Jay Ar Oloya: Hopping From One Church to Another and Finally Finding God

Jay Ar Oloya and his father Lino

THIS POST should have been written months ago. I started writing it now, because I am simply amazed, I am in a stupor, pondering  at the Lord’s ways and methods, wondering at how He wanted to convert a family, and began it by first converting the son, the only son in that family. The young man’s name is Jay Ar Oloya.  He was the first in the family to become a Christian; five months from his conversion, last Saturday, Sept. 8, to be specific, I also baptized his father. But that’s going ahead of the story.

It was one day in March. We had just scrapped from the list our 250th prospect for  study, an effort that began many months back,  having realized that our conversation about the Word with him got us nowhere. I suggested to Erwin, my young companion, that we try Malinta-Bukid; it’s not far away, and it’s not even a  kilometer’s walk from the house of another prospect we had studied with that noon. “Let’s look for another soul,” I said. Told him I am hungry and need some snacks.

Then I saw a vendor’s cart, and heard something burning, and smelled something sweet: Banana on sticks.

The young man was cooking something else, but my eyes were focused on the bananas that’s cooling by the side of the pan. I ordered two for both of us.

One of my favorite pastimes is talking while eating. As we ate, I asked the young man if he had read the Bible; I expected a negative answer, but no, he said, “Yes, in fact I have one given to me by a friend.” I quoted verses: Matthew 7:21. Matthew 7:13-14. “Yes,” he said, “I had read that too.” “Then,” I said, “could I show you more? Can you give me thirty minutes?”  “Yes,” he answered.

I sat on the bench beside his cart, opened my laptop and showed  him the first slide of my lesson series on the Bible. When people came to buy, I would stop; Jay Ar would pick up a stick of bananas and handed it to the customer, got the money and went back to the bench and signaled me to continue. We finished the first lesson that day.

Caloocan church baptistery

IT WAS just the beginning. I saw a hungering soul, a soul parched dry wanting drops, no, glassfuls of the water of life. When his attempt to introduce me to the family went pfft, he was tearful, not expecting that the father who loved him so much would love him less now that he was a learner of the Word. “Love him less,” at least that was how he understood his father’s actuation of rejecting me.

We would transfer venues of study, no longer by the wayside but inside our rented hall in Gallardo Building. He would come mornings when he’s not busy. In the afternoons when he was supposed to be vending his sugary, sticky bananas on sticks, he would invent an alibi so he could escape from the drudgery of a work that he felt was imposed on him . He wanted less to be a vendor, he wanted more to study the Bible.

He had plenty of questions, and the answers I gave from the Word opened to him new vistas that the Bible provides to the hearers. He told me he had been hopping from one sect to another, asking their preachers to teach him Bible. They simply did not have time. I have all the time he wanted! I would invite him to Caloocan and he would come, and I would introduce him to the brethren. He felt awed by the reception he got.

Jay Ar being baptized, April 14, 2012

FINALLY on April 14, more than a month since I met him on that road near Makipot-Rincon (Makipot means “Strait”), Jay Ar decided to enter the strait path that goes to heaven. The tenth lesson on “What Must I Do to be Saved?” was done in brother Randy Macapagal’s office, where I could talk with all my might, the better to explain and illustrate the finest points of history and doctrine of the early Christians without being distracted and without disturbing anyone.  It took two hours and I finally closed the deal. Jay Ar wanted to be baptized. He told me he did not bring any extra wear, and I said that’s no problem. In the cool waters of the baptistery of Caloocan, at 8:00 pm, I immersed him.

The days that followed made him think Christianity was no fun in the pool. He found out that the road to heaven was even straiter than Makipot Street near their home. His mother would castigate him for reading “too much Bible” and he would ran to me with tears in his eyes. And he would do this not just twice or thrice but many times. He said he found in me the big brother he had wanted, and the father figure that’s different from the father he knew. I decided to keep him under my wings, not literally; he became my ward, and I took care of him like the son I desired but never had; and the hours he was out of their home became days, and days were longer because he no longer wanted to go home. And when he told me that he would ignore his mother’s text message for him to come home, I said no, I wanted you to show respect to the mother and the father who brought you into the world, because it is what Jesus desires for every one who follows Him.

He said he wanted to train under me, and become a preacher too. And so by that statement that came from the lips of my first real convert in Valenzuela, I started a Bible school. He and Erwin Saligumba became my first students.

The young man has a good heart and a soul that’s ready to serve. He asked for the first lessons in evangelism, translated by me into Tagalog, and equipped with that, plus the Bible that I gave him, he began evangelizing the people of Dulong Tangke. With the lessons from the old laptop I gave him, he started to teach his father. And his mother. And his sister Donna. His parents never paid much attention, especially when he castigated their use of graven images. But his sister Donna listened. That was an opening. I proceeded to teach his sister too. That study is still ongoing.

He rebuked his parents for their lack of faith, and proceeded to tell them that their bad fortunes began when they bought and worshipped the images in their home. His mother had small Marys and big Marys. I taught him how to argue, and he perfected it using the flawless Tagalog dialect he has grown up with.

Jay Ar’s patience, and our prayers, finally paid off. His father Lino now expressed his interest in listening to the stranger who converted his son. Early one morning I came and they indeed were waiting for me. My first lesson on the Bible tackled the use of images. After that study, they decided to do away with the Marys they had, both big and small.

Jay Ar Oloya is one great lesson I learned. The lesson was that the drudgery that you call soul-winning that ended your days without winning a single soul may be the break that the Lord wanted you to do one more time. Jay Ar was our 251st prospect, a soul who hopped from one church to another and finally found God.

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Jayson Quiniones: Finding Jesus in Midst of the Storm

I FIRST met this young man when he came over to our meeting place in Valenzuela City. That was a Sunday evening in August. The worship was done. The studies were done.  He came to visit Jay Ar, and he carried a cane. “What is he here for?” I asked Jay. “We are going to be practicing arnis de mano.” “Oh,” I said. “Good.”

Jayson was his name, and this I later learned from Jay Ar. As soon as he arrived, it was business. He was going to train another man, a much older one, I guess, whose name was not introduced to me, in the art of defending oneself by the use of the cane.  Jayson seemed to be very good at it, and I could see it from the strokes that he executed while engaging in arnis with the other fellow.

Jay Ar and I now sat before the table and invited our two visitors to eat. They both were too shy. But finally, after we were done eating, Jayson sat in front of us and started eating the food I prepared for him; the other man asked to be excused and hurriedly left.

I asked Jay Ar to buy some bread and make coffee for the three of us. In between sips of coffee, I engaged the young man in a conversation. I came to know that he is Jay Ar’s bosom buddy, that he lives in Meycauayan, Bulacan (next town to Valenzuela), and that he is now in his final year in high school. Nothing about the Bible at all. Just plain talk. But the guy knew I am a preacher.

If the good Lord of heaven sent this young man to us to be taught of His will, I had no idea then.

WEEKS WENT  by and Jayson texted me. How he got hold of my number, I would not know. Habagat, the storm that Pag-asa said  was no storm, brought more rains than winds, and rivers overflowed, much of Metro Manila including Valenzuela City were flooded, even in places where it should not, thanks to those hard-headed countrymen of mine who kept throwing plastics into the esteros and canals.  Jayson asked that he be allowed to stay in our meeting hall. I said yes. He said he would be transporting his younger siblings to another house that was out of harm’s way. I asked how he was doing. He said the waters were so deep that he and his siblings had to swim to get out of their house.

That day I took a bus going to Valenzuela and saw none but waters and a few men and women trying to cross Tullahan Bridge, the bridge that connects Valenzuela to Caloocan City. The trip that took me ordinarily 30 minutes took me an eternity. San Miguel’s Polo Brewery seemed abandoned except by the guards. The bus driver said we have to wait until Tullahan River gave up its rage. I prayed.

The trip was long but I arrived at our meeting place. No waters around us except along McArthur Highway. Jayson had braved the raging waters just to reach us! He brought nothing except clothes that had been wet. We fed him and made him comfortable.

He said he came to study the Bible. He heard Jay Ar say, quoting me, that calamities are God’s way of touching lives. It had touched him and set him into thinking. That day we finished two lessons. We did nothing but eat, and pray and study the Word. We turned on the fans to dry his clothes. For beddings he made do with cartons laid on top of plastic tables. It was the best sleep we had I think, with rains raging around us.

Finally, after two days he had to leave. But he promised to come back. And he was true to his promise. Every time he comes it’s communion of food and of the Word. He would say some in his family was sick and we would utter a prayer for them. And I would not let him leave without him bringing some medicines for the sick in his family. And he is always thankful.

WHEN WE had a relief distribution courtesy of the brethren from MARCH for Christ, his mother came to visit because she said she was wondering about the strange preacher with whom his son had struck friendship. And she saw me. We discovered that we are both Visayans and speak the same dialect.

Jayson kept studying with us. At the tenth lesson, which is about how to get rid of one’s sins, he made the decision, and that same day, Thursday, September 6, I immersed him in Caloocan church’s baptistery.

Love begets interest, and a display of love encourages another to learn to love likewise. And Jayson, seeing that Jay Ar his friend is now into evangelism, touching hearts and lives, said he wanted to learn to preach too.

The good Lord of heaven, who created storms that brought calamities, touched a life in a way that we often may not understand. Just follow His prodding, and preach. The next soul that comes to your doorstep may be one whom He wants you to evangelize in order that not you alone may enjoy heaven.

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