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"It still hurts thinking about these memories but I have made the decision to forgive," says Minerva, a domestic helper. Photo by Soragrit Wongsa on Unsplash.

To support her family, Minerva arrived in Singapore from the Philippines to work. Hurt deeply by people she trusted, she would later discover the power of forgiveness through Alpha.

This is Minerva’s story in her words.


I first heard about Singapore from my friends and on the news, specifically from the Flor Contemplacion case. This resulted in me disliking Singapore. 

I was initially reluctant to attend church, but grew to enjoy the fellowship.

However, in 1999, my family of 12 needed extra financial help. So, I went to work in Singapore.

When I arrived in Singapore, I led a very exciting life. I worked on weekdays, and I would visit discos on the weekends. I loved dancing and was nicknamed the “Queen of Dance”.

But even after the sense of enjoyment I gained each weekend, my heart remained empty.

There was something missing in my life. I found myself dissatisfied with many things.

I changed employers several times as I would leave once I faced problems with them.

Getting to know God again

My friend, Heidi, encouraged me to attend church. I grew up in the Philippines as a Catholic; I knew about God’s existence but understood little about His Word.

Even after the enjoyment each weekend, my heart remained empty.

Even though I followed traditions, rituals, and what the priest said, I did not truly know what salvation meant.

I was initially reluctant to attend church, but grew to enjoy the fellowship. A lady whom we called Auntie Sylvia taught Bible study, and that got me started on reading the Bible.

One day, when my parents were sick, I opened my Bible and Psalm 139 spoke straight to my heart. I felt God saying: “You cannot hide from me.”

I asked God to forgive me for the way I had been living. His words started to impact me. I began praying and experienced miracles.

Prayers heard and answered

At the time, I was trying to make more money to supplement my income. A friend and I decided to sell prepaid top-up cards. To pay for a bulk order of cards, I asked my employer to give me an advance on my salary and handed the money to my friend. The cards were meant to be sold at a profit.

I felt God saying: “You cannot hide from me”.

However, my friend cheated me and ran away with the money.

I was so disappointed and started to panic because there would be no money to remit to my family the following month. In desperation I prayed: “God, please help me. I need $500.” I then went back to my employer’s house disappointed.

When I was at work, my employer called out to me. “Mina, I have something for you.”

I thought there was something she wanted me to do. When I saw her, she handed me an envelope. She said that she had found an envelope of cash on the floor at a mall. She waited for its owner to return, but nobody came back to claim it. Her daughter then reminded her of my family’s financial needs and they decided to give the money to me.

I opened the envelope and there was exactly $500 inside!

Taken for a ride

In 2016, I met someone I liked. Over time, our relationship developed. We started to communicate daily via text and social media. He told me that he did not have a girlfriend. My friends also assured me that he was a good person.

Through the months, our relationship grew. I sent him money whenever he needed help.

In January 2017, I visited him in the Philippines. I bought him gifts, chocolates, a mobile phone, and even set money aside for him. When I was about to return to Singapore, he asked me for more money because his relative had just passed away. I complied to his request and gave the money to him.

In February 2017, things were still good between us. Suddenly, he went quiet on me. I asked him what happened, but he did not reply my messages.

I soon discovered that he was dating someone else. Through a social media post, I even found out that he was getting married in April that same year. I was devastated and angry that he had been lying to me all this time.

“I did not love you”

The day before Chinese New Year, my employer told me: “I want everyone to be happy. Cannot look angry. Cannot give a black face.” Because Chinese New Year was a happy season, I kept the pain and anger in my heart. But I wanted to take revenge. I wanted to destroy him.

It was a struggle to forgive someone who had hurt me so deeply.

I was in so much pain but texted him: “You only liked me for my money. But it is okay. I am happy that you found someone to take care of you. Congratulations and God bless.”

He responded: “I did not love you and I did not court you.”

I was so hurt and replied with insulting words, which resulted in him blocking me on social media.

During that time, Alpha started running a Filipino Fellowship in St George’s Church. When we watched the video on forgiveness, this thought struck me: If God can forgive, why can’t I?

I cried to my group leader and my friends. It was a struggle to forgive someone who had hurt me so deeply.

A decision to forgive

God says in Matthew 6:14-15: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

I began to understand why I needed to forgive others.

It took me some time, but eventually, I asked the Lord for forgiveness.

Being at Alpha at that point was timely for me. The videos gave me an understanding of Christianity in a deeper and richer way.

The discussions also helped me to understand how Christianity applied to us today and that it was not just a religion passed down through generations. I began to understand why I needed to forgive others. Even if a person cheated us, we should still forgive them.

It still hurts thinking about these memories but I have made the decision to forgive. I also asked the person who had hurt me for forgiveness, for the insulting words I sent him.

Today, I am free from the darkness.

Re-discovering the faith

I am thankful for Alpha and the Filipino Fellowship at St George’s Church. Both helped me through this difficult season and directed me to seek Jesus during this ordeal.

God did not send me to Singapore just to be a helper – this is the place where I found Jesus.

I helped out in the second run of Alpha as a food server. It was so encouraging to see many people wanting to learn more about God and sharing their own life experiences. At Alpha, more people get to understand the faith in a clearer way. It is a good after-church activity!

God has indeed transformed my heart. Now, instead of asking friends to go to discos with me, I want to share Jesus with as many people as I can. I am still learning more about God’s Word. My goal is to please God and serve Him.

One day, I hope to go to Bible seminary, to learn more and eventually reach out to more people.

I used to dislike Singapore but now it feels like home. God did not send me to Singapore just to be a helper. He has a reason for His plans – this is the place where I found Jesus.


This story was first published in Alpha Buzz, an annual publication by Alpha Singapore, and is republished with permission.

 

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About the author

Minerva for Alpha Singapore

Alpha believes that everyone should have the chance to explore the Christian faith, ask questions and share their point of view, wherever they are in the world. Alpha is run all around the globe, in cafés, churches, universities, schools and homes. No two Alphas look the same, but generally they have three key things in common: Food, a talk and good conversation.