Life Testimony by Dr. William Altobar, Philippine (Missionary Seminar)
From King of drinking to a shepherd
Hello. My name is William Altobar from Philipine UBF. The title of my life testimony is “From King of drinking to a shepherd” My key verse is 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
I was born in Manilaon February 4, 1963. As the only son, my mother loved me the most. I always wanted to please my mother so that I can ask whatever I want, especially cooking for me delicious food that I want. I grew up very loose, no one to guide or discipline me since my father was always out because of the nature of his job and my mother was always busy in our business.
I began listening to rock and roll music, and dressed up wearing jeans with holes, dirty sneakers and long hair. One time my teacher noticed my long hair and called me to stand up and advised me to have a hair cut in front of the class. But instead of being ashamed, I made a joke imitating the professor that all my classmates laughed out loud. At home I just enjoyed listening to rock and roll music that I didn’t study my homework anymore. My motto was not to do my best, but “To pass is enough.” So with barely passing grades, I made it through elementary and secondary school.
I went to college and studied premed. But rather than study hard, I started smoking and drinking heavily for I thought this was the way to be acceptable by my friends and to be best among them all in drinking.
I want to beat them all in drinking so I practice every day at home when I was alone. I was even branded by my friends, “King of drinking”. And I felt great calling by that name. But one time my teacher caught me drank inside the classroom so she sent me to the dean’s office. The dean warned me that if I would be caught again I will be expelled from the university. I stopped drinking but only during school hours but after class my classmates and I went drinking spree again so most of the time I went home drank.
I was also a slave of lust problem. To satisfy my lust I started watching dirty movies, reading dirty books. Deep within me I knew there was something wrong in me. But I didn’t know what. It was the first time I felt shame to myself. My heart was troubled and empty.
God helped me to have Bible study with Ron Quilaton, a shepherd from Chicago UBF, who came as a student missionary. When Shep. Ron invited me for bible study, I said yes for I thought maybe this would help me in my troubled heart. But a day before my bible study I came to him and telling him that, “I could not have my bible study tomorrow because I felt not worthy of bible study since I am a very sinful man.” I was shocked when Shep. Ron laughed out loud and he told me that is why I need bible study because I am sinful. He even said “God loves sinner.”
I was encouraged by Ron, and so I began one to one Bible study with him. We studied Genesis chapter 1. I learned that God created me and the whole world and said, “It was very good.” (Ge 1:31a) I confessed right away to my shepherd all my wrongdoings and I felt dirty before the word of God. God gave forgiveness of sins and peace to me. It was very memorable to me for it was my 22ndbirthday.
Actually when I started my one to one bible study God did a great miracle in my life that he already healed me in my drinking and smoking, and saved my soul from lust and laziness. Seeing God’s grace of forgiveness in my sinful life and found joy and peace in Jesus I wanted to share it with others. So I began to invite my classmates and friends for bible study and to testify to them how God changed my life. My friends who knows my sinful past life laughed at me and even persecuted me, but I thank and remember God’s saving grace, I was happy to be persecuted. God also helped me to challenge medical study by faith. In those days, I failed several classes. Since I had a hard time coping up, I shed many tears and call on God to help me. Then God helped me to study hard and sleep only 4 hours a day until I successfully finished my medical school study purely by God grace alone.
In April 1988, Ron lost his faith and went back to US without a word. I was confused and disheartened. I saw myself very weak and helpless so how could I lead a ministry. Besides I am not a good speaker.
I prayed for two weeks for somebody to take over. But instead I received 2Cor. 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God helped me not to betray and ignore his grace of forgiveness in my life. So I decided to read all of Dr. Samuel Lee’s manuscript that he was sending us every week and bound it in book form. Dr. Lee’s manuscripts became the basis of my Sunday messages.
As I was studying John’s gospel, God reminded me of John 6:68, when Simon Peter confessed to Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Through this God made me realized that my calling is a personal calling and that if I stopped in my bible study, I will go back to my old sinful life and live a life of darkness, restlessness and meaninglessness again. In this way, God helped me to keep up with the 1:1 bible study ministry and writing Sunday messages even without my human shepherd but I have my Jesus who is our Chief Shepherd.
Still I had to face 2 heavy crosses, my shepherding life and finishing medical school. Every time I was struggling with my limitations while writing Sunday messages and studying, God always reminded me of 2Corinthians 12:9. Besides, God sent also faithful sheep who became my future coworkers in serving God’s flock.
In 1990 by the marvelous grace of God I finished my medical studies and in 1991 God helped me to establish a house church with Sarah Mina. Now I am working as a government doctor and I also share the gospel to some of my co-employees and patients and inviting the students who are coming to my clinic during their rotations. My wife serves full time and taking care of the church and taking care of the sheep like a mother asides from our 6 children. One of my sons has Down’s syndrome and multiple congenital heart defects. He passed away and entered the kingdom of God on the 17thof August 1997. Through this event I saw God’s love for me and want to use our house church for his purpose for all Filipino young students.
Almost every day we visit campus and dormitories and invite students for one to one bible studies. We have several one to one bible students who lived a common life with us, but others after 3-4 bible study they stopped. Those faithful bible students who lived a common life with us became our coworkers and others became missionaries. In spite of persecutions, trials and financial difficulties I saw God who is in our midst and provides for all our needs.
In the bible house my family live a common life with 13 students (8 girls and 5 boys). In our main chapter (Valenzuela) there are 3 house churches. In Antipolo they are 2 house churches and one house church in Manila chapter. In the heart of Manila we have 2 chapters: Universtiy Belt (Timothy and Esther Ipapo) and University of the Philippines, Manila (2 shepherdess lead the fellowship: Arlene Miranda and Ayra Aguirre). Misn. John and Misn. Sarah Jeong have their own SWS in University of the Philippines, Quezon City chapter and Misn. Paul Koh in Caloocan City chapter. In my chapter, there are about 40 SWS attendees and all in all in Philipine we have approximately 70 SWS attendees. So far through our ministry, God has sent Matthew and Best to Canada, Jacob and Flor Canlas to London, and Mark & Hannah Calalang to Ohio.
Now I realized that I have done nothing for Philippine UBF except to cry and made many mistakes. Through my weaknesses I saw God who is our real and true leader of our church. God is continuously working slowly and steadily in our midst by God’s grace alone.
The beautiful island of the Philippines is located in ASEAN which is made up of 7100 islands, with a population of 90 million. About 80 % population is Catholic, 15% muslim, and 5% Christian.
There are around 700 colleges and universities. So far, we have 9 chapters.
- Raise up 12disciple of Jesus, 12 prayer mothers, 12 house church in each campuses
- Philippines to be a missionary sending country
One Word: The grace of Jesus change me from a king of drinking into a shepherd