Micheal Parusel - Testimony

It has been quite a while that I wrote a general letter your way. This finds Uncle Roger and I back here in Leyte island and in a few weeks it will be preps already and so our time here is really getting shorter. Earlier today, we visited one elderly lady who got sick while we were away. Her condition is just like of a person having Parkinson’s Disease. The right side of her body is shaking uncontrollably. She is one pathetic sight to look at but one thing that made me wonder is that there is no bitterness in her spirit or no spirit of complaint! She had been a big help in this island when she was younger. Her home was the bach before. Anyway, life is such. As the New Year came in, my thought was nobody could know what will happen in the future. Nobody could know what this New Year would bring and this thought could unstable us but we are so glad that we have experienced to just trust in the Lord and this gives comfort to us. May we be found trusting Him more and more. My heart sings, “Oh, for the Peace of a PERFECT trust.” I hope you will enjoy the testimony down below. You are free to share this to anybody. This is all for now and hopefully that this year would make us a closer family. There are trials and tests to prove this closeness. Love and Mercy are what we need and may these two things reign in our hearts so that we are going in to the New Year with a fresh slate. Love, Ryel

MICHAEL PARUSEL's TESTIMONY

I grew up in a Catholic home in which my parents were regular churchgoers. My mother was very sincere and my father felt that all he was required to do was attend a church service once a week. I attended these services with them until I left home to join the army at the age of 16. At this point of time I was not even sure if there was a God or not! For the next seven years I pursued the pleasures of the world in the hope of finding happiness, and there were times when I should have been happy, as everything was going well for me.

But somehow I just could not fill the void in my life. It was towards the end of 1979 when I often found myself wondering just what was the purpose to life. To me it seemed pointless, as a person could work hard in life and become prosperous, but soon enough they would end up exactly in the same place as the person who did nothing. But the Catholic belief did not give me any conviction as to whether God even existed. The Lord could see there was a need in my heart and so the wheels were set in motion to answer my question, “What is the purpose of life?”

In early 1980 Tony, an earthmover who lived in Sydney, some 2000 kilometres away came to fulfil a three-month contract to build a new airstrip at the small mining township of Dysart where I lived. Since he was going to be away from his home for this lengthy period he brought his wife Cheryl and two young daughters with him to live in the Caravan Park.

Not long afterwards Tony’s sister, Janeice who was a nurse in Tasmania, came to visit Tony and Cheryl while she was on holidays. Tasmania is the Island State of Australia and is 3400 kilometres away. I met Janeice on her second day at the Dysart swimming pool. By the way, Dysart was a small Coal mining town of some 3000 people. Cheryl was a qualified swimming instructor and spent several hours each day teaching small children to swim and Janeice accompanied Cheryl each day at the pool. I would go down to the swimming pool on these hot summer days to cool off and if I was required at work I could be there within 10 minutes.

So for the next few days, I was able to see Janeice for about an hour and a half each day and although we talked about many things religion never entered our conversation. I met Tony three days later, and I suggested he take his family and Janeice to one of the Islands near the coast for the weekend. He was very aloof and non-committal, as he did not want to encourage a friendship to develop. I must admit I was very keen for just that because I was strongly attracted to Janeice.

They ignored my suggestion of an Island weekend and went elsewhere. They were away the whole weekend and I, having bought Janeice a necklace, went to Tony’s caravan about half a dozen times to give it to her. At 10 PM. they still weren’t home so I gave up and went back to my flat.

The next morning, I found Janeice in the laundry. She was not very friendly and accepted my gifts unenthusiastically. By 10 AM, when she was boarding a small plane for the coast, I had received a rather reluctant promise that she would at least write to me. I had to wait two whole weeks before I received a most boring letter describing the weather conditions in Tasmania. Well, the sooner I wrote, the sooner I could expect a reply, and I immediately answered her letters. After a while, another letter would arrive with a detailed account of the Tasmanian weather. Boring!

My next big break was when a large company asked me to fly to Melbourne for career interviews, which would take place on a Thursday and Friday. I thought this was a wonderful opportunity to see Janeice and so I planned to fly down to Tasmania on the Friday evening. I told her of my plans and asked her to book me in some motel nearby.

When I arrived at the airport, Janeice’s mother invited me to stay with them as they lived out on a farm about 12 miles from town. During this visit something happened, which prevented me from seeing the Sunday morning meeting. Janeice’s father had a brother, Don, who was in Hobart hospital seriously ill and was scheduled to have brain surgery on the Monday morning. Because his condition was extremely critical, we drove across the Island to the state capital to visit Don. This took up the whole day. Hence, I never even got to go to the meetings. The fact that grace was said at each meal did not strike me as anything unusual as my parents always said grace also. Janeice’s family was very kind and hospitable to me.

I returned to Dysart, keeping in touch with Janeice either by mail or telephone. We sometimes spoke for three hours, and I was feeling as though I had broken the ice and that a relationship was slowly developing. After a while, I was notified that I was successful with my career interview and would be starting a new job in three months time. So I decided to give five weeks notice where I was currently employed and planned to take a brief holiday in the Philippines. A girlfriend I once had, had been on holiday there and she had told me about the beautiful Islands one could visit, and that tailor-made clothing was very inexpensive to purchase. I never owned a suit, but now with an airline career in view I knew a suit would indeed be necessary. So here was my big chance to have an inexpensive holiday and do some cheap shopping. At this stage, I had spent my life’s savings on learning to fly. I booked myself on a special excursion airfare and exactly three weeks before I was to leave I telephoned Janeice only to be hit with words that hit me like a bolt of lightning from a cloudless sky. It was so unexpected. She said that her preachers had been around to see her and that they had advised her not to see me anymore! My first reaction was shock and I thought to myself that there was one of two possibilities happening. Either Janeice was very religious and she intended to offer her life and enter some convent to become a nun, or else she was involved in some weird sect in which these men had complete power over her to obey them because there was nothing wrong with our relationship. I started firing questions at her but was cut short with, “It would take too long to explain over the phone so go and see my brother Tony and he will explain it all.”

I felt like going straight down to the Caravan Park right then and there, but common sense prevailed as it was quite late into Sunday evening. At 7AM the next morning, I was knocking on Tony’s door only to be told by Cheryl that Tony goes to work at 5AM. I started asking Cheryl questions but she told to come that night at six and talk to Tony. I did just that and what resulted was that I did not leave until 2AM. We talked about the Bible and Tony explained some of the scriptures to me. He asked me about my beliefs and pointed things out to me, which proved the Catholic Church was obviously on the wrong track. He showed me the verse that says, “Call no man your father” and indeed that is what we called the Priest all the time. “Beware of those who walk in long robes” and Jesus words “As I have come, so I send you.” He told me about the homeless ministry going forth by faith and without income, etc. All so different to what I had seen in the Catholic Church. Something that impressed me very much was how patiently Tony explained this to me. He had to be at work by five am and we talked until two am. I visited with him every night that week and I usually stayed until well after midnight. This dedication made an impression on me and I could see it was all important to him.

This first weekend happened to be special meetings in Mackay, a coastal city some two and a half-hours drive. Tony mentioned that they were going to attend these meetings on the Sunday and would I like to also come (he had already asked the workers about this). I wanted to learn more and eagerly accepted the invitation. It was a long weekend so Tony hired a beach house and I stayed with them. The next day we visited some of the friends in the area. I enjoyed these visits and felt very happy to be acquainted with such people. The special meetings was way over my level of understanding as my knowledge of Bible only extended to a few stories of people like Noah, Moses, Abraham whom I had learned about during my primary school days. However I was very impressed with the friends I had met and one verse I did know from the Bible was that verse that says, “Ye shall know my disciples by their love one for another.” I felt love was evident in these people. Between the meetings I briefly met a few of the workers.

At this stage I was a regular visitor at Tony’s Caravan and I reciprocated by having them in for a meal or two at my flat. On my last Sunday in Dysart, Tony asked me if I would like to attend the Sunday morning fellowship meeting with them at a place called Clermont (once again he had asked the workers about this). I was very happy to accompany them. On that morning I found myself crammed into the front of Tony’s utility with Cheryl and their two young children driving along a dusty dirt trail for an hour and a half to the meeting home. I thought to myself that this must be some meeting, as they sure were going to a lot of trouble to be there. While living in Dysart I hadn’t bothered to attend the Catholic Church, which was only a stones throw away from my flat! I quickly saw that this meeting was not the ritual I had been used to. I could see each person was sharing the thoughts, which, had kept them alive spiritually during that week. All spoke with such sincerity and love and I could see it had life in it. Thinking back to the Catholic service, the only difference from one service to the next was the ten minutes or so of preaching. I distinctly remember one time when all that was spoken was that more funds were needed for the swimming pool to be painted, and for the tennis court to be resurfaced and money for missionaries in Papua New Guinea, etc, etc.

Monday was my last day of work in Dysart. I said my good bye to Tony and his family, and drove the 1000km to Brisbane where my parents lived. Tony had certainly worked a mission and had successfully answered the question plaguing my heart as to what is the purpose of life. Firstly one must have the simple faith that God is, and then one needs a simple understanding of His purpose. How I came to understand it was if I imagined myself to own everything on the earth. Then if someone came and told me that I was so much richer because twenty more gold mines and oil etc had just been discovered. This news would mean nothing, and hold no interest to me at all! In the Lords case, He could make as many riches as He would want, but of course He does not because it is all dead and lifeless! The only thing that would be of true value would be to have a family made up of members who were responding to you and to each other out of love and respect. Indeed, the Lord could have made us all like this right from the start, but we would be no more than mere robots and not giving a free will offering. If there is no cost then there can be no value!!

Tony had mentioned several times that the way of God was the same the world over. I had told him that I was going overseas and would be happy to meet some of Gods people while in the Philippines. Tony said that he would get some addresses, however he put this responsibility over to someone else, as he did not have this information. The addresses were not received before my departure from Dysart on the Tuesday morning and, in the rush, I did not give it another thought. I arrived in Brisbane and I was keen to tell my parents about the truth, but my mother was away visiting my sister at the time and my father was not interested in anything I tried to tell him. Boarding the aircraft Sunday morning, I remember thinking of the meeting that would be gathering in Clermont.

I arrived in the sultry humid capital of the republic of the Philippines right on dusk. There were huge crowds in the terminal, many trying to snatch my luggage. Security guards armed with automatic weapons were everywhere, and the thought crossed my mind, "Whatever have I let myself in for." I was feeling slightly apprehensive, as I had never experienced anything like this before. I did not have anything organised, as I preferred to let my holidays develop freely as each day progressed. My main intentions were to visit the beautiful Islands and to get some tailored suits made. The first night I registered myself in the Hilton Hotel, then afterwards I took a stroll around the block. It was at this time that I started to think a lot more seriously about the things that Tony had told me. I must say here that Tony had not spared me as to what his convictions were regarding the standard the Lord wanted in His people in relation to worldly entertainment: no television radio or cinema. So it was with these thoughts that I was wondering how I was going to spend my time during the next three weeks. The next morning, these thoughts were pressing upon me more then ever and I began to feel quite lonely and somewhat depressed. I was tempted to forget all, and revert to whatever I pleased, but I had acquired a very real fear of God. Tony had mentioned that we only have one life here on Earth in which to please the Lord, and I knew if I missed this opportunity then I would forever regret it, and with no second chance available! I wanted to live to this high standard that I understood God wanted in His people, but I did not know how I could do this with three whole weeks on my own. I thought of it this way: If a couple adopted a child into their family then they had every right to expect that child to adjust to their standards. In the same way, if I wanted to become one of God's children I had to be willing for what God wanted!

By lunchtime on that first Monday, I was feeling quite wretched as I fought against two desires: one to please myself, and the other to please the Lord. I even considered flying back to Australia but realised I would have to pay double as I had booked my ticket on a special fare and, if altered in anyway, one would pay more. I resolved to stay and see it through.

As I was walking down a busy street in this city of some four million, I came to a sudden stop. It suddenly dawned on me that the reason I was here was that God was testing me. I closed my eyes and prayed to God that I didn’t mind being tested, but would He please send me some help! I was about to discover that God heard my prayer and help was only minutes away. All the help I could possibly need. I then turned ninety degrees to my right and walked across the road into a cafeteria to see if I could see something to buy for lunch. Inside the cafeteria four workers were sitting together at a table. I learned later that they met here every Monday to sort through mail and discuss anything needing attention. The sister workers then compiled a brief newsletter, which is then posted to different workers around the Isles.

I was looking up at the blackboard at the menu and remember looking at these workers a few times as they were in high spirits, laughing happily. At this stage, nothing registered in my mind concerning them so after a while I exited the cafeteria. I had just taken a few steps along the pavement when I passed a Filipino sister worker hurrying to the door. A few steps behind her were two Canadian sisters. As soon as I saw them the thought ran through my mind that I had seen people just like that somewhere recently, and as they opened the door to the cafeteria I approached them. At this stage, I had no premeditated notion of what I was going to say, but as they turned to me the words tumbled out, “Are you friends?” They looked quite taken aback, not knowing what to make out of this dishevelled looking character with long hair, shorts and tee shirt etc. However, they did invite me in and introductions were made. I sat at the head of this long table with seven curious workers eyeing me. Of course, it was only natural that they asked how I knew about the friends, and where was I from etc, etc. I started from the beginning, telling them about meeting Janeice and of all the experiences leading up from then until now. Erwin, a senior worker from the States, asked me where I was staying and what I was doing the next day? As I had no firm program, he asked if I would like him to visit me the following morning. Of course, I was elated. The next morning, when Erwin came to my hotel room, he asked me what I would like to do. We spent the day looking for material for three suits to be cut, and then we visited various tailors to find the best price for them to be made. Needless to say, Erwin was a great help in all this, doing the bargaining in the local language. At the end of the day, he asked if I would like to visit the other brothers in the batch and share the evening meal with them. I was impressed with how humbly they lived; the water dripped from the tap drop by drop and one had to fill a bucket for a shower or to flush the toilet. Some slept on the floor, the refrigerator didn’t work and was used as a cupboard. It was very obvious to me that each of these men could easily have made a natural success of their lives but, because of their love for God and souls of men, they had offered their lives to preach the Gospel, choosing to live on the same level as the people around them.

The next day, John, an Australian worker, came to my room. We spent the day together looking around some of the sights and doing more shopping. That night was a Bible study. On the way, John gave me a crash course on what was in the Bible. I was invited to stay with the brothers in their batch. I was very happy. On Friday afternoon, we went to the airport to meet another John, an American brother who had been labouring in the tiny island of Pohnpei. John was to labor in the Philippines from now on. That same evening, I was to listen to my very first gospel meeting. John spoke in English and Erwin spoke in Tagalog. Tony had baked the cake, but this very first gospel meeting was the icing on that cake. It was just so sweet I could have listened all night. On Sunday, I was able to enjoy three meetings: the fellowship meeting, the brothers’ mission in the afternoon, and the sisters’ mission in the evening. I knew that there were to no more missions until Friday, and I did want to see some of the countryside, particularly the Islands. On Monday morning, I caught a bus to the city of Batangas then a boat to Calapan on the Island of Mindoro. I was then crammed into the back of a modified WWII jeep. This portion of my journey was distinctly the most uncomfortable as I was crowded together with humanity and pigs, dogs, chooks and luggage. Finally I arrived at the small seaside village of Puerto Galera. It was truly a lovely place and I enjoyed the days in this natural paradise where I could have easily stayed there for the duration of the holiday. But once again, as I had experienced so many times before when I should have been perfectly contented and happy, I still felt this void within. I was not having fellowship with God or His people. So, on Friday, I made it my business to get back to Manila in time for the mission that evening. I was just so grateful for the fellowship, which I enjoyed with the workers and friends over the weekend. For the last week, Erwin suggested I take a bus up to the hill city of Baguio, five hours north and just over 5000 thousand feet high. There were friends and two sister workers in that area. I attended the Wednesday night mission in Baguio, then on the Thursday I travelled with the sisters on the five-hour trip back to Manila, as they needed to come down. I was in continuous fellowship for that last week. God answers prayers! After the sisters’ meeting, I was to return to Australia and, just prior to this meeting, I indicated to them that I would like to make my choice and be a part of this fellowship. However, they said that was nice but it would be better if I made a start in my own country with my local workers.

So I found myself on the plane heading home. I could hardly comprehend it all. Three weeks ago, I had arrived in a strange city knowing absolutely no one, feeling lonely and depressed. Now I was leaving with a heart full of love and warmth for those I had met and had fellowship with. During my time there I attended ten missions, three Sunday morning meetings and two Bible studies and much heart-warming fellowship with God's servants, handmaidens and people. In my heart, I had already made my choice but still ahead of me was another test to pass.

On returning home, I was free to enjoy a month of missions prior to starting my new career. I flew to Melbourne to start my studies and I was issued with a large pile of books, which I was required to absorb in a relatively short period of time. At the same time attend the Wednesday Bible studies, the Thursday night missions, and, of course, the two meetings on Sunday.

There was a voice telling me that if I tried to read my Bible to have something for all these meetings I would not have enough time to devote to my studies. After all, it was only for the next three or four months that I needed to put off the meetings. If I did not successfully pass this course, I would be out on the street without a job. A career in my line of work is a much sought after position and was a dream come true for me. However, there was another quiet voice telling me that if I chose this attitude then I was actually giving my career first place and God was getting second place. So, after having started my course on the first of September, I spoke to Herwin (the older brother) after the Bible study on the 10th that when he saw fit I would like to enter into fellowship! He replied he would like to give me more time. However, twenty hours later, he tested the meeting and I was the only to make my choice known at that time. I found I could serve God and study, too. It was only a matter of having priorities right and giving the Lord His rightful place. I married Janeice the following year.

My mother came to Gospel meetings spasmodically over the next five years. She was very quick to stick up for the Catholic Church and didn’t like it when I pointed out the differences between the truth and her church.

Then, in mid-1985, my older brother who was 37 years of age was operated on for stomach cancer. He died within seven weeks of this diagnosis. This was the turning point for my mother and from then on she never missed a meeting. She said she’d never thought much about death until then. Later that year in November, my Mum came with Janeice and I and our two-year-old daughter for a three-week visit to the Philippines. There we were able to meet thirty-two of the workers enjoying many meetings and, with non-stop fellowship for three weeks, these experiences softened us all.

In July of 1986, Mum travelled with Ken and Edith, a retired couple on a three-month self-organised world tour. They visited friends in Canada, the U.K., Germany, Austria, Hong Kong and Malaysia. While in Austria, they attended three consecutive conventions each week and Mum had long talks with workers. She made her choice for the Lord at the second convention. My father came to at least two gospel meetings. His motto was, "I was born a Catholic and I’ll die a Catholic." Sadly, he passed away in 1992.

The other members in my family are just not interested in the truth…..yet.