Testimonial – Peny Capistrano

Peny J. Capistrano

Today is Small Group Sunday and at the same time a very special day when thousands of years ago 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection, the Holy Spirit came which happened at Pentecost also called Feast of Weeks. It is a blessing for me to share with you this morning some of my experiences on how I felt the Holy Spirit work in my life in many ways. Different situations happened, a clear manifestation of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. And today, I gladly proclaim it !!

Every Sunday morning my father would make sure we are at church by 8o’clock. In Sunday school, after singing, each child should recite a memory verse and one of the verses I like is on Luke 2:52
“JESUS GREW IN WISDOM AND STATURE AND IN FAVOR WITH GOD and MEN.” This verse was a pattern to me that I should grow not just physically, mentally, and socially fit but most of all spiritually motivated. In our church, we our deaconess plays the organ for the church’s service and one Sunday during the worship, I had the wish of me playing the organ.. When there was a shortage of deaconess, our church needed someone who will accompany at the church service. I was asked to do it and with no hesitation, I accepted it because I know that the Holy Spirit will guide me and will provide the knowledge I need to do this task. My heart was overflowing because God allowed me to use the gift He gave me at age 12. The Lord knew right away my intention was“to have a part in worshiping Him.” Wonderful work of the Holy Spirit.

Serving the Lord made me closer and focused on Him. I also have been active in the youth group from the local church to the district level. I’ve met lot of youths and then attraction started. Every time I attend youth gathering outside local church, after the activity, I receive numerous letters from guys who like to be friend with me. But I thank God I did not focus my attention on those guys. But at early age, I asked God to bless me a partner in life who will be dependent on Him and will continue be with me in serving him…prayer answered, He gave me someone who is also focused on Him whom I have been married for 40 years and we are blessed with 4 children (2 girls and 2 boys) and presently, we have 2 granddaughters and 2 grandsons expecting the 5th soon. Marcelo, my partner in ministry is the God given person in my life. I was a church organist until before I got married. When I moved to US, I continued serving God in different capacities I can knowing that every ability can be used for God’s glory.

Few years ago, Pastor Blake met at his house some church members he foresee could lead the small group and I was one of them. What to do and how to equip us were the main topic of the discussion. The first cell group I had was at my house with 21-26 attendees. Few months later, I let go my leadership and just joined the Sunday group in my friend’s house Gal & Rina Salvador. But due to unavoidable circumstances, our Sunday group rested for 3 weeks. Concerned with the group, I cannot let this situation stop us because personal bonding and spirituality within the attendees are building up already. Very much concerned with the situation, I felt I needed spiritual motivation. So I took my bible, opened it, right away, it brought me to Romans 12:6-10 “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. I prayed and asked the leading of the Holy Spirit on how I will handle this kind of situation…the next day, I found myself calling the attendees and telling them we will continue the small group at my house. But later on, Sunday was a bit of struggle for us to meet regularly because of some church meetings and work schedule conflict, the attendance went low…again, I asked God to help us with some alternative to continue our small group. I happened to have a chance to talk to Vi Bautista and I found out that her group is also struggling with the schedule, so right away we decided to combine her’s and my group,. .What a wonderful work again of the Holy Spirit…It is because of our hunger for the Word of God, because of the struggles we are encountering and have encountered, the seriousness of having deeper relationship with God through the Holy Spirit got deeper and deeper. On one of our discussions, a question was raised “If we are suffering and struggling, is this what God wants?”…and the response was, “NO”..It says on Jeremiah 29:11, “God has plans for you, to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope in the future.” It is because of our free will, our wrong choice that put us in a bad situation. With this kind of discussion, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, transformation among each attendee became very visible.

Two years ago, after my daily bible reading, I paused and said loudly “Lord, I think I am not doing enough for you…if you want to use me more, please let me know and I will do it.” I prayed hard and asked the Holy Spirit to give me the answer in any way it can be. Then…one week later, I received a call from Pastor Anne asking me if I can be a transition speaker or a worship leader…I accepted the responsibility, I told her that is the answer to my prayer. .. truly , I believe that the Holy Spirit is at work again…Brothers and sisters, God knows our seriousness and willingness to serve Him.…God is willingly and patiently waiting for us…I gladly say to you, there is joy in serving Jesus…

Last year, my husband and I cruised the Mediterranean with my 2 high school classmates…we stayed 4 nights in Venice hotel and.one morning while having continental breakfast, the server approached us. She said by our actions, she noticed we are Christians, she invited us to join her church’s evangelistic picnic at a Venice park on Sunday afternoon…we went.. It was raining hard in the morning, but stopped in the afternoon during the picnic. For this, members were lifting up their voice glorifying God for the miraculous thing that happened. We sang praise songs, listened to the scripture reading, and message by an American Pastor’s, the youth had drama, the Filipino children sang an Italian song…What amazed me was: the Congregation talk in Ilocano, Tagalog, English, and Italian. I said to them “this is like the incident at Pentecost” we are talking in diff. languages proclaiming God’s wonder. What an amazing occasion. It felt like we were present at the actual Pentecost. Two days after, we have to fly back to New York. but the flight was cancelled. The airplane had to be fixed because of some mechanical malfunction.. The next day, after boarding the aircraft, me and my classmates paused for a prayer. After that, I sat down and put on my seat belt. Then I pulled the Upper Room from my bag to read that day’s daily devotional …and to my surprise when I opened it, the reading for that day was entitled “I AM YOUR PILOT.” WOW!This is an assurance of the Holy Spirit that protection, peace and comfort are right there with us….. and we arrived safely. I tell you, it is a joy having a deep relationship with God which calls us to seek direction from Him through constant prayer, Bible study, worship and Christian fellowship.

Always remember on John 14:15-21 before Jesus left His disciples, He promised the presence of Holy Spirit will always be with them.. This is His promise to us too!! …Now is the time for our spiritual preparation…let us free ourselves from our comfort zone…be with the small group studying the bible, memorize bible verses so you have an armor when times of struggle struck you, Remember to be dependent on the Presence and Power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is available to everyone…you just have to FEEL ITS PRESENCE, FEEL THE LEADING and ENJOY THE LOVE PROMISED AND PROVIDED TO ALL OF US.

God bless !!

Testimonial – Imelda Phillips

Congregation TestimonialImelda Phillips
May 20th, 2012

When Ate Lolita Flores, our Bible study group leader, asked me to do a testimony, I tried to think of a reason why I couldn’t. But you see, that’s just the thing…when you are part of a Bible study group, the “I can’t” becomes “I can”.

So I thought I’d start with an introduction of myself before Christ (my “B.C.” life). I’m an only child, born and raised in the Philippines. I grew up attending an all girls’ Catholic school so I can say I have always known OF Christ. But my understanding of Him was confined to the usual “head” knowledge. Unfortunately we all know that mere head knowledge is not enough to get that deep joy and peace that only comes through a personal relationship with the Lord.

After my first year of college, we migrated to the US. The following month, I enrolled at a computer school in San Francisco where I met my husband who was my instructor. We got married the following year. Yes, it was fast and I was only 18 years old. And my husband will tell you (as he tells everyone) that I wrote him a note (on a Hello Kitty stationery) saying, “I came to America to find a blue eyed American with a Harvard education, and you’re it”. Looking back now, I can’t believe I did that. But you see back then, my motto was: “what Imelda wants, Imelda gets”. I’m telling you all this to make a point at how shallow my then mindset was.

We started our family right away. We are now blessed with four wonderful children. But as a very young wife and mother during my “B.C. life”, I was focused on the accumulation of wealth and I led a “trying-to-have-it-all” kind of lifestyle. We moved several times in search of the bigger and better home. But my level of happiness and satisfaction was all superficial. There was no real deep joy and contentment. In other words, as Pastor Sun Hee so cleverly preached, I felt WEIRD rather than WIRED and FRIED rather than FIRED.

Well my opportunity for that came in 2004 disguised in the form of financial difficulty. The kind of opportunity which, as Pastor Sun Hee described, took me from being bored, bland, and burnt-out to being bewildered, amazed and astonished.

In the spring of 2004, after 18 years of lucrative computer consulting business, my husband lost his major consulting contract and we also lost our entire savings. So there was no means to replenish the pot (no job), nothing to draw out from (no savings), and our eldest son was then entering College. For someone so focused on material wealth, I was in total despair and it brought me to my knees and I wrestled with God with my why, and how, and what questions. And in my “wrestling” came the beginning of my enlightenment and transformation.

Around that same time my mom met an “angel” in the person of Tita Rose Agana during one of her walks. Tita Rose became instrument of my spiritual journey. She introduced us to Ate Lolit Flores and the Fremont Bible Study Group. God started to slowly reveal Himself through the study of His Word.

I remember the very first verse that God impressed upon in my heart: “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” Psalm 37:4. Through the study of His Word, I slowly came to know the incredible love of God through Christ, giving way to a deep hunger and delight for His Word; and He started changing the desires of my heart.

My husband continued to be without a consulting contract for 2 years. In 2006 we were forced to sell one of our homes (the big one which I thought was my dream home). As I continued to delight in the Lord, my focus turned to HIS promises and the positive effects of my husband’s “joblessness”. I saw how it allowed my husband quality time with our children.

We ended up moving back into our smaller home, our then rental property. It was a Divine appointment that not only rescued and released me from a superficial and exhausting lifestyle (cleaning a big house is not all that fun; no wonder I felt “fried”), it turned out to be the best course of action after all. We sold our home for so much more than what it would have sold in the economy that followed, allowing us to purchase a home in Pismo Beach close to Cal Poly where our eldest son attended College.

It was there where He revealed to me the kind of life that He came for us to have, one that is overflowing with riches of the heart that nothing and no one can ever take away that causes us to get bewildered, amazed, and astonished, even in challenging times.

And it’s only by spending time in His Word that I get to really know HIM and learn to hear His still, small voice, to release control, to “let go and let God, to “be still, and know that He is God. And a Bible study group allowed me that opportunity. I look forward to Fridays when our small group enjoys fellowship, sharing praises and burdens as we study and get filled by the Word of God. I love my small group and I am in awe of their unequalled and instant support. Like when I recently suffered a back pain. One quick text and they were all praying for me. And as if their prayers were not enough, they personally came to visit me to lay healing hands including healing massage…I am truly grateful.

I may not be where I need to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be (as Joyce Meyer would often say in her messages). Through my Bible study group, I have come to enjoy quiet time, reading devotionals, and listening to inspirational talks, allowing me to continually take delight in the Lord.

In closing, and in conjunction with Pastor Sun Hee’s recent messages, through the study of God’s Word, the power of the Holy Spirit took me from feeling WEIRED and FRIED (from relying on my own powers and pursuing treasures on earth) to feeling WIRED and FIRED and having the courage in declaring the awesome love and saving power of God. Thanks be to God.