Robert: If I could characterize my life before Christ with one word, it would be insecure. I was raised in the Philippines and moved to the United States when I was seven years old. I craved acceptance and belonging in community, but didn’t know where to find it and became resentful towards others. Because of this, I got involved in a Philippino gang, which fostered even more animosity towards others.
Olga: Life before Jesus was difficult for me. I was also raised in the Philippines, and my parents expected a lot from my siblings and me during our childhood. To get attention and love from them, we had to excel at school and make the honor roll. It was an intense environment, and I often lived in fear of the unknown. As a child, you want protection and the feeling of safety, but I didn’t always have that.
"You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance."
Robert: After a continuous battle with questions related to self-worth, I discovered God and his unconditional love. If the God of the universe loves me and accepts me for who I am, who am I to reject that? Understanding and trusting in Jesus truly freed me and gave me a genuine love for others. Those who know me now probably couldn’t imagine me being a gang member or hateful person, but that’s pure evidence of God’s loving power being able to change anyone from the inside out.
Olga: My grandmother was a great contributor to my spiritual background. I decided to trust in Jesus when a friend invited me to a faith-based movie. After watching the film, I realized I couldn’t earn my salvation and that Jesus paid it all, once and for all. A few months later, my family migrated to the United States, and that’s when I found Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) in California and met my husband, Robert. Through CCC, I grew in my faith and learned what it meant to be fully loved by Jesus.
Robert & Olga: After moving to Greenville to be near family, we started attending Fellowship Greenville. We jumped into serving almost immediately, not because we wanted attention or acceptance, but because we wanted to be used by God in a mighty way. Because we were brand new, we didn’t know all the ways to get involved, but we consistently prayed for God to use us wherever we were needed. Now, we get to pray with both guests and regular attendees almost every time we serve, and doing so is a sign of obedience to the Lord. Being a part of a community allows us to help others and grow in our relationship with Jesus. During difficult times, brothers and sisters in our community group and church provided meals and moving support when we moved into our new home, which has helped us get to know more people. In a big church, getting involved in a community group is essential to feel connected. We’ve learned to be intentional with others and not forsake the gathering of other believers and newcomers. The old and straightforward saying “pay it forward” is something we strive for—paying the good news forward to others that may need to hear it.