“I still rejoiced behind prison bars”

I did not know why I booked my bus ticket twice, and I was supposed to have the last seat on the bus. To hopefully avail of a refund, I went to the bus station earlier before our scheduled departure, and gratefully, the receptionist was able to fix that concern and also transfer me from seat 55 to seat 5.

It was a great relief being able to sit more at the front of the bus, which I thought helped to prevent me from experiencing travel motion sickness. However, the feeling of being nauseous was already creeping in even before we started our journey; so, I tried to sleep it off.

Waking after four hours, the older man sitting beside me asked: “how are you feeling?”

I replied that I felt fine. Yet, I felt a slight headache, probably due to stress and other factors. I was praying in silence, and in my thoughts, I heard a voice saying, “speak to your seatmate.”

It started with me awkwardly asking if it was his first time going to the town where I work. A few minutes into the conversation, I became engrossed with his movie-like life story from working in boats, becoming an engineer, joining the army, and meeting his wife. What amazed me, in particular, was how he showed compassion to persecuted Christians all over the world and supported 11 organizations that reach out to those Christians.

It seemed like a talk show, and I was asking him question after question. With every response was a word from the Lord. One of my queries was: “How did you react to challenges in your life?”

“That’s an interesting question. Well, I was wrongly accused of a deed that I did not do before resulting in being incarcerated for 18 months.

“I know other people would feel frustrated if that happened to them. Yet, I was grateful that I went to jail.”

“How come?” I was baffled by what he said. Surely, he would have experienced anger the slightest for being mistakenly charged.

He smiled at my reaction. “You see, I thank God for that 18 months. I was able to meet people and lead them to the Lord. I saw how God transformed people struggling with addiction when they came to know God.

“If I did not go to jail, I would not have those people. I knew that God had a purpose for me being there, and I chose to rejoice and trust him. I sang songs and praised God because I knew He would not leave me. After leaving prison, I still pray for those who are still serving their time. With the Coronavirus situation, I have not visited them lately.”

“God is so marvelous, I believe. We may not understand what is happening in our lives, but his thoughts are higher, and so are his ways. There would be times God allows us to go through challenges like Job as he wants to bring out the gold in us- for us to mature, to learn, and to trust Him.”

Arriving home that afternoon, I was reflecting on the series of events that happened. It seemed like it was not an accident how I doubled booked my ticked the night prior and moved seats on the bus. It was God’s orchestration for me to meet a stranger who spoke to my troubled heart.

Indeed, God brings stillness amid the chaos of confusion and direction in our doubts. I know that I failed to see the bigger picture of life obstacles and have lost joy along the way. God just knew how to keep me back on track and show me how he can transform our setbacks to our comebacks.

I still have other parts of his story to share. Thanks for reading.

Jeremiah 33:3
‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

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This cause was inspired by a young lad, Abner A. Ibag, who has passed away after 18 precious years of existence. He has left a legacy of positivity and have become an inspiration to his family circle, friends and his acquaintances; a beaming beacon who has shared selfless acts of kindness, emanating an aura of joy with a contagious spirit of bringing smiles and laughter. Continuing this feat, from a period of hiatus, I aspire to continue sharing a heart of caring through social media- with stories and encouraging updates, and connecting people with the same mindset. Everyday stresses may become overwhelming, but know that you are not alone going through this. Would you like to join us? Feel free to send us your messages, inquiries and suggestions. Let's brighten up the world. Keep smiling!

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