Deonna Tan-chi is a beautiful, beloved woman of God, a strong, mature, believer who walks the talk of the biblical principles she teaches.
CBN Asia’s 700 Club featured the story, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” on the rape of her daughter, Joy Tanchi-Mendoza.
Even though it was a story of hope and faith, I wept when I watched the feature. Maybe the tears were a mixture of pain, hope, and faith… just like life sometimes.
I think it’s doubly harder for a mother to see one’s child suffer. After understanding a little more the reality of what Joy (and the Tan-chi family) experienced, I tried to reconcile Deonna’s fervent serving of the Lord today and that trial of the past. I prayed for a chance to interview her about this to ask how she kept her faith. I see her now and then but because I know how busy she is each and every day with her many ministries, I rush when I see her and only remember the interview as an afterthought.
Last night was our divine appointment. I was having dinner with some ladies when Deonna arrived at the food hall. She looked around, approached our table, and sat down beside me. It was one of the days I brought my iPad fully charged and we had at least half an hour before the scheduled event. Here is that interview:
BUTTERFLYINTHESPRING (BITS): How did you overcome this trial?
DEONNA TANCHI (DT):
CRISIS OF FAITH
My first reaction was I really couldn’t believe that God allowed it to happen. I thought to myself, If God didn’t protect our family, then why should I follow Him? What if I just turned away from God? I was very upset because I had prayed every night for God to protect our family, our children… and then that one night He didn’t. As I was struggling in my heart, as I was thinking, “But if I turn away, where would I go?” ‘cause God is my life. He’s everything to me.
YES LORD, I’LL TRUST YOU
And then God spoke to me in a very still, small voice. He said, “Deonna, will you be willing to trust Me, even with this? Will you trust Me that I will use it for good?” I thought about it and I thought, “Yes, Lord, I’ll trust You.” And that became our battlecry. Even the other families—with these two other girls who were raped plus one of our helpers. So we all decided that we were gonna trust God to use it for good.
WRESTLING WITH GOD
I had told God, “I don’t understand this. I feel very bad about it. Why didn’t You let it happen to me instead of Joy? I’ll be like Jacob. When he was wrestling with You, He wouldn’t let You go until he saw his promise fulfilled.” God showed me that Joy and her friends were like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They had gone through the fiery furnace but Jesus was with them in the furnace through that terrible experience and that they would come out, they would not smell of smoke, they would not be burned or damaged.
FULL LIFE FROM JESUS GREATER THAN SATAN
The verse He gave me is that Satan had come that night to kill, steal, and destroy…literally. But He reminded me that he said “I (Jesus)’ve come to give full life and to give it abundantly. God was working in my heart simultaneously that night, the next day, and onwards.
BELIEVING GOD’S WORD, HE WILL USE IT FOR GOOD
It was a matter of trusting Him and walking by faith and not by sight and believing His word that He would take care of Joy and her friends. And they’re all okay today. They’re not dysfunctional. They don’t have bitterness. They were able to forgive the men who had raped them and entrust their lives to God and trust that He would use it for good. And they are willing to talk about it. They’re willing to use it and share it because they really did trust God. So Joy said, “You know, Mom and Dad, I know that God is sovereign. He could have stopped what happened. He could have stopped the rape. But He didn’t. I know He loves me and that if He allowed it, then He’s gonna use it for good.” At fifteen, she was able to process it. And that helped me too because if I had seen her not processing it properly by faith, it would have been more difficult for me to go through it, I think. I’d be very concerned about her.
God worked deeply in all of our hearts. We were there to support one another also and the other families of the two other friends who were raped, we were there for one another. She had her friends. They were there for one another. They told the school what had happened. And people came forward and hugged them afterwards. We told her that your virginity has been stolen (it was done against her will) but you can still be a spiritual virgin for the Lord. People came forward also and someone said, “You know I was raped and I never told anybody. Could you please hug me too? This is the first time I’m telling anybody.” So God started healing.
THIS WILL ENCOURAGE OTHERS
And then God gave me another verse that what will happen to you will go out to the whole world and people will be encouraged and because of the missionary community, they were texting everybody in the world and so it went out to the whole world.
TRUST GOD DESPITE, NOT JUST IN ABSENCE OF, PROBLEMS
After that, people who had always thought “it’s so easy for you to trust God because you have no problem” but when they saw the grace of God in our life through this tragedy, they were encouraged that God would also be there for them no matter what they went through.
BITS: Was that a quick process for you to reach the decision to trust God?
SURRENDER AND FAITH
Very fast. The bible says, “In everything, give thanks. It sounds crazy. In a situation like that, how can you give thanks. I never did say thank you that she’s raped. But I said, “Lord, thank You for how You’re gonna use it.” Thanking God is an act of surrender and faith. And God put my heart at peace. As we went through it, I just couldn’t let go of that. I had to hold on to that promise. That hope that we have is the anchor for our soul no matter what we go through, that hope in Him that He’s gonna take care of us and those we love as we hope in Him in His way and His time.
BITS: Why did you not file charges when you were violated?
DT: We decided that we would trust God to stop them and we decided not to press charges. But we really prayed against them doing it again. Two years later, we received a call that they had actually been stopped. The group was disbanded and somewhere in jail. So God took care of them.
I think it’s a case by case. I’m not saying it’s wrong to file charges. But that’s how we were led. We thought that the girls had been through enough trauma already to go through that again. But if a person is led by God, let’s say there’s molestation of a child and the person is unrepentant and they feel like they should inform the authorities. God would guide. There’s no hard and fast rule.
UNFORGIVENESS CAN BE A STRONGHOLD FOR SATAN TO MANIPULATE US
Of course, the first thing anybody has to do is forgive. No matter what the situation, we have to forgive because when we don’t’ forgive, it becomes the stronghold of Satan in our life to manipulate us. After forgiving, they have to pray for those who have harmed us. We actually prayed for those men to come to know the Lord. We really pray for their salvation because we knew that they had done it because they were not Christians. They didn’t know the Lord.
BITS: Was there a song that ministered to you during your time of trial?
DT: Marching On With Hearts Courageous. We sang it that Sunday in worship after Joy’s rape and I sang it in tears with all my heart as a declaration that we would not stop loving, serving, and following the Lord even though Satan had tried to stop us. In fact, I was more committed than ever. At that time, we were worshipping at PICC.
BITS to You: Here is that song:
and its lyrics:
Give us ears to hear that still, small voice
And give us lips forever willing to rejoice
And may our eyes be lit with wisdom,
May we know the path that’s true,
And we’ll march with hearts courageous after You.
We’re marching on with hearts courageous;
We’ll follow anywhere You want us to,
And should you lead us where the battle rages
We will march with hearts courageous after You.
And when sorrow dims the light along the way
Help us to see each time of darkness through eyes of faith.
A time for hope, a time for courage
Knowing You will lead us through,
And we’ll march with hearts courageous after You.
GOD’S REDEMPTION AND GRACE
DT: The other (friend of Joy who was raped) when she tells her story, she would preface it, “I want to tell you a beautiful story”. The way she processed it was it’s beautiful because of God’s redemption and God’s grace. She said “I will tell you a beautiful story” which is a terrible story when you look at it humanly speaking but how God brought them through and how God used them. Nothing is ever wasted in our life if we don’t keep it, if we let God use it. He’s gonna use everything.
The third interview clip reveals the reality of pain the experience caused but Deonna (along with her family) had firmly made her choice to trust God during that time of testing. Choosing to trust and follow God despite those difficult circumstances proved that God was their Number One. The enemy knows how to attack and disarm God’s people but the Tan-chi Family’s godly response released them from that snare. They individually and as a family unitedly moved on to experience God’s freedom, joy, and full life.
Joy has become an able, compassionate, wise counselor/mentor for women not only in her local spheres of influence but worldwide through her blog, www.teachwithjoy.com. She is a wonderful woman of God. I encourage you to visit her blog. Her life is not defined by the tragedy she faced when she was fifteen. By her own godly response to that trial to trust and follow Him in spite of it, she allowed God to use it for good; many have been strengthened to trust and follow God in their own circumstances.
All of the five Tan-chi children are walking with and serving The Lord, have godly spouses, and are raising their biological and spiritual families in the ways of The Lord. At the time of that tragedy, Christ’s Commission Fellowship (CCF) was a small ministry. Today, CCF of which Deonna’s husband, Pastor Peter is founder and Senior Pastor, has a fellowship across the globe of around 50,000 believers desiring Christlike transformation in lives, families, communities, and nations.
What would have been the outcome if because of that trial, Deonna and her family chose to turn away from The Lord and not trust that He is bigger than their circumstance? What if they limited themselves to what was seen and perceivable (the pain and anguish of the situation at hand) and discounted what was unseen (God in the equation)? It is natural to be affected by emotions but imagine the impact of daily decisions made where emotions take greater weight than God. The lessons from Deonna’s life are applicable to our variety of life trials as well. I pray that when the crises of faith come, we would remember her example and decide and choose the best option: Trust God.
Thank You for Deonna’s life. Thank You for Your work in her and through her to make her a channel of grace, prayers, wisdom. Thank You for her example of being a godly wife, mother, mentor, person. Thank You for giving Joy and the other young ladies Your wisdom at the time of trial to trust and follow You. Thank You for all of their obedience that has given us a chance to see that as You promised in Your word, You have and are continuing to use for good what the enemy intended for evil. We lift up to You Pastor Peter, Deonna, all of their children and grandchildren, their ministries that You would protect them from the enemy, that You would continue to use them mightily for Your purposes and glory. In our own lives, please pierce us with Your truth and Spirit that we would have the wisdom to trust You during our trials that we too would march on with hearts courageous following after You in Jesus’s name amen.
Part 2: Between Friday’s Death and Sunday’s Resurrection: Peter Tanchi