God spoke to Melba Crisostomo in a dream and now she lives to serve him.
Born in the Philippines, I am the second eldest of five children. I am married to Hector and we have one son, James.
Being Filipino, I was born a Catholic. My family did not attend church on Sundays, but we celebrated the special times of the year, like Lent and Christmas.
Being Catholic was a mix of tradition and culture more than faith in God. I was taught to act in the right way, but my family didn’t really talk about God or the Bible.
I had a significant encounter with God when I was nine. I overheard the mothers of two of my friends boasting about them—about their achievements and their grades in school. They sounded very proud of their children. I wondered if that was how my parents talked about me when I wasn’t around.
I started crying and knelt down on the floor. I prayed that God would let my parents be proud of me because I wanted to bring honour to them.
Not long after that, things started to change at school. I found myself being able to answer all the questions that the teacher asked in class, and started to do really well at school, which made my parents proud.
Something changed—I believed God heard my prayer and allowed learning to become a priority for me.
When I was 31, I moved to Papua New Guinea (PNG) and it was here that I was born, spiritually. Both Hector and I were engineers, and when we moved to PNG, Hector found work as a project engineer, while I worked as a supermarket supervisor.
We became involved with The Salvation Army when Hector put in a quote for extension work at Lae Corps (church). Hector wanted to know more about the Salvo uniform and how he could be part of the Army. He started attending Sunday meetings—he was changing and I didn’t know what was going on.
One night, Jesus came to me in a dream. I was playing volleyball and when the ball went out of bounds, I went to get it. I saw a white bird, that turned into a dove, which turned into an angel and then into a man. He then walked towards another man who was really sad, put his hands on his shoulders and started to talk with him.
I was in awe and didn’t look at his face. I said to my friends, who were with me, ‘Let’s all kneel down’. This person in white came towards me. I wasn’t looking, but my head was down and I saw his feet. I wanted to say something to him but found no words and this made me cry in my heart.
I knew it was Jesus, but I realised then that I didn’t have a personal relationship with him—I really did not know him. I said, ‘No, I’m not ready. Why did you come when I’m not ready?’
Jesus said to me loudly, in my head, ‘Know me’.
Just before I woke up, I saw the face of the devil. I struggled with that image for three days, questioning, meditating and talking to God.
I pointed at the wall in my house and said out loud, ‘You’re not going to laugh at me. You’re the devil and I’m going to fight till the end.’
It was then that I knew I was ready to follow Hector into the Army and into training to be a Salvation Army officer (minister).
There has been no turning back. There have been lots of challenges, but when things get tough I remember that time.
One of my favourite Bible passages is Philippians chapter 3, verses 8 and 10: ‘I reckon everything as complete loss for the sake of what is so much more valuable, the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have thrown everything away; I consider it all as mere garbage… All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death.’
I’ve come to know the things I am not able to do, but I know it is God who partners with me, in both the little things and the big things. No matter what I’m doing, I will serve God.