Written by Arnold Diaz
I came to know of Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church in 2005, through an invitation from a friend during our Saudi Arabia days. He said to me, “Come to church, we have a good pastor from India.” So I attended and after going through my catechism classes every Sunday, I was baptised that same year in December.
Coming from Catholic and Charismatic backgrounds, I thank God for Pastor Koshy’s uncompromising preaching against sin, in particular against liquor and drinking. Sadly, my friend left the church because he cannot give up his drinking. Some years later, he “unfriended” me on Facebook because I didn’t buy him duty-free liquor as he requested me. How sad – liquor in exchange for friendship and Lord’s counsel. No wonder Pastor lamented that people leave the church for their own convenience. “But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels” (Psalm 81:11-12).
I also learn about the need to give tithes and honour the Lord on Sundays. Once, I tried not to give my tithe one Sunday (of $100) as I wanted to buy something. On Monday, I went back to work and made a mistake, which cost a cut of $300 from my salary! “Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:6).
I am also struck by Pastor’s teachings on family life. Pastor has repeatedly preached that a mother should stay at home for the sake of a godly family. I realise this the hard way. My mother was a nurse and a workaholic. During the 1970’s, my mother could take home at least S$1,000 a month. But there were consequences. As my father was working, so we were left alone with maids and learn the ways of the maid. When I reached secondary school, I learned to smoke, drink and even drive without license – even my father cannot control me anymore. My mother would just give money whenever I need it, just to compensate for her absence from home. She didn’t know me very well because she only spent very few hours with me. Many local families didn’t realise that what children need from young is for their mother to understand them and guide them while growing up. This is because of lack of knowledge of the Gospel and shallow preaching from the pulpit in our place – “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” (Hosea 4:6).
In the light of my situations I experienced in Philippines, the more I listen to Pastor Koshy’s preaching, the more it gave me hope and understanding of the Lord’s ways – including topics like suicide, eating of blood, celebrating valentines, tithing, drinking, smoking, stay-at-home mothers, etc. Truly, “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education” (Theodore Roosevelt).
In hindsight, my love for photography, photo-manipulation and photo-shop was a preparation for me to enter into full-time ministry. When Pastor asked me if I may consider to work full-time as videographer, I said I didn’t have any formal training or experience. His reply was, “You’ll learn as the Lord leads you.” Despite financial uncertainties and objections from some relatives, I didn’t want to waste the opportunity to serve the Lord. Because of my love of photography, I still did freelance photography outside with my friends. One day during the Lunch Hour Bible Study, 2 of the brethren rebuked me. Though theirs were simple words only, the Lord gave me understanding: “…for them that honour me I will honour” (1 Samuel 2:30). Pastor in one of his messages said, “You cannot serve the Lord if you don’t repent.” My past had been spent in much worldliness growing up in Philippines, working in Saudi Arabia and Singapore. But now working as a full-time staff, I need to repent everyday, and ask for the Lord’s wisdom, and not to do things in my old, unspiritual ways. May God help me to embrace the instruction of Proverbs 1:5-7, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: to understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Thank God that in video-recording the messages, it’s really a great blessing that I can access any messages of Pastor and listen again and take note of some of Pastor’s quotes and Scripture verses dear to my heart. I am grateful to realise that what I have recorded, rendered and uploaded on our website can reach many homes who are craving for the Word of God. It really amazes me how the Lord works in the heart of Pastor. Again, I’ve seen how the Lord used Gethsemane during this pandemic through “Zoom” meetings and recorded messages. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
As I serve according to God’s calling, I realise there’s no quitting in the service of the Lord. I used to plan to settle down and stay in Pangasinan and help Pr Donald in the ministry. But this is my plan, not the Lord’s plan. I also missed my children when they were growing up. I left them since 2005, when they were 9 and 10 years old. So they practically grew up with my in-laws. I am not with them. My Lord knows my heart very well, I really missed being together with my family and maybe attend church service together with them, but we are very far from each other. I just pray and wait for the Lord, for “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
In working as a full-time staff, I try not to limit my availability only when others need me. I am not perfect, but the Lord gave me an opportunity to serve Him and learn from Him. I have my weakness, but He teaches me to be humble and repent from sin. “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Psalm 139:14). May the Lord be praised!