I am Marissa Evasco Japis and I live in the Philippines. Our country has been recognized as a Christian country wherein 82% were Catholic while the remaining 11% belongs to the different Christian denominations. However, though it may seem that preaching and sharing the Word of God should come easy, that is not the case. Christianity in our country has become more of tradition and rituals. One can quickly notice the shallowness of understanding the Word of God and living by it. Human principles and reasoning have been the basis for living excluding what the Bible says. Moreover, I came to witness more and more young people blindly following the way of the world, leading them to destruction and isolation from God. This has caused my heart to swell and feel much burden seeing more young people get trapped by the devil to commit deeds that are not pleasing unto God.
I was born in a Christian family. My father was an assistant pastor of the church we used to attend. He, later on, started pioneering a church as well. He decided to quit his job to become a full-time Pastor. Because both of my parents were serving the Lord, my two other siblings and I were raised in a Christian environment. I have loved the Lord even at a young age. I knew that though I was young, I wanted to serve him and honor Him in anyway I can. However, as I grew up circumstances changed and the situation got more complicated. We were financially tested, and we could hardly have three meals in a day. However, that didn’t stop our family from serving the Lord. We continue to serve and God we were amazed at how God made a way for us to survive each day. I believe that I totally surrendered my life to Christ back when I was 15 years old. This was the time that everything is becoming more serious when it comes to my relationship with the Lord.
When I was younger, I dreamed of being a teacher. It has gotten more specific and detailed as I grew up. I then thought I wanted to be a licensed public school teacher because it is one of the most stable jobs in the country. I dreamed of taking Master’s Degree and attaining higher education to be recognized in the field of Education, but the most important thing was, I wanted to earn money, so I won’t experience the hardship we experienced when I was younger. I want to be in a secure and comfortable status. However, this has all changed as God changed my heart. He has put a new dream in my heart. I started dreaming to serve the Lord in every way I can. My first ministry dream is to be equipped and trained for teaching and evangelizing people. I hope to see myself serving in the church as a missionary pastor. It is my dream to pioneer a church and teach young people. I hope to bring the good news of salvation that can transform the lives of the youth and make more disciples for the expansion of God’s Kingdom.
Having “Getting Started Class” lessons has given me the fresh revival in renewing my daily commitment to the Lord. It has fixed all the broken pieces of my foundation in my relationship with God. This was the very thing I needed the most. I have started pioneering a church now, and I felt like I was walking on a very thin cable. Watching and reading the lectures about creating a habit of daily walk with God through devotions have made my path wider as I felt more confidence and stronger in the Lord. I started applying all the principles I have learned here, and I am just amazed how God moves in my heart, in my life, in my marriage, and in the ministry, He has entrusted me.
I could identify myself as a Pastor and a church Planter. I love how God use the life He has given me to draw more people to Him through the power of His Holy Spirit. I love teaching them and nourishing their souls with the Word of God. I also see myself planting new churches in every place that needs to be restored by God through creating relationships with them.
Back in 2009, I was continuously attending the church where my father was a Pastor. Back at that time, I got my first job and I was focused on making my self-centered dream into a reality. I was working hard, and my focus was to earn and prove myself worthy to my family and the people around me. I loved my father very much, and I was so dependent on him. I believe God has been calling me that time, but I was too busy achieving my goals in life to respond to Him. After two years, my father died. It was sudden and unexpected. I asked God, “Why?” I couldn’t understand why he had to leave so soon. After going through the pain of losing someone so dear to my heart. God spoke to me and reminded me that all I need is Him. I shouldn’t rely on the strength and faith of no one else but Him. God has turned my mourning into dancing and my sorrow into joy. And one day I found myself seeking to do His will in my life.
Some of the unique challenges in my geographic area were the belief in Catholicism among the old people while the young people are suffering from moral decline. More and more teenagers are getting into premarital sex and suffering from early pregnancy.
My local church has been supporting me in my new place for church planting by sending young people to work with me on this new ministry. And having a scholarship is very important because what I will be learning from will be my ultimate tool to continue the work in ministering among the old the young and the children. It is also my hope to someday teach and train new workers and leaders for the Lord.
I hope that you will be praying for the church we are currently pioneering, the ministry to the kids, and the discipleship of the young people. May the Lord bring more and more soul to the church and may the Lord bring more workers to be trained for the harvest is ready!