An Ugly Duckling Story
I grew up in a slum community. My father used to be a junk collector. There were times that we only ate once or twice a day because we had no money to buy food. Therefore, during my childhood, I was very thin and ugly in appearance. I use to be bullied at school because of my physique and facial features – very big eyes and big teeth. The girls I liked turned me down because of this. I often thought then that because I am poor and ugly I don’t have a bright future. So, I resented God because of this. I did not have even a dream of any profession. Way back then, I was sure that my parents did not have the money to provide me with a college education.
My Religious Upbringing
However, although we are poor, I grew up in a very religious family. We are devout Catholics. My grandfather on my father’s side used to have an altar full of images that we rendered sacred. On that altar, I discovered the Bible. I tried to read it, but my grandmother prohibited me. She believed that it should not be touched or read by a simple person. She also said that it would be detrimental on my part if I read it. Nevertheless, my curiosity prevailed. I began reading it, but I started to get confused because what was written in it seemed to be contradictory to what our religion practiced.
My Interest in Attaining Salvation
During my teen years, I became interested in exploring different religions and searching for the way of the so-called salvation. I started to doubt that my religion offered the true teaching of God. That’s why I attended different Christian sects and denominations. I thought that perhaps I would attain salvation from God. However, the more I searched the more confused I became.
Then in September 1997, my best friend Daniel Sundiam invited me to attend a youth outdoor activity sponsored by the local church. He said it was instrumental for him in acquiring assurance of salvation. Therefore, I attended the outdoor activity for two reasons. One reason was that my childhood crush attended also. The other reason was that I was curious about my best friend’s “assurance of salvation.” It was there that the gospel was preached and revealed to me by God. I learned that it is by the Grace of God that one can be saved. It is never about the good works or effort that one is putting in. We are all sinners, dead because of our trespasses, incapable of salvation. It is God who made the way through His Son Jesus Christ. The death and resurrection of Jesus are the Good News of salvation to those who believe.
Made New In Christ
October 4, 1997, I formally accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. Since then, I became very positive that there is a bright future ahead of me. It changed my perspective on myself and my condition. I no longer think that it is impossible to have a college degree even though we are poor. My faith is in God, and I am someone beneficial for the advancement of the Gospel. Indeed, in April 2003, I finished my Bachelor of Science in Education with my major in History, Cum Laude. I became a teacher which enabled me to share the gospel with the youth.
God also changed my view of myself. Before, I saw myself as poor and ugly. But, when the Lord entered my life, I saw myself fearfully and wonderfully made by Him with abundant life. I gained self-confidence and self-worth. In my college days, I became a heartthrob. Not because of my looks, but rather I brag about the grace of God that changed everything in my life. Nothing is impossible for the Lord.
Serving God and Study for Ministry Training at CLI
Currently, I serve the Lord as a Deacon in our local church, Ekklesia Tou Archipomenou. I married my childhood crush, Jeva, who was the main reason I attended the outdoor church activity. Perhaps, God used her then so that I’d be receptive to His calling. I am a father of three boys, Johanne, Jesse, and Jahzwil. I am living a wonderful life because I have met the wonderful God. He has a wonderful plan for an ugly person like me to become someone beautiful in His sight. SOLI DEO GLORIA!
I am so thankful to have found the Christian Leaders Institute online. At CLI, I study God’s Word and receive ministry training to prepare me for my ministry call. God led me here!