I grew up not having parents because they died when I was still very young. That somehow contributed to my having deep insecurities as I grew up. I felt strongly uncertain of myself once I got into college where I transitioned into adulthood.
I always felt awkward and couldn’t fit in because I thought that I wasn’t attractive enough. My friends were already talking about boys, relationships, sex, and there I was— never even having had a boyfriend. No one really took notice of me.
I was growing more and more insecure. Why was I created this way? I didn’t really know who I was. I constantly sought affirmation to fill the need of being wanted, cared for, and affirmed by people—especially by men. I just wanted to feel loved and accepted, so it was easy for me to go with the flow alongside my “barkadas” in college. They were heavy into drinking, casual sex, and bar hopping. For me, these were all something I needed to learn. Still, even though I was with my friends, I felt I couldn’t fit in.
Into the Dark Pit
It was not long before I got into casual sex with men, even with those whom I had just met. Every time I would do that, the emptiness in my heart just kept getting deeper and deeper, as if I fell into a very dark, endless pit.
I then entered into a relationship with a married man. I thought that he would give me the things I wanted and needed, but I just felt so degraded each time we would have sex. I plummeted deeper into the pit I was in. One bad scenario led to another, and I dropped out of college. Before I knew it, I was pregnant.
I thought this would somehow change my destiny and become a redemption of some kind. My plan was to dedicate my child to God and just be the best mom I could be for him. I even grew closer to God during this time. I sought Him for guidance and direction. l wanted to make things right.
But this story didn’t have the ending I wanted. Two days before giving birth, my baby stopped moving. By the time I went into labor, the nurses couldn’t find my baby’s heartbeat. To cut the long story short, my baby died in my womb because the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck.
I felt so numb afterwards— emotionally numb. I got mad at God because I couldn’t understand why this had to happen. I thought His plan for me was to be a good mom.
Into a Purposeful Life
My church family played a crucial role in my healing. Because of the constant display of love and care from my pastors and church family, I came face to face with God one night. When my pastor prayed for me several days after I lost my baby, he told me that God had plans for me. These were plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans of hope and a good future. That promise led me to cry out to God because I wanted those plans. That night, I heard Him speak to my heart and say, “My child, I know you can overcome.” That’s when I felt a sudden surge of peace, so much peace, as if pain never occurred in my heart.
The Magic Slate
The next day, it was as if the pain of labor and losing a child was a thing of the past. I could liken my experience with that of a magic slate I used to play when I was young. (I could scribble all I wanted on that slate, but with just one flip, everything I wrote was gone.) I knew deep in my heart that my past was to stay in the past and that I was now turning a new leaf, a new chapter of my life without the pain and anguish and anger. This was my born again experience. God made me realize that my life was now in His hands and that He had great plans for my life.
Ever since then, my life has been devoted to reading God’s Word and serving in the ministry. One day, God called me to do cross cultural missions. A missionary friend had gone to Banda Aceh, Indonesia, to teach, and when she returned to Manila, she told me all about it and asked if I could pray for the Acehnese (pronounced as “Atchenese”) people because they were in need of workers.
As a good friend, I prayed. But as I prayed, my prayers became an intercession for these people whom I hadn’t even met or heard of. God started to let me feel His love for the Acehnese people. My heart felt like it was going to explode because of this great love that God had for the Acehnese Muslims of Indonesia. I told my missionary friend about it, and it was confirmed through her that God was calling me to go.
The province of Aceh is known for its strict Sharia Law, implemented by its Muslim religious government. Unlike other provinces in Indonesia, Aceh persecutes harshly those who convert their people into Christianity. This makes it dangerous for missionaries. Still, their laws didn’t stop me from going. All I know is that Jesus loves them and wants them to be saved. Since 2015, I’ve lived in Indonesia, reaching out to our Muslim brethren and sharing the love of Jesus to them and praying for them.
God’s love compels us to love others despite the rejection and danger it entails. Isn’t this the same love that brought Jesus from His heavenly kingdom to earth, becoming like the ones He created? Because of His great love for the lost, Jesus continues to call, sending His people to reach out to them and telling them that He, the Savior, loves them.
Rio River (name changed for security purposes) is a graduate of Asian Seminary for Christian Ministries (ASCM) with a Bachelor’s degree in Christian Education. She completed the Asian Center for Mission (ACM) training course and was sent to Aceh, Indonesia, to do cross-cultural missions for three years as an English Teacher to minister to kids and adults in the villages. She is now on furlough, pastoring the worship team in her church at Alabang, Muntinlupa.