I will never forget the day I received the text message: “I have not drank a drop of alcohol nor smoked since the meetings. God is good! I do crave, but it’s wiped out when I focus my mind on His greatness. I see the light!” This powerful testimony was all the more meaningful because it was sent to me by my beloved aunty Helen. Those words caused my eyes to fill with a fountain of grateful tears. I was seeing the Lord answer my prayers. All my life I’ve watched my aunty Helen struggle with different addictions and various world views. When I first became a Christian, she challenged my faith and warned me of organized religion. She would always say, “To each his own”, affirming her belief that there are no moral absolutes and that everything, including morality, is relative to one’s own personal experience. Of all my family members, it seemed apparent that she would be one of the hardest to reach. Fast forward 16 years later… There she was, sitting in the pew at our Revelation of Hope Bible Prophecy Seminar in Aiea, Hawaii. My aunty Helen came every night with an open mind and a searching heart. She found herself dissatisfied with life, enslaved by bad habits, confused by the various world views she had explored, broken by unhealthy relationships, and longing for something better. At those meetings she received sound and satisfying answers to all the major questions of life. She was presented logical evidence as to why the Bible can be trusted as absolute truth. Most of all, she had an encounter with the love of Jesus Christ. Such love she had never seen before and it gripped her heart. In her own words she says,
“For a large portion of my life, I was depressed. I did not know it at that time. But what I did know was that I was often in trouble, had many relationship conflicts, and was never comfortable in my skin. Running away was my solution. I never got far from home and I always returned. Nobody knew.
My journey with God was put into motion 2 years ago when I found myself restless. With alcohol in one hand, cigarettes in the other, I began pondering, ‘What is the purpose of my life? Is there more to life than this?’ My addictions had consumed 30 years of my life. It seems like I had been trying to quit smoking and drinking for as long as I had been doing it. I had engaged in many risqué behaviors, relationships, and mind altering substances in hopes of uncovering what every human being desires: love, acceptance, and discovery of oneself. While at one time my activities were satisfying, that satisfaction had long ago burned its wick and all I felt was smolders of a long-ago memory.
But then I found myself at the Revelation of Hope Seminar in Aiea. As Taj’s aunt, I attended his meetings a few times in the past as a participant in a family excursion. That’s how it felt to me. I was usually in an altered state, a little high and a little drunk. It made everything more pleasant. But at this meeting I was not in that happy state. Instead, I was in a state of ‘openness’. What I heard moved my heart… Christ’s sacrifice was not new to me. I grew up Christian. I learned about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. But when I went to college, that became an experience of the past. In college, I learned about evolution in the various sciences, existentialism in my philosophy class, meditation, death, and dying in religion, history of the world and civilization, ethnic studies, anthropology, Beowulf, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Gilgamesh, etc. I moved so far from the Bible that God was just an idea, a belief system, just like everything else taught in school.
I knew about Jesus Christ dying on the cross. But hearing about Christ’s sacrifice this time around was different. His experience became relatable. I recently invested in a real estate program that I was not making money on. Like I did, Jesus Christ made an investment when He died on the cross. A price higher than I paid for my program. I felt for Him. So I prayed and made a deal. If He helped me quit smoking and drinking, I would be a worthwhile return. It’s been a year and a half. I have not drunk nor smoked. The more I learn about Him, the more I want to invest. The love that I looked for in all those relationships, I found in him. When I feel rejected, abandoned, or lonely I look to Jesus Christ in prayer. His words uplift me. Fear for my future is allayed and memories of my past are released. I feel whole because I know that God has my back. In my trouble, I can access His love and grace to carry me out of the depression that has stalked me for so long. For these experiences, choosing to be baptized became an easy choice. I choose to announce that I dedicate my life to Him!” – Helen Pacleb
On April 1, 2017 I had the great honor and privilege of baptizing my aunty Helen at my favorite Hawaiian beach. Her new life is a testimony to the power of God and the perseverance of prayer. Every time we talk about Jesus together, I see tears flow from her eyes. She has found a love that has liberated her from physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual bondage. Now her passion is to help her family and friends to also see the Light! As I have witnessed her transformation over the past year, I can testify that I have definitely seen the Light, clearer than ever before!
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – 2Cor.5:17