“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil,
to give you a future and a hope.”
Anyone who knows Michelle Manuel knows that she is a strong and independent woman, firm in her convictions and passionate about Christ. Her life story is one of hope and assurance that God’s plans are far better than the plans we have for ourselves.
The Manuels were a picture perfect family. Mich and her siblings got a good education and had everything they needed and wanted. Their father worked in another country as an engineer, and their mother held a good position at a prominent company. At a young age, Mich was blessed to have the life many only dreamed of living.
Everything changed, however, when one day Mich’s mother revealed that she had gotten involved in a cult. With her father away, Mich and her siblings were neglected because her mother declared that her calling was to serve the cult, not take care of her family. At eight years old, Mich watched helplessly as her family fell apart.
Her father tried to get their family back together, but his efforts were futile. Her parents separated, and Mich and her eldest brother went to live with their dad until he decided to find a new job abroad. She then grew up in the loving care of her grandparents. With their help, she started to accept the truth that her family would never be whole again.
Mich was still adjusting to her new life when her grandparents died in a car accident. The loss left her devastated. Her father came back home to take care of her and her brother, and Mich found comfort in her father’s presence. However, the emotional and physical strains of life took its toll on his health. When Mich was about to graduate from high school, she learned that her father had kidney failure and only had a few months left to live.
To fulfill her father’s dying wish, Mich’s uncle went looking for her other siblings who went to live with their mother. Before his eventual demise, they were reunited after eight long years.
Her father’s death made Mich feel abandoned and alone. Her eldest brother ran away and was never heard of since. She received bad treatment from her relatives who told her that she would just end up like her mother. This became her fuel in pursuing a career as an engineer, just like her father, and striving to make a name for herself. She went to the city and worked hard until she became a manager of a well-known company. She was determined to prove her relatives wrong. But despite everything she achieved, she was not happy. She felt empty.
Throughout her life, Mich reached out for God, but in the crucial moment in her life, God reached out to her. She realized that she needs to change some things in her life if she were to walk with God and live as a Christian. She felt God speaking to her, and she cried, but peace and joy replaced the loneliness in her heart.
It was through her high school best friend—whom she reunited with after ten years—that she finally came to know Jesus as her Savior and Lord. As she prayed in tears that day, she looked back on her life and realized that despite all that happened to her, she was never alone, never forsaken.
God was making her a better and stronger person through her painful experiences because God was after her character, not her comfort.
She felt God’s warm embrace at that time. She felt comforted, protected, and loved.
Mich has then reconciled with her mother who is now restored in the faith and pastoring a local church. Mich uses her life story to encourage believers and reach out to those who need the Savior. She is actively involved in ministry, discipleship, and evangelism in her church and workplace.
God uses circumstances in our life to draw us closer to Him, whether we are aware of it or not. If things don’t go the way we plan, we can rest assured that God is working things out so that we will not miss the life He has meant for us to live. In Him, we find hope. In Him, we can count on a blessed future. In Him, we find peace, because He knows what’s best for us. All we need to do is trust Him.
Deedee Leones is a work in progress being molded skillfully in the hands of the Potter. She is a verbivore (lover of words) who dreams of changing the world through her writing and blogs at https://dandeelions.wordpress.com/