God gave Maria a task most would have rejected, but she obeyed and has seen great rewards for her faithfulness.
If God asked you to leave your job right now, would you do it?
For many who are their family’s primary breadwinner or barely making ends meet for themselves, this would be an extremely hard question.
Before taking a leap of faith like this, most people would have some serious soul-searching to do in order to make sure that it was genuinely God’s voice they heard.
Either way, it’s a question where some might just respond, “No, I can’t...”
A Frightening Call
Maria had a good job that offered her benefits and paid well. Unlike nearly a fourth of the Philippines’ population, she was comfortably above the poverty level.
Then she felt God calling her into the service of her church and community.
Disturbed, she wavered and questioned the growing sense that she needed to make this move. “I had so many ‘what ifs’ and questions that clouded my mind. ‘How would I support my family if I resigned? Could we survive on a much smaller income?’ It brought me to my knees, asking for God’s guidance over my choice.”
Maria become more involved in her church and received training from the World Challenge team to be a community evangelist.
Finally, she felt it was time. “Resigning from my secular job was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. God assured me that obeying His will mattered most. Claiming God’s promises that He would never leave me nor forsake me and that He had prepared a beautiful plan for me, I left my job and joined the church.”
Working as a community organizer for the church was not an easy job, but Maria threw herself into helping many different communities work together despite people coming from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds.
Fruits of the Labor
World Challenge partners have joined with many organizations already working to help local communities, and their development training allows them to offer new ways of approaching community problems.
This opens doors for church members to share the gospel not only with people in the communities but also with members of the government or NGO organizations.
Through their partnerships, they were able to add Biblically based livelihood lessons to some organizations’ programs.
These lessons—better methods to make bread and pastries, liquid soap, or flower arrangements—have made small-scale business ventures possible for people who take part of the lessons. These will enable individuals to boost the family’s income.
In one particular village, an elderly lady named Ate Neneng Cabagunay enthusiastically took part in a bread baking training.
Her courage and dedication to learning a new skill turned into an inspiration for many of the other women in the village who had been hesitant to change traditional ways of baking or preparing ingredients.
Ate Neneng now helps teach these bread lessons with a co-member, working together to be examples of how innovative ideas can be a huge blessing and that no one is too old to learn new ways.
After over 25 years working with her church and setting up community events with life lessons, Maria received a certificate of appreciation for her dedication and hard work.
Her supervision and organization has helped the evangelistic work spread through her own community and many, many others as well.
She also received a recognition plaque for Most Outstanding Alumni in the field of Social Work and Community Outreach for her exemplary services in organizing rural projects and trainings to empowered local people.
This was a special recognition for individuals who increase general welfare in the Philippines, often through projects like the one that helped Ate Neneng feel like a vital part of her community, encouraging and teaching younger members.
Looking back on her challenging decision to join ministry, Maria firmly stated, “One thing is for sure. Through God’s sufficient grace and mercy, everything is made possible.”