I was a native of Cagayan Valley and the eldest of a farming family. I went to Manila to find a living and worked hard until I become financially stable. Alongside, I learned many vices and enjoyed hanging out with friends. Keeping in mind my dream of a better life, I also studied at the Philippine Maritime Institute where I actively participated in the ROTC. I found there a man my senior whom I did not like for his being full of himself. But I was wrong for having a bad impression of him when he approached me one time and told me that he is praying for me. He eventually invited me in a Bible study in Cubao where I first heard of the word of God and in a worship service in Biñan where I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ. At that time, I must admit that it was not so easy getting off the hook of my vices.
I heard over DZAS radio station about the Bible School for Cubao employees and so I enlisted myself. There I met a lady who was so dedicated to her Christian maturity. I had the chance to sail abroad but the contract ended after 4 months. I went home and got married on December 1999 to the same lady whom I met at the Bible School, Analyn Mahinay from Bacolod City. I spent all my savings for our wedding thinking that I will sail at once but I waited for more than a year. I thank the Lord for my wife who was there to support our needs during those months of waiting. She also got pregnant but lost it after 3 months. We were so depressed wishing we could have a child before reaching our old age.
In Bahrain, during my next sailing job, I found a church with various ministries. I actively serve the Lord through its various programs, which I considered part of the Lord’s training. After a 13-month contract, I went home and once again my savings was slowly consumed. We were drained to the limits especially when my wife had to resign from work for her to get pregnant. We were advised to undergo medication but we were firm on our faith to the will of God. I got a messengerial job in a Christian company where one friend told me that God had called me to full time ministry. My wife and I were very hesitant because we know that if we made a promise to God there is no turning back. But we believe that we cannot go against the Lord, so with much crying and with the Holy Spirit’s leading, we committed ourselves to full time service on September 24, 2002.
At work on October 18, I heard pastors talking about a certain Bible school and I felt that I want to be in this school. One pastor invited me to their church in Commonwealth and asked me to inquire at Baptist Bible Seminary Institute (BBSI) in Taytay. He even provided for our fare as we were really short of means. Back home, our land lady ordered us to vacate our place if we will not settle our account. The following day, October 21, we visited BBSI. We were surprised when they enrolled us right away and offered the staff house. We cried for joy for an answered prayer! We immediately yielded, though we are uncertain of who will shoulder our expenses. Another blessing came when my wife got pregnant a month after our encounter with God.
Inspired by Mathew 6:33, indeed, our commitment to full time service was a step of faith. Now, we have 2 beautiful kids, a 4 year-old girl and a 2 year-old boy, our God’s precious gifts! I am an outreach Pastor for 3 years now at Veterans Village Outreach in Quezon City and have been blessed by the Lord in campus ministries. It has been our prayer that God will continue to use us until the end of time. To God be the Glory!
Ptr. Joel B. Furigay