THE SEASON OF SUDDENLIES, SURRENDERS, AND NEW BEGINNINGS
It was a particularly fulfilling and fruitful season of ministry for Maria Fe Dequito in Cambodia. For 18 years of serving the Lord as a missionary along with her husband, Noel Dequito, and their two kids, their faithful labor among the Cambodians have finally yielded good fruits.
The Dequito family was able to put up an international school and pioneered house churches. They were able to facilitate livelihood programs, outreach activities, and language teaching which improved and sustained the lives and education of the Cambodians they used to work with. It was indeed a time of harvest, a time to enjoy the work of the Lord’s hands.
One day in May 2017, Fe felt an unusual lump on her left breast that brought her a mild pain. After consulting the Cambodian doctors, she was advised to return to the Philippines for further consultation and medication assuming that her lump was 90% malignant. Two weeks after, Fe followed the order and flew back to the country. She underwent several tests and surgeries when she arrived. The results came out a few weeks after and her biopsy showed an Invasive Ductal Carcinoma which made her positive (HER2) to breast cancer.
It was overwhelming for Fe at first; she was alone in the country, away from her family, and was seriously sick. But her security rests in God’s love. Reflecting on a live worship service one time, Fe realized, “Our personal circumstance does not reflect how God feels about us. God loves us unconditionally.” She’s decided to fight through the pain while putting her trust and hope in the Lord.
“Our personal circumstance does not reflect how God feels about us. God loves us unconditionally.”
Fe’s journey with cancer has obliged her and her family to make tough decisions. After the first few months of her chemo (Fe underwent 22 cycles of chemotherapy and 30 days of radiation), they finally decided to take an indefinite Sabbatical leave from their ministries in Cambodia to move back to the Philippines and concentrate on her medication.
These decisions accompanied challenges and difficulties for them. “The most challenging part of my journey was to come home here in the Philippines for my treatment. It was not only me but also my family. We have to leave everything back in Cambodia including our ministries. Basically, our 18 years of life there. And it was difficult for me.” Fe confessed.
“Adjusting to life and culture in the Philippines was hard for me who has been away that long, but it was very difficult for our children who entirely grew up in Cambodia and had their education there.”
Not to mention the pain and difficulties of her treatment plus their financial needs, Fe remained anchored in the Word of God. Referencing to Romans 8:28, “I may not understand why He has allowed it to me now, but we know that He does things for a reason and because He loves us”
“I may not understand why He has allowed it to me now, but we know that He does things for a reason and because He loves us”
God’s Grace for every Season
Fe’s journey with cancer ushered a lot of changes. But she learned that there is a constant truth that remains; God’s grace is sufficient for her in every season of life. Fe shared how she felt enveloped with God’s amazing “anesthesiac grace”, she called, throughout her surgeries and treatments and how she was encouraged being surrounded with a loving family, friends, and partners in the ministries including ACM who walked with her throughout this journey.
Fe successfully completed the 22-cycle chemotherapy and radiation last November 2018. Three months later, her doctors advised her to go for a Sonogram/Mammogram and several other tests to ensure that there is no possible metastasis. A cyst was found under the scar of the operated part, but her biopsy result this May 2019 showed NO CANCER CELLS found. Praise God for His faithfulness.
New Season of Ministry
While she’s on the way to complete recovery, Fe was led to a new calling. “We won’t be back to Cambodia for long term stay yet. We believe that God has brought us to a new season of ministry: MOBILIZATION and MISSION CARE.” With their missionary journey experience, Fe and her husband are willing to lead teams for short term exposure trips, organize events and training, and do Mission Care.
“I choose to enjoy life while I can and serve God when opportunity calls.”
By Jovica Mari Bautista, Communications Staff, Asian Center for Missions