The Story of Ann Martha
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
God has a great purpose for your life. God has a plan for you no matter what shape or form or color or status you were brought into this world.
This, Ann Martha Padilla realized soon enough.
Ann has cerebral palsy.
Despite her disability she was able to discover her mission in life— to be a prayer warrior. She became an instrument of the blessing and healing from the Lord through prayers. She was commissioned as a prayer warrior by the Regina Rosarii Contemplative Association.
Because of cerebral palsy, she can’t properly use her hands and can’t talk clearly. She uses her feet instead to send text messages on her cellphone and do her duties as a text prayer Warrior.
Ann is a “text mate”. An SMS buddy. But more than that, she is my intercessor. She is a great friend. She always prays for me.
I decided to pay her a visit that afternoon.
And as I was retrieving a gift from my car’s back seat, a heard a faint voice in my heart that told me to get my tripod and to do an interview with her.
This short video clip and this article is a by-product of that interview.
BE IN A LOVING ENVIRONMENT
Ann has very loving parents. I had the privilege of interviewing Ann and her parents, Jun and Ellen Padilla. Her parents currently serve at a nearby parish church.
One thing so obvious is the love that bonds them. She has a very loving parents. Ann shares many stories to her dad and mom. They are a closely- knitted family.
I envy the bond between them. It reminded me of the movie, Soul Surfer.
This movie is a true story of Bethany (a surfer whose arm was bitten off by a shark), and beautiful story of a very loving family. One lesson I learned from the movie is the importance of family and community. Here’s what I mean from some excerpts from the film:
Family and community is a source of assurance. Bethany started doubting God because of what happened. She cries and tells a friend, “How can this be Jeremiah 29:11?” Her friend said: ” I don’t know why terrible things happen to us sometimes. But I have to believe something good is going to come out of this.”
Family and community can be a reflection of God’s love. Moments after being discharged from the hospital, her mom told her, “You are still beautiful.” Bethany asks back, “How do you know I am beautiful.?” She replied, “I just know.”
Family and community can be a source of strength. Because of the love of her parents, she decided to try surfing again. In one scene, Bethany said: “I do not need easy. I need possible. With God everything is.”
The movie ended with a reporter’s interview (after finishing with silver medal despite her condition). The reporter asked, “if you were brought back to the time before you were bitten by the shark, would you choose that it didn’t happen? “ She replied, “I don’t think so. ” “I wouldn’t be able to embrace much people today than when I had two arms.”
Like Bethany, Ann Martha may be “disabled” or “incomplete” in the eyes of many. But deep inside, she is so complete. She is so complete with assurance, encouragement, and love.
Ann was surrounded by people who loves her so dearly. She had a huge amount of support from people around her- from her own family and the community.
I was a surprised to know that I wasn’t the first one from our community to pay Ann a visit.
Our community founder, Bo Sanchez, visited her several times. Plus, fellow leaders of Feast Bicutan had a Light Group* session in their house already.
We should seek environment, community and friends who accepts you and whom you can share your life and dreams with. The acceptance of your disabilities and misfortunes is the start of accepting yourself and eventually, your purpose.
DISCOVER LIFE PURPOSE IN PAIN
Much of Ann’s life revolves around pain- the emotional pain on those asking for prayers.
But most people don’t know that she too suffers a great deal of physical pain. I often I ask her through SMS, “Ann what do you want me to pray for you?” She always responds, “please pray for my body pains.”
Having cerebral palsy is not just about limbs not working properly. Things that affect normal ageing individuals like arthritis and muscle deterioration tend to affect people with cerebral palsy more rapidly and at an earlier age.
She has pain every day.
I remember the Samaritan woman, whom I assume is in deep pain every day after being in several failed relationships.
You see, she’s been married 5 times, and living with a 6th. And we all know what that mean. No wonder she’s fetching water from the well at midday. Baking hot and deserted. To avoid the jokes, jeers and scorn of her neighbors.
But everything changed when she met Jesus at the well.
“.. the woman left her water jar, went back to the town, and said to the people there, “Come and see the man who told me everything I have ever done…” – John 4:28–29 GNBDK
And out of gratitude, the Samaritan woman left her water jar, went to the town, and became a witness of Jesus. She instantly discovered her mission of spreading the Good News!
I am hoping you had that pain- freeing encounter with Jesus.
You may not recognize Christ at the beginning. Because many times, God’s purpose is disguised in pain.
You will not be able to find the pain remedy from somewhere (or someone else). Not from people. Not certainly from things. The lasting remedy can only come from Jesus.
And like the Samaritan woman at the well, Ann’s purpose was born out of pain.
Mark Twain said, “the two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment or happiness. It’s greater than your successful career, your dream “one-true-love” or your wildest dreams.
But for your purpose to be great, it must begin with God. Because our existence is because of God.
Long before you were conceived by your parents you were conceived in the minds of God. God’s motive for creating you was His love.
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” Ephesians 1:4
The search for meaning to life can never begin with ourselves or what we have. Because, by nature, we are flawed. We need direction from a perfect God.
And we can only discover our purpose if we have an intimate relationship with Jesus.
God had something better in mind for us (Hebrews 11:40), therefore you should place your trust in the hands of Someone who knows you more than you know yourself.
Without God, life has no purpose. Without purpose, life has no meaning. Without meaning, there’s no hope. “The greatest tragedy is not death. It’s life without purpose.”- Rick Warren
I secretly admire Ann. Because she is someone who is able to accomplish far more than she expects or imagine. Love the way she thought she can’t. Someone who is very sure that she is living the life God wants Him to live. A life God have been planned for her long ago.
* Light Group is a small group of people who meet each week to pray together, discuss intimate life details, and encourage each other with God’s word. Light Group is the main tool of discipleship in the Light of Jesus Family.