My name is Yesenia Balderramo, I’m 22 years old, and a year ago I accepted Christ as my Savior and since then my life and the lives of my family members have changed.
I can honestly tell you after my experience with God’s grace that blessings and curses really are generational. Growing up, I thought that immorality, throwing around insults, vanity, pride and other social family issues were normal things. I didn’t think much about it, and I had often defended and justified those kinds of actions within my family. When I encountered God (Sept 2013), I discovered that there was no university degree, psychological workshop, nor family therapy that could restore my idea of family. Yet, a radical decision and an encounter with God changed everything; not just my life but also those of my family.
Taking on the responsibility to share the message of Christ with my family was really rough, but it’s the first ministry a new Christian takes on. The Lord taught me to be persistent, and looking back I realize I hadn’t obeyed Him in all that He asked of me. I didn’t honor my parents like I should’ve, I abused my brother both physically and mentally, I didn’t respect the rules of the house, but after a few days after returning from the Encounter (a spiritual retreat), I saw what I had been doing and I asked them for forgiveness. The thing is, it wasn’t a very credible apology because I had done this sort of thing before. My parents and my brother forgave me, but they start to freak out when they found out I had been baptized into a Christian church. That’s kind of a big deal for us. My family has always been Catholic, and that identity runs deep in their blood. So, their daughter tells them she’s part of “another religion.” My mother was not pleased, but she respected my decision and after she saw how God was changing me, she began to support me. My father, on the other hand, did not take it that well and his attitude toward me changed. He told me, “I like that you’ve changed in some ways, but don’t stop being you. You know that when we get together we drink, and you like it. You don’t have to take it that far.” That was the sort of thing he’d say to take a jab at me. He never missed the opportunity to attack me, literally, and tell me that I was still being disobedient and he’d make fun of me. He also would tell me that the person I was before could only be changed by a miracle.
I also went through some stuff with my brother. I became aware that I am an example to him and I saw that he was going down the same path that I had. Before I came to Christ I had a conversation with my brother and told him that I had been smoking weed. I told him that if he wanted to try some kind of drug, that he should tell me first. I then started to tell him it was okay to go clubbing and visit brothels and that I understood that was part of his “needs” as guy. I thought it was the right thing to say and that his eyes would be opened to the world. I was worried that he would become a wimp and that he’d never find a girlfriend. Really, I don’t know what was going on in my head.
But God is good and faithful and has used my life to bless my family. It was through prayer and grace that God brought my mother to an Encounter, where she received spiritual and physical healing. After that, there were two of us in our family that my father would attack. One day he called me and told me he was disappointed in me for taking my mother to the Encounter and that because of it he was worried their marriage wouldn’t be able to handle the weight of the change. That hurt to hear from him, but I knew that the truth was that my mother would be a better wife to him because of it all.
It was really hard on my mom to show them love when they were insulting her and criticizing her every move. It hurt her a lot and we couldn’t understand why something so good couldn’t be seen by them. Instead of seeing it for the good thing it was, they just rejected it.
A few months ago, my family began to have some financial issues. They had to sell their car and their motorcycle. Things weren’t going well for my dad at work and he began to lose control and fall further into debt. Everyone was being strained because of it. Eventually, it was agreed that my dad would have to move to another city to look for work, and that essentially meant our family would fall apart. My parents had never been separated and my mom has never done well alone, especially when she is away from my dad and us. Regardless, she felt an unexplainable strength that she later understood came from God. I know that it was God too, that He being welcomed into our home gave us the courage to persevere and intercede for the head of the house.
So, for about five months my dad was out of a job, away from him, just getting by financially, and struggling through feelings of loneliness where I’m sure the Lord was calling him. On top of all that my brother had tried to get into “la Marina,” a public military institution, to get some financial support, but had failed. I can’t describe how hard this time was for us because my brother and dad didn’t want to humble themselves before the Lord and recognize that they were just doing this alone and chasing after their own desires. We were separated from each other physically and then their pride distanced us from each other even more.
Everytime I think about all this, I admire the supernatural things God does for His children and all the things He did for my family. Three weeks ago, my brother and my dad came to an Encounter that our church held in Ambato. It wasn’t until the day before the event that they decided to go. They had gotten so struck down by their problems that this was kind of their last resort. The weekend was amazing. The Lord worked on their hearts and they received love from so many people. It was obvious that they were not going to be the same afterward. Five days after the Encounter, my dad received a call to work for an oil company to be a security guard. It wasn’t what he was expecting, but the Lord teaches us to surrender and trust what He has for us. My brother now has a different perspective on how he should live his youth. The Lord spoke into his doubts. Even though there are changes in my family, we all know God has control and we are happy that despite the testing and the consequences of our past, He raises us up every day. I often hear my brother say, “The Lord will take care of us and will give us what we need according to His will.”
The process that God took us through didn’t start at the Encounter, rather in the decision to accept Him and allow Him to be the captain of our ship. He guides our lives, and although opportunities will not always open up right away, He will always be with us: preparing us, cleansing us, polishing us in order to be able to receive His blessing and it will not fall on infertile soil. Each day it is a challenge to learn His Word and to help each other through difficult times.
I thank the leaders and the pastors of my church with all my heart – brave men and women that listen to the voice of the Lord and obey it. Thanks to their calling and service, they have not only helped to better my life but also to save my family and future generations to come.