Arnel Jotiz was one of the pastors in Pavia Church of the Nazarene (Iloilo, Philippines) when he and his wife felt the desire to share in the work of the Lord in Cambodia, “My wife, Christine, and I were burdened and challenged when we learned that Christianity is less than 1% of the total population in Cambodia. After training for missions and many prayers, God gave us an opportunity to go there.” By sheer faith in God and reliance on each other as husband and wife, Arnel and Christine mustered the strength to take their young family to a country they have never set foot before.
“Within our first few days, we observed that many of the Cambodians appear to be at peace outside, but inside they seem lost and without purpose. They were just going through the motions of their everyday grind. If you ask them whether they know where they came from, they would just say they are from their mother’s womb. Ask them about afterlife, they have no concept of resurrection and eternal life. We saw the void in eyes; we felt their deep need for Jesus,” Arnel recalled.
While their hearts were burning with passion to make Christ known to the Cambodians, they were also experiencing some difficulties common to many missionaries. “There was a point when all we had was 20 dollars; that is not even enough to buy gas for cooking. I cannot think of anything to do but to pray. I gathered my family and we prayed together. After about 10 minutes, a fellow missionary knocked on our door and I was surprised to see her crying. She said that while she was praying right about the time that we were also praying God told her to visit our family and give us 100 dollars. We were so amazed at how God moved in our situation.”
Arnel and Christine served in a local church and taught English and Character Formation to young people. “God allowed us to open a ministry in government drug rehabilitation facility where we taught Character Formation to recovering drug addicts,” Arnel shared. Many came to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ in that ministry. He mentioned of one testimony that stays with him to this day: “There is this one guy who was nearly killed because of drug overdose. Almost everybody gave up on him; his parents were at their wits’ end with him. However, as we began to disciple him, his behavior and character changed. He later on became a reliable leader in the facility, and after a year he was cleared and sent home. He has improved greatly that officials began to notice his abilities. When a high-ranking officer asked him what they can give him as a reward, he said he just wanted to finish college. They granted him a scholarship to a university where he eventually earned his Engineering degree. Today, he remains a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. He is now the one who goes to the same drug rehabilitation where we met him to share to other drug victims about the love that found and transformed him.”
After nearly a decade of life-changing ministry in Cambodia, Arnel and Christine deem it is about time to take a break from the mission field and go back to the Philippines. The couple would like to use this season to grow ever more intimate with God and share with their family and friends in the Philippines the heart of God for the unreached peoples. “On the one hand, this is rest because now we have more time to pray and nourish our spiritual walks. On the other hand, it is not really rest for us because my wife Christine is working in ____ and I am here studying Master of Divinity at APNTS. We are updating ourselves with knowledge and experience so we will be more effective leaders and church ministers. We know we have a ministry to fulfill; it is a calling and a responsibility. That is why we are taking the time to prepare so we can be more equipped when God calls us back to the field again.”