Philippines CropAs a teenager in the Philippines, Pastor Jowel faced tragedy. He was very close to his paternal grandfather who died from liver failure. As a young man, it devastated Pastor Jowel; he stopped attending school and never cared about his future. It seemed like life suddenly stopped when his favorite grandfather died.

The death caused severe depression for Pastor Jowel, and he considered ending his life by jumping across the railroad. But thankfully, he suddenly felt petrified; the fear of dying sank into his mind and he didn’t go through with it. His mother saw his depression and noticed that Jowel’s life was going nowhere, so she asked him, “Jowel, what do you want in life?” That was when his mind became clear, and he said he wanted to enroll in Bible school, hoping the training would change his perspective in life. Studying at the Bible school changed his ways, and he looked upon Jesus as his Lord and Savior. God then called Jowel to become a pastor.

Life was going well in their family and his church until the pandemic came. Pastor Jowel lost three members of his family—his mother, his paternal grandfather, and his maternal grandmother. The pandemic brought fear to all family members, not knowing who would be next to get the disease. In addition to the stress of losing loved ones, his financial status was severely affected.

He started to ask God why such things were happening to them. But, despite his doubt, God continued to make his faith stronger. Through all his questions, his understanding brought him back to who God is and what He can do. The Bible gave Pastor Jowel a clear overview of God’s plan. It became a strong foundation in his spiritual warfare. Isaiah 55:8 ESV says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”

“Many things are running through my mind. I have plans, but they’re not God’s plan; the things that I wish are not the things that are happening,” Pastor Jowel says. “The Lord leads me to His path; yes, my ways are different, but I keep coming back to the path of the Lord. Yes, there are heartaches, but these made me stronger spiritually. The Lord built a strong foundation of faith in me.”

He continues, “My ways are uncertain and prone to failure but trusting God’s way makes me feel confident and joyful. His Word gave me a positive outlook and strong spirit. Because of His guidance, I could only confront the skepticism in my mind by looking straight at Him. Because of my faith in God’s will and trust in Him, I can see through everything. Now I can face all things with peace and joy.”

Pastor Jowel is now serving the Lord as one of Bible League’s Project Philip program coordinators in the Philippines. God built a strong foundation of faith in his spiritual life. Now, he’s called to train the leaders as they teach the people to trust in His ways. The Bible says in Jeremiah 17:7-8 ESV, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Praise God for His ever-present help to Pastor Jowel, sustaining him just like the tree with roots by the stream. Through his questions, Pastor Jowel learned to lean on God even more.