This is the story of a sweet friend of mine. She told me she thought there really wasn’t much to tell. But I disagree. All of our stories of Jesus’ redeeming love is a story that needs to be told. This is Janette’s story:
“I was born in the Philippines,” says Janette in her Filipino accented English. “I moved to Bahrain when I was nineteen.”
“Wait,” I said, putting my coffee down. I had several questions with this one statement. “Why did you move? Did you move with family? Did you know someone in Bahrain? And most of all, “Where is Bahrain?” (Forgive me my ignorance).
“I was working as a sales supervisor at a department store in the computer department. One of our engineers informed me of a job opening in Bahrain as a computer sales representative. He said the sales manager is here to conduct a two-day interview. ‘Are you interested?’ he inquired. “Yes!” was my immediate reply. The next day I went to the agency and interviewed and was one of five people selected out of fifty applicants.”
Another friend Karen was sitting with us in the coffee shop. She picked up her phone while Janette was talking, and I, taking copious notes. “Here it is,” said Karen. She held up her phone with the picture of a map of Bahrain and its surrounding countries. I studied the map for a moment, then Karen and I both turned our attention back to Janette.
“So you went to a foreign country by yourself? What did you do for housing and transportation,” I questioned?
“The Bahraini computer company provided for all of that. I had a small flat and a roommate,” Janette explained.
“How long did you work for this company?”
“I worked for them for three months, then they laid me and other workers off because the company was not doing well.”
“Wait, what!” Both Karen and I were stunned. I’m thinking, “here she is, nineteen years old, in a foreign county, working for a company that is providing for her housing and transportation, and all of a sudden, she was jobless and soon to be homeless.”
Talk about the rug being pulled out from under you. But that wasn’t the worst of it.
Janette continued “I couldn’t get another job in Bahrain. The computer company I worked for had to “release” me to work somewhere else and they would not do it. I cried and cried to God. I was extremely lonely and homesick and now I couldn’t get another job. It was how they did things in Bahrain back then.
My heart felt her hardship.
“You cried to the Lord? Did you grow up knowing Jesus?” I asked.
“I was raised going to a Catholic school. I studied under the Nuns and read the Bible, but I had not given my life to Jesus. I did not really understand,” Janette said.
I empathized with her. Many people are raised around the Bible in some form or fashion whether it be Protestant or Catholic but never really know or give their lives to Jesus. But at the same time, I praised the Lord, because the Word never goes void. A seed had been planted in her young life.
Karen said what I was thinking. “What did you do?”
“I decided to go to the owner of the company and plead my case to him. I knew what he looked like and found his fourth-floor office. I walked right past the secretary into his office and I plead to him in tears to release me, so I could work,” She said.
“And…” I said
“He released me to work elsewhere. Then I found a job working at a gift shop located within a large hotel. I had moved in another apartment with a Filipino roommate. Her boyfriend owned the gift shop. But I wasn’t happy there. I wanted a career. Soon, I found a job at a pharmaceutical company doing accounts payable/receivables for them. It was while I was at this job that I met my boyfriend and future husband.”
“Did he work for the company?” I asked wondering how she met him.
“No. He was a Navy man. A Vietnamese American.”
“We had been dating a few months when his ship was ordered back to the U.S. for reassignment. He had to go back to Virginia. Even though he said he would come back, I thought I might not ever see him again. I was heartbroken.”
“I guess he did come back. Right? Since y’all are now married,” I asked.
“Yes he did come back and I was shocked at the change that had taken place within him,” Janette said. “He looked the same but he was changed. During his return trip to the U.S., he went on leave to see his parents. They have a Baptist background. It was during that visit home that he gave his life to Jesus.
He proposed to me shortly after he returned to Bahrain and I accepted. But the worldly life we lived together before, was not one he would now accept. I didn’t understand. There’s an old Philippine saying: throw out the rice kernels and the chicken will bite. This “chicken” wasn’t having any of it until we were married. But I still thought, ‘why the resistance? What’s wrong?'”
Karen and I laughed with Janette at the “chicken saying.”
Janette went on, “I went home to my roommate one evening and she invited me to go with her to a Bible study. She loved the Lord and studying His word. I used to laugh at her along with my office mates, but now my soul was searching and longing for something more, and I jumped at the chance to gain understanding of what my fiance’ had found.”
“One day after attending several weeks of Bible study, the Holy Spirit touched me. I understood and cried and cried in my fiance’s flat. The Lord showed me. The study had been on fornication. My life had changed. Now I understood my fiance. I loved him, and I loved the Lord.”
“We had to wait to get married. The Navy required a background check first. It felt so long, but at last we were cleared and we married on September 2, 1995.”
While Janette was telling me her story, I was amazed! The Lord had worked so many variables out in her life. “She found two Bridegrooms,” I thought, “One to spend this life with and another for now and eternity!”
That day the Holy Spirit touched Janette she was never the same by her own admission. She told us that she became hungry for Jesus. As they moved from place to place over the years being in the Navy, her and her husband had no church home and no fellowship and she said they were stagnant in their walk with the Lord.
When her husband retired from the Navy, he got an offer to work in a large company in Washington. A friend of hers, who was living in Texas, kept on calling and insisting that they should move to Texas. She said she was very resistant because she had a new house in Washington and had just finished decorating it. She constantly declined her friend’s invitation because of what she had heard about Texas.
Janette said, “all I knew of Texas was from a Japanese friend of mine. She said it was hot, your skin gets very dry and there are lots of snakes in your own backyard. I was resistant to go, until one silent night as I was laying down to sleep, I heard a soft voice within me say, ‘why not Texas?’ It was very strong. After that, I agreed to go to Texas and we moved two weeks later.”
Janette told me it was here in Texas where the whole family finally found fellowship. They were hungry for the Lord and grew in their Christian belief exponentially.
A few years after that, Janette says the Lord lead them to another church. This is where I met Janette. She joined our small group of ladies Bible study. And I now have a new wonderful friend and sister.
The three of us ended our coffee shop talk and hugged each other. My heart was so satisfied and felt saturated with Jesus’ love. Janette’s story is so full of the Lord’s guidance, intervention, leading, and redemption. He is an awesome God!