Part 1 From Ruins To Restoration: Elaine Ongpauco

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“My husband and I were married in 2007. I became a follower of Jesus in 2014; my husband surrendered his life to Christ in 2015. We are both serving in small groups and short-term mission trips while my husband serves in CCF Exalt (Music Ministry). It is indeed God’s amazing grace that I can start my testimony in such a victorious tone.

When my husband and I got married, I put my security in him and then my family.

Although my husband and I were together for seven years before marriage, we were still surprised how much our differences affected our relationship as husband and wife. I turned out to be a spoiled brat and he turned out to be the most unsympathetic person I ever met. We also had a difficult time conceiving which caused our intimacy to suffer.

After four years of marriage, we started drifting apart. Our arguments became very common and resentment for each other grew. I became so depressed that I barely went out of our room. There came a point when my husband just stopped speaking to me, barely looked at me, and always had his back to me.

In 2012, my husband started getting close to someone who like he, grew up in a broken home. He told me that this woman understood him more than anyone. I found out about their affair accidentally through a text. I confronted him about it, and he admitted that he had grown close to her enough to consider it love. I was heartbroken and angry. I felt that I did not deserve what was happening. I never failed to tell my husband every chance I got how bad he had treated me.

My close friend from High School was aware of my shortcomings as a wife; she was already following the Lord and shared with me about submission. She told be to take responsibility for all the things my husband complained about me. Out of desperation, I followed her advice.

I apologised for my mistakes, swallowed my pride and served my husband. Whatever I was doing that created more conflict with him, I stopped doing. I gave up working in our business and surrendered the responsibility to him. I stopped questioning his decisions, submitted in every single thing. I never checked up on him, never asked him about his schedule and just worked on myself. I went on a diet, started improving my outward appearance, an area I had neglected for a long time.

I did everything on my own effort; I felt that I sacrificed so much. But my marriage did not improve at all. My husband stared at me unlovingly, criticised me, neglected our intimacy, and came home drunk most of the time. He would wake up, leave, and not be home until the next morning. I desperately cried to the Lord all this time.

The good Lord answered my cries by sending me women who encouraged me to read my bible in order to grow in my relationship with Him, going to seminars, and listening to podcasts and Sunday services. As my relationship with God grew deeper, I became joyful and at peace. When my spiritual eyes were opened to understand my salvation through Jesus, I understood about forgiveness.

As God was working in my heart, the atmosphere in our home improved. My joy was no longer dependent on how I was treated at home; thus I was able to sincerely submit to my husband without expecting anything in return. My husband started noticing and would even listen to my learning for the day. This involved talking about God’s word. I was on a high; I knew God loved me so much and one could see it on my face.

After a month of truly enjoying my intimacy with God, He revealed something that would forever change my life. I always questioned why my marriage had not improved even after doing everything that was advised to me. God in His mercy, let me find out about my husband’s infidelity for the second time. When I confronted my husband, he admitted that he continued with his affair. He failed in his attempt to end the adulterous relationship. I never thought my marriage could get any worse but that was exactly what happened.

I was devastated, heartbroken before the Lord. I knew Him enough to know that He allowed this event to happen. I had no idea why… He knew my deepest desire so I was confused as to why He allowed it. I knew that as a Christian, I had to forgive; it was not optional.

But I truly believed that God wanted me to forgive and then leave. I believed that He would not want me to suffer any longer and would want me to be happy. I was sure that I could start again with someone else and maybe God would then bless me with the family I’ve always dreamed of—- a dream that was prevented because of the lack of intimacy in my marriage. In my mind, God was giving me a chance to be free from this loveless relationship.

I never imagined that God would want me to stay… until the same women, and more, whom God surrounded me with told me that it was indeed His will for me to stay married. I was in disbelief. How could I stay married after everything that happened? I thought I already did what was asked of me and that was enough sacrifice already.

I knew it would be more difficult to stay married. Clearly, my husband had no desire for me as a woman and then more than ever, he had every reason to leave. But God again, in His many mysteries, moved my husband to not leave our marriage. Yet, the following twelve months were the most violent. We fought almost every day. There were so many days that I just wanted to give up, pack up, and leave.

My husband did not change his ways; he led a double life for a time. I was becoming hopeless because we were already doing everything we could to help our marriage work. We were being mentored, we attended a retreat, became part of a small group, had accountability with friends, and we started attending Sunday services together. I saw the effort my husband put in, and so it hurt me whenever I would see how helpless he was in dealing with the consequences of his sin.

Only God could transform my heart enough to have compassion for the man who hurt me deeply and continuously though I still wanted to leave because the pain of his continued betrayals and lies were too much for me to bear. I was afraid of becoming so unstable with my emotions because I could be happy, sad, angry and compassionate within a short period of time. I never thought it was possible to move past the trauma of the infidelity. Every day I was reminded of my husband’s betrayal and lies, and there were so many times when I would discover new things about the affair. God was faithful in exposing the truth and lies. I often entertained the thought that maybe I could just be happy in love with God forever as a single woman than endure a marriage full of suffering.

But as God continued to move in my heart, I prayed for my husband, asked for forgiveness whenever I responded in anger, I learned to speak his love language, and I chose to forgive him each time he chose to give in to sin against our marriage.  I will continue to do so by the power of the Holy Spirit and by the grace of God.  I knew that forgiving my husband would be a special journey in my walk as a follower of Christ.

I thought the only solution was for God to erase all the bad memories and make me forget everything to heal me of the trauma. But God taught me that I did not need to forget the pain, I learned that God’s grace abounds when there is pain and suffering (2 Cor 12:9). I also wondered why it was so hard for me to just forgive without bringing up the past. It was challenging for me to extend grace right away after a wrong done to me. Often I would be a mouthpiece for the devil when I confronted my spouse even though I truly wanted to be a good Christian and just forgive instantly and be gracious. It was impossible to do on my own but because God is merciful, His message of grace overwhelmed me through His word.

I always thought of myself as a good person. And if I did sin, I thought I was not as bad as my husband who committed adultery. I never saw myself as sinful because I thought I sinned less compared to him. God thru His word and in His goodness revealed the ugliness of my heart. I was humbled to the point that I realised how undeserving I was of everything good God has done for me and so deserving of the discipline my situation brought me. I realised that I always thought it was a great sacrifice on my part to obey God, I never thought of obedience as part of my sanctification and as an opportunity of praise and glorify God.

God changed my perspective and it brought unexplainable joy in my life. Slowly God let me witness my husband’s transformation. Whereas for a time I thought my husband would only bring me curses, God now uses my spouse to bless me. Our God is a miracle-working God. What a blessing it truly is to experience the fruit of endurance and perseverance in Christ while still living.

I know that it was not because of any thing I did but only because Of God’s grace. God was not obligated to fix my marriage but He did out of mercy and grace. Everything He does is for a purpose—- not for my own comfort and happiness but only to bring glory to His name.

My marriage is not perfect and because of the consequences of our wrong choices, we would always be dependent on God’s mercy.  I have not forgotten the pain, I would at times fear that it will happen again, but that fear quickly disappears as I put my trust in God.  Whatever He allows to happen, I rely on His promise in Romans 8:28.  I praise God alone for the victories, He alone is faithful always.

Before I end, I want to share a few passages God used to speak to me at the peak of my brokenness.  

When I was questioning whether He really wanted me to stay married, He led me to a passage in the Old Testament I was not familiar with.  Hosea chapter 3.

“Then the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.””

‭‭Hosea‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭

When I battled with doubt about God’s purpose in allowing so much suffering, God led me to a verse about the confrontation of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis 50:20.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” Genesis‬ ‭50:20‬ ‭

What helped me endure the times when pain was overwhelming was Romans 8:18.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans‬ ‭8:18‬ ‭

And lastly, Romans 8:28 always brought me hope that there is always something good even when it seems there is none.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭

My journey with God has been all gain. My marriage made me realise that apart from Christ, nothing is worth having. He took away the idol worship of my marriage (happiness), my family (security), and my dream (hope) in my life so I could gain the eternal goal of having a relationship with Him.

Praise God for His word. May God’s story in my life encourage you to trust Him. May His word guide you always. May His name be praised!

Part 2:

How does a self-described “hard-hearted, enslaved to sin” husband who didn’t trust disciplers and was resigned to his marriage/ had stopped talking to his wife turn around to become a God-loving, wife-considerate husband who is now serving the Lord through Praise and Worship ministry and alongside his wife as facilitator for marriage seminars? Find out key insights as Tyrone Ongpauco shares his journey in this conversation:

Served in Cambodia in 2018 and 2019 as short term missionaries.

Our Small Groups
Our fifth time attending the 2be1 retreat in Baguio and fourth time as facilitators.
With our couple mentor who met with us every week for two years.

The ladies God sent to guide me and hold me accountable❤️
Renewal of vows during our 10 year anniversary in 2017.

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