary church building. It was quite burdensome and uncomfortable because of the heat and shortage of chairs but inspired by God’s works in our lives, we held to the truth that the true church is us and the absence of a sheltered place will not be a hindrance for us to continue.
My first ministry was the “children’s ministry”. When I was 16, I was given the privilege to share about Jesus with children. We gathered every Saturday in our living room, singing songs of praises and playing games that would best describe Jesus in the children’s lives. This commitment brought me deeper to the Lord and I felt more satisfied and useful.
After I graduated from high school, I moved to the city to pursue accountancy with the principle “work hard for God, be a blessing to my family and people around me”. However because of finances, it was a challenge for me to go home every weekend, thus I was able to go home twice a month only. I left the children’s ministry and started to attend a church in the city in times I was unable to go home. Because I have this longing to serve the Lord, I committed to the Ushering Ministry in the church where I regularly attended. I was amazed by the number of attendees, the sound of the instruments, and how comfortable the church building they have. Yet, my happiness was not full. The church where I started, the kids I played with, the sisters I used to see every Sunday – they were in my heart. Then with full respect, I decided to leave the ministry I had in the city and took the courage to return to the place where I first met Jesus.
I had classes every Saturday and our place is located in a remote area, so the most feasible time for me to travel was Sunday early morning. My routine was to unload my baggage at home and go straight to church because the children were waiting for me. At that time, our church’s had a new location. It was a heritage area where no one is living. We were thankful that the owner did not have any disagreement. And there, through the lives of the children, I was able to serve the Lord in my own humble way. Despite being weary after that long travel back and forth to the city every Sunday, I never experienced being sick – my outer appearance may look tired but my heart was full.
God has proven me His faithfulness to his promises. I hold onto His words in Matthew 6:31, that if I seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, all things will be given to me as well. While serving the Lord and pursuing my most difficult and last year in college as a 5th-year Accountancy student, there had been a lot of sweat and tears, but God’s promises never failed. His love is so assuring for those who depend on Him. That’s how I knew God closer. I graduated Magna Cum Laude and got the highest average in our department. This is not to brag about me, but to proudly bring back the glory to God whose promises never lie and whose love always endures. Had I not returned to Him, had I not served the Lord, maybe I did not experience these amazing things in my life. It is true that all our labor is never in vain.
Now, I am serving the Lord as a Youth Leader here in Taysan Full Gospel Church. I also help in the Admin Ministry and serve as a song leader in the Worship Ministry. Occasionally, God is also giving me the privilege to preach His good words that speak love, faith, and hope. At the same time, I am working as a Senior Associate in an accounting firm based in San Francisco that outsource services here in the Philippines. My work is another move of God. In 2019 my desire was to work in an audit firm, but now I realize that all things really work together for good. It is because in my current job, I can work from home which is safer than the work of an auditor who travels a lot.
God’s church here in Taysan continues on growing. New souls were won, and these people remain in God’s love. The children I handled in the past are now young people who are committed to the work of the Lord through evangelism, fellowship, and ministry. The church improved in terms of infrastructure– from meeting under a tree, we now have this heritage area which is a bigger place to gather, with adequate chairs to sit on. Though the place is only being lent to us, we thank God for the life of the owner for sharing the place with us without cost. We are still praying and hoping that God in His right time, will give us a permanent gathering place where we will altogether worship Him in spirit and in truth.
With all these experiences, Jesus is the center of my faith and hope, my inspiration and motivation, my shelter and food. He redeemed my soul and my family – my mother is serving the Lord as the Prayer Leader; my sister serves as Tambourine Dancers Leader and my younger sister works for the children’s ministry. Jesus won the battle for us. Our life now has a meaning and direction. When we have nothing, God provides. When we are sick, God heals. When we are in trouble, God rescues us. When we are broken, God fixes us.
For those who will see my story, let me tell you that in Jesus, there is a hope of revival. The blind see, the deaf hear, the mute speak, and the lost are found. God is full of love and compassion. He is powerful and has control over everything, for all things are for Him, to Him, and through Him. Impossible things are possible with Him for there is nothing hard for Him as written in Jeremiah. So, give up, kneel, surrender, and offer yourself to Him. He will fill your emptiness and do great things in your life. He will give you a new mind and heart. He will show the right path that leads to life and light. His light will shine in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it (John 1:5).