Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Story of Stanley Villavicencio (Part 2)

Stanley narrated that as they were looking at each other, Jesus raised His left hand and clouds above descended and stopped right above them. Then it kept changing color, and when it finally stopped, it became a big, clear video screen that showed his life from childhood up to the present with date and time stamp. When Stanley did something good the video screen of his life went on at a normal speed, but if he committed a sin it will go into slow motion as if Jesus wanted to tell him that what he did was wrong. And when Stanley committed bigger sins or mortal sins, the video screen stopped, and zoomed in on the act of sinning.

“Why should this be included?” Stanley asked himself. “There must be no Board of Censor in Heaven because it is just too bad to look at.” Even if I he closed his eyes he could still see it.

Stanley also noticed that every time he committed a sin he felt heaviness, and heat. The more he committed sin, the more the heaviness and heat he felt. But every time he did something good like giving something to the poor, he felt that he was floating. He also recounted that those sins he failed to confess to a priest felt too heavy, otherwise it felt lighter.

Jesus reviewed his life three times. Then they had a long conversation. Finally,

“You go back now, because you still have so many things to do,” Jesus told him while tapping his shoulder. “You still have so many things to finish. If I have something for you or if I have a message for you, I will just appear to you in your dream.”

Stanley woke up, and started removing the tubes attached to his body. It was 8 o’clock in the morning of the 5th day of March; the third day he was in the hospital. Since he was already announced clinically dead, the nurse who attended to him ran away in fear breaking one of her shoes. The nurse later returned accompanied by other nurses, technicians and doctors. And they began a battery of testing. The result was negative.

"The doctors were all surprised and they asked permission to have another set of examinations, because they said there might be something wrong with the apparatus. We consented, and they subjected me again to another ultra sound, laboratory tests and brain scan, all except the X-ray. And again, all the results were in negative: meaning, I am not really sick. So the doctors said 'There is nothing now that we can really do, it is already a miracle.”

The media was alerted, and his story made it to the newspaper, radio and TV. The Catholic Church being very skeptical to matters relating to miracles began its own investigation led by the respectable Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal, the archbishop of the diocese of Cebu from March to September of the same year.

“Cardinal Vidal released a letter confirming what happened to me. And he gives me an endorsement letter, so that I could give testimony around the world. "


Monday, June 28, 2010

The Story of Stanley Villavicencio (Part 1)

Do you know that there is a man among us who has already meet Jesus face to face? I didn’t until I read the story of Stanley Villavicencio in the Kerygmafamily magazine, and later in a booklet entitled, “Stanley C. Villacencio: His Personal Encounter with Jesus Christ of the Divine Mercy.” No less than Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cebu affixed his signature confirming that his miraculous encounter with Jesus is authentic, and endorsing his testimony to rest of the Church, and to the world. I am writing here an excerpt of his long testimony.

Stanley is a Filipino who lived in Mambaling, Cebu, and who had 10 children by the time his encounter with Jesus occurred. Nowadays he is actively touring the country, and to other parts of the world proclaiming the Mercy of God.


It was around 8 o’clock in morning on the 2nd of March 1993, Stanley would not wake up in his house in Mambaling. His mother in-law heard him moaning in his room so she went in to check on him, and to her horror she saw Stanley lying and trembling in his bed, blood forcefully coming out of his mouth. Soon the sister of his father-in-law who happened to be a nurse attended to him. First she checked his pulse but could not find one. Then she listened to his heartbeat, and was alarmed to find out that it was slow already. When they check his eyes they were even more worried to see that life was sucked out of these – they were white! Right away, they brought Stanley to Chong Hua Hospital in Cebu City where four specialists were hired to attend to him.

“His chance of survival is one in a million,” one of the doctors said, “his heartbeat is already very, very low.”

Stanley was brought into the Emergency Room where nurses and doctors did their best to revive him. When he couldn’t breathe anymore, even with the help of oxygen, he was rushed to the I.C.U. or Intensive Care Unit. Even at this time, Stanley did not stop trembling nor did the blood stop coming out from his mouth. The team of doctors decided to inject him with Valium to relax his muscles.

Stanley labored hard with every breath he took until he could not longer breathe on his own anymore, ambubagging or forcing the oxygen into his lungs was done. His chance of survival was very close to zero.

The next day, the team of doctors, talked to Stanley’s wife, a nurse herself, to ask her permission to take the life support apparatus off Stanley because there was no more chance of survival. His wife agreed sadly, and informed at home to prepare a long sleeve shirt for Stanley. Stanley’s mother-in-law even volunteered to transfer her memorial plan to his name. The final shirt, the coffin, and the burial place in the Queen City Garden cemetery were all ready for Stanley. But God had a different plan.

While Stanley was fighting for his life the I.C.U. of Chong Hua hospital, his relatives from Negros which includes his father and sister, both doctors, arrived to support him. They refused to take Stanley off the life support apparatus, and instead took turn in bagging him; manually forcing oxygen into his now clinically dead body.

Stanley could no longer make sense of what was going on around him for his consciousness was drawn towards a light, a very bright light that was not glaring to the eyes.

“You can stare at it, it is like a fog as it slowly evaporates, until I noticed someone is standing in front of me. And when I look at his face, I recognize him as Jesus.”

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lured to the Gate, Chained to the Post (Part 2)

Yet like before, I started strong in my effort to change only to falter along the way, I soon fell back into my old addiction again. For a year I did not visit the Kerygfamily website. Still I fought hard day in, and day out, but in the end I got sucked deeper and deeper into a quicksand of sins. Sometime I became too weak, and too used to failure that I offered no more resistance anymore. Whatever strength left in me I used to pray to God that I can overcome my addiction, but I felt that somehow my prayers did not reach him or so I thought.

Then in the later part of 2006, my employer sent me to Japan for a business trip. Normally, during trips like this I stuffed my laptop with secular movies, and of course, adult movies – my cocaine. But on that particular trip, somehow I managed not to bring along with me any adult movies. Instead, I downloaded the talks of Bro. Bo into my laptop. Little did I know that God was preparing me for one big awakening.

On one particular night during my business trip, I returned to my apartment in Shizuoka after an exhausting day. Instead of watching TV, I listened to the talks of Bro. Bo. that I saved in my laptop. One of the stories that he shared was about the story of an orphaned children who lived in a certain mountain, and their last match stick. I was so touched by the story that little tears wet my eyes. Make no mistake, I was not the type of guy who easily cries. But on that particular night, I felt my heart melting away. Then from out of nowhere I heard God spoke to my heart clearly: “You’re fighting alone.” A flood of indescribable emotion came crashing down on me, and left me shaking and crying a bucket as I finally realized what a fool I was all those years. I sinned against a loving God, but I was too proud to ask for his help; my mouth said I’m sorry when my heart really meant I don’t need you, I can handle my addiction on my own. All those years I fought alone with all my might against the gates of hell, and I came down crawling on my knees!

For the first time in my life I give up the idea that I can control my addiction on my own, and instead asked Jesus to help me deal with it since I cannot really handle it alone. I felt a very heavy burden lifted from my shoulder. Then I prayed that he fight with me, and he gladly accepted my invitation. That night marked the beginning of my genuine journey back to God's fold. The changes in me were not instantaneous, it happened little by little, but it was for real. Now I can honestly say that God has totally healed me from my 20-year old addiction to pornography; my God finally broke the chain that was around my neck for the longest time. And I am eternally grateful to him, and to the people like Bro. Bo Sanchez, and my good friend Gerson Boston whom he sent to me during the dark moments of life.

After God healed me, I decided to serve him by sharing my story to the world with the hope that God will use me to connect more people back to him. If anyone would have asked me two years ago if I can spread God words, my answer would have been a resounding no. But God is a god of positive changes, and miracles. Last year I started sharing God's words to my fellow officemates, and early this year I started a blog called the Daily Snacks for Soul where I shared my stories, and that of others which can inspire people, and help them connect to their creator. It is my hope that somehow God will use me for his divine purpose. After all, I won’t be here forever, so I might as well use my time here to help as many Lee’s out there as I can, and to do things that really matter in eternity.

PS: One of the early sayings I learned while a teenager is, "It's never too late to change for the better." And with God fighting on your side, no addiction is too big a mountain to conquer.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lured to the Gate, Chained to the Post (Part 1)

"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." -- Psalm 23:1~3

When I was a little boy, while my childhood friends played make-believe roles as Daimos, Voltez V or the Star Rangers, I enjoyed playing the role of a priest. I used a towel which I wrapped around my shoulder for my chasuble; I filled a glass with water for my wine; and I broke a piece of bread, my snack, into many smaller pieces for the host. I only had one parishioner though, my brother. I don’t know how many people did this when they were still young, but such was my fondness for God early on .

The influence of my mother really helped a lot. You see, my mother was a very prayerful person. She had such devotion to Mother Mary that she tried to pray the rosary everyday even waking up as early as 4AM, and she tugged my brother and me along with her. So at an early age, I learned to pray the rosary, and I also learned the importance of hearing mass every Sunday.

Yet despite my early religious training, I became an addict. When I was in first year high school, a close friend of mine gave me a copy of Playboy. As any teenage boy knows, such temptation is extremely difficult to resist. When I started to read that magazine and saw those vivid pictures, I felt sensations that I never felt before; my blood boiled with lust. Little did I know that I just entered the gates of hell, and allowed the enemy to chain me to a flaming post. From that day on, I became addicted to pornography, and all the accompanying sins associated with it. I got so hooked up that there were nights that I would be awakened from my sleep by an extreme urge to relieve myself. When I realized fully what was going on, it was too late. I could not stop anymore. Outside I was admired and respected because I was an honor student, pious, and well-behaved, but inside I cringed with shame and self-disgust. If only they knew.

I could no longer count how many times I tried to break free from my addiction, and I how many times I failed. The pattern was like this – I confessed to a priest, promised not to sin again, and with all the inner strength I could muster, I resolved not to fall again. On the first week, the temptation was bearable, but on the following days that followed, I threw in the towel, and indulged myself like a very hungry lion. As I gobbled the forbidden apple, my heart sometimes yelled in frustration, “Why it’s so damn hard to remain good!” Hoping that a book could cure me like a paracetamol to a headache, I read self-help books to help me control my self-destructive habit, but to no avail. The vicious resist-fail-resist-fail cycle continued for years.

Then sometime in 2003, I cannot really recall the exact date, while at work in Celestica Philippines Inc. I received a forwarded article in my e-mail mailbox. I was so touched by it that I sought the writer in the internet, his name is Bo Sanchez. Though I find his name funny and weird, I find his article soul-enriching. I began following him in his website, Kerygmafamily where I became a member later. Bro. Bo inspired me to become the person I longed to be.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Beware of the Deadly Curve

Why do you make me angry by worshiping idols and by sacrificing to other gods here in Egypt, where you have come to live?

--Jeremiah 44:8

Watch out for the trend!

As an adolescent, Rene was a pious young man. He used to pray everyday, and served the church in his hometown as an acolyte whenever he can. To him, serving the Lord was his ticket out of poverty.

Seven years later Rene graduated from college with honor. Being one of the top students, he didn’t find it hard to land a high paying job in the business district of Makati. His life took a sudden curve upward; life started to look better. From his first paycheck, he gave 10% of his net income back to the Lord by donating this to the renovation in his hometown church. Rene felt that God put him where he was at the particular moment and for a particular reason, so he served Him back in his new capacity. He felt so blessed.

Then waves of promotion came as Rene worked hard on his way to the top of the corporate ladder. Before he knew it, he was already a manager at a very young age of 30. Life looked even brighter from his new vantage point. From his first paycheck as a manager, he donated 10% of his net income to an orphanage. Rene felt great; from a humble farm boy to a corporate manager…not bad!

But as soon as he dipped his toes to the cold waters of the corporate world, Rene was swept away by a whirlpool of works, and high expectations from higher management. He reported to work early, and leave late at night to handle the new workload. He struggled hard to please his boss. The pressure soon became so terrible that he forgot his hometown, the church and his God; all that mattered to him then was his status, his boss, and the money that goes to his bank account. To cope up with pressure he started to smoke, to hangout in bars and beerhouses with officemates whom he avoided before because of their questionable activities, and to go out with different women of questionable moral.

Rene’s life took a downward curve. His blessing turned into a curse. This went on for several years until one day he woke up with a terrible hangover, a woman he couldn’t recall the name sleeping on his bed, and a picture of Jesus hanging by the wall, looking at him with love in His eyes. That picture was always there, but he didn’t notice it before. Suddenly, Rene was flooded with feeling of shame, and remorse. He cried like a child, and couldn’t stop himself. Not even the scantily-clad woman who left hastily thinking that he lost his mind, could console him. Through his tears he realized that he had offended a holy, loving God, and that he left a trusted shepherd, straight to the wolves. “I’m so sorry, Lord” was all he could say over and over again.

As the last tears dropped, he once again felt that familiar peace in his heart.

PS: It’s not bad to dream for a better life, and to pray for it. Just make sure to hold on tighter to God when your dreams come true lest the wolves will get you. If the glitters of your blessing shine so bright, squint your eyes if you must, but never forget the source of your blessing, you’re God.