November 16, 2016
Fr. Charles Atayde
On behalf of Bishop Ricardo Alcaraz, the legate of the Primate, and the Diocese of Visayas, I stand here before, you excited and at the same time afraid for myself because my emotion is going wild. This is my first time to stand in this pulpit at the Cathedral of the King, although I have been in Christian Life Fellowship since 1979. I have been married for 35 years with five children and four grandchildren. Before I came to the Lord, I already had a daughter that my parents adopted. She has nine children and I have nine grandchildren from her, but three of them have passed away and she is now a widow in Bacolod.
I thank Fr. Gary, Fr. Obet and Bishop Ariel for allowing me to speak to you tonight about prayer, discipleship, follow up and “Follow me,” as what Jesus said. I didn’t know that these were the topics our retreat speakers, our Primate Craig Bates, Bishop Davidson, and Fr. Jim House would share with us. I have an outline here and there is nothing here except what the Lord has done in my life.
All of you are children, grandchildren of the people that I knew personally in the past. I do not know most of you, but that is not important. What is important is that we are here tonight, you are my family, you are my brothers and sisters, and I thank God that I could share the things that God has done in my life which was not easy.
When I was young, my life was full of suffering because I was given a responsibility by my grandfather at the age of four years old to take care of my grandmother and my older brother on his deathbed which I did not understand. My grandmother gave her words to me to take care of my Dad, my brother and the rest. Before people die, they would say, “Please take care of my daughter... my son…” It was heavy on my part. I ran away from that for many years.
My relatives were one of the first members of Christian Life Fellowship in 1979 and I was the one driving them to Church. The reason why I really wanted to drive them to the Church was because I thought that the Pastor then was a CIA. I wanted to protect him because of my background before where I was working. I would bring them to Kamagong, to Bel-Air for overnight prayer. I was not a religious guy, a seminarian or a theologian, but there was something there that was drawing me to them.
I said to them, “If the God that you share is a true and living God and an Almighty God, you tell Him to change my life to convert me and to take me out of my old life.” One day, I was sitting in my apartment with my older brother and all of a sudden I was left alone. That night, there was a voice telling me, “Don’t go to Spain. Don’t go to the States.” I thought there was a ventriloquist somewhere telling me this. I just kept quiet, and then the second time there was the voice again. I run outside and shoot the air with my gun and said, “Who are you?” I thought there was a man trying to play around with me. The third time I said, “Who are you?” I got a reply, “I am the Lord your God. I am Jesus. Don’t go to the States. Don’t go to Spain because if you do, you will die. You will not know Me.”
I asked, “Why will I die?” For several reasons, a young man would say - for power, for money, for women and other worldly things. God said, “You are sick.” I did not know I was sick. The voice told me not to go and He said, “Resign from your job.” I resigned and somewhere along the way, my girlfriend who became my wife, led me to Christian Life Fellowship which then transferred to Manila Garden Hotel. I went there and she disappeared in the crowd and I did not know what to do. I was standing in the back and the voice again told me, “You sit in the middle. There is a vacant chair for you.”
At that time, the ushers were asking me to go in and I said, “I would just wait here and listen to the voice of the speaker.” They tried to force me to go in and I said, “Don’t force me to go in. I am okay here.” I added, “The next time you force me to come in, I have this (showing them my gun).” I was carrying a gun in the church. When I went inside the Church, all of a sudden, I saw the vision of the Lord. God gave me the vision of the Jesus - the Crucifixion – the crowning of thorns, the nails on the hand; and this was the first time in my life that I saw this and I did not understand.
When we were then having a full Charismatic fellowship, I found the service long. The Praise and Worship was long and I was perspiring like a waterfall. At the end of the service, something happened to me and I said, “I want to follow You.” The next Sunday, there was an altar call, and I went in front. Every time there was an altar call for healing, for prayer, I would go in front. Every time there was an altar call to be born-again, I would go in front and be born-again over and over.
During those times, I was working in a transport business in Batangas delivering imported coal for bunker fuel. I said that I wanted to change, but it was very far that I could not go to the church. I resigned because I wanted to know the Lord more, and the only way to know the Lord more is to go church to be discipled. I wanted to know how to pray and the only way is to go to Church again.
In the early years of my life, my prayer life was just going to the fields and looking at the stars and my favourite stars were the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper and the shooting stars so that I make a wish. I did this several times. One morning, at two-thirty, in Sto. Tomas, Batangas, I was sitting alone looking at the stars and I saw a star and I thought that it was the end of the world. A big bright light came down and it came to me saying, “I am the bright and Morning Star. I want you to go to Manila and there would be two people who would speak to you and teach you My Word and to teach you how to pray.” Then, the star went up to the sky again.
As early as six o’clock in the morning, I went down to Manila and then, I walked down the highway not knowing what to do. I was already in an intersection, and I said, “Voice, please talk to me again. Where will I go? To the left or to the right?” The voice said, “Turn left.” I walked going to Taft Avenue towards Dian St. I turned right to Dian St. and there was a church, and I said, “Maybe, this is where God wants me to go in.” I went there, but it was closed. I saw the janitor and I asked if there was an activity there. He said there was none for it was still early in the morning. I asked, “Did you hear from God that somebody was going to come here?” The man replied, “No,” so I went back to Dian St.
At the last end of the street which was Roosevelt St., I turned right to Diesel St. where I had relatives who lived in that place. My relatives were there at seven-thirty in the morning. There was a Baptist guy and they were talking about me, about the Word of God. They said, “Let us pray for Charles, my cousin.” I peeked in the window and as I was hearing my name, and I said, “I am out here.” Their eyes showed surprise and they asked, “How did you know that we were praying for you?” I said, “There was a voice telling me to come here.” I asked, “What does this mean, ‘I am the bright and Morning Star?’” I did not know the Bible and they replied, “In the Book of Revelation, Jesus is the bright and Morning Star.” I said, “What am I supposed to do?” They asked me if I know the Bible and I answered in the negative.
We shared the Word of God and I began to hunger for the Word; and a time came that every day I formally attended CLF from 1982 to 1985. In 1985, there was a CTC Seminar for those who wanted to have Bible Studies. At that time that I would commit everything to God, I was attacked by cirrhosis of the liver and then my kidney. It was very painful and I was scheduled for operation. One evening, I was praying to God, “Why did this happen to me at this time that I am committing to You?” There was no voice. I talked to God and said, “You are the God Almighty. I do not want to serve a God who doesn’t want to talk to me, who cannot give me a miracle, and whom I cannot hear His voice, who is greater than this sickness that people say is incurable. If You can heal me now, if You give me a miracle, I will serve You the remaining years of my life.” The Lord said, “Okay, call your cousins and your relatives.” They came at one thirty in the morning and they prayed for me. They spoke the Word of God and they cast out the devil and the sickness. While they were still praying, I felt the feeling of wanting to urinate. My cousin said, “We are not done praying.” I said, “Continue with your prayer because I want to urinate already.”
Actually, I could not urinate already and my stomach was very big. My color was yellow; my nails were yellow. When I urinated, the water that came out was not water, but pure black sand, crystal salts, and then clear water. When this was happening, my stomach became smaller, until finally, there was no more pain.
Prayer and discipleship is very effective. There were people who taught me how to pray, that I walked with, and I saw how they did it. Whatever kind of prayer that you are exposed to, do the best to learn them, to study them, and to apply them. There is no formula for prayer. There are so many kinds of prayer like intercessory prayer, casting out of demons and prayer of petitions. What is important is to develop a faith or a belief that what God is saying is true. If the Bible is the Word of God and this is God’s word to us, everything in the Bible is true. He is going to teach us if we dare to believe Him all the way.
I was healed because I dared to believe! I was able to continue with CTC. I was able to meet people there. I attended of the different trainings and the Bible Studies and I learned how to speak the Word of God and to pray such that our prayers were answered. For the many things that I prayed for, God answered them.
My older brother, Dcn. Manolet from the Parish of St. Augustine, was one that I prayed for twenty years. My wife would say at that time, “Of all people that is impossible to be born-again, that is your brother.” I developed something in my life where I said to the Lord, “I want to hear You, Lord.” I could hear His voice speak to me every day up to this day. He speaks to me, too, in His Word. If the Word of God is written in your minds and in your hearts, it would speak to you.
Every day and every time the Word of God would say to me, “Visit your brother.” They were living in Mandaluyong and I lived in Paranaque. The Lord said, “Go to them very early in the morning so that they will not be able to go out, and you will be able to share to them before they eat their breakfast. Before I came to their house, I would whistle so that they would know that I was coming. I could hear the moving of the bottles and see smoke coming out of the window early in the morning. I was giving them time to prepare so that when I knock at their door, it is as if they just woke up. When I entered their house, they pretended that they just woke up even though I saw the beer bottles still cold under the bed.
I took pains and invested in their lives. Patriarch Bates said that if you are going to disciple someone, if you are going to follow up someone, if you are going to pray for someone, put legs on your prayer. Invest your time, your talent, and your resources. I did these. Talking of time, we need to be patient. Just because we pray, quoting Patriarch Bates, “Is God obligated to answer our prayer?” No, but this is the confidence that we have that whatever we pray for which is according to His will, He hears us.
Hebrews 11:6 says, “It is impossible to please God without faith.” What is faith? Faith is the substance of things we hope for, the evidence of things not yet seen. What is the substance of things that we hope for? It is the promises of God; the Word of God. We pray for someone; we intercede for someone, but we have to have the faith and the prayer life like the prophet Elijah. In the book of James, it says that Elijah had the same nature as us and he prayed for the rain to stop and the rain did not come for several years. In my interpretation, in my own mind, Elijah would say to the Lord, “Lord, I am taking back my prayer. Please let it rain again.” He did not like the effect of his prayer. One man’s prayer caused a lot of famine where livestock died. One day, Elijah prayed again for rain to come and the rain came.
Do you believe that your prayers will be answered and that God has answered your prayers tonight? Why is this? It is because you are praying to Someone, not to a man. You are praying to God Almighty! If you are praying to God, remember that it is God who will answer it. In our prayer life, when we pray for someone, to follow up because there is a need, sometimes we think, “Maybe, it is taking a while for the answers to come because we think we are the ones and the ability will come from us.” We think, “I don’t have the ability to cause those things to happen, so maybe, the prayer is being delayed.”
Scriptures says that all things are possible to them who believe because there is nothing impossible with God. In the gospel, Jesus asked, “When the Son of man comes, will He find faith in this world?” This is why He sent the Holy Spirit so that in times that we think that God is not answering our prayer, the Holy Spirit will remind us that He never left us and He will never leave us and He will never forsake us because He loves us.
The secret of prayer and the secret of coming into prayer and worship when you are gathered together in the Name of Jesus is believing that He is present. One of the greatest promises of God and the greatest work of God is to come into our lives. The great mystery that God said in Colossians 1:26-27 was, “In past ages, even prophets and angels long to see and to understand is that Christ in you, the hope of glory.” In Ephesians 2:10 says that God is going to create a masterpiece where sinners who were once dead will be redeemed.
Patriarch Bates says that we are already alive. We have been redeemed and resurrected because we were once a sinner. The Lord says, “This mystery, Christ in you, causes things to happen in our lives,” just like what St. Paul had when he received this understanding. St. Paul knew that it was not him, nor the apostles or you and me, but because God is with us that will cause things to happen when we obey.
We all believe the Bible, the Word of God; we all believe in prayer and in our prayers; but do we follow through this prayer life? Do we follow up the people that we have prayed for? Sometimes, we want the prayer to do the work, to do the walking and to do the talking for us; but there are times and situations and circumstances that we have to do something. We have to act for what we have prayed for.
There was one thing that I prayed for when I got born again. When I was young, every time I would go to the Eucharist, I would always bring in my prayers my parents. They are already with the Lord. They both received the Lord, but something happened to my Dad and my Mom in their relationship. . Every time I would go the Eucharist, I would pray that they would not separate. I brought them with me in my prayers in the Sacrament of the Eucharist because my father and my mother were always fighting. I would ask counsel from my uncle and I told him that the reason I got drunk and did a lot of crazy things was to relax my brain and my emotions; but the relationship of my parents was getting worse. He told me, “You are already grown up. Your parents and you have your own life to live. Bring them to prayer and bring them to Church in your prayer in the Eucharist.
I did not understand these things when I was young, but one of the prayers that God has answered was, “Lord, I come and I received this Body and Blood and I pray, “Lord, You said in Your Sacrament in the Eucharist that You have made two one.” I was very young; I was not a theologian. I know that God gave me that understanding and I said, “Lord, I pray. I stand in behalf of my Dad and my Mom. Marriage is a sacrament and what God has joined together, let no man separate, Amen.”
I did this every Sunday and they never got separated although my Dad had a mistress. He left his mistress eventually. Even though I had this prayer, I wanted to kill the mistress and to kill my Dad. One day, I called my Dad and said, “I have a confession to make to you.” We were in a hospital canteen and he and I were sitted at both ends of the long table so that in case he wanted to catch me, I will just go around the table and avoid him. He did not know that I was going to confess. I told him, “You know, Dad, I have the burden that I want to say to you. There were many times I wanted to kill you.” He stood up on his chair and said, “What did you say?” I said, “I wanted to kill you because of what you did to my Mom. The reason I am saying this, Dad, is because I wanted to confess to you. I want you to forgive me for those bad feelings and thoughts that I had against you. Please forgive me.” He did forgive me. Before he died, the Lord reconciled his relationship with my Mom.
I only heard my Dad say, “I love you,” when I was already a Pastor, and when I got operated from a spinal slip disc operation lower lumbar. I was paralyzed in 1990 in Cebu where I could not walk for two months and a half. Doctors thought I would not walk for the rest of my life because my spine broke and I had eight stitches at the back. God gave me miracle after miracle because I believe in God. I believe in the words of healing, “By the stripes of Jesus, we were healed.”
Before my operation, the Holy Spirit was saying, “You need to submit to an operation because I am going to do a spiritual operation in your life. The operation is only secondary.” My mother called me long distance and said, “I will not stop crying until you submit and say to me that you will go to the hospital whatever your problem is. You are a man of God. You are a Pastor. You should believe God for your miracle. I know you don’t want to submit because you are looking at the money side.” I said, “Yes, Mom.” She said, “You are supposed to be a man of faith. Why are you afraid?” I said, “I don’t have money.” We went to Cebu in 1987, then, I was operated on 1990. I had my MRI and I was told that I need to be operated on immediately. I told them, “Let me go out first and let me talk to God.” I came back and after a few days, I was operated on.
After the operation, the doctors told me that in six months I could walk but it was not sure. I said to the doctor, “Jesus Christ of Nazareth in the Bible died. On the third day, He rose again from the dead and He was able to walk. Doctor, I am sure I am not going to die, but when I wake up on the third day, I will walk again.” I did walk on the third day and I am standing in front of you showing you that I am walking again. God is good all the time!
Who taught me these things? Our Church taught me how to pray and how to believe in God. I was not able to use what I know not until I applied what I know. I first applied it in my life. I would lay hands on myself – on the forehead – and before I lay hands, I would stand on the foot of my bed because if I get slain, I would fall on the bed and rest in the presence of the Lord. This happened many times and God healed me.
My second son, Abraham, is diabetic at the age of two years old and six months. He entered the hospital with a sugar level of 940. He did not have any complications. The doctor was afraid that my son would have brain damage because of the sugar problem. We stayed in the hospital for nineteen days during that time and he left the hospital still having to undergo injection up to now that he is twenty-three years old. This thing is causing a lot of ministry in his life. He is able to help a lot of people, encouraging them because when he wakes up in the morning, the first thing that he experiences is pain. Before he sleeps, the last thing that he has is also pain. It is all needles. I told him that all of these are temporary. God will use it in his life, I don’t know how, and it is between him and the Lord.
There was a day in Abraham’s life that he died for fifteen minutes. We used to have our Daily Office of Prayer in our Church in Cebu in my house. One morning in November, Abraham was brushing his teeth and Dorothy, our youngest, was also brushing her teeth. They were arguing who will be the first one to finish brushing their teeth. They were so in a hurry that my son got suffocated by the toothpaste. It was early in the morning and if one is diabetic and insulin dependent, the sugar level can drop which is called hypoglycaemia. Having hypoglycaemia, one can get suffocated by toothpaste. With hypoglycaemia and suffocation, the throat gets blocked. My son fell and he had this attack and he could not wake up.
I carried him in my hands. I asked the help of my neighbors, but nobody helped me. I went to the four doors of the rows of apartment and nobody helped, until the last door. While I was carrying my son, I had a Deacon with me and he was saying at my back, “Father, patay naman. He is already black and blue.” I said, “Don’t worry. He is not dead, he is just sleeping.” I went to the last neighbour who brought me and my son to the hospital, and my son was gone. He was in my arms and the Scripture during that time in the Daily Office was the story of Lazarus. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only You were here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus said, “Did I not say to you that I am the Resurrection and I am the Life and that if you believe in Me, though you are dead, you will live?” Martha said, “I know, Lord, on the last day.” Jesus said, “No, I AM. He is now talking to you. I am the Resurrection and I am the Life. If you believe, you will see greater things.”
I quoted that and nothing happened. Before I came down, I told my wife and my daughter to go to the room and to pray and I said, “Call the Bishop and text people whom you know in the Cathedral of the King and tell them to pray. Don’t worry, we will be back.” I knelt down in the driveway carrying my son and the only prayer that I was able to say was, “Lord, have mercy. I will not allow my son to die.” I embraced him and all of a sudden, God gave me an open vision where we went down together in an open dark pit. There were demons around us, and they were very happy; but when I said, “Lord, have mercy,” all of a sudden, two angels came down on the side and the light that comes from above dispelled the darkness in front. The two angels guarded us and a big man embraced my hand and my son and carried us back into this world. It was a vision and my son woke up. We still brought him to the doctor and confirmed what happened.
Last week, another miracle happened. In the University of San Carlos, students enroll through the computer. Something happened to their program and many students were not able to enroll. They were told that they just have to enroll the next semester. My son said, “Papa, can you please help me? Can you talk to the Dean or the Chairman of our Department?” He was a third year student taking up Marketing Management. I said, “Okay.” I wore my clerics, but he told me, “Pa, don’t wear your clerics. They are very strict Roman Catholic.” I still wore my clerics and I went into the office of the Chairman. He was not there and neither was the Dean. I asked for the Assistant and I was able to talk to him, but he would not give in. I prayed to God in my mind that instance, “Lord, what do I do?” This guy was putting down the students. The Lord said, “Just tell him to help.”
I said, “Excuse me, Professor. Please help Mr. Atayde to be enrolled. It is not their fault that the program was changed. Whatever you can, please help Mr. Atayde.” It turned out that my son was assigned to be the leader of 27 students, the first batch, to go through a seminar so that all of them can be accepted to be enrolled in this year’s second semester. He was able to organize to get a speaker and to be able to call the students to be part of the seminar so that they can be enrolled. The school also assigned my son to be the leader of that group until they graduate. I said to Abraham, “You see, son, it turned out for good because we prayed. We prayed together to touch the heart of the Dean or the Chairman to make a way for us, and the Lord opened the way immediately.”
We are to believe and to act upon the prayers that we have prayed for no matter how simple it is. Yes, we may be intimidated at first, but we persevere and we go boldly and apply what we believe God is telling us to do; and God will cause things to happen and turn out all things for good because God loves us.
God loves us so much, and we are in a time where a new beginning has started. There was the ground-breaking for the Church land and we are in for great things because we serve a great God. God is so good. God is so great that He will see to it that if we dare to believe in Him, all things are possible.
This is the first time that I stood here in the pulpit since 1980 and I really don’t know what to say or what to teach. All I want to share is to encourage you that prayer really works. I was paralyzed; it was incurable, irreversible because of my drinking habit before, but God destroyed the drinking habit. My eldest son was mauled by goons in Cebu, two kidneys collapsed, his lungs collapsed, and his heart almost collapsed. He was almost killed, but I said to my son, “You forgive those people who did that to you,” and every day, God will heal you. He had to go through a dialysis. He said, “If I go to the dialysis, will it be for life?” The hospital would even cause fear to say, “For life na yan, Sir.” I said, “Do not believe them. Believe your Father. Believe God. That is only one time. The Lord says that if you forgive every day, your kidney will be healed, your lungs be healed, your heart and your bones will be healed.” Out of that experience, God gave him two brand new kidneys, new lungs, a new heart, and a new spirit. He stopped drinking and smoking out of this experience. He is alive and he is back to the Lord. Now, he is very happy; he is healed and healthy; and he has been promoted in his job.
We are not perfect that is why we have a God who is a miracle working God. We pray, we believe, and we follow-up on people who needs our strength. Follow up is so important. I followed up on my brother for twenty years. I followed up people who are now pastors of different churches. I also followed up a group who were Roman Catholics, but they wanted to learn about charismatic things and how to pray. They wanted to have a charismatic group. For six months, I stood with them, and The Love Flock, which was divided, is now in the Archbishop’s Palace. After two years, they got divided and I prayed for them for one year and they said that they wanted to start a new church. I helped them again and after three years, a Charismatic ministry was born which they call “The Healing Love of God Catholic Charismatic Ministry.” I am one of their spiritual director advisers. Out of that was born this prayer called “Two Thousand Hail Mary’s.” They are one of my intercessors. They are not in our order or denomination. God gave them a vision on what to do. Now, they have “Two Thousand Hail Mary’s” in all the parishes. Their parishes were revived because of this prayer.
The Church will be revived when the people of God begin to pray. Small group, big group, you pray and something will happen. Prayer works and even the demons will run away. When the demons see me, they run away because they don’t want to be near my presence. When the demons see you, they will run away because you are a child of God. The moment you speak and you declare and you rebuke a demon, they are afraid that they will be cast out and they wouldn’t know where to go.
If you think that our Church has a problem, it is all over the world. God is creating something new. God has raised up a new breed, a new people that went through a lot of shaking whether natural or spiritual and who are willing to stick together, to be committed to one another, and to be devoted to God who will say to one another, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. I will always be here to encourage you, to stand with you. I am not perfect, but I want you to know that I am here to strengthen you, to be with you and to help you in your times of greatest despair and trial. I will be there to stand beside you.”