Joel Pereyra, the second of four children, and his siblings had a comfortable childhood in General Santos City in Mindanao. Their father, who had a car repair shop, was able to provide well for the family. But his parents fought and his father eventually left the house, staying instead at his shop. But Joel continued to regularly meet with his father who did not stop supporting him.
One night when he was in his first year in high school, while he was watching television, his mother received a call informing them that his father got shot. They immediately rushed to the hospital and Joel found his father lying on a bed, fighting for his life.
The family had to choose if they would want to keep or give up his life support. Trying to keep him alive would require the family to pay thousands each day; money they didn’t have.
Because of lack, they had to give up his life support. Joel vividly recalls how the apparatus, on which his father’s life depended, was removed as his father gasped for air.
The family now had no provider because their mother, being a housewife, had no income. As Joel’s family strived to face life without their dad, they received death threats due to his father’s previous involvements. This prompted their family to temporarily move to Davao City for their safety.
Joel was sent to live with his uncle, a move that deeply hurt him. Joel recounts that it was in the privacy of the comfort room that he found a place to cry out and release the pain bottled up inside him.
After a year, Joel and his family went back to General Santos. But he had already lost his confidence, affecting his performance at school, causing his grades to go down. He admits that his identity was founded on his father being able to provide well.
This insecurity caused Joel to become troublesome, ready to hit anyone who would offend him. Their situation at home was no better. Their family often fought, shouting at one another and sometimes even getting quite physical.
Years later, Joel got invited to Victory. He expressed how hopeless he was and saw no point in studying and in life in general, but he was open to whatever he would hear and learn at church. He went through ONE 2 ONE and encountered Jesus.
Joel took a job at a fast-food restaurant, then he was invited to apply for the LIFE Scholarship Program of Real LIFE. He is grateful for how Real LIFE has helped him grow in his relationship with God. He admits that he has been a Christian for five years now yet it was only two years ago that he truly grasped Jesus’ lordship, that He is indeed the Lord and the Christ.
Last year, Joel served as a campus coordinator of Every Nation Campus in General Santos, and today he volunteers as a discipleship admin at Victory General Santos. He recently graduated from the General Santos Foundation College, Inc. with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management – Financial Management.
He desires to help change more lives with the gospel with his heart for full time campus ministry. He says that he received a confirmation of this calling during our annual Prayer and Fasting January this year.
Joel plans to move to Davao City for a time to share Christ to his sisters and get a job before he enters the School of Campus Ministry. He will also be joining a Ten Days Mission Trip later this year.
As he looks back to all that happened to his father, Joel expresses that he holds nothing against whoever took his father’s life and that by the grace of God he has already forgiven them wholeheartedly.
“God is dealing with all areas of my life. Following Christ isn’t just surrendering your vices, but your all—your source of joy, and identity. I don’t want to stop God from what He is doing. I am nothing and I need His grace,” says Joel.
Joel’s life is just one of the many that have been impacted by Real LIFE. Many more lives will be changed through the continuous support of our partners as we change a life and change the nation. To be part of the stories of our scholars, click here.