Twenty-seven years ago, God spoke to Apostle Walter Heidenreich about sending a team to open a Christian drug rehab in the Philippines. I believe God did it for me. He knew it was the only way for me to be set free from 22 years of drug addiction. Although the rehab was not officially open yet, the staff took one look at me and decided they had to take me in. After spending one and a half months in jail, I was bailed out and went for rehab. I was 36 years old and I thought it was the end of the line for me; but God had other plans! As I walked into the rehab house, hope rose up in me and I knew I was going to get clean. I had found what my heart had been longing and searching for: real life ... life in Jesus. I was home! And this was the first day of the rest of my life ... my brand new life!

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A God adventure

It has been quite an adventure since then. I wanted to serve God and share what I had found, so I went to the mission school in Lüdenscheid for one year after my rehab. Then I came back to Manila and embarked on the real journey. Ministry and the mission was a wonderful, exciting life but also a humbling and learning experience as the Holy Spirit did His work of refining and sanctification. He patiently cleansed and molded this dirty, discarded diamond until the beauty started to shine through. I was eager to learn more, so that God would use me to reach the street children. I had lost so much time and didn't want to waste any more.

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Mama to many

I became a staff in our home for street children. I loved to make a home for them and be their family. After a few years, God gave me a burden for a home for prostitutes. Though there were not many real prostitutes, many lives were transformed as pregnant teenagers came seeking refuge and a place to birth their babies. Later, God placed a vision for a Drop-in center for street children and youth on my heart. We opened it in 2010 and this became my heartbeat. But I was not to settle as, in 2014, I was called into the leadership team of HELP Philippines. God had brought me up from the ashes of drug addiction to the top. Only He could have done such a transformation! But I lost sight of my first love and started to rely on my own strength. After two years, I stepped down from leadership to take a sabbatical leave to our Lüdenscheid community and come back to that place of grace. And He did not disappoint - He never does!

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»Yes, Lord, I'll go!«

But wait! At this point, I was 62 years old! What more could there be for me? Semi-retirement? A step back into the shadows to support? I didn’t know. All I knew was that I had come back to my first love and it was all that mattered. Not staff status, nor position, nor responsibility, nor ministry. I surrendered it all for the gift of His Presence. That's when He said, »Now ... I can begin to build a new foundation. A foundation that's made up of my presence alone.« And He did: slowly but surely, until finally, a season of spring came - new life! I felt it in my heart though I had no idea what it meant! I joined an outreach to our HELP base in Austin, Texas (HfaN), and that's where that old familiar feeling of ›I’m home‹ came, He called me to support the tiny pioneer team of two young ladies and I said, »Me? You're calling me - a retirable, ex-drug addict from a third world country, to a world power like America? REALLY?« And He said, »Yes, that's exactly what I want to do, so that the world may see what I can do.« What more could I say but a humble, »Yes, Lord, I will go.«

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And so, in May, I will be moving away from my country long-term for the first time in my life: at 62 years of age! And about to take steps of faith like never before. Challenges? Sure, I will have many challenges: visa, emotions, finances and physical capacity, to name a few. But God knows, and He has spoken. So I will go. I'm excited and anxious, all at the same time. Once more Jesus is asking me to trust in Him.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
     
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