A Pentecostal evangelist who was said to have the power to heal came to visit. When he touched me, I fell down unconscious, “slain in the spirit.” When I came to, I seemed to have what I wanted—the power to heal. What led me to this experience, and how did it affect my life? Before I tell you about that, let me explain my background.
I WAS born in Ilocos Norte, Philippines, on December 10, 1968, the seventh of ten children. Like most Filipinos, we were brought up as Catholics. I graduated from high school in 1986, and my ambition was to be a nurse. However, because I contracted a severe illness, that dream did not materialize. In fact, I thought I would die. In my desperation, I implored God for help and told him that if I recovered, I would serve him all my life.
After a long recovery, I remembered my promise to God. So, in June 1991, I enrolled in a Pentecostal Bible school. The school regimen was said to include acquiring “the free gift of the holy spirit.” I wanted to have the power to heal. The school taught us that this could be obtained through fasting and prayers. Once, in my effort to give the impression that I had a “gift,” I secretly listened to one of my classmates praying aloud in a corner during a prayer session. When she was about to finish, I quickly went back to where I had been kneeling. Afterward, I told her exactly what she had been asking for in her prayer, and she believed that I now had the “free gift”!
While continuing my studies at the school, I had many questions. For example, Matthew 6:9 speaks of the “Father” and his “name.” I asked such questions as “Who is the Father mentioned by Jesus?” and “Whose name should be sanctified?” My instructors’ answers were often quite vague and not satisfying. They talked about the Trinity and said that it is a mystery. I found it quite confusing. Despite that, I continued my training to be a pastor.
Exposure to Jehovah’s Witnesses
In Bible school, we were taught that Jehovah’s Witnesses promoted the worst kind of false religion. They were also referred to as the antichrist. I developed a revulsion for this religion.
During my second year in the school, I went home to visit my parents during a school break. One of my older sisters, Carmen, heard that I was home and came to visit too. She was already a baptized, full-time minister of Jehovah’s Witnesses. When she tried to teach me about God, I responded furiously: “I already know the God I am serving!” After loudly insulting her, I pushed her away and did not give her another opportunity to speak to me.
After I returned to the Bible school, Carmen sent me a copy of the brochure Should You Believe in the Trinity? * I immediately crumpled it up and threw it in the fire. I was still angry with her.
Advancement as a Pastor
As I continued my studies in the Bible school, I was able to make some converts. I was especially proud when my mother and my brother joined me in the Pentecostal religion.
In March 1994, I graduated from the Pentecostal Bible school. As mentioned at the outset, a visiting evangelist was present at that time. All of us graduates wanted to be with him because we believed he had the gift of healing. We joined him on the stage, jumping and clapping with him to the beat of a band. Then, each one he touched fell down, “slain in the spirit.” * When he touched me, I too fell down and lost consciousness. When I regained my senses, I was in fear, but I sensed that I now had the power to heal, so I was happy.
Soon thereafter, I used this power to heal a child who was very sick with a high fever. When I offered a prayer, the child immediately began to perspire and the fever disappeared. At last, I felt that I could fulfill my promise to God. Strangely, though, I felt a void. Deep inside, I believed that there is only one God, but I did not really know who he is. And I had nagging doubts about many of the doctrines of the church.
I used this power to heal a child who was very sick with a high fever
Things That Changed My Thinking
After those events, my hostility toward Jehovah’s Witnesses became even more intense. Whenever I found Witness publications, I burned them. Then, something unexpected happened. I was shocked to find that Mother no longer wanted our religion. Carmen had been studying the Bible with her! I was so angry with my sister.
Then I found an Awake! magazine at Mother’s house. Normally I would have burned it. But curious about what she was reading, I flipped through the pages. My eyes fell upon an article about an individual who was a firm believer in what the church taught. However, when he began reading the Witnesses’ publications along with the Bible, he became convinced that the teachings of the Trinity, hellfire, and the immortality of the soul were unscriptural. My heart was touched. These were the very things I wanted to understand. Starting then, I longed for the time when I would understand Bible truth.
After reading another life story in the Awake! magazine about an alcoholic and drug addict who made big changes for the better because of studying the Bible, I began reading more of the Witnesses’ publications. I found a copy of the brochure The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever. * Reading that, I learned that God’s name is Jehovah. It made me so happy to learn the truth about the only true God!—Deuteronomy 4:39; Jeremiah 10:10.
It made me so happy to learn the truth about the only true God!
I kept reading secretly and learned many more Bible truths. For example, in the Pentecostal school, I had been taught that Jesus is God, but I learned from the Bible that he is “the Son of the living God.”—Matthew 16:15, 16.
A Change of Heart
When I saw Carmen again, she was surprised when I asked for a personal copy of the brochure The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever and some other literature. I had spent many years in that Bible school, but I was not taught the truth there; I had been blinded. My heart now overflowed with joy because of the truths I was learning from the Bible. I fully felt the impact of Jesus’ words: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) Those truths were beginning to change my life.
These truths were beginning to change my life
For a while, I thought that I could secretly worship Jehovah God and continue as a pastor. Soon I realized that I could no longer teach many of the church’s doctrines. Nonetheless, I was fearful. What would happen to my livelihood if I resigned as a pastor? How embarrassing for the church if one of their pastors became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses! So I continued teaching as a pastor, but I avoided the church’s false doctrines.
When I saw my sister Carmen again, she suggested that I attend a meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Since I usually reported to our mother church in Laoag City, I secretly looked for the Witnesses’ meeting place, the Kingdom Hall, there. I was introduced to Alma Preciosa Villarin, nicknamed “Precious,” a full-time minister in that congregation. Although I still had negative feelings about the Witnesses, I accepted her offer to teach me the Bible.
My sister had been very patient in sharing Bible truths with me. Now I saw this same patient spirit in Precious. She helped me so much to understand the Bible, even though I got irritated, tried to argue with her, and sometimes raised my voice, insisting on some of the things I had formerly been taught. The personal interest, humility, and mildness shown by Precious and other Witnesses touched my heart. This moved me to want to worship Jehovah.
In July 1995, I realized that there was no recourse but to leave my position as pastor. Why? Revelation 18:4 speaks of false religion symbolically and says: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.” What about my means of living? Hebrews 13:5 taught me that if we do God’s will, he promises: “I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.”
Though my father and brother now vehemently opposed me, two weeks before my baptism as a Witness, I mustered up the courage to go home to burn all the things I had used in my former work as a pastor. After doing so, I realized that any special powers previously given to me were gone. In the past, when I slept, I felt that something was constantly pressing down on me. That feeling was gone too. The shadows I used to see at the window of my room never appeared again. My study of the Bible had taught me that any so-called gifts today, like the power to heal, are not from God but from wicked spirits. I am so happy that I broke free from their influence, just as the servant girl did whom Paul freed from “a demon of divination.”—Acts 16:16-18.
What a joy it was to be side by side with Mother as we presented ourselves for baptism as Jehovah’s Witnesses in September 1996! After my baptism, I enrolled as a full-time minister of Jehovah’s Witnesses and enjoyed many years of serving in that way.
I am now married to my husband, Silver. Together, we are working hard to train our daughter in the way of Bible truth. Some of my other siblings have also joined us in serving Jehovah. Although I regret that for many years I didn’t really know God, I am very happy that now I know the God I worship.
^ par. 10 Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses but now out of print.
^ par. 13 “Slain in the spirit” refers to a phenomenon in some religions where it is believed that the “spirit” comes on believers with such force that they fall to the ground.
^ par. 18 Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.