A Testimony of God’s Wonderful Acts

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Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
     make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
     tell of all his wonderful acts.                                                                                   
—Psalm 105:1-2

It’s the season for reflecting on God’s greatest gift to us and rejoicing in His Son’s birth. In His great love, He gave.

God’s lessons on giving began at an early age. When I was seven years old, my dad, a mechanical engineer in the Philippines, accepted a job offer that moved our family across the ocean to Zambia, Africa. He would oversee the excavation and transportation of copper ore in a section of the mines. The Zambian economy relies heavily on the production and export of copper.

My dad was a believer, and from a young age, I saw his heart to give back to God. He regularly tithed at church, he’d bring food and clothing to villages not far from the city, and he provided scholarships for children to obtain an education. He often said, “You know, anak (child), a good education is a gift no one can take from you.”

When I turned seventeen, after much prayer, my parents and I agreed that I would attend Calvin College, now Calvin University. It’s a Christian reformed school in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We had family friends there, so my parents felt better about sending me so far away. (I’m not sure I could do that to my children. I hope they’ll stay close to home!)

As an international student, I could not avail myself of student loans. I had scholarships, and my parents agreed to pay the rest. My dad wanted to give me the best Christian education he could afford. I didn’t realize as a young believer, however, that God would have His own spiritual education for me as well.  

During my freshman year, I was mostly acclimating to a new culture and educational system while being involved in dorm life. It was thrilling to live with friends and be on my own! During my sophomore year, however, my parents’ businesses struggled, with clients failing to pay or to pay on time. I began to receive overdue tuition letters, and experienced, for the first time, God’s work in the refiner’s fire. 

In high school, I had the choice to pick just one of the sciences if I wished, and I said, “All right, I’ll just go with biology. Why make life harder?” (They shouldn’t have given me options!)

In college, I was in a rigorous nursing program that required organic chemistry. I had to learn some general chemistry and undergraduate organic chemistry concurrently. I didn’t get much sleep, I struggled with anxiety, and I missed my family deeply.

Despite the challenges that year, God’s grace was still evident.

Tita Maryann and her husband were Filipino missionaries in Indonesia. Her husband, Tito Ban, was a doctoral candidate at Calvin Seminary at the time. They didn’t have much, but they lived a life of joyful generosity. We went to a Christian reformed church, and they invited me over for lunch with their family almost every Sunday after service. They provided godly guidance and the familiar comfort of home that I needed. My church and dorm friends raised funds to help me and invited me to join them and their families over the holidays. I experienced the love, care, generosity, and comfort of God through His people.

My young faith at the time felt like it was on a rollercoaster, and it was not an exciting ride. But it grew stronger. I had jobs on campus and did some babysitting as well. Despite the debt we owed, as an act of faith, I gave back 10% of my earnings in the offering basket at church. I believed that everything in the universe is His and that He is more than able to provide.

Malachi 3:10 says, “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’”

It’s the only place in the Bible where God invites us to test Him. Just a few verses before, God states that He is immutable — He doesn’t change — and honoring Him through tithing was clearly important to Him. In reverential fear, I took God at His Word as a New Testament believer. Perhaps the promises He made to His people then applied to me as well. I believed that the Old Testament command to tithe, besides meeting practical needs, kept the hearts of his people in check. I learned not to put my security in money or possessions because they were not truly mine. I told God I would be faithful to give back and would wait in anticipation for Him to move. 

I also began to understand why, in Luke 21, the poor widow’s offering of two small copper coins (“all she had to live on”) meant more to Christ than those who gave out of their riches. To the rational mind, her actions seem somewhat foolish. She should save it for her next meal! Through the lens of faith, however, the poor widow was someone who trusted that God would provide all she needed. She didn’t need to hold tightly to those two small copper coins.

At the end of my sophomore year, I completed all my prerequisites — including organic chemistry (praise Jesus!) and was officially accepted into the nursing program. I also, however, received a letter stating that if my family couldn’t pay the tuition in full as well as show that they could pay for the following year, I would have to drop out by the end of July.

I couldn’t comprehend what God was doing, but I learned to surrender my plans to Him. I didn’t always feel like it, but I chose to praise Him, believing that “God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28).

A week before I had to drop out, I was praying and singing worship songs in my room, when the phone rang.

My mom told me excitedly that they were able to sell some of their land and that the buyer wired the entire amount into their account. She’d had interested buyers that year but nothing came of it until then. My mom, who was not a believer, was amazed and acknowledged that God had answered prayer. She believed that God had sent that man at the last minute. My debt was paid off, and I was able to graduate two years later.  

As God continued to open doors and my income grew, I committed to faithfully give back to God at least 10% of my income. I took God at His word, and He’s been so faithful in keeping His promises. He didn’t open the floodgates and give me millions of dollars. His blessings aren’t always material. His greatest blessings are far beyond that. 

Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” God gives us grace to endure whatever trial comes our way and blesses us with all that we need. The greatest of the blessings poured out from heaven for us is God Himself. He alone is worthy of it all and worthy of our highest praise.

"Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts."


All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.