I was born in Manila.

My mom later found out that my dad was married and had a family. We left him and went to the province. My mom later married a widower who had four children– two boys and one girl. The eldest had previously left for Manila. I accepted these children as my own siblings. We grew up together and helped one another in everyday household chores.

When I was 7 years old, my mom became a Christian. At such a young age, I became a tambourine dancer. I loved dancing and singing in the church! I didn’t know why I was happy doing those things! But I already knew in my heart there was something special that people saw in me.

In 1995, we moved to Makati and eventually found a home church.

At 11 years old, I joined the music ministry and also started leading worship. Though I was an active member of the church and the ministry, I was not exempt from trials and struggles.

One of the hardest assaults by the enemy was when some men tried to rape and harass me. I still thank the Lord because the rape was not successful. The first guy who harassed me was my stepfather.  I was so hurt because I trusted him. I thought I could treat him as my real father, but I was wrong.

I started questioning God.

“How can You allow a child at such a very young age to be harassed? How can You allow Your daughter to encounter these things?”

I started doubting God and His love. At 12 years old, I became a rebel. I stopped attending church and became involved in different relationships with men and women.

I tried to commit suicide.

I was once in the house of my friend. Though I was with them, I still felt alone. No one understood me. I went to the bathroom and when I saw a blade, I sliced my wrist. I became unconscious, and my friends tried to wake me up. After an hour, I woke up and was so frustrated that I was still alive.

At 16, I got pregnant by the man I had been in a relationship with for four years. I even got angry at  God for forsaking me and allowing me to be involved with an irresponsible man. I blamed Him.

Hoping for a better life, I went to Japan and worked as a singer.

But things got worse. I got involved in more relationships. I was a gold digger. I took advantage of all the men who liked me—to the point that they left their wives for me. I didn’t care about other people’s feelings. I kept hurting them all.

Every time I flew back to the Philippines, I visited all my friends. We did drugs. We smoked. We drank non-stop. I was a party animal.

While my flesh enjoyed worldly desires, I still felt empty and depressed. Suddenly, I missed my son and my family, so I decided to go back home.

I was blessed to get a job in 2005 after I arrived from Japan. I worked in a company for two years until I became a supervisor. Unfortunately, that company shut down, and I eventually worked in another company where I met my husband.

He was someone who had also backslid from the Christian faith. Before I met my husband, I already had a fiancé. We were going to get married soon, but when I met my husband, I fell in love with him and left my fiancé for him.

I hurt my ex-fiancé so much, and I still remember the pain I caused him.  I asked for his forgiveness, and we had closure. There were times when I asked myself why I chose my husband—he was a backslider, and he had had vices.

I heard a voice speak in my heart, “His whole family is Christian.” I silently answered back, “So what.” I ended up ignoring that thought.

When my husband and I were still in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, we practiced immorality. We smoked and drank together as well.

One day, my boyfriend was invited by an elder of their church. This elder talked to him if he could play the drums for their service. My boyfriend committed himself to the ministry.

I was invited on the Sunday he was playing, and I felt the presence of God. He embraced me! But my heart was so stubborn. After that day, I kept doing bad things and continued in my vices. I didn’t give up my addictions, but I was convicted that these habits were not right in God’s eyes.

One night, I prayed to God— I dared Him that if He really were God, and if He were faithful, then He would help me stop my addictions.

That same night, I had a dream. The Lord spoke in my dream saying, “I want you to live righteously. I will show you My mercy. You will be forgiven, and you will receive your reward.” Every word was repeated in my ears. I was so afraid, so I woke myself up. When I opened the Bible, I cried non-stop. I saw the verse Psalm 18:21—

“The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.”

The psalmist’s words pierced me. That same morning, as my brother was smoking a cigarette, the smell of the smoke which I deeply loved for so many years suddenly became something I could not stand. I vomited and got dizzy.

God answered my prayer! It was one of the greatest miracles that I can testify to a lot of people. I was free from the bondage of the enemy!

My boyfriend eventually asked me to sing at church. I knew I could sing, so I said yes. I joined the Praise & Worship team with them. After 1 year of serving in the ministry, I went to the UK to work and study. Though I earned a lot, I wasn’t satisfied and decided to go back to the Philippines. I missed my ministry, and I knew the Lord wanted me to go back home. So I decided to go back to the Philippines.

My boyfriend and I got married, and we started a new life together. We eventually returned to fostering our gifts in music and became a part of the Worship Ministry in the same church. I became a worship leader, and my husband became a drummer in the team. Then after five years of God continually working in our lives, my husband became a pastor in the same service of the church we attended. I helped him in the ministry.

There were many trials along the way, but the Lord has been faithful to me and to my family. We formed a band with my father-in-law, sisters-in-law, and our brothers-in-law. We have been to missions for two years in different places to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. In 2018, the Lord gave me specific instructions to plant a church. No one could understand why– even my family and my own husband.

I spoke with God and I said, “Lord, I will not do this if you will not speak my husband to go with me.”  True enough, after one month of planting the church, the Lord spoke to my husband. He is now one of the pastors in Christian Revival Church – Manila. God-willing, we will be able to plant a new church in Japan this year. Now I understand the purpose of God in my life and the reality of this verse:

 Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future.”

My purpose is to share the gospel of Jesus. I am called to tell the world of how faithful and merciful my God is. Even though my husband and I kept running from him, He proved His love. Just as He did with us, He, too, will wait for your return. Jesus will embrace you with his stubborn love.

I am not ashamed to tell to people that I am God’s daughter who was once lost but is now found. He never gave up on me and led me right back to His path.

Ptra. Mae Quinonez

Pastor Mae is a graduate of Asian Seminary Christian Ministries. She is a candidate for the degree of Bachelor of Christian Education, Major in Music. She is now pastoring a church at Christian Revival Church - Manila.