After accepting one invitation and turning down another, this New York resident discovers that it’s never too late to make the right kind of change. This is Timothy Head’s story of faith on INC Podcasts.
After having a near-death experience, a man reflects on his life. Then a conversation with a new colleague, where the Bible is the topic, makes him question the way he has served God his whole life.“Show/Hide
I was born and raised in Los Angeles county. I was a former Catholic, born and raised into that religion, obviously for my family. I was a former musician. I played bass in a band. I was working for [an] armored car security company.
Voiceover: One morning, as Richard and his partner began their usual route as armored guards, they knew it wouldn’t be an ordinary day.
Voiceover: That night shook Richard. And as he continued to work for the same company, a co-worker named Tony began a conversation that would change his life.
Richard: We started talking about the Bible. It was during a New Year’s Day and it was a holiday. We were upstairs in the locker room. He was reading the Bible. We started conversing. He actually requested me to be his driver throughout our 12-hour shifts, sometimes 16-hour shifts. We were working, we were talking about the Bible and our Almighty God.
Voiceover: Tony invited Richard to attend Bible classes in the Church Of Christ. And Richard began to reflect on his situation.
Richard: The way I was living my life, I was not serving God. I was living my life disobedient to God. So God wants everyone to come to the knowledge of the truth. And it took me a long time to do that.
Voiceover: As Richard continued to attend Bible classes in the Church Of Christ, he was learning God’s words straight from the Bible. Tony encouraged him to compare this to what the Catholic Church teaches.
Richard: So I made an appointment to go see a priest. Is Jesus Christ God? He couldn’t answer anything. He didn’t know. The second one was about saints and virgin Mary—the Catholic virgin Mary, he had no answer. I was angry with the Catholic church. I felt deceived. They do not focus on the truth. That was really an eye-opener for me.
I want to serve God. Pray for a deeper faith and understanding because it wasn’t until I started praying for that that I saw God working in my life.
Voiceover: Richard could feel God pulling him closer and closer to the truth.
Richard: I was going through Bible studies learning more the truth and from there my mind was just so overwhelmed it was such a blessing to know the truth, finally.
Richard: My life has changed drastically. I’m just doing my best to serve our Almighty God.
Kelsey Inouye was content in life but didn’t have direction. See how the power of music struck a chord in this young Christian.
My life really wasn’t… it was kind of stagnant. I feel like I really didn’t have a direction that I was really going. Yeah, I mean, at the time, I think I was just ok with where I was. I was in a Protestant church before, and they really like to tug at your heartstrings. A lot of the reason why I was there was because all my friends were there. In college, I met sister Wiedelyn. We met through music, in fact. We had a bunch of mutual friends that we would jam with, we would play music with. So, after we were doing that for a while. And then she eventually invited me to an evangelical mission. I came in with an open mind. He would quote specific things from the bible and for each of his points. And that to me was really… ’cause I mean how can you… Being a Christian myself beforehand, how can you not believe in that? It’s in the bible.So, for a while I was attending both my bible studies and still going to the other church. I just realized that I either have to choose to stay with my old church or to continue going to bible studies because that’s what they taught, is that the Church of Christ is where the truth is and the other churches is… That’s not where we belong.
My baptism was in Waipahu in Hawaii. And I just remember being nervous. Definitely being nervous going into it, but knowing that it was finally happening, that this is… that I’m here and this is where I know that I should be and definitely it was the feeling of a new chapter in my life being opened.
I think I’ve never really been good with words. Music was kind of that way to kind of express myself in a way that maybe words can’t. So me, coming from a choir background especially, I really… I really felt like the message was being conveyed rather than the emotional response. And I feel like through the choir music it just feels a lot more spiritual. It feels more like it reaches deep down. So definitely, there’s definitely a huge difference for me to sing music on my own and for my own enjoyment or you know… Compared to now, just being able to sing for a greater purpose, and it just… as fun as singing in a restaurant for total strangers is, I feel like my calling is singing in the choir and singing for God. So whenever there’s a chance to perform I definitely try to jump at that.
The first really big one was the C2C, the Countdown to Centennial performance here in Hawaii Pacific and that’s where my faith really started to grow… just being with so many other brethren that shared the same beliefs as you and have such strong faith. It really… I guess people say that you’re the median of the friends that you hang out with. And so just hanging out with brethren that have such great faith is… it really brought me up to their level of faith as well.
Being pulled to a purpose that’s so much greater than my own life and before I guess I would wonder like “oh, what am I gonna do?” and “what am I going to do in the future?” But now, I don’t even worry about that. I don’t worry about my career or my job. What I wonder is, is where God is gonna use me next in my life? And I constantly look for opportunities to be able to do good for the church and to do good for the people in it.
My name is Kelsey Inouye and this is my Story of Faith. [Kelsey Inouye]
In preparation for Mexico’s first visit from Executive Minister Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, Southern California Choir Director Emilie Juatco reflects on the origins of the volunteer choir who traveled and witnessed the growth of the INC in the country.
Emilie Juatco: My name is Emilie Juatco. I’m a choir director. I have two locales in US, but mainly, it’s Tijuana, Mexico and Guatemala. And Mexico has two group worship services. I think we started in 1996 with Brother Joe Ventilation, when the church was just starting. We were asked because they started to have worship service. And of course, every worship service, you need hymn singing. There’s no choir member in Mexico, so when we go, we have a few choir members who volunteer to come. And that’s how we do it before. Only Spanish speaker we have is Sister Grace. And we have to teach our Filipino members how to sing in Spanish properly.╙
Grace Feliciano: We’ve been coming with Sister Emy for many years and transition from the Tagalog speaking like in Tijuana, it’s a lot of choir members but some of the hymns are Filipino.
It is very rewarding. You can feel it. Even though you do not understand, of course, we have the hymn in Tagalog and in English so we know the essence of the hymn. But you can feel every time we sing Spanish, we have worship service in Spanish, we feel the Holy Spirit. We have choir member who are already singing on their own in the worship service. They understand the duty. You know, despite of hardship.
Emilie Juatco: Oaxaca is, I think to me, the group worship service there is very rich in history. Because the first time we went to Oaxaca was already baptism. But I know, before that, they were already having worship service, before they were even members. But when we start going there, because they were already member, we can see the eagerness, the Holy Spirit in the heart of the brethren. See Oaxaca is very… the weather are extreme. If it is cold, it is very cold. Very cold. And when it’s hot, it’s very hot that it’s dry. You can see the plant, you can see even the donkey, because I haven’t seen a horse in Oaxaca. But I see donkey and goat but they’re very very unnourished. So you know the place is kind of very poor, in poverty. But during winter time, it’s very cold. The brethren will come and they will carry their babies, their little kids in their back. They have a little.. like a blanket thing that they wrap on the baby and they carry that blanket and tie it in the front. And they travel like that. And they are there. Sometimes it rains, it’s very wet but everybody’s there. So, it’s to us, who goes there because it’s about ten sometimes twelve hours of drive. It’s still very rewarding to be there.
Ka Richard Rodas: Don’t you worry Sister Tomasita. With God’s help, with the administration’s approval, I will visit you here.
Emilie Juatco: We have a sister there, her name is Tomasita, she loves the Church. She loves the ministers. She lives close to where we attend the worship service. You know how she make her money? She has a bathroom. She charges two pesos, for the public, to go to the bathroom. And that’s how she makes her money. But when the minister come, even when we go, she wants you to go to her house for breakfast before worship service. Let’s say the worship service is at ten, she wants you there at seven. And she will boil let’s say apple, and guava, and leaves. That’s in the tea. And the Mexican bread, she wants to share what she has and that’s all her income.
Even though they are far and the poverty is there, you can see they’re very loving to their duty, you would see them there during worship services at 7:30 on Thursday. It’s 10 o’clock on Sunday, one hour before, one and a half hour before, you can see them cleaning. The choir member, the deaconess, the deacon, you can see them all working to put the worship service, house of God in proper cleanliness. They have fear, holy fear. You can feel that they understand. And they are really striving to fulfill their duty during worship service, during practice. And we practice everyday. Of course not during the day, but during the night. They don’t mind. The night. Because there are sometimes we have new hymns, we have holy supper hymns, we have EVM hymns. They don’t mind. We stay there every night. They are there after work. They are there. I can see the faith.
Last night, in our practice, I see all these choir members. All these choir members are spending money. Bought their ticket, prepared their hotel, and some of them, even the whole family are going. And they leave their job. Some of them, maybe have vacation time or no pay, but it’s the faith. It’s the faith.╙
Emily Andrade: I’m able to express how happy I am to see them and how they inspire me, how I love my duty more.╙
Being a choir member, it gives us such joy to be given this kind of opportunity.
Kristal Richarte: We felt really the need and the desire to come not only to meet the brethren here, but to be united with the Church Administration as well as do our sole purpose which is to sing songs of praise to God as choir members.
After finding the truth, a man shares it everywhere he goes.
There are millions of people in the world and almost as many different religions. Terry Grant hopes they’ll find the truth which is something he spent years searching for.
“When I joined the Navy, I went from different religions like Mormon, Church of Christ Latter-day Saints, Baptists, Protestants, even looked at the Catholic religion. So I went through a number of different religions, but I really never stuck to one. “
As Terry searched for the right way to serve God, he grew accustomed to feeling disappointed.
“I just didn’t feel right. For some reason I had a feeling inside that this just didn’t feel right.”
But in the early 1980’s, he was invited to a worship service in the Church Of Christ. And he experienced something completely new.
“When he was preaching the words of God, it was question and answer. And every answer was straight from the bible. It wasn’t like the other religions that I had gone to where ministers would read a verse from the bible then tell a story. So that was impressive. This has gotta be the true church because they’re not giving their own opinion.
Right then and there. God called me right then and there because I felt it. I knew inside that this is the true church. As soon as the worship service, the singing, the prayer, everything, I knew I had found the true church. Just simple as that. Compared to all the other religions that I’d been to, once I was in the worship service, that was it. God called me right then and there because I knew it was correct.”
Terry was so impressed. He began bible studies in the Church Of Christand was baptized in 1982.
“Because I can’t find anything wrong with the teachings of God that are being taught and implemented by the Church Of Christ, I believe that’s why I stay in the Church Of Christ because I know I’m on the right path. God is the one who called me into the Church Of Christ. The only reason why I still continue to be a member of the Church of Christ and even active in the Church of Christ is because of the loving kindness of God. It’s as simple as that.”
Since being called into the Church Of Christ, Terry can’t help but think of all the people who need to know the truth and continues to reach out to everyone he can.
“So I put the stickers on my car concerning INCMedia.org. I carry church literature in my van. I’ve actually had people come up to me when I’m in the gas station and ask me what it means, INCmedia.org and I explain it to them. I don’t even have to go up to them, they’re coming up to me. And they were searching our website of the church and we hadn’t even talked to them. They were just looking at my van. So God will be the one to actually create the opportunity for you to talk to someone. When you’re doing missionary work, it really makes you feel good when you’re doing missionary work because you feel good inside that you’re actually doing something.”
Diagnosed with Leukemia at age 10, Myla Cunanan, a young cancer survivor, proves that anything is possible with God. For her mother Leyna, seeing her youngest daughter experience a number of illnesses, she placed all of her faith in God’s plan.
For when I’m weak, I am strong.[Video of Myla in Hospital with visitors and nurses]
Aliw Pablo: Wow, that’s amazing. How’d you like that, Myla? You got your own concert![Images of Myla Cunanan]
[On-screen text graphics]
In Acute Myeloid Leukemia, white blood cells are abnormal and do not become healthy…the patient’s body has a harder time fighting infection.
[Source: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital]
[On-screen text graphics]
The 5-year survival rate after being diagnosed is 26.6 percent.
[The National Cancer Institute]
Myla Cunanan: It doesn’t matter if you make me sick. You’re just a little thing that could go away soon. I’m stronger than you. I’m braver than you. And my God will help me.
Martin Zerrudo: You believe that?
Martin: And why do you believe that?
Myla: Because I always trust in God. I know He’ll help me through it.
Jillian Foley (UCSF Children’s Hospital Staff): The two words that come to mind for Myla are resiliency, and I would say, humor.
Janelle Facchino (UCSF Children’s Hospital Staff): I met Myla almost 2 years ago in August, and that was when she was admitted, basically, to the bone marrow transplant unit.
Leyna Cunanan (Myla’s Mother): She was 10 years old, [a] few weeks after her birthday. She was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia where she had a mass in her chest and had to undergo chemotherapy.
[Video of Myla doing arts and crafts and the hospital]
Leyna: You’re good with arts and crafts, Myla.
Jillian: I think in general, families have described it to us as a big pause or stop button for life.
Leyna: I’ve seen, you know, parents with the same situation, so depressed. So don’t know what to do. They get really, really angry with God. I’m only human.
Martin: Just like any parent, Leyna fights to mask her fear everyday for the sake of Myla. But she hasn’t had to. It’s Myla, who’s been brave for them all throughout this journey.
Martin: Do you feel like you can’t cry in front of Myla? You can’t show her that you have moments of weakness?
Leyna: Yes. I try not to, because she’s so brave that she doesn’t like people crying around her. She makes sure that she makes people smile, even the doctors and the nurses she would make, you know, she would make them laugh. Of course, I would just cry when I pray to God. I never show anybody that I cry. I pour out everything to God.
Martin: Give me three reasons why your mom is brave.
Myla: ‘Cause… she’s just… She’s always the one who tells me everything is going to be fine and we can get through this. She’s always the one who prays with me and talks with me a lot. And she said there’s always a reason why it happens.
Leyna: I believe that, even in sickness, there’s still blessing. Because we felt God was closer to us, and we’ve learned so much. Our faith became mature. But we are so thankful that we are members of the Church, that we have God in our lives. That, without Him, we cannot go through this journey.[Video clip of nurses singing “Jolly-good fellow” for Myla.]
Jillian: My favorite moment which, I think it comes as Myla, is, she already had her bone marrow transplant, and her dad was her identified donor, and his name is Robert. And, she decided to rename herself, because she now had her dad’s cells, and so, she renamed her middle name to Roberta. And so she became, Myla Roberta Cunanan. That just speaks volumes that she, the creativity, and the humor and just the positivity that she has.
Carol Gillespie (Director, AADP): I have to tell you Myla is just an incredible person. And she has an incredible soul. It was her disease, but she didn’t let her disease ruin her life. And she just continued doing what Myla does next: volunteer and help.
Martin: What I’ve learned speaking with Myla is that even though it seems like so many want to help her, to save her; she’s been the one reaching out to save them.
[Video of Myla and her mom]
Leyna: We’re doing her routine walk. Where [are] we going? Which way? Wanna go that way?
Leyna: I’m also getting more brave in sharing my faith. I’m seeing a, you know, a child, so young, going through this hardship and she continues to share her faith. The more, I mean, an adult…Yeah, she inspires me.
Voiceover: A spirit of selflessness that Myla has inspired others to do worldwide. Through her band-aid and bone marrow registration drives.
Carol: Her and her siblings, and her mom come. They were coming every week. And they would make kits for us. This is a simple task, but without those kids, we can’t register donors. So this is what her whole life is about. Really, it’s giving back. She’s just that kind of girl.
Jillian: And I can clearly remember when we were starting to talk about the possibility of her being discharged still being [in] isolation. The biggest question Myla had was, “When do I get to go back to Church? And when do I get to sing in the choir?” And that for me was very striking because that was something she had held onto for almost a year of, “When do I get to go back and be [a] part of that community?”
Voiceover: A spirit of resilience to continue serving God no matter her circumstances.
Carol: I never walked in her room when she was in a bad mood, ever. She’s just incredible and I’ll tell you what got her through it, is her faith. And it has guided her through this entire process, her and her family. The whole family is just a very special family. Some people have faith but they don’t live it. They live it.
Martin: And for all those brethren around the world, what do you want to say to them?
Myla: Thank you for the love, support, and the prayers, and the gifts.
[Video of Myla’s family singing “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” for Myla]
[Video of brothers singing, “When I’m Weak, I am Strong” for Myla]
[Sister singing for Myla]
Voiceover: No one can erase an illness. Or ask a physician to prescribe an outcome we want. And although Myla and her family continue to seek medical help, they’ve allowed no one else but God, to write her story.
Leyna: He makes things possible when you will think it is impossible. Through Myla, He has shown us that He made us so brave.
[On-screen text graphics]
After 2 years and 5 months of in-and-out of the hospital, Myla progresses every day. She is no longer on dialysis. She enters the 7th grade. And constantly uses her talents for God, as a baptized member of the Church Of Christ.
[Video of Myla singing for the EVM Awards]
Myla Cunanan: My name is Myla, and this is my story of faith.
A young woman’s entire future is at stake and close friends offer their help – all of whom place themselves in the hands of God.Show/Hide Transcript
Cathlene Quizon was your typical teenager. She loves spending time with her friends and family and was focused on her education. But once she was told her kidneys were failing, her life changed completely.
“There were a few times where I wish I could’ve went out with my friends, but I couldn’t because I was too fatigued for no reason. Some people would tell me “Why are you so tired? You haven’t even done anything.” But they don’t get the condition that I have. I feel pain in my bones, my feet are always tingling. It feels like I’m being electrocuted.
As soon as I started getting sick, my grades started to fall down.”
But although she was in constant physical pain, there was one thing that was giving Cathlene strength.
“We have our worship service on Tuesdays. Since we’re only five in choir, I keep saying with her that “you can stay at home instead and relax…”. But then she would say, “No, mom. This is my duties. One of my duties.” And then “I have to do this.” Even in choir, when she’s crying because of in pain, no you can’t stop her in performing her duties. Because of her situation, though she’s sick, it helps us to stand firm in our faith that though she’s sick, but still, she can do everything inside the Church.”
[Cherry Ann Quizon]
“And I continue to perform my duties because I knew that God will continue to be by my side even if I perform.”
Cathlene remained devoted in attending worship services and performing her duty in the choir. And as she became a source of inspiration, two close friends would hear about her situation and make a significant impact on her life.
“My wife and I, we found out about Sister CK’s situation through social media. And when we found out that she had kidney failure, we were shocked of course. We thought, “Wow, she’s still very young.” She’s got her whole life ahead of her and she’s got a lot to give still to God and to the Church. So we thought, “ Wow, what a terrible thing for all of that to be shot down and to be taken down because of a kidney failure.” We feel God moves us for a reason. We decided let’s go ahead, let’s get tested. Let’s see if either of us are eligible to be a kidney donor. I happened to have the better kidney and I happen to be in good condition to be a kidney donor candidate.”
Albert was excited to help out but the risks involved were still on his mind.
“The chance that everything could change. If you lose one kidney and you have problems later on, God should take me in this procedure, that’s something very heavy that we had to look at also.”
“Usually it takes at least a year for someone to receive a call or a match, even. Some even take years, but for me in my case, I didn’t have to look anywhere else. I didn’t have to wait for that call to come.”
It’s been several weeks since her surgery and Cathlene is doing well. As a member of the Church Of Christ, she was blessed with a unique gift: the love and concern of her fellow brethren especially of Albert who risked his life to help a sister in faith.
“Yes, it’s right here. His kidney is right here. I saw how there were always all the messages like “God bless” and “Get well soon” and of course I felt thankful and I felt really blessed because even though they don’t know me, they wished me well and everything. Especially for brother Albert ‘cause I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. Most especially our Almighty God.”
“The good things those are obvious. You’re helping a sister out. She’s gonna live her life a little better. Like I said, she has offices in the Church. Her life’s just getting started basically and she has so much more that she can do and she’s gonna do great things in her life.”
“The biggest thing I just learned was to just trust in God, have faith in Him. I don’t really dwell on the problems that I face in my life because I know that God wouldn’t put me in that situation if I couldn’t handle it.”
Having used his music for self-expression, a young Australian would use that same musical talent to express something much bigger than himself.
Staring death in the face, a man sets onto a path that leads to safety.
“When we’re delivering the currency, one guy was already inside the other side of the south door. It didn’t feel right. Something just felt really bad. I remember just seeing him point the gun and the way he looked. There was such evil in his eyes. He wanted to kill me.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles county. I was a former Catholic, born and raised into that religion, obviously for my family. I was a former musician. I played bass in a band. I was working for a armored car security company.”
One morning, as Richard and his partner began their usual route as armored guards, they knew it wouldn’t be an ordinary day.
“Before I knew it, my partner falls backwards. I fell down against the door. My life could’ve ended right there and I wasn’t going to be saved on judgment day.”
That night shook Richard. And as he continued to work for the same company, a co-worker named Tony began a conversation that would change his life.
“We started talking about the bible. It was during a New Year’s day and it was a holiday. We were upstairs in the locker room. He was reading the bible. We started conversing. He actually requested me to be his driver throughout our 12-hour shifts, sometimes 16-hour shifts. We were working, we were talking about the bible and our Almighty God.”
Tony invited Richard to attend bible classes in the Church Of Christ. And Richard began to reflect on his situation.
“The way I was living my life, I was not serving God. I was living my life disobedient to God. So God wants everyone to come to the knowledge of the truth. And it took me a long time to do that.”
As Richard continued to attend bible classes in the Church Of Christ, he was learning God’s words straight from the bible. Tony encouraged him to compare this to what the Catholic Church teaches.
“So I made an appointment to go see a priest. Is Jesus Christ God? He couldn’t answer anything. He didn’t know. The second one was about saints and Virgin Mary. The Catholic Virgin Mary, he had no answer. I was angry with the Catholic Church. I felt deceived. They do not focus on the truth. That was really an eye opener for me.
I wanna serve God. Pray for a deeper faith and understanding because it wasn’t until I started praying for that that I saw God working in my life.”
Richard could feel God pulling him closer and closer to the truth.
“I was going through bible studies learning more the truth and from there my mind was just so overwhelmed it was such a blessing to know finally.”
Today, Richard is even more thankful he is still alive to serve God in the true Church Of Christ.
“My life has changed drastically. I’m just doing my best to serve our Almighty God.”
A man lost everything and in his pursuit to achieve past success, discovers something more valuable.