Surviving in Cebu
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - July 15, 2020 - 12:00am

Given all the COVID related bad news that came out of Cebu City in the last two weeks, the last thing I needed to hear was about the 64-year-old mother of a friend who ended up in a jor hospital in Cebu City with flu like symptoms. Instinctively you want to reassure a friend that it might just be the flu, but given the location and the age of his mother, I was honestly very concerned about the outcome. As it turned out the Mom tested positive for COVID-19 last July 3 and in a matter of two days was already on an IV as well as hooked up with oxygen etc., because her lungs were inflamed, her blood sugar was high and she was dehydrated. She was immediately placed in isolation.

Immediately our Men’s Discipleship group got together on FB Messenger and did a round of prayers. Normally, we limit ourselves to such prayer circles or groups for intercession, but I felt led by the Lord to reach out to all my friends on Facebook and told them how I know that God honors the prayers of those who love him. Actually I just paraphrased the Bible version from the book of James 5:16, “The effective fervent prayers of a righteous man avails much.” What made it even more significant was the fact that I was not asking for prayers for my family, or myself. I was praying for someone I have never even met.

One thing about true Filipinos, we are a prayerful people and we know how to storm the heavens, even if it’s for a friend who is asking for a friend. Within minutes the FB page was blinking with responses, some posting the icon of hands in prayers, some saying Amen, others actually declaring healing and peace for the patient and the family. Even page followers got into it and I was convinced that God would certainly notice the selfless waves being caused by Prayer Warriors.

July 5 we received an update from our friend that his mother’s vital signs and blood chemistry were all checked and being stabilized. On July 7 or five “long days” later Mama Emma’s voice has returned allowing her to talk for 10 minutes straight without difficulty. Her blood oxygen was back up at 99, her oxygen supply was reduced from 10 down to 4 but she still tested positive for COVID. A few days after, her IV was removed and her lung X-ray showed there was no more inflammation.

Yesterday July 14 I received this:

Praise Report

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” 1Chronicles 16:34

“God is faithful. First my family and I would like to thank you for the prayers and support that you have given to our family. It has been 11 days since my Mom was rushed to the hospital for COVID-19 complications. Looking back that was the most petrifying moments in my life. But praise be to God for he is faithful and he is a God that is true to his words. Today as I spoke with my mother for our daily prayer, she gave me a best update in her 11-day staycation at the hospital.

As per her attending physicians, they are willing to discharge her from the hospital in a few days. Her lung X rays show no more signs of inflammation, her oxygen support was removed. Thank you again for being with me, my wife and our family during these times of trials.”

At the beginning of 2020, I told my wife Karen that much of my ministry will probably be to pray for or pray over strangers. With the occurrence of COVID-19 that has become the most natural and most appreciated thing you can do for people. We have actually reached a point where Karen, Hannah our daughter and I gather around the dinner table or in the bedroom as regularly as we can at 7:30 every night and we pass around a notebook filled with people’s names and needs or what we feel the Lord wants us to pray for them. Our book of prayers begin with the prayer against COVID-19, protection for frontliners, wisdom, protection and provision for all national, regional and local leaders in government as well as the private sector. I actually even pray for certain politicians who habitually do things that annoy me. No I don’t pray “Sana kunin mo na  Lord!” Those kind of prayers have a way of backfiring. In fact God will test your heart when you start praying for the annoying, or praying for your enemies. He will test if your heart and your prayers are true and pure. It’s like praying to God to grant you patience and suddenly you get stuck in traffic, or someone ahead of you is really slow and irritating.

In the beginning, we prayed mostly for things we needed or wanted but once you start writing your prayers in a journal or a notebook, your prayers become the mirror of your soul. It reflects your priority and your attitude about life and the people around you. In a matter of days we quickly realized that our prayers were “For Me” prayers so we shifted to praying for others, especially those who were in need not just of money but of God. That rolled over to praying for all those who work with us and for us as well as their families. What I’ve discovered is that having a book also gives you a reference on all the answered prayers! Our book is beginning to look messy with all the crossed out answered prayers but that is a good problem to have!

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