By Helen Ramos Garao
In the year 2007, God planted seeds in my heart for church planting which was as well confirmed by evangelist Peter Truong from Hope Brisbane when he visited my former church, Hope San Pedro during a healing crusade. I remember during that time that he laid his hands on me and prophesied that I am like a river from which blessings will flow.
At that time I was working in a company in Laguna as a production operator. I decided to go home to Mindoro with my family in July 2014 and my leader encouraged me to start a Bible Study. In that same year, we began a Bible Study in our home. It just started with me and my husband together with our 2 kids. Though at that time, my husband didn’t really commit to doing the Lord’s work. But then the Lord gave me my nieces to teach them the Word of God. I was able to establish Hope Church through them.
Our first Hope Roxas Mindoro Sunday service was held at the home of one of our visitor. God brought many children to our first service. It was difficult and challenging for me since I was doing it without my husband’s support but I pressed on. I also experienced persecution from the people in the community that also affected the growth of the church. It shrunk down to 7-8 people. But then the Lord spoke to my heart in Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
And there was a time when I attended our Hope Philippines Camp where the Lord also spoke to me through Ps Wilson that he challenged me to still persevere through even if I am the only one left. And I still have my 2 kids to start the church again. And there I committed myself all the more to the Lord’s work. And since then, by the grace of God, the church once again continued to grow. Until we needed to buy a land where we could build a small church building made of bamboo.
We had our services at the new venue with 15 to 20 people weekly for 4 years. With intentional disciple-making, from 2018 until 2020, we reached 50 to 60 attendees. In that same year 2020, the Lord fulfilled my prayer that my husband would commit to Him and His work. Since then, he has been with me in all life groups and has now started to minister in church service.
In the year 2021, we fasted and prayed for a more concrete church building. During the construction, my husband and I talked to our leaders to get more volunteers to do some building work. Thankfully, they were willing and we built the church together as one family. At the same time, we were also able to raised young leaders and core team members. Last October 2021, Pastor Henry and Hani trained our leaders. Praise God! I continued to witness the growth of Hope Roxas Mindoro not only in numbers but also in faith. The first generation of Hope Kids are now our leaders and they are role models to other young people in submitting to God’s will.
This year 2022, the Lord also opened up an opportunity for us to touch the tribal people in our place “The Mangyan Group”. It started with feeding programs and now we are able to conduct outreach activities with them. Last October 27, 2022, we celebrated our 8th year anniversary with more and more people continually committing to the Lord to church ministries. Currently we have 8 life groups, 80-90 people including kids.
As I reflected on those times that I almost gave up, I truly experienced how the Lord Jesus encouraged me to be steadfast and to patiently persevere. I give all the honor, praises and thanksgiving to GOD!