Christian Leadership Training: When I Met Jesus
My name is Lilian Abesamis and I am excited about the Christian leadership training at CLI. I am originally from Manila in the Philippines. I finished my college degree in 1977 and earned a Bachelors Degree in Nursing. There’s not a lot of opportunities to get a nursing job in the Philippines. Therefore, with the encouragement of my mother and sister who worked in a hospital in New Jersey as a nurse, I immigrated to the United States one year after my graduation. I stayed with a Filipino family who became my source of guidance in Michigan. It was my first time to live far from my family of 11 children: nine girls, and two boys.
It was difficult leaving my friends and leaving the security and love of my family to set out to the unknown. However, I see the hand of God even back then in my life. I see His faithfulness and His love guiding me, leading me, and sustaining me. I married in 1980, and we moved to California and have three wonderful children. Today, I am happily retired and want to pursue ministry studies. My dream to be a teacher, pastor, or leader in a Filipino church will one day come to pass before God calls me to be with Him.
Early Years Before I Met Jesus
I grew up in a Catholic family. My father was a strict adherent to the Catholic faith. My father made sure that we joined the catechisms classes. I praise the Lord for He opened my eyes to the truth of the Gospel. During my high school years, my desire to know God became stronger. Before going to school, I usually passed by our church to pray even if it was out of my way. The church became a place of quietness and peace for me.
In our school, there were young men and women who came from a church and told us about the Bible. They invited us to go to their youth gatherings in the church. I went to one of these events and won a trivia contest where the prize was a BIBLE. My first Bible of my own. I remember feeling so happy and excited. From then on, I remember telling myself that one of these days I would also tell people about God’s goodness. Many years would pass before I started the Christian leadership training I needed.
I started asking questions of the priest during confessional. A lot of “WHY’s?” Why do we pray to a statue? Why do we need to do confessions? I had a lot of questions about the traditions that I had growing up. The priest just told me to leave them alone. If I don’t want to do it, then don’t do it. What a big let down for me. I didn’t get the answers that answered the questions in my heart. I became more prayerful and went to church more hoping that maybe God will answer me.
People who knew me thought I was “religious”. But, they didn’t know that I was still seeking for something I didn’t even know and couldn’t explain. I was not sure if I was going to heaven, and I definitely didn’t want to go to hell. I was scared just thinking of hell, so I did all I could to follow what they told me to do, UNTIL …..
God Sent “Angels”
My sisters immigrated from the Philippines and lived with us. It was eight years that we hadn’t seen each other. In that time, they became born again Christians on fire for the Lord. They looked for a Christian church close to our place, and, when they found one, we all went there. The singing was exciting, I understood what they were singing. They were swaying and some of them danced to the music. They raised their hands and clapped with the music. The preaching was different, too. It was understandable and quite clear. The pastor talked about Jesus and how he loves us so much and gave His life for us.
I didn’t give my life to Jesus and accept Him that first time, but I started asking the questions that bothered me for the longest time. Can you believe it? They had answers for me, and they were in the Bible all along. They directed me to Isaiah 44, for idolatry, and to Exodus 20 for the ten commandments where God is a jealous God. He is jealous that we love the statues and bow down to them more than we bow our lives to Him who gave His life for us on the cross.
This is how I see it. I will be forever grateful to God for loving me and my family because He sent “angels” (my sisters) to live with us and showed us the Way, the Truth and the Life – Jesus Christ.
In 1986, my husband and I accepted the Lord Jesus in our hearts to be our Savior and Lord of our life. We have been serving as music ministers in our small way. We don’t have any formal music training but we have the capacity to carry a tune and play the guitar. God used us to assist beginning Filipino churches to develop their music ministries.
With my children growing up in the church, they also started to love music and learned to play instruments. For many years, m family and I have been tagged as the “worship family”. The Lord has been good to us. More than I can think or imagine. Now that my children are grown up, I pray that they will never forget to love the Lord and serve in His vineyard. I hope they pass on to their children the things that will bring them salvation, joy, and peace.
Time For Christian Leadership Training at CLI
God has been good to us. We are still helping out at church in the music ministry. I still want to make my dream come true that one of these days I will preach and teach. This Christian leadership training class at Christian Leaders Institute has given me the strength and the confidence that God brings it to pass. At my age, I’m still optimistic that God can use me. Perhaps I will not preach in a pulpit but preach to them by my life and my experiences of how to love, trust and serve the Lord. God is Faithful and He is true to His promises and has provided the Christian leadership training at CLI.. Especially the one in Matthew 6:33: “ But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
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