By Bishop Efraim Tendero
My earthly father died when I was 10 years old. As a result, we eventually lost our tailoring shop, forcing my mother to send eight of my 13 siblings to our relatives. This was heartbreaking for my mother, but being a godly woman, she prayed ceaselessly and often urged us to trust in the Lord.
I would slip in and out of despair at our lot in life, often losing the hope for a future. When I was about to hit rock bottom, Mom brought me along to an evangelistic crusade led by Greg Tingson. There, I came to know my “Everlasting Father” – Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:6). Since that day, I experienced the care and the love that only an Eternal Father can give.
God even made sure that I took the right direction in life to fulfill the mission He has set out for me – to be His ambassador, bearing the Good News to this needy world. He stirred my heart with this idea after reading Luke 10:2, where Jesus said, “There is a large harvest, but few workers to gather it in. Pray to the owner of the harvest that He will send out workers to gather in His harvest.” (GNT)
The Lord further reassured me with the passage in John 15:16, where He said, “You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of Him in my name.” (GNT)
Despite this promise from the Word, my questions remained. While my encounter with the Living Word of God was a “mountain top” experience for me, back in the valley of life, dire poverty was staring at me right in the face. I was moved from one relative’s house to another. I went through different schools and was struggling through my high school years. At this point, going to college seemed close to impossible.
Claiming the Lord’s promise in John 15:16, I applied at FEBIAS College of Bible. While filling out the application form, I was confounded by this question: “Who will provide your support?” Words escaped me. I absolutely did not know how to answer the last question.
My family could not possibly support me and the few churches, from which I had solicited help, had all declined. My application for a grant from the Yangco Foundation proved to be futile as they only considered supporting indigent students who had finished at least two years of college.
I was crushed and managed to somehow convince myself that this was God’s answer – an undeniable “No.” But during one of my quiet times soon after, I felt His gentle rebuke as I read 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” I realized that I had always put my trust on things that were tangible but never on God’s promises that were yet unseen.
So with this new lesson in my heart, I took a leap of faith. I faced the application form again, and this time, I knew my answer. Before turning it in, I wrote, “The Lord will provide” with quiet confidence in my heart.
Come Registration Day, the registrar told me that I had been admitted, but asked that I explain my final answer. I simply said that I had no support, but added that I was willing to do my part and work for it. I would leave the rest to the Lord. Surprised, the registrar told me to inform the Dean.
I then met with the Dean and told him what I had told the registrar. He then referred me to the Business Manager, who only asked what work I could do. After enumerating several gainful skills I had learned while I was in high school, the school official directed me to the cashier. When I got there, the cashier asked for my class cards, which she promptly stamped –“PAID.”
That memorable day was May 23, 1973. Back then, I did not know who had paid for my account, but later on, I realized that this was God’s confirmation that He had indeed called me. This was the fulfillment of His promise to provide for whatever I ask in His name.
God’s reply to my prayers inspired me to give Him my best in everything I do. By His grace, I emerged on top of my class while striving hard to earn my keep.
However, after my third semester, a final test came to me. The school president made two public announcements one particular day during chapel. The first announcement was an admonition for the students with outstanding debts to settle their accounts. To stress his point, he said, “Are you not ashamed to eat what you have not paid for?”
With my bills amounting to more than 1,500 pesos, I silently called out to the Lord, as I was stung by the president’s words. It also led me to ask God why He has called me only to be shamed. At that point I was no longer listening to what the president was saying. I was unaware that he had gone on to the second announcement and was saying that a certain foundation had granted two full scholarships to two students.
I was so deep in my thoughts that I did not notice the name of the senior student being called as well as the name of the second recipient. Until my seatmate told me who it was: it was me.
It was then that I realized that God really had called me. It was then that I knew that His promise in John 15:16 has been truly fulfilled.
Since then, His Word has been my foundation and my guide. I always seek to know His Word and stand on His promises.
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