I am often asked how I received my calling from God to be a full-time pastor. People who know our family was surprised to see a family member enter the ministry. We came from a family of business people. We were groomed to take over the family business. It did help to have a family name that is the same as that of Filipino-Chinese billionaire Henry Sy though I want to make clear that we are not related.
It’s interesting how God called me. I was in grade six (13 years old) when I had a glimpse of my future. I went to a Christian school that has regular chapel services. A youth pastor by the name of Pastor Ferdie Cabiling came and preached a powerful message that day. So what was the usual free time during chapel became a life-changing moment for me. After his preaching, I approached him and told him I wanted to be like him when I grew up.
From that day on, my heart for the ministry grew. I became fruitful in ministry, heading our student ministry church with many high schoolers without training. With the help of Pastor Ferdie and the school’s youth pastor Lydia Chan, we saw our youth ministry grow from twenty to two hundred students.
By sixteen, I knew I was called to do the ministry. But, of course, my parents didn’t see it that way. They thought all of us were going to be in business. But I knew. I just knew.
When Pastor Steve said that a clear calling from God could complicate your life – it sure did mine. With a degree in Behavioral Sciences and a job waiting for me in the family business, I needed to make the tough choice of leaving the comforts of business to enter the ministry.
During my first two years in ministry, I lived by faith. When I quit our family business, I had to let go of the significant earnings and commission I was getting then. I had to live off my savings while studying in our school of campus ministry. By God’s grace, in the ten months I was in school, God provided for me as I worked part-time as a host and stand-up comedian. (Anything for the sake of the call).
I remember nights when I was pacing my room back and forth, asking God to provide for my needs. I was sure of the calling; I wasn’t sure how God would provide. But He did it in the most generous ways.
Last week, we launched our youth service at SM Sta. Mesa. We rented a cinema to hold our services that cater to high school and college universities around the area. We didn’t know what to expect. Our team was just faithful in honoring God and making disciples. When worship started and I entered the cinema hall, I was amazed to see four hundred young people in the church. Thammie and I were sitting in the last row of the cinema, both of us crying because we knew this was why we left the business, the opportunity to earn more and live a more comfortable life.
You know I love preaching, and I love the position to lead, but that was not the reason I said yes to the call of God to be a pastor. I got into ministry because I wanted to see the next generation come and experience life in Christ. I want to inspire people to live life to the fullest, so they may become leaders in their families, work, and the nation. This is the reason I wake up energized every morning. The call from God is clear, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make this a reality.
Looking back, I can honestly say that there are no regrets about choosing this path of being a full-time pastor. Amid hardship, trials, and ministry demands – nothing brings more joy than seeing that I am walking on the way where God wants me.
So, what is calling? You might have heard some friends or church leaders use this word. Simply put, calling is God’s vision, purpose, and assignment for your life. It is the reason why you are here on earth. Our job is to find that purpose and fling our lives toward it.