"It was good for me to face hardships,
so that I could learn your teachings." - Psalm 119:71
Sometimes, when we're going through tough times, we naturally turn to God for help. But when things get better and life becomes comfortable, our sinful nature tends to forget about Him. This incredible story is about Pastor Pablo, a member of our village community, who experienced the power of God during his darkest moments. Like many of us, he got caught up in the comforts of life and forgot the promise he made to God when all he had was Him.
Pastor Pablo Radaza, a 52-year-old man from our village, joined our group last December. He heard from his neighbors that The Rising holds weekly meetings in our village and didn't hesitate to join us to learn more.
But in the past, Pastor Pablo wasn't interested in the teachings of the Bible. He strongly held onto his own beliefs, and people were afraid to talk to him about a different faith.
"I lived life the way I wanted. I thought I was like a god," he said. However, in 2006, something happened that made him realize he couldn't save himself. He got into a fight and ended up in jail for seven years because he thought someone had violated his rights.
From Jail to a New Path
Pastor Pablo's story didn't end in jail. Just like the story of Joseph in the Bible, God used his lowest point to lead him to his true purpose.
"But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him love. He made the prison warden like Joseph." - Genesis 39:21
"I felt God's presence strongly in jail. Even though I had flaws, God was with me. He didn't abandon me despite my mistakes," he shared.
While he was in jail, Pastor Pablo learned about Jesus through the Prison Mission Association (PMA). PMA is a group that helps prisoners and former prisoners learn about the Bible. He decided to follow Jesus and felt a calling to become a preacher.
While in jail, Pastor Pablo dedicated himself to the Lord. He promised to preach for PMA, and in 2010, he graduated from Bible School. When Pastor Pablo was released from jail in 2013, he started his mission of sharing the good news with other prisoners, helping them find freedom.
Lost and Found, Twice Over
As Pastor Pablo carried out his mission, he realized that many people outside of jail were imprisoned by the difficulties of life because they didn't know about Jesus.
Surprisingly, Pastor Pablo himself got trapped again by worldly concerns. He started living life on his own terms and forgot the promise he made to God. But God, in His love, didn't forget about their agreement. He patiently and wisely allowed Pastor Pablo to face challenges to bring him back to His side. Pastor Pablo went through a time when he couldn't speak or hear.
In 2016, Pastor Pablo moved closer to our village. When he found out about a Christian church nearby, he eagerly joined. He attended the Sunday services led by Pastor Borge, and his heart was moved. He recommitted his life to God.
"I'm thankful that I wasn't healthy. It's strange, but I'm grateful for the challenges I faced," Pastor Pablo said. He prayed for God to restore his voice and hearing so he could share the power of God in his life. Through those difficulties, Pastor Pablo realized that God treated him like a child, correcting him like a loving father does.
"God made a way for me to fulfill my purpose as a fisher of men. He gave me the grace to live a life that honors my calling. I turned away from the world and followed Jesus. He became greater than me. I no longer live for myself but have made Him my God and Savior."
Pastor Pablo now preaches in a community near our village. He makes sure to join us every week to learn more about God.
"The Rising has been a great support for me, especially in my spiritual journey. I'm consistently growing in my understanding of God's wisdom," he shared.
"The most important lesson I've learned from our group is that no matter what happens, let's not give up on doing God's will because He sees everything we do for Him and rewards those who remain faithful," Pastor Pablo said.