July 1, 2017

Overflowing Grace in the midst of crisis.

By Dan Villanueva as told to the Testimonial Ministry

I woke up one day broke, with a staggering 7.0 million pesos accumulated debt! Individuals and institutions I owed money to were hounding me with calls and summons demanding immediate payment.  I had to face many litigations for estafa cases due to various checks I issued without sufficient funds.

Looking back, I pause for a while just thinking how a financial crisis changed my perspective in life. When it hit me not so long ago, it caused a drastic downward spiral turn of events which ultimately made me hit rock bottom.  It still amazes me how I overcame all those obstacles that almost crippled my belief and faith and that nearly lost me my career and my relationship with the people around me.

By profession, I am a computer engineer.  I landed a job in an IT-related industry after I graduated.  Then I proceeded to take my Masters in Business Administration in the University of the Philippines, Diliman.  With my work experience and educational background, I got motivated to explore further. I opened  my own business in the same field.   It did well in the first few years of operation. However, some complications in the management and outsourcing of projects caused an imbalance in our cash flows. The only solution was to resort to personal and bank loans to keep the business afloat and to continue providing for the needs of my employees and my family of which, I am the breadwinner.

I negotiated with my creditors, and having been reassured of my willingness to honor my obligations, they agreed to restructure my loans to avoid any more penalties and interests. But the pressure of settling all these accounts within a limited period of time stressed me out big time.   Did I also mention that the health of my father suffered setbacks simultaneously?  He was diagnosed with chronic diabetes and his doctor recommended that he undergo regular dialysis for him to function normally and have a better quality of life.  At this point, I asked myself, “What else could go wrong?” Suddenly, I realized that indeed when it rains, it pours.

I was so lost and desperate.   It seemed like I was surrounded with walls that were slowly closing in on me. With no way out, the only means of escape I saw was the short distance between my knees and the floor.  So on bended knees, I cried and looked up to my sole source of hope, my ever great provider in heaven. With strong faith and conviction, I claimed that, by His grace, a miracle will happen.  Notwithstanding my situation, I kept on giving my offerings no matter how meager it was or even if it was already the last coin in my wallet.  Neither did it deter me from serving the parish community where I had committed myself to for a number of years.  It was also around this time that while window shopping, by sheer coincidence or probably it was more of a twist of fate, I unintentionally found myself in The Feast held  in one of the cinemas of Festival Mall. Shortly thereafter, I  became a regular attendee.  I may not have been aware of it, but God was already moving His ways.

So with determination, I set aside all my shame, doubts, fears and hesitation and persevered in my pursuit to seek help from all the people I knew and whatever possible connections I had.  Majority turned me down outright for lack of funds, others declined with some snide comments behind my back.  Some of them purposely hid from me, except for one person, a former superior from my previous employment. He was the most unlikely person to offer me not just a fraction of the amount I needed, but the entire 7.0 million pesos. Neither did he ask for any form of collateral nor give me a time limit nor restrictions. All he asked for was that I pay him when I was able.  God’s grace indeed abounds.  When it pours, it overflows!

With this money, I was able to cover all my outstanding dues within the deadline given. From then on, my business slowly recovered from the crisis.  And by mutual agreement, I made my benefactor my business partner in my IT resource center. My partner is now also one of my financial mentors.  Since then, the business did not only breakeven but earned good returns allowing us a better financial standing. I learned so much from this experience.  It tested my humility, integrity and resilience as an entrepreneur.  Indeed, the true essence of business is embodied in the book of Bo Sanchez, The Abundance Formula, which says:  Business is not about money. It is about serving others.  Business is about mission. Business is about blessing people. Business is about love”.

The act of kindness extended to me by my partner inspired me to give back by blessing others through my monthly tithes and offerings. Most of all, I became more sensitive and open to the needs of others going through the same predicament I went through.   It encouraged me more to serve in LOJ by committing to be part of the Wednesday Feast Alabang (WFA).  It was in August 2013 when I first joined the Assimilation Ministry.  Afterwards, I became a Life Group Head, particularly the Singles Ministry whilst doing HR-care servant discipleship for elders and fathers.  My passion for music led me to the WFA music ministry, where I later became one of the worship team heads.

Although I am still single, I volunteered to be an adopted member of the Solo Parents Ministry so that I can effectively co-parent my younger brother’s children. They are living with me and are my dependents since they were still young when their parents separated.  I may not be able to parent my own child as yet, but I am happy to guide and to provide my niece and nephew with their needs, to see them grow and mature spiritually and be successful in their own pursuits.  After going through failed relationships in the past, I am hoping that one day, in His time, I will meet the right one that God is preparing for me.

To God be the Glory!!!