Up Close and Personal With Raymond
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”
Raymond knew in his heart that God was calling him to serve in ministry but the cares of this world delayed him. When he finally answered God’s call, he had no idea that God’s plans would include taking him back to his native village to serve his own people.
Raymond experienced life’s hardships as a young boy growing up in the village. But he remained hopeful when he was able to attend a newly built school. Although his teachers from the city spoke an unfamiliar dialect, he persevered and graduated high school.
Seeking life away from the village, he tried living in the city believing the grass would be greener. He tried all sorts of ways to support himself such as selling fish and pedaling villagers. By God’s grace, he secured an academic scholarship for college. But more than a degree, the greatest thing Raymond found in college was the gospel. It was here that he was exposed to and made the decision to follow Christ.
After college, Raymond found a job in the city he enjoyed, especially because his life was peaceful and his co-workers treated him well. But God continued to work within his heart.
“Years ago, I prayed to God that I want to serve in ministry,” Raymond explains. “I already had the desire to disciple people, but I didn’t have the chance because I was so busy at my job.”
God heard Raymond’s prayer and in 2017 Leah invited Raymond into serving before TRIM was even established. Raymond and Leah had met in 2016 during a trip to the village to explore ministry opportunities. Cha, a teacher in the village, who Raymond was courting at that time, and who guided Leah during that trip, suggested they hire him as their driver to ensure their safety.
But despite his desire to serve, Raymond declined Leah’s offer because he didn’t feel ready for the responsibilities that he felt came with ministry. Nevertheless, while Raymond focused on his day job, God had other plans for him. Raymond’s desire to disciple others grew and as the months turned into years, he began to feel unsatisfied with his job.
“I worked really hard in my former job but I felt that something was missing,” he remembers.
Appointed For Such A Time As This
God reminded Raymond of his desire to serve again when Leah introduced him to TRIM in 2020. He didn’t waste time and committed himself to serving in the ministry focused on discipleship. Likewise, his wife Cha became one of the Philippine Board Directors who also introduced some of our scholars to House of Hope.
Part of what makes Raymond’s story amazing is that he Raymond didn’t expect he’d visit his village again because he hadn’t been home since he graduated college. But through the opportunity TRIM provided him, he was able to return and share the love of Christ. To this day he still gets emotional every time he remembers his first day serving the village people.
“God appointed me to serve in TRIM. I don’t regret my decision especially because the first village we served is the place where I grew up and where my family still resides. It’s a privilege to be here because I can serve my own people,” he shared.
The Rising Trains To Make Disciples
Raymond credits The Rising for helping with his own walk with the Lord and is grateful to his growth in all aspects of life. For the many years that he felt stagnant in his faith, Raymond sees changes in himself through discipleship seminars and personal development training.
“TRIM discipled me and taught me how to disciple others. TRIM helped me to be consistent in my walk with the Lord. TRIM encouraged me to seek God first,” he said.
Developing Love For Everyone
One thing that Raymond appreciates most about The Rising is its intentionality to spread the gospel in unreached places. He has seen how God has touched different generations in the village who accepted the gospel into their lives.
“Before, I didn’t have the heart to help others. But now through TRIM, my love for other people grew. I am now intentional in building relationships with the people around me such as my family and friends so I can minister to them,” he testified.
While we may not know how to do things perfectly all the time, it is the Lord who weaves one beautiful story into another like a perfect tapestry that shows the wonders of His great love towards mankind, like how he did to Raymond when he led him to TRIM.
We strive everyday for our lives to become a reflection of Christ to go make disciples so that the love of Christ will be known to many, especially to the unreached and forgotten villages of Mindanao, Philippines.