Samuel began to shake violently. Then came dripping sweats and nausea. The constant drive for more dopamine overrode his self-control. Samuel hesitated, but finally left the house to once again score his drug of choice. He hated the nagging cravings and uncontrollable urges that kept him in this contant cycle. It made him feel like a failure.
He removed the needle from his arm. Ah, that was better! The reward circuit in his brain clicked in, and the peace returned. Minutes later, he felt as if he was outside his body looking down at the scene unfolding on his living room couch. The hopelessness and despair were gone — temporarily.
Troubled early life leads Samuel down a dark path
Samuel’s drunkard parents couldn’t always find alcohol or work, and they took out their stress on the children. Severe beatings were normal. They never had any intention of sending Samuel or his siblings to school. Thinking nothing good awaited him in this life, Samuel began easing his depression with drugs at an early age.
As his vices grew, so did his darkness. Suicide attempts failed, so he used stronger drugs to escape the misery. Selling dry goods throughout Samar in the Philippines did not bring in enough money, so Samuel began dealing in his beloved illegal potions. Since “highs” were now more accessible, he convinced his girlfriend to participate with him.
Then, out of nowhere, unusual feelings swirled throughout his body. Samuel said, “A strange hunger for God began to stir in my heart, and I wondered if there might possibly be a future for me and those I loved. Addiction overpowered me, but inside I continued to ask questions and hope.”
In 2017, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a nationwide crackdown on drug users and pushers. The police caught Samuel and his girlfriend and put them in jail. Thoughts began to haunt them: would they die from withdrawal, be killed by other prisoners, or murdered by the ruthless police? Each day, as life without drugs continued, their fears became more pronounced. At least the highly regimented jail schedule brought the minimal relief of consistency.
The inmates who had been involved with drugs were required to undergo a program called the Moral Recovery Program. It was conducted jointly with the police, the regional government, and a local church run by Living Rock Ministries, an ANM partner. Pastor Nestor Jaropojop, one of Living Rock’s team, led the program.
Pastor Nester prayed and stuck with Samuel throughout his journey and his struggles in fighting addiction. “Your life can be transformed,” Pastor Nester assured him. After a while, Samuel accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, his chains of addiction finally broke. He was free from drugs for the first time in decades! Pastor Nestor discipled Samuel and trained him to be a carrier of the Gospel. When Samuel and his girlfriend graduated from the program, Pastor Nestor officiated their wedding. “What I believed would be the end of my life became the start of a new life and faith in Jesus Christ,” Samuel shared later.
Native missionary serving his own people
Upon release from prison, Samuel and his wife went as Living Rock missionaries to a small town where he used to push drugs. This time he promoted his life-changing testimony and news about everlasting life found only in Jesus. Amazed villagers saw his transformed life and readily confessed their sins, asked Christ into their lives, and gave up their wicked ways. Samuel is from the Waray-Waray people group, known as valiant warriors. Some say the Waray-Waray people never back down from a fight. Samuel fought for his life and the future of his loved ones. He is now fighting for the salvation of the Waray-Warays. Though Living Rock has planted scores of churches among this people group, many of their almost four million souls still have never heard the Gospel.
Today, Samuel, his wife, and their four children oversee a church of 40 people who regularly attend worship on Sunday. His passion is to reach more Waray-Warays living on the islands of Samar, Leyte, and Biliran.
Special gift leads more people to Jesus
Boats are like cars in the islands of the Philippines. Living Rock recently received a boat, thanks to generous donors of ANM. The ministry leader excitedly responded, “Thank you for being God’s instruments in helping us work toward winning the lost and spreading the Good News among these islands! We know this motorboat will help us reach more souls that we can disciple in the precious name of Jesus Christ, so we named it ‘The Harvester!’ To God be the glory alone!”
Samuel is one of nearly 90 native missionaries working for this ministry. With the essential tool of a boat, they can accomplish so much more.