Fire survivor finds strength in faith

(The Freeman) - January 27, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The fire in Barangay Duljo-Fatima, Cebu City on Sunday may have razed the house of Charlene Dinawanao — but not her faith.

Charlene, 18, considers the incident a way of rekindling her faith in God.

“It’s a process. I know dili dayon nimo makuha imong gusto makuha, karon dako siya nga problema but I’m positive na makaya ni namo,” Charlene told The FREEMAN.

Early in life, Charlene admitted that she’s one of those typical kids who don’t go to church every Sunday. This even worsened when her mother left them two years ago.

But Charlene never really lets the sadness ruin her life. It was in her last year of high school when she realized how God works.

She joined Bible studies to learn more about the teachings of the Lord and so she can be more open and more close to Him.

“Ako Catholic ko, pero ni-attend ko og Bible studies sa Jehovah’s Witness kay gusto ko mas ma-feel ang presence ug mas makaila sa atong Ginoo,” Charlene said.

Back in 2010, she shared, their house came to kiss the ground after being hit by fire for the first time.

“That was the first time, mao to’y pinakasakit that time. I kind of forgot all the teachings that I learned, I blamed Him,” Charlene said.

Charlene mourned and questioned God why she was given such a hard life.

Even then, she prayed for forgiveness to the Lord, asking for guidance and enlightenment on how to lift her family up despite the trials that they’ve experienced.

Charlene went back in joining Bible studies and after a while, more doors of opportunity have opened in her life.

“Nakaingon ko sa usa ka meeting  nga ‘Lord, ganahan nako mobalik Nimo Lord.’ Didto nag-start, kalit-kalit dayon gi-offer-ran ko ni Sister nga mag-volunteer didto sa Commission on Migrants.”

Charlene said despite the recent fire incident, it never really changed her mindset of giving service to the people who need it.

“Wala na-change akong mind, hangtod karon willing gihapon ko mo-volunteer because I know that God has better plans for me. I just have to be positive.”

Charlene added that it is better to help other people rather than think about herself.

“I don’t know ngano maka-manage pa ko og smile despite sa mga nahitabo. Although naa’y part sako kasing-kasing nga sakit, gaan gihapon akong pamati kay kabalo ko nga matabangan ra ko sa Ginoo,” she said, beaming.

Charlene was amazed with how God made her strong yesterday. Her classmates who visited her were crying, concerned about how she was doing after the fire. But Charlene was able to smile, even if her classmates were already sobbing.

“If God really wants to change you and your life for the better, He will somehow give you challenges that would make you realize what you’re capable of,” she said. —(FREEMAN)

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