What's So Amazing about Grace?

A Testimony

 

This column highlights the ministries of Disciple's parent organization, Advancing the Ministries of the Gospel (AMG) International, a non-denominational missions agency. 

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:18).

Our mission as Christians is to be salt and light in the lives of others, bringing the light of Christ into their darkness-a smile, a pat on the back, a small piece of bread or just a little time for them. The Apostle Paul used a mirror to illustrate how we can be transformed to reflect the image of Christ to the world. If you've ever played with a small mirror in your hand, you know how you can catch the rays of the sun and angle the mirror just right to shine that light wherever you want it to go.

In the Philippines, the graduates of AMG Skilled Hands Technological College (ASHTEC) have the light shone on them by our staff. This is the testimony of one graduate, Bonifacio Manalili, who had previously claimed to be an atheist.

"I grew up in a not-too-religious family. My parents casually went to a Roman Catholic Church once a month, and every once in a while, they were lucky enough to make me go with them. I usually sat at the back to observe all the faces of church people and yawn every minute. Since childhood, I thought religion was just a manmade system to make someone feel good about their life. Holier than thou' people really pushed me to walk away. I was not comfortable with anything that was connected to any religion or god' thing. Even the man Jesus who they call my Lord' just didn't have a big impact on me. For me, he was just a great teacher who was crucified by the Romans 2,000 years ago.

"When I got to high school, I found myself interested in science classes, especially biology. Then one day, a lesson was discussed in the class that really got my soul hooked, and that was the theory of evolution. Interest in that subject never left me, and I spent a lot of time researching and reviewing that theory. What I didn't know was that my wretched soul was slowly walking toward a fatal belief-atheism.

"Also in high school, I was introduced to a new belief that these born-again' Christians always shared with me-they called it the Gospel. With imperfect lives, they told me I needed God. So what? So my life will be an imperfect mess too? No, thanks.' One thing that really made me to especially hate these Christians was that their life was so unequal to their message of salvation. Pride and anger filled my soul. I found a word for these Christians: Hypocrites' I called them.

"Without being aware of it, I became too conceited, trusting only my ability to reason against any belief with a string attached to any religion. I confirmed to myself that I was an atheist, and nothing could get me out of that belief. I was confident that my arsenal was indestructible as I entered a Christian institution named ASHTEC for my education. They said that all students who entered that institution would embrace Christianity. I silently laughed at that notion. Impossible, I whispered to myself.

"After a number of months of my stay in that school, my head was still big due to my faithfulness to atheism. Sunday services, evangelistic nights, sappy songs, and even theological class didn't break my belief. I just felt that I was smarter sinner' with a lot of doctrine and Bible verses jammed in my head, but not in my heart. My brother taught me the habit of reading books, so I carried that habit even in that school, with a great advantage. The library was always open for me. Anyone who knows me can attest that I'm a book lover. Planning to find a hole in the life of these Christians (to find fault), I tried other kinds of reading. I read the life of every staff of that institution. My eyes carefully examined how they walked, talked, and the way they lived their life in Christ.' Even in the beginning, I was quite impressed of how they lived, but still, my foot was set on the agnostic belief.

"Then one day, I heard the message of salvation once again, shouting not from any human larynx, but from their life. My arsenal was slowly falling apart. Why?' I wanted to ask them, Why do I continue to live this way?' until I found my soul crying and very ashamed of my condition. I couldn't believe that I was even eating food that they served in the name of Jesus for a non-believer like me. The stream of grace reached even a person like me in the pit, drowning me in the love of this Lover. Gasping for mercy, I cried to the God I hated and whom I eventually came to love. I met my God, and He ran to me with open arms.

"Whenever I remember that day when I came home, I'm still amazed of how God can love me. Creator of everything I see, He didn't hesitate to extend His arms to an atheist. Impossible,' I once thought. I'm now a Christian, a beloved child of God, continuing my journey in the ocean of His love until I reach the destination where I can see Him face to face and run to Him with eternal gratefulness."

It is truly amazing how God can change a life. Bonifacio is now training as an assistant teacher. There are 400 students at ASHTEC. Please pray for them and that God will work in all their lives, using them for His glory. 

Advancing the Ministries of the Gospel (AMG) International is a non-denominational, international missions agency based in Chattanooga, Tenn. AMG's distinctive has always been its reliance on national workers to carry the Gospel in their own cultures. Today, they operate ministries in over 40 countries around the world through partnership with national believers.

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