Happy birthday, Joni.
Happy birthday, nakong (a Filipino endearment which means beloved child).
I want to share Joni’s story, our family’s testimony of God’s amazing love and faithfulness. This is Joni’s story. I pray that his story will inspire you.
Jonimar or Joni is my second son. He is very close to my heart. Ever since he was born, I carried him with an improvised sling, “oban” in local Ifugao dialect, for 4 years and 7 months. I carried him with a sling every day. Yes, it’s true. The reason was because he had been crying everyday and every night ever since he was born. Yes, everyday and every night for 4 years and 4 months. I am not referring to normal baby cries. No. He cried like he was always in pain. He was like having nightmares all the time. His crying made his voice hoarse and his throat hurt.
We had consulted many doctors and paediatricians. The diagnosis was that Joni was a colic baby. He had been taking medications to stop his cries. But of course he could not be on medication forever so we stopped his medication. We turned to local beliefs. We brought Joni to different ‘hilot’, “mang-ngilots” (local herbal doctors). Many gave baby massage to Joni. Some applied herbal medicines to him. We brought him to my hometown. Traditional customs and traditions were done. We did everything that we know of to ease Joni’s crying. Nothing worked. In the end, I had to carry him everyday just so he would feel comfortable.
We migrated to Australia in 1999. This Great Southland of the Holy Spirit is where we came to know God on a personal level through Joni. We attended prayer meetings and church services. On 22 July 2000, we invited our closest family and friends to the house where we were renting for a prayer meeting. On this particular night, we requested everyone to pray for Joni. Everyone prayed for him. We dedicated Joni to the Lord. My sister-in-law said heaven opened that night. Everyone felt the presence of the Lord. That was a powerful night of gathering of Christians.
It was an unforgettable night because since that night, 22 July 2000, Saturday, Joni stopped crying. Yes, he did! He stopped crying since that prayer meeting. Of course, he cried but those were the cries of any normal kid… like when he was hungry, was hurt or was in pain. His voice started to become normal and is not husky anymore.
Because of Joni, we started going to church service regularly. We joined Bible studies. On 12 January 2001, we got baptized. We are now born-again Christians and understand better how to have a personal relationship with the Lord.
In John 3: 5-7, Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 says Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a now creation: the old has gone, the new has come!
Through the years, we came to understand that what happened to Joni was a spiritual warfare: A war that Joni had been victorious. We thank everyone who interceded for Joni who now belongs to the one true God. Joni is an overcomer.
On 15 June 2008, Sunday, Joni, our 12-year-old precious boy, accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour. He was baptized at the CityLife Church in Wantirna South, Victoria, Australia. The pastor asked Joni before his baptism,” What made you decide to have water baptism, Joni?” He replied, “My parents brought me here for baptism. I want to be baptized because I want to follow Jesus for the rest of my life.”
Our dear Joni, our precious boy, the instrument in bringing us closer to God, is now a soldier of Christ. Praise the Lord! We give back all the praise and glory to God.
Joni, happy birthday, balong. Thank you for your love, compassion, resilience, perseverance, empathy and care. Thank you for being wise beyond your years, nakong. You truly deserve to have my dad’s name in your name, Jonimar. You are wise, reliable, exceptional and remarkable like him.
May God enable and equip you to reach your dreams. May the Lord bless you and make all your plans succeed. Take care. We will always be here for you, anak.
Joni’s baptism and the prayer for him can be watched in this video. Here’s the link.
Here are 25 photos of Joni that I want to share with all of you. You can click on each photo so you can see them better. Thank you for reading his story. God bless you.