Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines in 2013 – 14 million people, including my family, were devastated by the storm. Every year when the big rains came, the water would rise and cover the floor inside. This time, in my early twenties, our entire house collapsed.

But God did not leave or forsake my family.

Even in the wake of difficulty, I was soon given the opportunity to bring light to the children in my own community through distributing Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts. As I handed the colorful boxes to each child, I could see myself in their bright eyes. I remembered the joy of receiving my own shoebox gift, and my heart overflowed with gratitude that I got to be part of these kids’ happiness.

Beyond the shoebox gifts, I wanted more. I wanted to be part of impacting children’s lives in a deeper way through this ministry. And God soon fulfilled my desire when He led me to become one out of the thousands of teachers for a discipleship program called The Greatest Journey. This child-friendly program is filled with relatable lessons and powerful Bible stories, and is offered to Operation Christmas Child shoebox recipients who want to learn more about Jesus and how to follow Him. When the children graduate from the program, there is a huge celebration and every child receives a Bible in their own language.

My favorite lesson to teach was always the Creation story. Everyone’s eyes lit up at the colorful illustrations displaying God’s wonder. One little girl loved the illustrations on the memory verse cards which came with the student booklets, and she specifically asked me if she could keep the small card.

I told her, “Of course you can keep it!” Because I knew that she would take the memory verse home where she would show it to her mom, and have the opportunity to naturally share Jesus with her own family.

This was why God led me to teach The Greatest Journey: for these moments of eternal impact. This ministry equipped me to tell the children in my community that Jesus really loves them just like He loves me, and assure them even after the typhoon that they are not alone because God is with them all the time.

Prayer is the key to connecting with Jesus, I would tell my students, and whatever their hearts’ deepest desire, God will gladly fulfill in His perfect timing.

I saw in their eyes that they were willing to listen and wanted to learn more about Jesus. Nothing could bless me more than knowing that those kids surrendered their lives to Jesus.

Piece by piece, God was nurturing the desire in my heart to share His Good News. Through Operation Christmas Child and later through MOPS, God would continue to give me opportunities to minister both in my community and around the world.