I was born and raised in a typical family in Cebu City. My mother was a housewife and my father was a carpenter. We lived together with my two sisters, one older and one younger than me. We lived a simple life. Sometimes we had enough, and other times we had none.
My parents always told me that the only inheritance they could give me was education. My older sister was an achiever, and my parents compared me to her. So I strove hard to excel and perform in school, unaware that deep inside, I just wanted my parents to affirm me and tell me that they were proud of me.
While my father was physically present in our family, he was emotionally distant. I never talked to him about my crushes or how my day went or how I actually felt. This feeling of loneliness grew and reached a tipping point when I was six years old. I rode a bike with a male friend. He was behind me and during the ride, he thrusted himself into me. I felt harassed and ashamed. I didn’t know how to process this incident alone, and I also didn’t know how to open this up to an adult. There was no one I could talk to regarding this incident.
Sinking into Thoughts of Suicide
Since then, I felt that I needed to protect myself. As a result, my actions became manly because I thought that if I showed people that I was not girlish in actions, they wouldn’t harass me or do anything to me that wasn’t pleasing. This led me to believe that I was a lesbian. Since no one affirmed my identity, I looked for affirmation and acceptance from friends–most especially from a relationship with a grown man. I was still in high school. When my parents found out about the relationship, they were so disappointed with me. They told me that they would not let me go to school anymore. I was so devastated. I got so depressed that I eventually turned suicidal. In three separate incidents, I cut my wrist with a razor blade.
I thought that I couldn’t please my parents anymore, and so I broke rules. I became rebellious. I entered another relationship. I purposefully did not do well in school, and I spent most of my time with friends. I did these on purpose to rebel against my parents.
Partying to Escape
When I entered college, my rebellion continued. I frequently partied and drank a lot with my friends. After graduating from the University of the Philippines-Cebu, I fell deeper and further into sin. I entered an adulterous relationship. I thought that I could get acceptance and affirmation from this relationship but still, it didn’t end well. It only intensified my longing for acceptance and affirmation.
The desire to be accepted and affirmed grew deeper and deeper so I looked for it elsewhere. This time in business. Unfortunately, just like my past romantic relationships, the business didn’t work out well, too.
My First Encounter with God
It was at this point that I met an African guy from a dating site, and he led me to a Christian church. He invited me to a prayer meeting and I agreed, seeing that there was no one I could talk to about my struggles. At the prayer meeting, I had two visions from the Lord. In the first vision, I stood on a mountain, and as I looked at the clouds, I saw these big arms open to me, beckoning me for an embrace. In the second vision, I was in a place that was so bright and full of light. There, I saw a man who stood in front of me. I cried on His shoulders. I believe the man was Jesus.
My friend led me to pray the prayer of repentance, and I followed. However, the turning point wasn’t at that moment. Not yet at least. In fact, I still committed more sin. I entered a homosexual relationship and thought that this relationship would answer all my longings. Instead, she rejected me. At this point, life was just too painful for me. I felt so devastated, rejected, and alone. All options failed and everything seemed hopeless.
In retrospect, God didn’t create me a homosexual; He created me a woman, and so the relationship naturally didn’t work out. I sensed that God used this painful experience to tell me that He allowed such pain to be felt so that I could get to the realization that this was not His purpose and will for my life.
God Continues to Pursue Me
The pivotal moment of my life occurred when I attended this conference organized by Cebu House of Prayer called OneThing. The conference filled my heart with so much conviction that I truly repented of my sins. I turned to Jesus and I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. I surrendered my life to Him and made Him the King of my heart. Moreover, I had a glimpse of my assignment and purpose on earth as I beheld Jesus.
The more I beheld Jesus, the more I got to know who I was. I discovered that God would use me in the prayer movement. This came to me as a revelation from the Lord, confirmed by a vision that I received from Him where He showed me the terrible condition of our nation. He invited me to partner with Him in prayer. When I heard about the prayer movement, I got so curious and immediately wanted tobecome a part of it. A few months later, I went to the prayer room. Consequently, I joined the OneThing Internship and started my journey with the Lord.
A Changed Prayer Warrior
My exposure to the prayer movement caused me to pray, read the Bible, fast, serve the Church, and give offerings to the poor. God accelerated my growth in Him as I sat at His feet, listened to the beating of His heart, and just being consumed by His affections and desire towards me. I have never felt so satisfied, fulfilled, and pleased in my whole life. I found all these and more in knowing Jesus. Jesus accepted me for who I was as a sinner — a drunkard, an adulterer, and a homosexual. He transformed me into a new person and restored me to my identity as a daughter of God, and therefore His beloved. He fully satisfied the longing in my heart because–as I realized in my journey with Him–He put that longing only to be fulfilled by Him and Him alone. The wrong relationships that I entered to get a temporary fix were nothing compared to the joy, peace, and love that I found in the person of Jesus.
Now, my assignment is to be an intercessory missionary—a missionary who focuses on prayer. I am currently serving as a staff member in Cebu House of Prayer, and I will soon be transitioning to Thailand to build a house of prayer there as the Lord would lead me.
Mariel Famulagan is a graduate of Business Management in UP Cebu, but above all achievements, she finds joy in interceding and contending on behalf of her city. She believes that if there are 24/7 drug dens and human trafficking transactions, a 24/7 house of prayer is possible, too! She serves as a staff member in Cebu House of Prayer, and has been there since 2018. She is an intercessory missionary under YWAM (Youth With a Mission). Her heart is for Thailand and this year, she is planning to go back there to build a house of prayer by God's grace. Lately, she has been working and partnering with a ministry in helping and discipling homeless people in Cebu City.