THE PRODIGAL COMES HOME
BITS: What led you to Christ?
DU: During that time, my life was turning so chaotic and miserable. I was living with my mistress for three years. We would constantly fight. I decided to stay for a while in my father’s rest house because I was in charge of the construction for that rest house. I had this argument with the neighbor. I was drunk, got hold of a rifle and went on a shooting rampage. I was charged with frustrated homicide but that gave an opportunity for my wife and me to be together again. I was at large. I called my wife to pick me up. That support she had with her small group gave her courage and hope not to think twice. She picked me up, brought me home. That became an opportunity for her to share to me about the love of Jesus and model to me, through her life, what true Christianity is all about. Her kindness moved me to seek more about God; it gave me interest to attend the small group, church, and eventually the dawn watch.
BITS: Were you expecting your wife to come get you when you called her?
DU: I was very positive about this: that anytime I ask my wife to pick me up or be willing to reconcile, there’s no doubt about it, she would be 100% totally willing to have me back. She’s just there and waiting for me. She would constantly remind me through texts and through words that she’s just there for me. Whenever I finally decide to go back, she will wholeheartedly take me.
BITS: When she was communicating that willingness, how did you respond to her?
DU: First, awkward, because I thought she was having false hopes. I felt sorry for her because I believed that there was no reason for me to go back; I was already living with someone else and there was no hope for us, it was impossible for us to be reconciled. (I thought) I no longer loved her. I already made the decision to live for the rest of my life with this other woman. I just felt sorry for my wife.
BITS: Did you get angry or annoyed at your wife’s continuing expressions of love?
DU: Wala lang (It didn’t matter). Whenever I received a text from her, I just ignored it. Whenever she texted me how much she loves me and forgives me, I just ignore or say “ok”. If it gave her hope or a bit of pleasure or joy, I didn’t think I should be stopping her from experiencing that.
BITS: When you called her and she picked you up, how did you feel?
DU: Grateful. When she picked me up it was 12 midnight. That alone was a gesture of determination and unconditional love. I really didn’t hear anything from her reminding me how bad I was as a husband and as a father. When we got home, she just picked my bag and fixed my clothes as if I was just away for three or four days.
BITS: What was your intention when you called her, was it to restore your marriage?
DU: No, I was being charged with frustrated homicide. I had nowhere to go. My mistress and I were not ok at that time. I had no one in mind except for my wife and I knew that she would be very happy to pick me up. For me, it was temporary. The moment the case would be settled, I planned to leave right away.
BITS: When you came home, do you think that was your journey back to your Heavenly Father as well?
DU: I think the journey started when I was already experiencing the discipline of The Lord living in the streets, in the car, having a miserable life, being in and out of jail, having total car wrecks when I was drunk driving.
BITS: When you repeated to your wife abusive things you saw your dad do to your mom, did your wife complain? How did she take that?
DU: My wife was mentored by my mom on how she handled the situation with my dad. That somehow helped my wife. At an early stage (it was in our 5th year of our marriage), my wife came to know the Lord and that helped her a lot in holding on to our marriage, not considering separation as an option. The Lord also brought her into a small spiritual accountability group or a d-group who constantly reminded her of the promise of God in restoring our marriage. I really thank God that she found a family in that small group.
BITS: Do you think that if your wife were more firm or threatening, that would make you think twice before you would inflict pain on her? Maybe many wives have that question in their minds, labanan ko kaya (why don’t I try to fight him).
DU: If that’s the kind of approach she took, I don’t think we’ll be together now; all the more it would give me reason to leave her. I might still be living my old life now.
BITS: On the occasions when you realized that you hurt your wife, did you feel normal or was it painful for you?
DU: It also pained me whenever she cried or suffered. It reminded me of how my mom suffered. There was also a time when my mom talked to me and reminded me of how painful the things my dad did to us were. She pointed out to me that I was doing the same thing with my family. It was difficult for me but being a man, by nature sinful, without a relationship with God, I have no power for self-control or motivation that can really help me have real change.
BITS: How did you come to the point of surrender?
DU: Not in the small group, not attending in church (I was physically present but I was not listening to any of the pastors’ messages.) but when I attended the Dawn Watch gathering at CCF. At first I found it awkward and weird. When I heard the people shout “LORD, LORD, LORD”, I had goose bumps. When I observed the people around me, some were standing, some were kneeling, and some were sitting. Most of them were talking to God aloud they had hand gestures as if God was just in front of them. I knew that it was God who impressed in my heart that to pray should come from the heart. I got curious and tried talking to God from my heart. The very first words that came from my heart were, “Lord, if you are real, help me. Pagod na ako (I’m already tired).” That made me realize how miserable I was and that I needed help from God. So I cried terribly. I started to make sumbong (report to the higher up). I told God how hurt I was, how angry I was with what my father did to us, with what happened to my family and me. I asked Him to help me get rid of smoking, drinking. (I used to smoke, drink, and take drugs almost every day. I had so many relationships with many women. I was a very violent person.) That was a very wonderful experience because for the first time, I had so much peace in my heart. When my wife and I got home, I no longer had the craving for smoking. I no longer said any bad words. I used to curse a lot. I did not have an appetite to go out with friends. That was a turning point, my Damascus Experience [referring to Paul’s journey to Damascus at the time he was persecuting believers when The Lord met him and revealed Himself to Paul].
BITS: Do you think God has a sense of humor that your wife’s name is Dawn, that your Damascus Experience happened during the Dawn Watch and that He allowed this spiritual turning point to happen in your life during Dawn(your wife)’s watch?
DU: Yes [with a big, big smile that lingered a long while].
BITS: Your wife was a key person in helping you to know Christ?
BITS: When did you realize this?
DU: I guess it’s the consistency of her walking the talk. As a pastor, I’ve counseled so many believers’ wives. At the start, they would be very obedient but when they experience challenges or provocations from the husband, they will shout, fight back, and then have to start from scratch again. My wife was very obedient in living out the word of God, abiding by the guidelines or suggestions that the small group leader would tell her. It was her obedience in living out her faith that really moved me and revealed to me that there really is a God who can change a person like me.
BITS: When you came home, your wife was more spiritually more mature than you. How did you rise to become the spiritual leader in your family?
DU: At the Dawn Watch, I suddenly felt the love of God. Since there was a longing in my heart for a father figure, there was this connection that got ignited. When I got home, I started to enjoy having one-on-one time…fellowship with God. I enjoyed praying, reading the bible. I asked people around, what the bible say about this and that. I also did self-study. When I was really so focused on knowing God, it led me to realize that it is my duty as a father, as a husband to lead the family spiritually.
BITS: What did your wife do that (1) helped and (2) hindered this rise to spiritual leadership?
DU: I always say, my wife is the epitome of the Genesis wife, the help-mate. She was very good in encouraging me. She will never dominate me, never tell me what to do. Whenever she sees changes in me, she would affirm and constantly appreciate me for the big and small achievements. She was very good. That’s her strength in allowing me and encouraging me to be the leader of the family.
To Be Continued…
Part 1: Transformation of a Prodigal Intro
Part 2: Early Years to Humbling Experience
Part 4: From Prodigal to Pastor