Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Unexpected blessings from Typhoon Yolanda!

Late last year, Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines as the strongest storm ever to make landfall and wreaked destruction and chaos everywhere it went. Thousands were killed and many more were left homeless with nowhere to go from the huge storm surges that were up to 19 feet high in some places. What devastation and death it caused! To this day, more than one year later, residents of those coastal areas are still struggling to regain a semblance of a “normal” life as starting all over again is very challenging.

Though we know God was not pleased with all the destruction Typhoon Yolanda caused, we know that He does have a way of bringing good out what seems to be extreme disaster. Here is one of those stories! 

Very tragically during Typhoon Yolanda, Marilou lost both her parents, making her very depressed and discouraged. One day, two Amazing Facts Bible workers assigned in her area near the University of the Philippines campus knocked on her door. When she opened it to them, they politely asked her to go through a simple survey, to which she agreed.

During their conversation there at the door, Marilou shared to the two Bible workers about how her parents had died in Typhoon Yolanda and tears trickled down her cheeks as she spoke. Then she told them that she had always tried visiting different churches to find the truth. The two Bible workers invited Marilou to do Bible studies with them to find answers to her many questions and she eagerly agreed! They told her that she could find hope amidst the terrible tragedy she had experienced in her life and she was so excited!

As the two Bible workers began weekly studies with her, they realized she had many questions indeed! Marilou’s questions always revolved around her doubts and God’s love and care and even His existence. She just could not seem to understand why a good God would allow such terrible things to happen to her. But God was working in her heart and Marilou began to sense His great love for her and that bad things that had come to her were not a result of God.

Week by week, Marilou continued to study with the two Bible workers and began finding satisfaction and comfort from God’s Word. When the topic of God’s Sabbath was presented, Marilou began to be convicted to follow what she had learned. Clinging to the Bible promises, she found herself being drawn closer and closer to the Lord. Soon she stopped attending her local Sunday church and started keeping the Sabbath each week in her home with prayer and Bible study. More and more topics were presented and her convictions deepened that what she was hearing was truth and she must follow it.

After the Bible workers had been studying with her for quite awhile, the health expo was scheduled to start and Marilou was given an invitation to attend and learn more about health. She was very hesitant to come at first, but the Bible workers waited for her to come that first day and she did! Then Marilou was invited to attend the opening night of the prophecy seminar and praise God, she came! After that first night, she continued to attend each night, soaking up the truths she was hearing. And she was not the only one being blessed – her children and their classmates also came to enjoy the children’s program and loved to come with her!

During this time, the Bible workers continued to visit and study with her – even if it was pouring rain and flooding outside! Never mind being cold! They had a mission to help Christ reach Marilou for Him! Finally near the end of the seminar, it was time to make a decision for Christ. Yes, she wanted to be baptized but was still hesitating. One night, Dad and Michael were preaching on the Unpardonable Sin topic. As they spoke from God’s Word, Marilou didn’t want to hear it! She closed her mind to the speaker, saying to herself, “Who are you to tell me that? You think that you’re right just because you’re a Pastor? How dare you speak so confidently!” A terrible struggle ensued in her mind as the sermon progressed.

Marilou wanted to follow Jesus all the way, but she was afraid of what her husband would say and what her past church members would think of it. Even after the sermon was finished, she was unsure of her decision.

Sabbath morning came and the Bible workers eagerly waited for her to arrive, but didn’t see her anywhere. They were almost ready to give up hoping she would come, but after praying for her, through the doors, she walked! She had been really struggling to decide for Christ or not. Finally she made up her mind that no matter what others thought of her, she would follow Jesus all the way! That afternoon with wonderful peace resting in her heart, she joined the others who were baptized in the swimming pool. Another soul won to the Lord!

Just a few days after Marilou was baptized, her husband came home from his work abroad in another country. She was fearful what he would think of her joining a new church. Much to her surprise, her children shared to their father all the things they had been learning from the seminar! She had been praying that her husband would be interested to have Bible studies just as she had been and God answered her prayers! Just two weeks after she was baptized, a PAFCOE student started his Bible study practicum (On the Job Training) in a nearby area and she invited her husband to attend the small group Bible study. Night after night, they attended and at the end, her husband and eldest daughter were baptized! Marilou’s joy was overflowing! Now they live in a Christian home with no movies, games or rock music.

But that isn’t the end! Marilou is so inspired with what God has done for her that she is planning to join next session’s training program to learn how she can work for others who might be depressed and discouraged just as she previously was!

God has a way of turning tragedies into beautiful stories and that was certainly the case with Marilou and her family! Imagine the great joy you, too can have as you work for others and see them come to accept Christ as their personal Savior!
The newly baptized members.