Updated: Sep 6, 2022
TRANSFORMED TO BECOME A WINNER (Part 1)
In 1996, Pastor Roy Ongoco resigned from his secular job to follow God’s calling in his life. He worked in a huge company, and he had a stable position at work, yet he decided to take on this new path God is leading him. For three years in Batangas City, he was pastoring a church there. Then, he and his wife moved to Baguio City. He went to seminary while pastoring in one church. In 2003, Pastor Roy faced a trial that shook his world. He had a problem with his left eye caused by diabetic retinopathy, and he underwent an operation and lost his left eye. It was very traumatic for him to stick around and be reminded of his misery, so he and his wife decided to leave Baguio City. For that very reason, he started to question God’s goodness in his life. He couldn’t fathom why his left eye turned blind despite serving the Lord. He couldn’t preach to the people to have faith when he was about to lose his faith. Hence moving to a new place might give him a new perspective. As Pastor Roy and his wife moved to Bataan City, they started to do mission work. They have devoted themselves to doing a church planting program. Around 2007-2009, he felt burnt out. He was very exhausted and became negative about his situation. He was thinking that doing the ministry is exceedingly difficult and tiring and that he and his family sacrificed a lot. Then one day, one of his friends invited him to attend a fellowship in International Teams Philippines, a mission-sending organization. As he joined the fellowship, Pastor Roy heard the executive director of IT, Pastor Gani Sison, preaching on that day – and that was the start of his faith being revived. He got the chance to speak with Pastor Gani and somehow, he opened up his situation with him. Pastor Roy was crying and said, “I am a loser”. He was not happy with the ministry because of his situation. He admitted that he had a relapse in his relationship with the Lord and he didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t open up to his church members about what he was feeling because he was worried that they might not be so understanding about his emotions. He thought he should always be seen as someone who has a strong faith when he leads a church. “I had a misconception that the more suffering and sacrifices you do, the holier you are. I was wrong to think that way,” commented Pastor Roy. “The word 'miracle' had no significant meaning to me” he added. Then, the most unexpected things in his life were about to happen when the Lord showed him right before his eyes the “miracles” he never thought of. Pastor Roy applied to be one of the missionaries of ITeams Philippines. While he was interviewed by Atty. Elna Cruz, IT’s HR personnel, could sense that Pastor Roy was half-hearted about going on missions and that it was like an escape for him. She turned his application down. Pastor Roy went home incredibly sad. He called Atty. Elna asking for another chance. She agreed to give him another chance, but she told him to bring his wife with him. He prepared everything that might be asked during the interview, however during the interview, Atty. Elna asked his wife about his attitude. “Does he get mad?” Atty. Elna asked Pastor Roy’s wife. His wife told her everything about his attitude. He was thinking “I’m sure I won’t be accepted anymore because my wife talked about my flaws”. But to his surprise, he was accepted to be a part of ITeams Philippines. That was the first miracle he experienced in joining IT. He asked Atty. Elna why he got accepted, and her response was, “We need real people like you”. It motivated Pastor Roy to believe in miracles. In 2010, he went to Cambodia, and later his son followed him to help with the mission work. “We experienced how difficult it was to be a missionary, but surely the Lord was training us so we can minister to others better”, Pastor Roy recalled. After quite some time, he felt homesick and wanted to come home because he misses his wife. In addition, he and his son were struggling in Cambodia. Then one day, Pastor Roy received an email stating that they need a missionary to do the mission work in Laos. Since Pastor Roy made up his mind to return to the Philippines, he disregarded that e-mail and went back home. Then it was God who started to move. The Team in Laos, which is a group of American missionaries, was trying to locate and get in touch with Pastor Roy. They wanted to do an online interview with him, but he refused to show his face because he was worried about his disability and that they might not accept him because he thought he would become a burden. After the interview, Pastor Roy sent them an email about his health conditions, he had low expectations that he would be accepted. But by the grace of God, the Team in Laos accepted him. That was another miracle, for he knew that he was not physically fit to be a missionary, but God qualifies him. The team in Laos was preparing for Pastor Roy’s mission work details and He was asked by the Team Leader in Laos how much allowance he would need. He was reluctant to say the amount of money because he thought it might be a test. He sought advice and he learned that it’s okay to declare the amount he might need as he and his family would stay in Laos. He computed the possible expenses and came up with $800. The team leader in Laos said that it was the same amount they were going to offer him. Pastor Roy and his family were told to come in February 2011, and that’s when they experienced a lot of miracles in the mission field. His children’s education in the Philippines was supported and their basic needs were provided. Then it dawned on him what Pastor Gani said, “You just need to take that step of faith and watch how God will move in your life.” “As a pastor, I usually receive handouts from people, but the moment we arrived in Laos we were given $1000 to buy the things we might need in our apartment,” said Pastor Roy. “I had a poverty perspective before, but it all changed when we stepped into the place God called us” he added. However, they had to face another challenge. They had to learn the language so they could minister to others and they were given six months to prepare for the language training. For a month they should at least learn something, and if they fail to do so, they would be sent back home. Pastor Roy admitted that he was weak at memorizing and it was difficult for him to learn a new language. He wept to the Lord and didn’t want to go home. After a month he told everyone that he was doing well. With God’s help, he managed to learn the language and was not sent home. Pastor Roy continued to serve the Lord as a farm administrator while doing his mission on a coffee plantation platform. His wife also got a teaching job as they reached out to others. The Lord has blessed them financially and blessed the ministry that was entrusted to them. There’s more to Pastor Roy’s story and it was just the first few miracles he witnessed as he let go and let God take over his life. God will not allow any circumstance, or any person, to hold us back from His blessing, favor, and purpose for our lives. We don’t have to worry. Because we belong to Him. And we can trust Him with our days. God is Able, He is more than Able, to turn the toughest, darkest times, around for good. He will not waste our pain but will use the difficulty of what we go through for the greater good, to bring blessing and freedom to others.
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
(Written by: Venus Jablo)