by Katherene Malvecino, Missionary from the Philippines. She is serving as a Youth Worker since 2018 in Little Candles Methodist Church, Thailand.
A weakly timid and simple young lady is the best description of me. I’m from the Philippines where I was raised as a Catholic. My parents raised me well as a God-fearing and disciplined child. However, I was often sent to the hospital due to my weak lungs, and I feared for my life because of it. One night, when I was a teenager, I could not sleep as I was thinking “where are we going when we die?” I asked my cousin who was surprised at such a question but she could not provide a proper answer. All through my childhood, I kept that fearful thought in my heart.
Years passed and I was able to study at a public university in the Philippines. My parents could not afford to send me to a private university for they had invested much already into my older brother’s and sister’s education. However, I happily accepted my parent’s decision with the belief that enrolling in the cheapest university would help alleviate my family’s financial struggles. I later realised that God had planned something good in my life through this. A missionary from America shared with me about the gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9) during my freshman year. I prayed for salvation, attended bible studies, made friends and had fellowship with believers in Christ, and got baptised. It was then that I found the answer to my question that taunted me since young. I found eternal life.
I had my first missions exposure in my tertiary year when I went to the south of Philippines, a place known for its serial ambushes and killings. My parents knew that I had become a Christian at that time so I told them that God had called me to go and witness at that place. They were reluctant at first for fear that I could be killed and they did not really approve of the ‘new religion’ that I had joined. But I received God’s Word that His call is irrevocable (Hebrews 11:29). This verse gave me the courage to ask permission from my parents, and they finally allowed me to go with their financial blessing. The God who called was faithful, and He allowed me to come back home safe and sound.
During the trip, I realised that all of my past experiences of God raising me to walk faithfully with Him made me mature and gave me passion to share what I had learnt. At first, I feared as I was not confident enough to share about Jesus to others, but God blessed me with wisdom and strength to approach even “strangers” and lead them to Christ. After that trip, God also gave me other opportunities to lead the next generation of our church youth on subsequent mission trips where they could be exposed to foreign cultures and languages. What touched me most while working with the youth was that I saw how God could use ordinary young people to lead others to Christ.
Besides church ministry, I also served as a full-time campus evangelist in my alma-matter and I was led to work in a computer college as an instructor. For three years, I pushed myself out of my fears to share the Gospel to my students and co-workers who were mainly Catholics.
It was during that time that I began to ignite a passion for overseas missions. I tried to submit my applications to several mission organisations but to no avail. They required me to attend training which I did not have the time as I was still working. However, I remembered a short-term mission trip that I had made in 2013 to Little Candles School where I was contacted with Pastor Daniel who was in charge of Little Candles Church. It was timely as they needed a volunteer at that moment to replace another person who was about to leave. God’s timing was perfect when He called His people to obey!
I went to Thailand with no hesitation, leaving my concerns about my provision, my family, and my church and ministry to God’s hands. The year was 2018. At Little Candles Church, I was able to meet new friends and family that welcomed me as their own. It was also here that God led me to also meet my soon-to-be Thai husband. We had been serving together in the ministry for quite some time before God brought us together as a couple and showed us that he had a common call for our lives. I have been living by faith since I became a Christian, and getting married is now the next leap of faith for me to obey God’s call and pursue His will for my life.
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