My Journey from Cult Member to Christ Follower
by Charlie Jane Layao, IVCFP staff
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Isaiah 6:8 (NIV)
My name is Charlie Jane. Friends and family call me CJane. I am on my second year of doing student ministry as an IVCF Philippines’ staff. Let me share how God brought me here.
I am the middle of three siblings. My father was a devout Jehovah’s Witness so from the time I was born I was taught to follow our church’s teachings. As a child, I was trained to read our version of the Bible. I was taught with Bible stories and equipped to share our publications from house to house. I did this until I entered the university. Actually, my father did not want me to go to university because he believed women should just stay home until they marry. But I insisted and enrolled myself; I was determined to finish my studies no matter what.
I believe that going to university was God’s way of saving me.
In 2007, my first year in university, I was invited to an IVCFP chapter meeting. I soon became part of a small group that met weekly for Bible studies. My small group leader then encouraged me to join the IVCF Leadership Camp-Discipleship Camp (LCDC) during the semester break. At the camp, I wrestled inwardly as I encountered teachings that were different from what I had learned as a member of the Jehovah’s Witness. At the end of the camp, there was an activity called the Final Challenge. During this time, I came to fully appreciate the reason Jesus died on the cross. I surrendered my life to Christ and accepted Him as my Lord and Savior.
After the camp, I became more active with IVCFP and eventually became one of the student-leaders on our campus. I attended more IVCF camps too. With every camp I attended, I did not ask for my parents’ permission because I knew that they wouldn’t give their consent. I managed to save up for my camp fees from my allowance and through the help of IVCFP graduates.
During my third year in university, I was asked to consider attending Kawayan Camp 2010. Kawayan Camp is IVCF’s annual, national, intensive, leadership camp; leaders from other IVCFP campus chapters are trained at this camp. I was afraid to go, but my mentor and adviser encouraged me to attend.
When I went to Kawayan Camp, I was still a faithful member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In my mind, IVCFP and the Jehovah’s Witnesses served the same God, they just had different doctrines. My faith in Jesus Christ was growing, but I did not yet understand the incompatible doctrines of Christianity and the Jehovah’s Witness. But the various sessions at the month-long Kawayan Camp helped me to see these differences. I came out of that camp committed to follow Jesus through radical obedience.
After Kawayan Camp, I experienced increasing persecution from my father and more hardships in following Jesus. Despite these, I decided to be baptized in a Christian church without the approval of my parents. I served God through His church and IVCFP. I became a faithful IVCFP member on our campus and trained other students to serve.
After graduating from university, I continued to be involved with IVCFP. My attachment to the IVCFP ministry was strong because of my gratitude to God for using IVCFP to save me. I was joyful whenever I ministered to students. Such was my passion that I was glad to accept the invitation to serve as volunteer counselor at the 2014 Kawayan Camp. Soon after that, I signed on as an IVCFP staff.
In IVCFP, God gave me a passion for student ministry. He gave me the burden that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37-38). Thus, when He called me to student work through IVCFP, He reminded me that I once said in Kawayan Camp, “Here I am Lord, send me.”
God has been faithful to me through the years and He will always be faithful. So I keep claiming His promises especially His promise that He will save my family too. I hope to one day also say, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” He has blessed me in so many ways and surely He will also bless the ones who blessed me.
Looking back, I see that God had placed many people to help me along the journey to greater love and service for Him. I thank God for each of them: my IVCFP small group leaders, our IVCFP staff worker, IVCFP adviser, and my fellow IVCFP students. They are family to me and they never gave up journeying with me until now. I am one of the fruits of their labor.
This is just a portion of God’s story of working in me. I am excited to be who God wants me to be as He molds me day after day. As an IVCFP staff, I disciple students but I am also being discipled by God.