Today wasn’t the first time I’ve heard of the story of Joy Tan-Chi Mendoza yet I couldn’t stop the tears from my eyes as I sat on my couch watching her story again.
I first heard of her story about how she was raped at the age of 15 through CBN-Asia’s TV program called The 700 Club Asia on their Youtube Channel. Then I saw Tanikala’s HATOL episode featuring Joy Tan-Chi Mendoza’s story on Youtube as well through the video posted by Erron Mitchel Galang.
After seeing her story on Youtube, I followed her blog Teach with Joy. If you’re married or a parent to homeschooled kids, I recommend following her blog. You can click on this link to subscribe to her blog: https://teachwithjoy.com/.
I also listen to sermons through CCF’s Youtube Channel so once in a while, I would hear Ptr. Peter Tan-Chi, Joy’s father and founder of CCF, share their testimony as a family when that tragedy happened.
After hearing Joy Tan-Chi Mendoza’s story, I could only imagine what their entire family might have felt in that certain season of their lives. In Tanikala’s HATOL episode, Joy’s parents confessed that they wondered if it was still worth it to follow and serve God if He wasn’t able to protect their family, let alone allowed Joy to be raped by several robbers who broke into their house that night.
It must have been a terrible time for all of them! Yet after many years, the Lord has shown them that HE is truly SOVEREIGN. Here’s a testimony of Joy’s mother, Deonna Tan-Chi, that I saw recently: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGSfmxZMa3g. In her testimony, she mentioned ways of how they saw God working amid the tragedy their family experienced.
I had experienced something when I was a child that I wished did not happen. And I believe many of you could relate to this. There are BAD things we experienced in the past that we wish we could change. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who questions God sometimes as to why He allows BAD things to happen to us.
A HEADS UP: From this point on, I’ll be sharing my story and there might be words that I will use that might be offensive to some or would make some uncomfortable, so I apologize for that in advance.
A GLIMPSE TO MY OWN STORY TO FREEDOM
When I was around 5 years old, if my memory serves me right, I was molested by people close to me – people I trusted and people my parents trusted to be around us. But I didn’t realize I was molested and violated until my teenage years. I can’t pinpoint the exact time it hit me, but it was during my teenage years that I realized I was violated. It wasn’t as terrible as what Joy Tan-Chi Mendoza went through, I wasn’t raped, but I felt horrible all the same because what I thought was part of a “game” I was playing as a child was actually a violation of my “womanhood.”
Following the realization was the feelings of “shame” and being “dirty” because when it dawned on me what really happened back then, I realized why I’ve been struggling with “masturbation” since I got separated from those people who “molested” me. The late realization of that “violation” also caused me to become very insecure. Then my insecurities escalated to fear of being rejected. I feared back then that when people learn what happened to me, they would look at me differently and with disgust.
However, I believe that my knowledge of God and my faith in Jesus gained from hearing His stories and teachings in Sunday schools had somehow helped me maneuver through life’s chaos. Now that I’m looking back and thinking of how I managed to get out of the mess I was in, I can clearly see that it was by His grace alone that I am the woman I am today.
I came to know the LORD as a child because my parents took us to church and Sunday schools every Sunday. I’ve heard of Jesus and many other Bible characters growing up, but I came to “own my faith” when I was 14 years old. That year I decided to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior not because I’ve been told to do so since I was a child, but because I felt my need to surrender my life to Him.
Despite my decision to give my life to Jesus, my struggle with finding relief and comfort in “touching myself” continued. It became a source of relief whenever I was sad, lonely, stressed out, or anxious about life. Later on, God opened a way for me to see a Christian psychologist who helped me process the bad things I went through as a child. She helped me see how those bad things I’ve been through, including losing my father at the age of 8, have been causing all the “issues” I have as an adult.
Years passed and I got introduced to the “worldwide web.” Despite my effort to avoid it, I got “hooked” to watching pornographic materials. In those years of going back and forth from repenting, feeling guilty, then being able to say “NO” at times but unable to resist at other times, I questioned whether God can truly make me into a “new creature” after I made that decision to surrender my life to Him. I questioned the validity of 2 Corinthians 5:17 that says,
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
Many times I asked Jesus, “If you are truly Christ, and if I did make a genuine decision to accept You as my LORD and personal Savior, why am I still struggling with these sinful habits? Why am I still not completely FREE from the stains of my past?“
“I hate this going back and forth,” I’ve told God many times. For countless times I went to Him on bended knees crying out to Him all my frustrations regarding how my past had caused me all these issues I’m struggling with now.
“Why did you allow all those things to happen? Why didn’t you protect me from experiencing that violation I experienced as a child? Why, Lord, why?”
Ironically, it was during those times of frustrations and questioning that God allowed me to experience His unconditional love and grace. In one of those times when I was begging God to “heal” me completely from my past and make me a “new creature,” God spoke to me through 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 that says,
7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
After reading this passage, I realized that my “weaknesses” actually keep me grounded. Struggling through my weaknesses allows me to continually see and understand that on my own I will always fall back into my old sinful patterns. It is only through the grace of God and by the power of the Holy Spirit that I will be able to resist the temptations surrounding me.
Over the years, God also helped me to understand through His WORD that when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I was saved and have been given eternal life as He has said in John 3:16. The Bible also says in Romans 10:9,
9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
I believe that our salvation is instant the moment we put our faith in Jesus. However, the process of being like Christ does NOT happen overnight. This is what the Bible calls “sanctification.” Instead of telling you myself what sanctification is, I’d rather refer you to John MacArthur’s sermons:
1. Sanctification: The Believer’s Transformation, Part 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sef7IpImoE
2. Sanctification: The Believer’s Transformation, Part 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PzqX_gPYW8
I think many of us, including myself, have been disillusioned that once we accept Christ as Lord and Savior, everything will magically change; that our problems and struggles will magically disappear. Maybe it’s true for some, but for many of us, it might take some time to get over those sinful habits we’ve acquired over the years. John MacArthur talks about this in his sermons. I hope you could find time to listen to his sermons on “Sanctification: The Believer’s Transformation“ (see links above).
THREE ESSENTIAL REMINDERS
1. We ALL have problems and issues and we need to be willing to SEEK help! We cannot win over our struggles if we keep suppressing them and trying to live life as if everything is okay. Over the years I’ve learned that it’s okay to feel NOT okay and to admit that we need help. We need help from our family and friends. Ask them to help you overcome your “issues.” If necessary, see a doctor, a psychologist, or a counselor. I know in some cultures there is still a stigma attached to this but you have to make a decision based on what’s going to be good for you. Stop living your life based on what others might think of you. Face your problems and issues head-on and fervently seek God in prayer to help you overcome them.
2. We can’t fight and win our battles on our own. We NEED Jesus. When God spoke to me through 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, I believe He didn’t mean to tell me that it is okay for me to continue sinning. What He helped me understand was that as long as we are in this fallen world, as long as we are in this corruptible body, we are vulnerable to falling short of God’s glory; we will always be prone to make mistakes or fall back into our old sinful habits. And it is during this time that we are reminded that apart from Jesus we cannot save ourselves. Apart from Jesus, we will never be worthy of God’s love and forgiveness. It is during those times of weaknesses that we are reminded of God’s grace and power working in our lives through Jesus our Lord. Those times of recurring struggles over sin remind us that it is through Jesus alone that we can be FREE from the guilt and penalty of sins.
3. God is LOVING and SOVEREIGN regardless of the situation we were/are in. We can question God all we want. We can choose to turn our backs on Him. Nevertheless, He will remain the same. There is nothing we can do or not do that will change WHO God is. I have been through many ups and downs of life and I have doubted God for sure whether He truly loves me or not. I have even doubted myself and the genuineness of my acceptance of Jesus as my Lord and personal Savior. Amazingly, God never failed to assure me that “I am His and He is mine.” In my times of seeking and questioning, He revealed Himself in many different, special ways. Moreover, not only once had God shown me why it was “instrumental” for me to experience the things I wished I didn’t go through. Experiencing those “bad” things in the past and struggling with their “residues” in my life had allowed me to BETTER understand and minister to other women who are also struggling NOT ONLY with the same issues I struggled with in the past but even with some other issues I’m STILL trying to overcome by God’s grace. Many times in those encounters with other women, God had proven Himself faithful, loving, and sovereign not only towards me but more so towards those other women He allowed me to journey with. I can keep writing about how God had proven Himself true to His words and promises, but I’ll save the rest for my next posts and give you back your time (if you’ve reached this far) shortly.
WHAT’S WITH THE TITLE?
I titled this post “JESUS = FREEDOM” because I believe that apart from Jesus it is impossible for anyone to be FREE from the bondage of sin. It is only through Him that we can find freedom from the enslavement of sin that causes us sorrow and steals our joy.
I hope my story has encouraged you in any way. May you find freedom from whatever it is that has caused you pain, sorrow, and restlessness as you surrender your life to Jesus. I believe He loves you and has been eagerly waiting for you to accept His love.
Allow me to end this “seemingly unending” post with these verses:
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. Hebrews 2:14-15
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1