Finding Joy in the Midst of Suffering Featured

Written by  Enthrem Beligan Bagtas -- Manila, Philippines Thursday, 31 March 2016 11:13

The Journey of Arlene Publico, Women's Ministry Leader Emeritus

Arlene Publico"Brothers, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him." – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.” – Ephesians 3:12-13

On February 25, 2016, at age 52, Arlene Publico, Women’s Ministry Leader of the Metro Manila Christian Church, passed away. For someone who rubbed elbows with excruciating physical pain for almost five years as she struggled head on with cancer, it was indeed a well-fought battle. As was written in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  

Arlene was example of great faith, strong will, and immense perseverance. At age 27, she studied the Bible and decided to give up everything for a relationship with God. She was baptized on September 21, 1991. Two years later, on January 2, 1994, she married Andre Publico, who was one of the original 28 disciples who planted the Manila church. God blessed them with two children, Ally and EI Publico.

Arlene Publico memorialDuring the mid-90s, Andre and Arlene began to lead the Congregational Children’s Ministry (CM) and successfully instituted reforms to strengthen the CM curriculum and build up the CM workers. In 2006, Andre and Arlene led the Quezon City Central Region of the Metro Manila Christian Church. In 2011, Arlene was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. The doctor advised her that she had only six months to live. She maintained great faith, and God allowed her to live on for the next 4 years and 7 months.

As she battled with cancer, she also learned to embrace suffering and to find joy in her afflictions. She understood that in her sufferings she could become a blessing to others. It was clear to her that God wanted her to endure her illness so she can become a source of hope and inspiration to others. And that was her source of joy.

Quoting Arlene in 2014:

Perhaps you will ask me why I still remain joyous despite the suffering I endure...I know what it means to suffer with bitterness and tears. I know the troubles other people face; thousands of others like me, who may be experiencing even worse. I know what it means to feel useless, to feel hurt, and to feel lonely. And I know that there will always be a way to fight it all.

It's because of what I feel that I have hope -- hope to help others overcome whatever sufferings they endure. And hope that there is a God who listens to every aching heart, that he doesn't allow people to face what they can't handle. When I was diagnosed, the doctors said I only had six months to live. It's not been three years since then. To me, every waking moment has been a miracle in itself. And that is why I choose to live, even if I have to live this way.

Through the years she lived with cancer, she did not waver in her strong commitment to God. Despite losing all her senses, she continued to evangelize, to serve her family, to counsel others, and to pray for other people. In one of her prayers, she even asked God to give her the cancer in order to spare her friend from having one. God answered her prayer—her friend’s cancer was benign. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

On February 29, 2016, a memorial service was held for Arlene at the Church of the Risen Lord in UP, Diliman, Quezon City where she was awarded the title of Women’s Ministry Leader Emeritus by the MMCC Board of Trustees and the full-time staff, a title that she truly deserves. What she did for God and his church will forever etch a mark not only in the hearts of her family and friends but also in the hearts of the Filipino disciples. 

Read 3163 times Last modified on Thursday, 07 April 2016 14:06