After about a decade of not seeing each other, today I met my good friend from fourth year high school, Mrs. Janine Rebanal-Balmes. I was so encouraged by her story that I thought of sharing it with all of you.

Janine and I were pretty close during our high school days. I’ve seen her humble beginnings and know her saddest sob stories too.

I personally witnessed another version of abject poverty in her past life that I and my offbeat family used to have.

It was probably year 2002 when she and I had a heart-to-heart talk at Heaven’s Gate Memorial Gardens across Pagrai Hills, Antipolo City. The career woman that I met today was the stark contrast of the unsure teenager that I was talking to right there and then.

Back then she was aimless, hopeless, and desperately stuck in her life’s challenges. Today, she’s a doting mother of three children, wife of one loving and supportive husband, and a manager of a multi-purpose cooperative with her own accounting firm, considering that we both hated Math during high school days.

Despite her hectic schedule, she still has time to serve in three church ministries and take her master’s degree in public administration.

All these came to pass because of the goodness and grace of our God whom she and her husband obeyed when He called them to leave for Mindoro from Antipolo around 9 years ago.

During that time, even with so much uncertainty on what lies ahead and the lack of provision, with the complexity of her three kids transferring school, still in faith, they followed God’s will for their family.

She told me earlier as we exchanged so many life updates that it was also God who guided her towards taking a college course in Accounting even if she hated Math and already has 3 growing kids, even despite their financial lack at that time. I’m just so encouraged by her stories of faith and triumphs over trials.

About 15 years ago, it was one windy afternoon in the rolling hills of that memorial gardens that I shared the gospel to my friend. It was there that she surrendered her life to the lordship of Jesus Christ. I invited her to attend Sunday worship services at Victory in UP Film Center, Diliman, Quezon City where she got to know God more, and that became her home church too at the time. She got discipled there in a Victory Group under the leadership of Mrs. Brenda Lee, and was baptized as a Christian sometime in 2003.

Right now, like for the rest of us, there are still challenges. But because she continues to nurture her relationship with God, steadily growing her faith, she withstands and conquers it all like grace under fire.

I’m pretty sure that with her right attitude towards life’s challenges and her unwavering faith, she and her family will be blessed with even more successes in the future.

Mrs. Janine Rebanal-Balmes is a portrait of a career woman growing in faith and wisdom through the years by the grace of God.

Mrs. Janine Balmes and I at Victory Greenhills

Adrian is a professional Events Host, Writer, Teacher, and Change Catalyst. He's a world-class emcee creating fun, memorable, and meaningful events. As a change catalyst, his mission is to inspire personal development so people could have better lives with brighter future, against all odds. An IELTS- and TESOL-certified English Trainer, he's also a prolific Tagalog Tutor.