In 1996, my uncle was shot and killed because of his faith. I was six years old and was terrified when I heard the news. I wondered if I would get shot, too. My wise mother took the opportunity to use my uncle’s death to point me to Jesus. It was then that I accepted Christ into my life. Coincidentally, my uncle lost his life, but through the tragedy I found mine!
Perhaps because of the traumatic death of my uncle when I was a child, I desired to become a counselor to help others through tragedy. I prayed for months that God would provide me with the means to study counseling. I was eager to learn the appropriate theories but from a biblical perspective. God answered my prayers with a “yes” in 2013 when I applied and was accepted to Asian Theological Seminary. The campus was a long distance from home, and I couldn’t afford the tuition. I asked God to grant me the faith that I needed to believe that He would provide for my needs. To this day, He has never failed.
ATS has exceeded my expectations! I expected answers; my teachers have taught me to ask the right questions. I wanted easy fixes to problems; they instilled in me the value of process. I entered with the eagerness to finish in no time, yet they helped me realize that the journey is something to be savored as much as the joy of finishing. I came to ATS hoping to make a change in the world, but I realized I had to change first.
I have two passions – children and the Muslim community. Through my studies, God has taught me lifelong lessons I will be able to use in my future ministries. Currently, I am doing mission work among Muslims in the Philippines and am busy working as a counselor (intern) for two non-governmental organizations. After graduating next year, I plan to return to my home town to start a counseling ministry in my community.
“As one of my professors put it, ‘If first and foremost we cannot change society, then first and foremost, we must change ourselves.”
– Jcil Bagtasos