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Trust and Obey (Water Baptism)

May 22, 2011

Nanay and the other candidates for Baptism

When asked how she felt about Baptism, this is what she said

” Why shouldn’t I? Even Christ was baptized as an adult. Infant baptism is not the same, because infants do not have the ability to say yes or no–nor a concept of trust and obedience as far as Water Baptism is concerned. Even before I accepted Christ as my Lord and Saviour in February 2010, I have been praying a lot, but most of my prayers are not answered. But, last year, after one crisis after another, I have prayed according to God’s will–and He answered all of our prayers– it has a very deep impact to me. First, my youngest grandchild almost died of dengue– the whole family and our Church are one in prayer for his healing– and he did! Second, my speedy recovery from surgery and then just recently our issues with Immigration. I knew that if I go back to Philippines, my daughter (Lanie), will not be able to bear to leave me alone. I am sure she will give up her job in Singapore and bring Zarah to the Philippines. Singapore is home for Zarah and uprooting her maybe detrimental. So, I told the Lord in prayer, “if you can just give us mercy and grace and allow me to stay for a little bit more, I would go for Baptism”. However, after weeks of going back and forth to ICA, our hopes are diminishing with every visit. On 18th May, my daughter asked me, “Nay, what if ICA reject your application, will you not go for baptism?”, and I said ” No, I will get baptised whether or not ICA approve my application. We have also received tremendous support from Pastor Andy and his wife Joy, Pastor Bobot, and our Cell Group Leader Brother Stephens and his wife Karenn. Now, I know Christianity is about God coming to men and women through Jesus Christ. It is not about religion, but is about a personal relationship with Christ and also relationship with fellow believers.”

Our Pastor told me, that Nanay’s public demonstration of her Faith, is God’s way of telling me how much He loves me, He (God) ended my agony. And the good pastor, also told me that it seems I was the happiest person in the room during the baptism. However, I believe God is even happier than I am.

Last year, February 8, 2010, was the time when I have cried like I never did before, I cried when Nanay was being wheeled into the operating room. Very confident and with spring in her steps. It seems she is unaware that surgery can be fraught with risks that may be unreversible. Somehow, my heart is grieved and it seems I have no other chance to ask her to accept Christ as her Lord and Saviour. You see, Nanay is a very strong woman and religious idiosyncracies are taboo for her. My fear that she will go to hell is greater than my fear of death. So, I prayed for wisdom and courage to share God’s offer of salvation. I was racked by fear and trepidation– I was so afraid that she will reject God or say, she knows she is already saved.

My prayer included the following
– that the Lord touch the hearts of the medical workers who will be involved in her surgery
– that they be gentle with her and take care of her as if she is their own mother
– that even before the surgery, God will heal her cancer
– that the Lord touch her (Nanay’s) heart and accept the offer of salvation

So, with my hands on her chest and with my heads bowed down, tears streaming on my face, forgeting all inhibitions and lead her to pray the Sinner’s prayer and acceptance of God’s salvation, by repeating after me (verbally). And she did! She prayed the sinner’s prayer.

However, I thought she was just doing it for me- and that she did not really genuinely accepted Christ. After her surgery, our Pastor and his wife visited us weekly (every Monday), but Nanay would lock herself up in the room, saying she is ashamed that she will only pray because she is sick. For months, we prayed for her without ceasing. Sometimes, I even blame myself for her cancer, because years before, I prayed that the Lord will humble her enough to see that she needs God, and that she needs to give her all to God to be finally happy. So, when she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, I asked the Lord, “Lord, I am not sure if I am going to thank you or question you– but if this is Your will, help me to go through this. I am not prepared for this. My personal strength will not be enough to conquer this crisis– I need You and my mother needs You most– fill her heart with your Spirit”. For months, the Pastor and his wife, conducted the Bible Studies for me only (just me). Sometimes, I feel like I am not worth their time, as our cell group is not growing (growing means more members). They had been patient with me– burning their Monday nights only for me.

When I was assigned the head of our Church’s Mission Department, I took it with pride (healthy pride that I was doing something for Christ), but in the first few months, I was a one-woman department– knowing that this department, means begging for funds/money, not even the more mature Christians stepped up to join my team. That is when I asked the Lord to give me at least 2 helpers. 2 people who will stand beside me and help me mobilize efforts for church planting in the Philippines. The Lord, introduced me to a couple of matured Christians who are not only mission-minded but also have a heart for single mothers like me. You see, I am an odd one out in our Church because I am a single mother, very visible and was tapped to a leadership position that is not usually given to a young Christian (young means, I was only a Christian for 5 years), but not given to a struggling single mother like myself. But the Lord, saw my heart and worked through our Pastor. However, I did not accept the challenge at first–dilly dallying for a while. Until I was cornered and had to resign from my Training Management position at Microsoft (due to stress and also that desire to join a full-time ministry). For 3 months, I researched about my mother’s illness, accompanied her every day for early morning exercise. Then, I was introduced to Stephens and Karenn Mandac through our Pastor. Turned out that this couple is not only mission minded but also have a heart for single mothers like me. I asked for a helper for the Mission Mobilization, but God gave me more than just that… they had been a real brother and sister to me… a helper in missions mobilization but also a helper in everyday things– such as my personal struggles. The trend continued, no one in my household joined the Bible Studies– always locking themselves up in their own rooms. We continued to study God’s words, singing songs of praise. We even tried to invite other church members to join the Monday study group– they came in trickles– one at a time..and never came back again. Perhaps even for Christians who are used to suffering, cancer is so hard to accept, so hard to relate to.. so I understood. Or maybe they find me a snob or too hard to talk to (I usually talk to a few people at a time at Church– as I am very sensitive to people’s pain- and sometimes, just looking at their face, I can feel their pain– or so I thought), that’s why some people think I am a snob). Perhaps, God is not allowing me to get more members in our group– as I have too much on my hands anyway. For months, I thought I was a dead tree– still rooted to the ground but not bearing fruit or growing branches or stems. Even my brother and sister-in-law rejected my faith. It was so painful, not because they have rejected me, but because they were rejecting Christ himself. That they are rejecting the very Person who would give them the reconcilation, joy and peace which we have been chasing for years.

I never realized that the Christian walk can be lonely. Friends and families not agreeing with my seemingly illogical decisions or finding fault at every turn, to disprove that the foundation of my faith is weak. This is why, I humbly accepted the loving hands of Stephens and Karenn. They also had been a real daughter and son to my mother. Its also worth mentioning that they came every week, respecting our treatment decisions. Not pushing us to take chemo therapy or not telling us “so and so had cancer and took chemo and was healed’. They came and ask about our prayer concerns and prayed with us. Not making judgements on our treatment decisions. “Well meaning friends” who recommended “chemo”, came and went away–just like a passerby in a busy street. Visiting just enough to appease their conscience but not long enough to feel our joy, our suffering and our small victories. If we had listend to them, would they stand beside us? Is it too hard to see us, jut because we did not follow their advice? I hope not, I hope they are just really busy. I hope God, just made them really busy so we are left on our own and left to friends who really will stick by us no matter what we choose to treat her cancer.

God’s promise is not that suffering will not occur; His promise is that we are never alone. He walks with us through the valleys of life (Ps.23:4, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me”). There’s a great song by Martina McBride that really hits home here. It’s called Anyway, and here are just a part of the lyrics:
This world’s gone crazy; it’s hard to believe that tomorrow will be better than today. Believe it anyway.
You can love someone with all your heart for all the right reasons

In a moment they can choose to walk away; love ‘em anyway
God is great but sometimes life ain’t good
And when I pray it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway; yeah – I do it anyway.

We believe that God’s love is most powerfully seen in the person of Jesus Christ, who lived, suffered, died, and was raised from the dead. Jesus came to show us a new way of living, a way where we love as he loved, live as he lived, serve as he served, and forgive as he forgave. We came to give us life; a life of joy, grace, and abundance here on this earth and a life everlasting with the Father in the next.

No matter how I make them wonder what is happening to me, when for days, I cannot be reached by phone or any form of communication (that is how I deal with my struggles I make myself unavailable for days on end), still they would not make judgements that I have abandoned the Lord , abandoned them as friends or abandoned the ministry. They would wait until I come to my senses and ready to give them 100% of my attention. They had been a source of joy for Nanay. Nanay looked forward for their weekly Monday visits, preparing and cooking food for them.

Bible Study every Monday night

To my surprise, she started to join our Bible Studies, enjoying Hymns (sometimes acapella, sometimes in accompaniment with a guitar or a keyboard). It was truly humbling, because she decided to join us at a time when I had given up on her. That no matter how I try to show her that I have changed, she would not be convinced. She even scolded me for witnessing to my brother and sister-in-law.

Still, I thought she was just won by Karenn and Stephens jolly personalities. Lately, at a time when I was down and depressed, I saw her faith come into the fore. She would dress up early in the morning every Sunday– always eager to go to church– nagging me for being late. This is a far cry from Year 2006 & 2007, when sometimes I have to go to church because she would not want to go or that she have a bad mood or is not particularly impressed with her imperfect Christian daughter (ME) who still commits sin and mistakes anyway. However, I think she noticed that everytime I commit a mistake or sin, I would readily ask for forgiveness or even beat myself for it. That I would not justify myself for committing that mistake– always being dissappointed with myself, as not only I had weakened my testimony but also that I have disappointed God. I am disappointed with myself not because I am not earning points in Heaven, but because instead of standing in the gap for them, I was becoming stumbling block for them to know Christ. Only, lately I have come to learn, that I just have to remove myself in the way— that I have to let go of them (emotionally & mentally), so that they can experience that direct communication to Christ themselves.

At a time when my prayer life is weak, when I am being lazy and losing interest in the ministry, my mother stood in the gap for me (yes, its now the other way around). At a time when someone asked me to defamiliarize myself as “familiarity breeds contempt”, at a time when am not personally trying to take credit for my mother’s conversion, at a time when I said, alright ! alright! whether she accepts Christ or not, I will still follow you Lord.” At a time when, not even filial love can change a mother’s heart– Christ did the unbelievable. It was not about my prayers, sacrifices or the things I did or did not do. All of this good works may get someone’s attention- but these does not restore an individual’s relationship to GOD… it is only between Christ and her alone. Christ touched her heart and she accepted that offer of salvation– at her own terms, at her own time (she was not forced by her dominant daughter at gunpoint– not even the fear of death or hell). It was Christ who made this all possible. I would not take credit for it. Only Christ and Christ alone deserves the credit. He showered my mother with unconditional love and my mother was left no choice but to accept that love (agape love). Now, she made her public demonstration of faith by obeying the Lord through Water Baptism. Yes, I am happy! But I know that the Lord and His angels are happier and is singing a song of praise.

Christians and non-Christians alike are bound by the Physical law (you reap what you sow, do unto others what you want them to do unto you, everyone will have the same risk of getting cancer– e.g. given that most Buddhists are vegetarians, they still have cancer). Even if one takes the best that the conventional medicine can offer– there is still no known cure for cancer. Even if one follow the Gerson Therapy or Kelley Protocol to a T, we cannot be sure that the ingredients are really PURE. Yes, most of the people who violated the physical law, do not have cancer. It is ironic, that some people who really try their best to follow the physical law, still have cancer. Can anyone really follow the physical law– 100%?? I guess not.

In Feb 2010, Nanay accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Saviour and subscribed to the Four Spiritual Laws, today, 22 May 2011 she also made a public declaration her trust and obedience to Jesus Christ.

Will it lead to a partial or spontaneous remission? Yes, if it is God’s will for her to have partial and spontaneous remission as a testimony of her faith. The Gerson Therapy and Kelley/Gonzales Protocol and even conventional treatment have their own merits– but still there are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to cancer. And for those unknowns- I leave the steering wheel to God. Only then, will I have peace and stil be able to serve God.

Trust and Obey

Now, I can live with the thought that if ever the Lord decide to take my mother from me, she will be in Heaven and we will also reunite at some point. Last year, I have laid my intentions to the Lord, I requested that the Lord will extend my mother’s life for another 15 years, so she can live to tell others of her faith. God’s will will prevail I know. For now, we will just live one day at a time, as if today is the last, with the hope that she will live up to a ripe old age of 75. Trusting and obeying as there is no other way, to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.

Learn more about the Four Spiritual Laws here.

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