D R . E L R O I

A PERSONAL JOURNAL OF A MAN LIVING WITH HIV

Monday, September 12, 2016

CoH Training@YMCA KL

After over four years, once again I got the chance to do certification training for HIV Channels of Hope (CoH) at YMCA, Kuala Lumpur that began on the last week of August and lasted for seven full days. It was exhausting but at the same rewarding!

The last time I have become part of the training team was back in 2012 of March. It was my last training with my former employer that was held in Chennai, India. This is my first time to do it with AIDSLink, another partner organization of Christians AIDS Bureau for Southern Africa (CABSA) in doing CoH globally. I got to experience once again the long days but short nights, getting to know and making new friends, and sharing what God has done through my life and CoH in a multicultural setting. Usual challenges with the participants and the process happened but in the end, everything went well like before.

What made this experience different from my past trainings are two things. First, there are new additions in the program that makes it even more comprehensive and integrated than ever. Second, my encounter with the Lord took place not through the participants but with my co-trainers. When we were giving feedback to each other during our last meeting at the end of the training, it felt like God has given me affirmation of what I do and how I live my life for Him. Through the words I heard from each and everyone of the team, it pierced through my heart that I could not help but to burst into tears. I was so deeply touched, blessed, and overwhelmed by His presence through them! It was truly an amazingly different experience!

But of course, the participants also expressed their gratefulness on how blessed they are hearing our stories and meeting me. God never fails to show me who He is on this ministry in different ways.


This coming weekend, I will give a short talk on same sex attraction (SSA) to this church in Cavite. Shalom to my readers!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

CoH at DZAS and BukSU


 
“Oras Na Pilipinas” was the morning program at FEBC – DZAS 702 where I got invited to talk about HIV&AIDS on its “advocaserye” segment last week. Although it was not my first time to be interviewed at the said station, this particular guesting has become both a good and bad experience. Due to poor judgment regarding time, traffic, and bad weather, I failed to make it on time and lost the first fifteen of the short twenty-five minutes of the slot allotted to me as representative of Micah Challenge, which made it bad. I was not able to do what I have planned to do. However, lesson has been learned. On the positive note, while it was only a little over ten minutes, I was able to speak about HIV through a story and promote the upcoming event of Amara Center for Family Counseling. Overall, I was a bit disappointed with the whole thing. Nevertheless, I still believe it was good based on the few positive feedback I received. 

More on the brighter side, my trip to Malaybalay City, Bukidnon was indeed a memorable one. For the first time, a two-days Channels of Hope or CoH for HIV workshop has been conducted to a non-church or non-FBO or faith based organization. Our participants were teachers, Gender and Development Staffs, one DOH representative, and guidance counselors of BukSU or Bukidnon State University! Honestly, I was a bit apprehensive at first for they are not faith leaders so I slightly modified and removed a few topics that are not relevant to them. But the core foundation of this ministry is the Word of God and the Bible so it is quite impossible not to include the spiritual aspect of this response to HIV&AIDS. Moreover, they have witnessed that it is the missing link that could possibly address the issue of stigma and discrimination through what it has done on my life…and what the Lord has done through my life as I have shared. It turned out that they have appreciated and liked this part very much through their expression of how much they were blessed. In fact, they want us back in a few months for another similar event praise God! 

Also, this trip has become a reunion of my spiritual mother doctor and me. We spent one evening together just simply sharing and talking about our own struggles and other deep personal stuff. We have missed each other so much that we ended up schmoozing past twelve midnight! But it was worth it.

Prior to my departure, with friends who are responsible for this trip and who led me to the life I am enjoying at present respectively, I was able to conquer the longest zip line in Asia at Dahilayan Adventure Park. Bukidnon is the home of sweet pineapple (Del Monte) in the country and the climate is somewhere between Baguio and Tagaytay City. The mountains, the wide road, the widespread plantation of pineapples, corns and other crops, and the peace brought by its natural countryside would be loved by anyone who is thinking of retirement or place for vacation. Indeed it is a cool place with warm people. All these are more than enough reasons to go back, visit the places and experience the things I have not been able to see and do.

Till next time...shalom!


Monday, July 18, 2016

Preaching and Prophecy

Perhaps I was really called to preach, especially when it comes to sharing with what the Lord has done through my life. Unexpectedly, I got invited to share and “testify to the gospel of His grace” to this budding church in Subic. The person whom I got the invitation from was a complete stranger to me but he has come to know me through my interviews at DZAS and 700 Club. Also, he is studying now at the Bible school where I graduated.  He is currently the head pastor at a very young age! I am quite impressed. It was a great time spent with him and his future wife and a friend during fellowship. These are one of those moments that I can call a “set up” from God. Unexpected and rewarding at the same time, so I was truly blessed to be able to minister to him and to his church.

Then on July 10, I received a prophetic word from my pastor who prayed for me during ministry time after that Sunday service. These are the words from the Lord through him;

“I saw a long string with a large mark in the middle. This mark is a major turning point in your journey. The enemy has tried to bring you down but God has secured you position. You will come out through a curtain in victory and He will make your resources stable (ministry, career, income). I will give the deepest desire of your heart. I will pursue and chase after your family.”

Prophetic words are conditional. We have to nurture our relationship with God through Jesus in obedience to His words. If we fail, the fulfillment of these words might be delayed. Or worst, would be altered and not going to happen. On the bright side, it is something we could look forward to, pray about, and excitingly hope for!  You see, prophecies edify us as Christ’s followers! These could be words that can turn into His promise if we stay in the journey with Him.  I could not wait for that turning point to happen. However, I am so glad to be affirmed with my security in the Lord, the victory or victories, and salvation of my own family … thank you Lord!


Next month is something to look forward too. I have two Channels of Hope invitation, one in Bukidnon and the other in Kuala Lumpur. Still praying for the Lord’s provision for these ministry assignments. God bless and shalom!

Monday, June 13, 2016

SSA & CoH HIV Ministry and Team Building

Three events took place for the past month, aside from SSA and CoH HIV workshop, for the first time our team has conducted a team building for the Senior High School teachers of this university in Manila.

Since I have obeyed the Lord in sharing how His grace has been and still keeping me with my SSA struggle in late 2013, this particular workshop I have facilitated for this particular church in Mandaluyong was the best so far. Not only the participants were very engaged from the beginning till the end but also I have noticed how comfortable I have become with being honest and open about realities in this battle.  People were so blessed to understand the reality of SSA, however; more and more people are coming to me to reveal that they have known someone close to them, either a family or relative, who is also living with HIV. In my first year of doing this seminar, this has never happened before, only until the last few workshops I have conducted including the latest one in Malate. Truly HIV is getting bigger in this country and is actually inside the church community.

In connection with HIV, four facilitators from the first batch of Channels of Hope, myself included, have conducted a two and a half day workshop at Iloilo City. What so amazing that happened was … two participants who are working already in the advocacy felt blessed and grateful that they were moved to share voluntarily their personal experiences as persons living with HIV to the whole group during the closing ceremony! What a blessing indeed to all of us!

Another wonderful thing that took place was when the Amara team has facilitated for the first time a team building activity for the staff and teachers of the Senior High school department of this university. We have sensed, as a team, that this group just has simply wanted to enjoy this beautiful resort and beach of Laiya, Batangas before the class starts that they have asked us a few times to cut short the program. Although we agreed, we have decided to give our best and make the most of the time allocated to us. However, they were able to enjoy virtually every part of the three activities we have prepared, especially the last one, that they have extended the time and asked for an extra session the following morning! Truly a psycho-spiritual / psycho-social activity never fails to touch a certain part of the hearts of the participants. Moreover, they have expressed their interest of getting us again for the future similar or related activities … what an affirmation of God’s good work through us, and a blessing at the same time!

While these things are personal to me, on the more personal side, I have submitted two book proposals to two publishing companies in the midst of writing the articles I have mentioned from my previous entry. My prayer is that the “Embracing the Pain” would be published first as soon as possible as an introductory book for me as a new writer prior to my first testimonial book and articles. Presently, I am in the midst of writing my fifth of the seven articles so please continue to pray for me as I do all these God-glorifying works, which definitely would make me a “target” of the enemy … as He always do. But no matter what happens, no matter how much I struggle, no matter how many times I fail or got victorious, one thing is for sure …there is no turning back. The more I stay in this journey the more it is becoming clearer that I cannot live without Jesus as I travail the tapestry of this odyssey on earth called life.


Praise the Lord for everything as in everything! Shalom!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

New Reality, New Opportunity, and A New Confirmation

A few years ago, while I was still working for this NGO, I have seen myself as speaker delivering a message for one of the devotions for the staff and colleagues. I did not realize that this would become a reality after Easter Sunday when I got invited to share the miracle healing the Lord has done to me earlier this year that Monday. This has become the platform God has planned for me to share His goodness and faithfulness in the midst of pain and affliction. “Embracing the Pain: A Way to God’s Miracle” was the title of the message that the Lord has impressed in my heart to share, which now has been turned into a manuscript for a possible introductory book for me as a new author. My mentor in writing suggested this and I thought it was a good idea before publishing a “raw” story about my life journey in finding Christ. People were amazed and blessed by the simple message I have imparted and my prayer is that, if ever this will be published, readers would feel the same and be more inspired to hold on to their pain.

What happened next was truly unexpected! Someone like me, a novice in writing with only one published very short article, has received an invitation to be one of the seven writers for this book project intended for young men! It was a new opportunity for me to showcase, not only my writing ability (if I really do have), but also my experiences in seven different topics in life such as relationship, career, leadership, finances, sex, relationship with God, and most importantly (at least for me) my advocacy with HIV&AIDS under the topic of engaging the world. Moreover, I took this new opportunity, not only as a privilege, but also as a new confirmation to this new career in writing. I still can’t believe that this is happening! My prayer is that…everything I would write and be published will reach and touch many hearts in a different and unimaginable ways.

Still in connection with the miraculous healing God has demonstrated, I got this invitation to preach to a small church in Pasig. The pastor is a very good friend of mine and was truly blessed and touched how the Lord has been and still working through my life. She specifically asked me to share the story God has accomplished with my life. Gratefully, God was praised not only for His goodness but also for the “good looks” He has given me, which was endlessly admired by virtually all the members hahaha! Very funny indeed!

My first CoH workshop for this year happened, which has become one the memorable and funniest batch I have ever handled! One thing to be noted is that, the director of the NGO that hosted the event has participated and this has never happened before! HIV&AIDS is one of his advocacies alongside with the LGBT.

Also I have conducted a workshop on understanding SSA with this church in Mandaluyong and it was one of the most relaxed, boldest, and honest sharing I have done in doing this work for the Lord. As I reflected on the event that evening, I struggled with the thought that I might have been too honest…this was the question about my last sexual fall, which I have admitted that it happened last year. I refused to lie and answered it carefully; from the very beginning I have been honest for I am not your typical convert who never fails. I have been honest always with God and with the few people I am accountable with. Still…all by the grace of God that I remained in Him! Definitely not proud of my sins, but it is a reality and a part of my journey with Jesus.

Finally, I was able to attend a conference for Guidance Counselors in Cavite, which has earned us CPE points for our license! More important than that was the reunion with my friends and former classmates from the graduate school as well as the new learning we acquired from the speakers. It was a good event!


Despite of these “busyness”, the spiritual warfare (with my SSA and other issues) goes on. Please continue to pray for me, in thoughts I often lost it and also in my heart, in action…hmmm yeah sometimes I still do (self-releasing) as I have mentioned already. On the other hand, these bring me to kneel down more, pray more, be discontented more with these struggles, and cry out more…but I need prayers…so thanks a lot…really appreciate it folks! God bless. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy, have inner peace, and contented with the life God has given me. Everything is just a part of this journey that helped me to grow and know God more…so till next time dear. :)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Revelations@39

That feeling of being on your last year of a certain decade of your life (30’s this time) was felt once again…that mixed emotions of looking forward but with a little bit of fear about getting old.I have these feelings when I was 19 and 29 but I noticed that the fear is slowly increasing or getting stronger and the excitement or looking forward is somewhat steady. Yes I got to admit that especially if you are single like me and “unsuccessful” by this world standard. While my batch mates and longtime friends are living and building their own homes, driving their own cars, buying real estates and raising a family...here I am still renting, commuting, and getting by financially one day to a month at a time. Am I envious or do I long for those things too? Well I’d be fooling myself if I say NO even just for a bit however I guess it is just normal…a bit envy and just enough desire. However believe it or not, whenever I ask myself if I am happy in its real sense and contented, I can confidently say YES I am. I believe that is the beautiful mystery of knowing who you are in the eyes of God and living the life that God has called us to live for. Moreover, I believe this is the true “joy” in life in the midst of life’s struggles and worries wherein God has specifically revealed something to me through an article online and a text message respectively its meaning just recently.

Honestly, I do worry more often than I thought from big decision making to the smallest daily choices…finances, my freelance work (or applying for an 8-5 work for temporary security), food to eat, clothes to wear, and other small or big stuffs, name it. After my hospitalization and experiencing the faithfulness of the Lord in the areas of relationships, health in all aspects and especially on financial concerns, I thought I have changed and would not worry anymore for the way God has demonstrated how He has moved during that recent affliction was pretty amazing and overwhelming! Then I caught myself worrying again about finances and my health (despite of that miraculous healing!) a little over a week ago and this is what He has told me. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6–7)” According to this article by John Piper (the shortest version), anxieties and worries are forms of pride, a form of unbelief and does not like to trust in God’s future grace! “And one way to be humble is to cast all your anxieties on God. Which means that one hindrance to casting your anxieties on God is pride. Which means that undue worry is a form of pride!Faith admits the need for help. Pride won’t. Faith banks on God to give help. Pride won’t. Faith casts anxieties on God. Pride won’t.Therefore the way to battle the unbelief of pride is to admit freely that you have anxieties, and to cherish the promise of future grace in the words, “He cares for you.” Whoa! What a revelation (and a rebuke)!  As a result…I posted this verse on a sticky note on my laptop and later on my fridge so I would stop or at least try not to worry but simply TRUST and have FAITH in HIM.

Not hundred percent sure yet if this is really the reasons or meaning of what I have been through but these were the words I received from a couple of friends during my sickness. “Embrace your calling boldly and with humility. Do not fear! Many are called but few are chosen and you have been called and chosen. Trust God will accomplish His purpose for you if you OBEY and take a LEAP of FAITH. You will see how God will work in your life. HE BREATHED NEW LIFE in your body, soul, and spirit. (No eye has seen no ear has heard no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed it to us by His Spirit. 1 Cor. 2:9-10.) The other one was on my birthday that says, “It’s truly a new season for you. God has refined you in the fire, you’ve come out as gold. Get ready for the blessings and greater adventures from our Lord!” Both of these words I believe has something to do with the life struggles I have been through and still going through.


Always, I am praying for a deeper and more intimate walk and relationship with God through Jesus Christ and the recent event and these words could be “it” or simply the beginning of “IT”. In spite of the same struggles in life (my SSA and all related issue, HIV or health concern, and other usual challenges) I felt God has truly “breathed a new life” in me that made me feel like a new person again after that “miraculous healing” experience! All these lead me to seek more and desire more of Him than ever before! So I guess my last words would be, “bring it on!”

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

25 Days of Life “Interruption” and a Miracle

Nobody would like to start their year off with something that halt a daily life routine especially if you got loads of plans and lists of things to do in your calendar. Unfortunately when sickness hits you and it requires you to be confined in a hospital bed for 25 long days, there’s nothing you can do about it but allowed your life to be “interrupted.” This interruption can be both good and bad depending on how you look at it. Of course, the suffering and pain while being treated is a thing that we are all or at least I was trying to avoid not mentioning the trouble I have caused to my family especially to my parents. But the good part of it is something the most people have failed to recognize and experience so allow me to share a number of selected “good stuff” I have perhaps personally desired and experienced in an unpredicted way.

If it were your first time to be confined that long in a hospital like me, you would be able to experience and everything that comes along with it! I have not been hospitalized in my entire life until the past almost four weeks (January 17 to February 11 to be exact). After my first and second CT Scan, the doctors could not tell whether my appendix has been ruptured or not for it remained visible according to the latest images. But according to friends and family who visited and witnessed the pain that I have been through…it was appendicitis. And if it was…truly it’s a miracle that I was and still alive! Well, the surgeons and physicians who looked after me told me that it was “medical management” what they have employed to avoid open surgery, which could result to longer recovery and other complications. Regardless, I am simply grateful that I am home.

In connection with that “miracle”, I have to say that it is a miracle for I remembered that I have been praying to experience a miraculous healing long before this interruption. Moreover, when I started to feel the pain intermittently on the appendix part several months ago, I told God over and over that I am scared and do not want to undergo any surgery. But it was more of the former so when a close friend and colleague of mine offered their family friend who has a gift of healing through prayer, immediately I said yes! It was the second day of February when this Bishop, together with other three Pastors or “prayer warriors,” came to pray for me and it was an experience I would never forget. Because of this unforgettable “miraculous healing” that have occurred to me I have learned a few things about my faith, about God and His miracle.

In one of my devotions few days before I was discharged, God has confirmed what transpired during my miracle healing. For a miracle to take place it requires my participation, which explains the unbelief in my heart that it could happen to me. Yes I want to experience a miracle healing but I have to…no I must pray to God to help me overcome my unbelief! Second it needs a quick response so after cleansing through praying for forgiveness and then praying again to overcome my unbelief, I was ready to be prayed for. Lastly, it needs a relationship and experience with Jesus that is very personal in which I already have for more than eight years. Voila! I got my miracle! No surgery needed. Although I still feel some slight pain as of this writing, the impression I have in my heart is to continue declaring each day that I am healed.

Another reflection I have was the probable cause of this very unexpected affliction. I have been praying for a much deeper and more intimate relationship with Jesus and more or less…this has become His way. John Piper said affliction helps takes the glibness of life away and makes us more serious so that our mindset is more in tune with the seriousness of God’s word. It forces us to rely more on God, which brings us more in tune with the aim of the word. It makes us search the Scriptures with greater desperation for help, rather than treating it as marginal to life. Affliction brings us into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings so that we fellowship more closely with him and see the world more readily through his eyes. Affliction mortifies deceitful and distracting fleshly desires, and so brings us into a more spiritual frame in which fits God’s word more. All these I have felt and realized as I was talking to God each day in the hospital especially the last one for I believe this was also a spiritual attack. Oh yes my SSA struggles were and will always be a part of the bigger picture as I continue to strive living “holy” for Jesus. This “interruption” has moved me to remove and throw off things that hinders and sin that easily entangles and exert extra effort to truly fix my eyes on Him (Hebrews 12:1 -2).

These reflections are on the top of the “good” things that came out of this affliction. Aside from these reflections and learning, I have seen how God has moved in responding to my needs. The Lord has brought and mobilized each family or community He has put me in from the beginning. My church, the NGO where I have started, the Bible school where I graduated, my Amara family, and dear friends from the positive community, all of them were represented that almost everyday I have visitors to cheer me up. Moreover, through these families I have, the Lord has provided financial support that covered beyond the total hospital expenses! It felt great to be loved this way! Overwhelming!


What an unforeseen way to begin my 2016. Please continue to pray with me for complete recovery and regaining not only my strength but also the over 20 pounds I have lost! Likewise, continue to declare with me that “I am healed” for I believe in my heart that I am and truly no surgery is needed ever! Praise the Lord for another wonderful experience with Him! Thank you Jesus…thank you my dear followers and readers. Blessings!