Pathways to Blessings

USUALLY, one suffers a burden or a loss that leads the person to seek God’s help, the person eventually experiences a spiritual awakening, and remains with the Lord.

My story is different. I was already with the Lord when I suffered losses. Yes, plural. I suffered two major ones.

Way before the burdens, I was blessed to experience a personal relationship with the Lord through the Light of Jesus Family.

A brother of my mother, Uncle Noli Abuel, and his wife, Tita, happened to be already members of LOJ way back in those days when it was still holding prayer meetings in the garage of the home of our founder,

Bro. Bo Sanchez, on Chicago Street, Cubao, Quezon City.

In 1980, when I was barely 10 years old, Uncle Noli and Aunt Tita brought me, along with their kids — my cousins Menchie and Aggie — to a Life in the Spirit Seminar held at the garage.

And since then, it has become just routine for me to tag along when they attended the LOJ prayer meetings every Tuesday.

Two Pathways

Yes, in life, there are two major pathways– to burdens and to blessings.

In 1989, I got married, and with my husband Archibald, I lived in faraway Fairview– so I stopped going to the weekly gatherings. Besides, I really needed to adjust to my new role as a wife. And in time, eventually, as mom of four — three sons and one daughter.

Above, here we are, from left: Archimon, Archibald Sr., yours truly, Greg, Dayanne, and Archibald Jr.

We had a normal, comfortable family life … until came the burden.

In 2018, Archibald was diagnosed with lung cancer — already Stage 4A. Stage 4 means the cancer had spread to nearby organs and was so advanced that it needed more aggressive, not to mention expensive, treatment.

By God’s grace, we would find help to ease our burden.

Earlier, we sent our daughter Dayanne to the Ateneo de Manila University where she would be a scholar. And parents of scholars were in this group under the Pathways to Higher Education of the Ateneo where I would be an officer along with a co-parent, Marylyn Gubaton.

Little did I know this would be my pathway to the Jesus Christ Cares For Cancer (JCCFC) foundation.

Marylyn, knowing about Archibald’s illness, introduced me to another Pathways officer,

Sis. Maritess Cordero, also a director of JCCFC. She told me the Foundation is providing financial assistance to cancer patients. She encouraged me to submit the documents needed to apply for cash aid. Thanks be to God, my husband was eventually accepted as one of the beneficiaries.

We are more than grateful. The monthly cash aid augmented our already dwindling budget.

Pathway to Jesus Cares

We are forever grateful because JCCFC provided not only cash but also the urgent spiritual nourishment Archibald needed to cope with his situation.

Led by its chairman, Bro. Alo Gelano, JCCFC holds a monthly assembly providing faith-deepening teachings by invited preachers, as well as fun bonding activitiesfor the beneficiaries. And not to mention the yummy meals during the assembly.

Here, I share with you our fun times.

At right, the JCCFC team, seated from left: Alo Gelano, chairman; Feast Builder Bro. JC Libiran, guest speaker; Marin Uy, director; Edna Blanco, donor; Maritess Cordero, director.

Standing, from left: coordinators Betty Correos, Monette Biares, Vilma Senador, Bobot Raymundo, Jolly Arquero, and Princess Libiran.

Co-servants, clockwise from left: Betty Correos (seated), coordinator; Bobot Raymundo (seated), coordinator; Divine Grace Isidro, coordinator; Vanessa Fernandez, prayer partner; Camille Catipon, guest / tech support; yours truly, coordinator; Vilma Senador (seated), coordinator; Maritess Cordero, director; Edna Blanco, donor.

And here’s the JCCFC team with beneficiaries and special guests celebrating Christmas.

Every JCCFC assembly blesses us with the uplifting Word of God.

You meet new friends, bond during fun activities, pray for each other, and share answered prayers and miracles.

You leave each assembly with a smile and look forward to the next gathering.

Pathway to Burdens

God, however, has His ways which may be difficult for us to understand and accept. What was hard and harrowing was after two years, Archibald lost his battle with cancer. I admit that when my husband died, a part of me died with him.

And as though that loss was not enough, our family suffered another blow.

In 2020, the Coronavirus Disease (COVID) Pandemic struck the world– and my third son, Archibald Jr. He suffered and succumbed to the disease. He was only 27 years old.

It was painful enough to lose my husband. But a parent losing a child is unfathomable.

Until now, just looking at my son’s picture makes me cry.

But it’s also true that behind burdens are blessings.

I may have lost Archibald Jr. but God has well blessed my other children.

My two other sons have stable jobs. The eldest, Greg, is with Resorts World Hotel as supervisor, while Archimon works as a paramedic nurse in Qatar.

My daughter Dayanne is in first year Law Proper at the Arellano College of Law.

I am fervently praying she will become a good lawyer.

Pathway to Service

When my husband died, I thought that was the end of my connection with JCCFC. But Sis. Maritess invited me to join the Foundation as a volunteer coordinator.

Of course, I was more than willing to serve JCCFC — the only way I could reciprocate the blessings we received as a beneficiary.

To this day, being part of Light of Jesus Family prayer meetings and now, serving with JCCFC has made my faith stronger.

We ask: Could anything good come out of tragedy? It could. And it did. Jesus Christ Cares for Cancer Inc. was born out of Reylindo Ortega ‘s heart-wrenching meeting with Brian, a 7-year-old boy who succumbed to cancer in July 2013.

In May 2015, Bro. Rey himself was diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer. With only six months to live, he resolved to spend his remaining days serving indigent cancer patients through JCCFC.

Here with Bro. Bo, Bro. Rey and his book that yes, defines our Crazy Love that moves us to serve God’s people.

As for me, after my losses, the Lord has given me a new path, and I walk with deep trust that He guides my every step to more paths I yet have to see — but the best He has for me.

Thank you, LORD! Thank you, JCCFC family. God bless us all.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”                                                                                             — Jeremiah 29:11

This story was first published in the Feast Family Online News Magazine.

Published by THE FEAST MERCY MINSTRY (March 10, 2024)