A Seat in the Master's Table

Testimony by: Aedrian Tapia

                      When I was a child, my parents left me to work abroad and entrusted my grandparents to take care of me along with my two cousins. Before then, my parents didn't care much about God but they were more concerned about our financial stability in the future. My parents enrolled me in a Catholic school and stayed there until I finished high school. During that time period, from elementary to high school, we had a Wednesday or Friday mass or even two masses in the same week depending on which saint is the mass dedicated to. And honestly, I grew sick and tired of it. We did it so often, that all of us knew exactly what the priest would say but all I cared about was when the mass would be over because as far as I can remember, these masses only takes about an hour to finish. Eventually, I learned that Catholicism was wrong because, it was just vain repetitions and traditions. Although Catholicism has it flaws, it taught me about God, heaven and hell, but at some point I desired for something better. Luckily, Catholicism isn't the only religion in our family.


                           My grandfather was, and is still a part of a church called "The Church of God" which also had a TV program called "Ang Dating Daan". And every once in a while, I sat down with him and watched it. But one time when my parents were on vacation, me, my dad and my grandfather were watching it. And all I can remember was a particular verse about going to hell was said, I immediately asked : "How can a person be saved from that?" and I cried because I didn't want to go to hell. Although I can't remember the answer my grandfather gave, I could say that moment gave me fear and even caused me to try to be good all the time. I even remember before every time I pray, that I should say the words right so that God would spare me from going to hell. That TV program gave me more knowledge than Catholicism ever did and honestly, I liked learning stuff from the Bible. But, being a child and all, my desire fell away and I resorted to other things like academics and basketball.


                            In October 2010, my mother came home to the Philippines from America, but after a couple of months she went to Saudi Arabia to visit my father. But when she came back, all of a sudden she says that I have to go with her to attend a church in Batangas. I really didn't want to go, but I had no choice because she forced me to. And when I was attending Pastor Edward's church, I literally fell asleep on almost every service because of the way he preach, his voice is low and he uses a PowerPoint presentation to preach, it's like being in a class that I don't want to be in, and it  made things worse for me. Fortunately, Pastor Terry and Pastor Claude came here in the Philippines in March 2012  to have a revival meeting and to visit other churches. We had a chance to go with them and in every church they visited, they'll preach about the word of God. I really liked it when they preach because there was power  and it seems like they really know what they're preaching about. It also made me realize that these Pastors are different because the things they preach is unlike anything I've ever heard, It even corrected my understanding of some of the verses in the Bible.



                           After the incident with Pastor Edward, we started to have services in Pastor Larry's house in April 2012 but, we only watched videos during that time. After sometime, Ptr. Larry found a house in Dita, Sta.Rosa, Laguna and we watched Pastor Terry and Pastor Claude's preaching there every Wednesdays and Sundays, but I didn't really listen because my desire for it weaken once more. During one Sunday service, Brother Scott Smith was preaching, and towards the end of the preaching, Pastor Larry broke down and cried. I was in shock because I didn't really know why he was crying and after the service my mom was rushing to go home to report what happened. And after that they told me that Pastor Larry got saved, and then I started to get curious about what Salvation was. It felt like God was drawing my attention again. Soon after, we moved in San Lorenzo, Sta.Rosa, Laguna in Hebrews Street in Dec 2012. During that time after Ptr. Larry got saved, I paid more attention to the preaching. God gave me an understanding about sin, lostness and real salvation amongst other things. About how we are all sinners by nature and that no one is good, no, not one. I agreed to those preaching and I knew that they're true because it's written in the Bible. I only knew the truth but I didn't understand it from the heart, I just accepted that I am sinner but I did nothing about it and I wasn't even affected by it. And after several months, we moved again to another building not far from the previous one in Dec 2014.



                           During our time in the new building, Pastor Larry would preach and sometimes we'd watch Pastor Terry and Pastor Claude's preaching. As a college student I became distracted and had no time for God even though I still attended church. It made matters worse for me because, some subjects in college requires us to be open minded about things. There was even some point where I even began to question if there is a God, if there is, then where is the proof of his existence? It affected my faith and caused me to pay more attention in my studies and the things that I enjoyed to do, I was content in going to church every Wednesdays and Sundays, telling myself that surely I'm a good person because I attend church and that I'm not like the other people out there.



                           Months, if not years, passed by and all I got in the preaching were still knowledge about God and the Bible. But when Pastor Mike and Sis. Audrey came to the Philippines in Nov. 2015, things changed. Pastor Mike preached about the new covenant people and during the end of their stay, Gemima Bautista got saved. And honestly, I felt jealous and ashamed because Gemima got saved first. But that jealousy didn't last long because Pastor Larry says that our journey wasn't a race but a marathon. He said that it doesn't matter who got saved first, what matters is that we finish the race. But I knew in my heart that I was wrong because I didn't take church seriously. And from that moment on, I had a change of heart, to take the preaching seriously.



                           During the June 2016 Camp, there was a lot that was preached. In the first day, Pastor Terry preached on the spirit of faith. About how God works faith in us and because of that, it is evident for us. But the thing that really struck me is when Pastor Terry told the story about Thomas. About how Thomas doubted that Jesus was resurrected, he said that until he sees the print of the nails, and put his finger into the print of the nails, he won't believe. But because God Loved Thomas so much, he showed himself to him and invited him to touch his wounds. After that, I was moved because of how Jesus Loved Thomas and I wished God would love me that way. After that, Pastor Mike preached about Jesus' death on the cross. During his preaching, Pastor Mike said that : "we'll know the intensity of God's love by the gift he gave us", and that gift is his son. And Pastor Mike further explained God's love through an explanation about a father's love to a son. How God gave his most beloved son to be a Substitute for us, that's how much God loved us. The thing that got me the most was when Pastor Mike said that we do not belong in the corner, but we belong in his table, he died so we can have fellowship with him. And again I was moved and from that moment on, I desired for God's love and to have fellowship with him and sit on his table. I also got amazed seeing the young men who went to the altar weeping under the preaching of Ptr. Greg. I prayed & asked God while watching that intense moment to Save me. I didn't care about my doubts anymore, I just wanted him to save me, I just wanted him to love me. But unfortunately, God didn't save me during Camp. There was even a point where God told me that : "How can I be saved, if I don't even know the gravity of my sin". Before my mom and I went home, I talked to her about it. I told her what God told me and I told her that God was right. Because, before I really didn't have the desire for God. But my mom explained to me that I have the desire but that I was suppressing it because I wanted the world more than God and I realized that she was right. My mom comforted me and said not to worry because I may have missed God in Camp meeting, but Pastor Terry and Pastor Claude will come on July 14 and they can help the lost. I was really excited and I began to prepare myself and at this point, I really want to be saved and to have fellowship with God.




                          Finally, Pastor Terry and Pastor Claude came, and I began to conditioned myself to listen very carefully to the preaching. On Sunday Morning, Pastor Terry preached about the perfecting of the saints, and I became really sad because that means that their whole stay, they'll be preaching to the saved only. But Pastor Terry mentioned that it may be applicable to the lost too,  about perfecting what is lacking in our faith. On Sunday Night, Pastor Claude started  his preaching by saying: The church will move forward but, God doesn't want to leave the lost behind. that gave me a big hope. Then, he told the story about Mephibosheth and David. About how Mephibosheth is the lost man and that David is God and how David (God) wanted to show his kindness towards Mephibosheth (Lost Man). He said that lostness is the separation from God and that the lost is in a condemned and separated state and that sin is the cause of this. And on that moment, I became afraid because God tells me I'm condemned and that I'm separated from him even though I've been in the church for a long time. He continued preaching and said that God wanted that lost man (Mephibosheth) to eat at His table. It felt like God just confirmed the words I heard in Camp meeting thru Ptr. Mike, that I, a lost man also belong to His table.  On Monday night, Pastor Terry first preached on having a certain quality of faith. That our faith must not be mixed with doubts or anything else. He then preached on God's report of all man, that all man is not good, that all are sinful. And Pastor Terry says that we should believe that this is God's words not the words of man and he kept on asking us, if, we believe on God's report. And in my mind, I kept repeating "Yes Lord, I Believe" and I kept saying sorry because I already understood  that I am really a sinner. After the service, Pastor Larry hinted that we should be prepared for tomorrow and in my mind, he's basically saying that Salvation might be preached tomorrow. He then said, if someone wants to talk to him just come. Right after, with a heavy heart I asked Pastor Larry about something that needed some answer, but before I could start, I began to cry heavily. I asked him if my faith and what I've learned is enough for me to be saved because I don't want God to pass by me again like what happened at Camp meeting. And I honestly did not understand what Pastor Larry was saying because I can't stop crying, in my mind I really wanted God to save me, I didn't care about anything anymore. All I remembered about our conversation was that, a faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains and that when the gospel is preach, I should believe and take a hold of it. My brokenness continued till we got home. I can't stop crying and I felt the heaviness in my heart. Surely enough when Tuesday night (July 19,2016), came, Ate Charry sang "Not Guilty", and when she sang the chorus, I began to cry and heard as if God was the one saying it to me. God said that he knows me, he loves me, he gave his life to save me, and that his verdict is NOT GUILTY. Then I remembered what Pastor Larry said, and that is to believe. But surely enough, my doubts are still there and asked God if this was it. As Pastor Claude was preaching on Proverbs 28:13, "he that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy".  In my mind, I kept saying "No, God I won't cover my sins anymore", and I confessed that I am a sinner. After the service, we sang the song "His Life For Mine". I literally couldn't sing the song because I was crying and trembling so, I just sat instead, and while listening to the song, God showed me how he endured all these things for me, to save a wretch like me. God asked me: what will you say now that I've saved you? I shouted on top of my voice, "THANK YOU GOD"  And by that, God got rid of my doubts and asked me again : "Will you still doubt?" and I answered : "NO GOD, NOT ANYMORE".