Yael is the fifth in a family with seven children. She grew up in Ligao, a city with a population of 100,000 in the Philippines. Eighty percent of the Philippines is Catholic, including Yael’s family, however they are not active members. Yael was not baptized.
As she grew up, there were constant fights between her parents until finally her mother left. Nine-year old Yael was in shock and lost her trust. Difficult years passed by where Yael’s coping mechanism was concentrating on her schoolwork. But that became more and more difficult. She was wounded inside and pulled even more into her shell. “Life is survival’’, she thought. God did not play a role in her life then since she did not know Him.
That changed when she was 19 years old. Most students sat around talking during the free hour at school. But Yael didn’t join in. Since she was bored, she asked if she could borrow the headphones and music player of a Christian classmate who was sitting next to her. “I heard a verse from The Strength of my Life and began to cry spontaneously and couldn’t stop. God spoke to me.”
At first, she didn’t want the others to notice that she was crying, but after a while she didn’t care anymore. When someone asked her what the matter was, she couldn’t explain it. The girl who had lent her the headphones felt for Yael and became her friend. Her loneliness disappeared and she gained more Christian friends.
At a certain moment, they invited her to come to a worship service. Yael was curious and went with them to the Pentecostal church in Ligao where she heard about Jesus and the Holy Spirit. “From that time on, I thought everyday about God and began to read in the Bible. I realized that Jesus is the Son of God. I confessed my sins, gave my pain and myself over to Him. From that moment, I knew that I would never be alone again because there is One who will never leave me. It became clear that God has a purpose for my life.”
It was not always easy at home. Her father and brothers were not happy about the change in her life. Especially when she would go to church, they would get angry. So, she thought up the idea to tell them that she was going to a friend’s house on Sunday mornings. She would put on old clothes and flip-flops and then change before she went to church.
But after a couple of months she didn’t feel good about doing that any more. “I began to understand that God didn’t want me to lie, but that I should tell them that I was going to church. I decided to always respond to their angry words in a loving manner. I wanted them to see Jesus in me.”
When she got baptized, she did not hide it. When her brother asked if she had done that, she said, “Yes!” The situation started to change. A sister who was married became curious and went with her to visit the church. After that, she took her three children with her to the worship service. Afterward, her other sister who has two children found her way to the church. “It was God working”, says Yael.
She started looking on the internet for Christian sites in order to learn more about the faith, so she could explain it to others. Up to that time she was afraid to come out for her faith. At first, she wasn’t really finding what she was looking for because many of the sites had automatically generated answers. “So, the first time I came on GlobalRize, I asked if I was talking to a robot. The answer was, “No.” The one I was writing to, gave his name, told that he was from the Netherlands and that he was the team leader of the chatroom. I started to ask my questions and just kept on asking. I wrote everything down in a journal that, in the end, turned out to be a hundred pages of notes.”
Slowly her fear to come up for the name of Jesus Christ disappeared. “There is nothing to fear if you are led by the Holy Spirit”, she says now. She offered her services to GlobalRize for translating since not everyone in the Philippines speaks English. She has become the team leader for a translation group and has gathered 10 people around her to help. “The Lord has made my faith grow.”
That’s not all! She has also started doing children’s evangelism in the poorer sections of Ligao. Every Saturday she goes to the children to give them hope through the Bible stories she tells, the songs they sing and by praying with them. She also gives lessons on reading, writing, and hygiene. They play games together and she tries to come into contact with their parents. Twenty to thirty children come on any given Saturday. “When I see them, it reminds me of how I was before. I show them the way to the Gospel. For everyone who knows Jesus, life is much more than just survival.”
It is Yael’s desire that the relationships in her family will be restored and she is doing all that she can to bring that about. Over the years she has learned to accept the situation, to forgive, and to put her trust in God. Not long ago she was able to have renewed contact with her mother. Yael came to the Netherlands to speak at the GlobalRize Day last year and her mother even came to wave her off at the airport. It is Yael’s hope that her whole family will come to know Jesus.