There is no limit to the usefulness of one who, putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart and lives a life wholly consecrated to God. ~ Ellen G. White, Maranatha, p. 103
On December 28, 2015, I met a wonderful French woman. Little did I know that she would be a close friend at heart. She’s been a channel for the Holy Spirit to rekindle the fire and set the embers of my missionary aspirations ablaze!
“Her: Are you a Filipino?
Me: Yes, I’m a pure Filipino.
Her: But you don’t look like everyone here, you look more of a Latina.
Me: Oh, I’ve got some Spanish blood from my grandparents — Familia Calizo and Antonio from mother’s side, Familia Geronimo from my father’s side.”
From a casual acquaintance at a pastor’s house, we’ve delved into deeper conversations regarding faith and her testimony.
She’d been traveling the world as a professional wine maker, until she got a radical transformation and accepted Jesus Christ as her Personal Savior about six months ago. She’s been an inquisitive student of the Bible since June 2014.
Inspired by her testimony and by her leap of faith to respond the call to work in God’s vineyard in the Philippines, I requested her to share her transformation story as a guest blogger.
The manuscript beneath is written by Violaine Herisson.
How the Lord Changed My Life
I was raised in the north of France. My father and mother had previous marriages before finding each other. Even though, they were not so young anymore they decided to have a baby. Sadly, after my third birthday, my mother developed a brain tumor and died one month after the diagnosis.
After high school, I went a year in Scotland to learn English, then studied international business and specialized myself in wine. I had a perfect life from the society’s point of view. I had it all but still was looking for something more, something deeper that no one seemed able to give me. Probably that is why I ended up on the other side of the world, in Australia. I found there my promised land! What a difference from the old and gloomy Europe! People had values that I never dreamed about. Even though I found a true home there, I took the decision to carry on with my studies and go back to France to start a winemaking and viticulture course.
During that school year (2013), we traveled to South Africa. The reality of slums confronted me to what poverty is, and I was shocked. Actually, not because of their poverty but because of their smiles! It was so painful for me to realize that people who have nothing can enjoy life so much. I could not understand why… – Now I know better. I went back to South Africa two years later on a mission trip and I discovered that the missing key to my question was God. These people believe in God, they have hope. As soon as I returned home, I wrote a-seven-page letter to my family to cry out my anger and pain towards our society. They answered that I should look into Buddhism and other stuff to find more sense in life. I also sent this letter to my cousin. She is a Seventh-Day Adventist and started Country Life/TGM mission school ten years ago in Austria. She told me later that at that point she knew I was ready for the truth.
End 2013, I went to make wine in the Napa Valley, St Helena, and met people that could talk and see dead people and demons. I wrote there a very interesting text in my journal: “Is there a way to come out of society? I feel like I am drowning in it. How do I come out of this river that takes me down? Are there people that know the truth? How can I find them?” It is quite funny that, from all the places in the world I went to, I wrote this specific text in this very particular town where Ellen White started a sanitarium and where she lived for 15 years. I was probably surrounded by the people that I was looking for.
I was working very hard and injured my back nerves. For two months, I was slightly handicapped and I returned home not sure of my future from a professional perspective. It was Christmas time and my SDA cousin, Sabrina, was there. She offered me a massage and invited me to do a NEWSTART Program in her Institute, in Austria. It was not the first time she offered but I had been so busy and no particularly willing to go there before. This time there was no reason to refuse and I grabbed the offer.
In May 2014, I spent three weeks at Country Life. These are the three weeks that changed my life forever. I found there something I had seen for the first and only time in South Africa. The smiles and shiny faces! Again, it was really painful to be in the midst of these people. They had what I desired the most: true happiness. The pain I had in the chest all my life was intensifying. When you are in the middle of so much love and joy, it actually makes you suffer a great deal. People were talking about God with so much love and they were behaving the same way with each other. What a sermon! I started studying the Bible with the school leader and I shared about my pain in the chest with the Pastor. He offered to pray for me the surrender and sinner’s prayer. A couple of days later the pain went away and never came back.
When I went back to France, I thought that finally I had it all: a great life, a successful career and God! I was so happy but a couple of months later I realized that I was not aiming in the right direction with winemaking and my life in general. I decided to give one year to God which, now I know, will definitely be more than that. When I look back, I am amazed at how none of the people, either at the mission school or at the Church I visited in France, ever judged me because of my job and my decisions. They were always pointing at the fact that God had something better for my life and they prayed for me.
Spending a year in a mission school turned out to be the toughest time of my life but I walked out with a complete different perspective in life, better equipped to face life as a Christian, a good base to develop a godly character, and the will to let God lead my life!
It is indeed what happened. I completely “jumped off the cliff” to land in God’s arms. Each desire I have in my heart is being fulfilled, one after the other, through incredible ways. He is definitely the best writer of our lives.
For the past month I have been travelling in the Philippines as student of an SDA consultant in permaculture. He is giving seminars and practical classes on what is God’s plan for modern Israel and how abundant and free from disease crops can be if we are willing to observe and recreate the book of nature. Our prayer is, God willing, to start an agricultural school here in the Philippines.
“For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.” Isaiah 51:3
“In God’s plan for Israel every family had a home on the land, with sufficient ground for tilling. Thus were provided both the means and the incentive for a useful, industrious, and self-supporting life. And no devising of men has ever improved upon that plan. To the world’s departure from it is owing, to a large degree, the poverty and wretchedness that exist today.” EGW, Ministry of Healing, p.183
All His biddings are enablings
I’m grateful to have been blessed with Sis. Violaine’s testimony. I’m praying for God’s will for our hope to establish an organic farm, and holistic wellness center that would cater not only the physical maladies of the people, but more of introducing them to the Wounded Healer.
Kindly keep this specific endeavor in your prayers, that God would continue to work with Sis. Violaine as she work closely, hand in hand with the Lord in His vineyard [figurative and literal farm].
“Every follower of Jesus has a work to do as a missionary for Christ,… All who are consecrated to God are channels of light. God makes them instruments of righteousness to communicate to others the light of truth.” Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2, p. 632.
© 2016 LAF
Note: Photos credit to Violane H. The photos and articles should not be used, reproduced and manipulated by any means without a written request and consent from the author.