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Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 3:32 pm 
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Reflections From Behind Bars
by Jed Pilapil Sy

It is by God's grace that I am able to sit down at this very moment and put all these thoughts and feelings into writing. I was at first hesitant to do this, knowing it would only cause me trouble. But with all my fervent prayer, I fully understand God's message to me, which prompted me to do this, believing that His words spoken to me are powerful and can truly help make a difference in the lives of other people.

Many times I have been full of confusion and doubts, to the point that I have lost hope because of injustice. But deep inside my heart I know I should not think this way, because God has a purpose in everything that happens to me.

It was five years ago that I was brought to the PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) office. I almost lost my sanity thinking I would be in prison—a dungeon! I cried day and night, because I was helpless. My 3-year-old daughter and my loyal house-helper Daday were the only people with me while the policemen were interrogating me.

Everybody was looking at me, especially the media people who never stopped sensationalizing our case, whether on TV or in newspapers. They didn't seem to bother digging for the whole truth or even want to respect our privacy. I felt depressed and did not know who to turn to or trust, except to God, who was my only Defender. My heart was aching when I saw my baby, so hungry, because it was already past 8 in the evening, and we were still at the PDEA office. She was forced to eat the food offered to us. The rice was almost spoiled.

The worst thing that happened was when most of the people whom I called “friends” turned their backs on me. I do not hold grudges against them, because God is merciful; I prayed that their hearts would be touched. There were lots of people who offered their help, but again to my dismay, they were not actually helping but rather adding to my burden and taking advantage of my situation.

I was hopeless, then, because I did not know what to do or where to go. I had unfinished business that needed to be settled, but I could not do anything about it while being in prison. Neither could my family help me, because they did not want more problems. What I did was lift up everything to God—my worries, fears and confusion—believing He would be the one to direct every step I would make.

God heard my prayer, and I am very thankful to those people who untiringly extended their support: my widowed mother Jessica who takes care of my little daughter, my auntie Cynthia, my best friend Liza, my fellow Church members, Mr. and Mrs. Macaraeg and their family for their heartfelt prayers and support, all those people who spent their time visiting me personally in jail and all the people who continue to believe in me and trust me for who I am, and especially my jail guards.

I have learned that in every problem we encounter, the first and foremost solution is to turn to God and fervently pray without ceasing that He will help us and guide every decision we make. Everything will turn out well if we really believe in Him and trust fully in His power.

I hope this observation will also help you realize my mistake, because I don't want you to reach the point of no return.

I had lots of questions and confusion over why my brother and I had to suffer, when in fact we were completely innocent. No matter how I explained it to the people around me—to our lawyers, to all those who were asking me—nothing changed! I wanted to shout to everybody, especially to the judge of RTC (Regional Trial Court) Branch 9, that we did not deserve to be in jail! But I've come to realize God loves us and purposely put us in jail to train us spiritually to live blamelessly so that we may have eternal life with Him.

The incident is still fresh in my mind when my whole world turned to a nightmare; I don't even want to talk about it. I lost my beloved husband Allan, who is even now still missing, and we do not know where he is or what really happened to him. I almost went insane when my precious baby girl, Tin Tin, was taken home to our province with my relatives on the evening of Jan. 4, 2005, because I was locked up behind bars. I shouted for justice, but my plea fell upon the deaf ears of the PDEA. It was so painful that I could hardly accept what happened. To summarize this whole matter, again: This was God's will. He has a purpose!

Now, I have been in jail for more than five years, and one thing that I am always grateful for is the grace of God and His Holy Spirit, which gave me and continues to give me strength to move on, face this trial and overcome my weaknesses.

It is nice to say, “Thank you, God. Thank you for the wonderful blessings.” But I realized it is not enough to be only thankful, I should also do something in return. If we can pay favors to people who did something good to us, why can't we do that to God? If we can love our husband and our children to the point that we are willing to sacrifice everything for them, why can't we do the same for God? Different people judge me according to what they see in me, but what is important is how I respond to the calling that God offers me.

Yes, when I first entered this jail, I thought it was a big shame, suffering and persecution, but I found out through my personal experiences with the help of the Holy Spirit and God's wisdom, that I should count it as joy. God gave me the chance to reform, to repent and to persevere so that I will become a better person and be a good example to my fellow inmates and the people around me (1 Peter 3:8-17). Surely, all of us must learn and realize the things we need to change.

My life in jail is full of challenges every day, trying to live my life the way God wants it to be, or should I say, according to His will and way! It's easy to say I want to live my life and submit to His will; but in reality it is really hard, knowing that we are living in this present evil world where there is very little room for God's way of life. People are more focused on how to cope with busy lives, longing for fame and power, rather than abiding by God's commandments and His laws.

I've been asking God in prayer to set my brother and me free. I understand why we are still here. It is because we have not yet matured spiritually and have not faithfully followed His commands. I was struck with the passage in 1 John 3:22, which says, “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” It teaches me patience, to wait for His answers in His time.

I was weak, but now I realize that all these pains, stupid mistakes and persecutions have contributed much to my spiritual growth. I praise God for filling me with His Word through my Bible study, because it greatly helps open my mind to understand the things I have been through and helps me be more equipped with spiritual knowledge whenever I encounter trials in my life.

When I tried to recall all these things, I am overwhelmed with joy to know that God is with me, though I went through those fiery troubles in my life. I stand firm in my faith and abide by His commandments. I asked God to give me wisdom to discern right from wrong, because no matter how many material riches I have, I consider myself nothing if I do not have the wisdom from heaven (James 3:17).

I am fervently praying to God that other people may also have wisdom and God's grace so that we can live peaceably with our fellow men and most of all with God.

It is indeed an honor and privilege to get wisdom, because not all can have this gift. But God has promised to give us wisdom if we fear Him. According to James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

We need to fear God so that we can attain that wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).

Now I realize that in all aspects of our lives, no matter who we are or what we have, we need to fear God. This does not mean fright or terror but rather a good relationship with Him based on reverence and respect for Him and His commands. How can we be saved spiritually if we do not start to change our lives, to do those things that are pleasing in His sight?

I believe there is always hope and room to change as long as we live, but we should start now before we regret and suffer the consequences. Ecclesiastes ends with a passage that has helped me to come to realize these things, “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

I am praying my words will help us open our minds to the truth and give us a lesson to learn, to keep and to do. I am not saying I am fully righteous or perfect, because no one is yet perfect, but we need to strive hard to live in righteousness as God requires.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 10:00 am 
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my goodness, i cried buckets!

jed, you must submit this to inquirer and other magazines because this is too beautiful and too inspiring not to be shared. i've provided a link in my facebook.

thank you so much for posting it here. i texted cynthia about this post and she said this had been published in your church's gazette, adding you have a lot of beautiful reflections. care to share them here?

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Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 10:26 am 
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jed, welcome to our virtual home and thank you for sharing your reflections. very inspring indeed.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:38 pm 
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Hi, Jed.

I am deeply moved upon reading your article. It made me ponder instantly.

Thank you for the beautiful message you have shared to us and I hope you don't get tired of sharing more.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 11:25 pm 
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Jed, thank you for taking the time to share your touching scripture-backed testimony.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:35 pm 
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Jed,

Thanks for your testimonial. It touched me deeply. It’s good to know you find meaning in your situation that brings you closer to God. Your newfound faith in Him would certainly encourage others especially in time of despair. Well done Jed.

I happened to know you through your classmate who’s my niece. She visited you in prison and cherished that moment of seeing you despite that circumstance. She never stops praying for you and looks forward to the time you and your brother will be set free. I am praying too for it to happen sooner than later. It's easier said but let's not lose hope for in God nothing is impossible.


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