This is a testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ’s unfathomable love manifested in saving and calling a sinful, rebellious, and worthless person such as I. The works of God in my life are many and could fill a whole book. But I have labored to make this as short and as concise as I can, with the prayer that everyone who reads this will not notice me but would surely see the hand of God and His amazing grace throughout this testimony.
My Family Background
My name is Andrew Murray D. Durano. I was born into a truly Christian family with my late father being a fulltime missionary-evangelist establishing churches, pioneering missionary and evangelical work among the native tribe Manobo in the southernmost part of Mindanao in the Philippine archipelago. I am the youngest of 10 children, 7 boys and 3 girls. My father was always on the go because of his ministry and we were all left with our late mother who took care of us and taught us how to love the Lord. Since my father’s ministry was not sponsored and funded by any organization, our family’s subsistence was literally in the Hands of the Almighty. We, together with the Manobo saints, were living in utmost poverty!
There were instances where we didn’t have decent meals for days but only boiled unripe bananas for food! Materially, life was very hard. My father could have made a lot of money in the ministry or even outside of it if he wanted to. He was brilliant, articulate and well versed in Scriptures and even in the laws of our land. Yet we ended up very, very poor! One time my father was offered a monthly allowance in U.S. Dollars by an American minister on one ‘easy’ condition that our church be affiliated with their church only in name with no additional strings attached whatsoever. My father could preach what he wanted and they would not interfere, so they said. My father flatly refused the offer. My mother cried her heart out that day. She couldn’t understand why my father refused the offer. She thought my father didn’t care for his family. But my father stood firm on his decision, and said, “I would never sell my ministry and the saints’ souls for any amount. I would rather be poor in this world as long as I am faithful and sincere to God’s calling!”
We were really very poor materially. However, I could see my father’s life and ministry, how God enriched him with innumerable spiritual blessings. Though we were living in the mountains among poor uneducated folks and virtually detached from modern civilization, God never failed to reveal His Word to the church. I didn’t know how and when my father came into the Message that was brought by the prophet, William Marrion Branham, but when I was a child I had already heard the prophet’s name and his endtime message. I was born in 1973 and I suppose that my father came to know the Message in early or mid 1970s.
The Miracle that Changed My Life
When I was young, about 14 years old, in First Year High School, I was infected with a suspected hepatitis virus. Our place was isolated and was very far, from “modern civilization”. We had no electricity. We did not have a hospital or even a clinic. We did not have doctors and nurses. The place was not accessible by roads. The only means of transportation to a third class hospital is by a pump boat, sailing dangerously over the Pacific Ocean for hours amid gigantic waves. Thus, I was not taken to the hospital or clinic. Days passed by and I became terribly ill and was very weak. I could not stand or walk on my own. I was yellowish all over; my entire skin, eyes, and every part of me turned yellowish. My stomach became big and painful. One night, at about midnight, I felt, and was sure, that I was going to die then. I did not tell anyone of what I felt that night nor did I make any sound or groaning to wake anyone in our house. However, I was surprised to see my father come to my bed, calling out to my mother, and together they knelt down and prayed a solemn prayer to God for my healing. I could not forget my father’s prayer when he said, something like this: “God I know that You are about to call this boy home. But not now Lord. You know our hearts and that it is our desire that this boy would follow the footsteps of his father. So please heal him.” After they had prayed and they asked me how I was feeling; I did not answer because I was very weak. They went to bed with faith and slept through the night and I was able to sleep.
Very early in the morning, I woke up and immediately went outside our house to feed the chickens! I was totally whole. I can walk and can even run! When my parents woke up that morning, they all marveled at my recovery. I was yellowish though, but other than that, I was in very good health. In fact, I believe that God did not only heal the suspected hepatitis virus infection, He healed me completely. Many sickness that perennially beset me, such as migraine, tooth ache, etc., were all gone from that night on! (Days after the incident, I asked my father what had prompted him to go to my bed to pray for my healing that night. He told me that he woke up feeling a heavy burden for me and that he knew that I was in trouble. Recalling all that had happened that night, I could see God’s ‘fingerprints’ all over! Praise God!)
Determined to Run Away from God
That event totally changed my life in a negative manner. Instead of being encouraged to draw near to God because of that miracle, it made me determined to get away from serving God and from any ministry. I purposed in myself to study and become a lawyer. I was terribly afraid of the words of my father in his prayer. I did not want to be like him. I am a firsthand witness of how hard a true minister’s life is, and doubly hard to his family. I did not want my children to experience what I had gone through!
The early years of my life saw me as a religious person but deep inside darkness reigned. I was a song leader of our church, yet I was not saved at that time. When I graduated from High School, I happened to pass an entrance and scholarship exam of the University of the Philippines, one of the most prestigious universities of our country. I saw a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to pursue my ambition. Finishing High School was not easy for me and my family. My mother sometimes washed the clothes of our neighbors to sustain my studies. I had experienced many days in school without lunch or food to eat! So I was very determined to be a lawyer in order to help our family financially. That time I had to go to Iloilo in the Visayas Islands, the nearest campus of the said university from our place. That was the first time I was separated from my parents.
The year was 1993 when I started to study in a university far from home. That was also the time when I thought I was safe from God’s calling. I did not care about God and His Word. I was focused on my ambitions. I seldom visited our home. The university life took a toll on my moral standard. My life slowly changed for the worse. It was some three years when bad news hit me. I learned that my mother passed away. I was shocked. I was angry with my father because I was informed of my mother’s death only after a month had passed. And so, I had forgotten my ambition to become a lawyer. I wanted to be a rebel. I became a student activist. I did not attend my classes regularly. I was in the forefront of protest demonstrations and rallies.
During this time also I met a beautiful girl who later became my wife. She belonged to a middle class family. She was a Roman Catholic then. But I did not care what her faith was. She became pregnant before we were even married. When my father knew about it, he was very sad and heartbroken. He did not marry us. We were married by a local judge. My father gave up on me and thought that I will never be a minister ever. And that made me happy. Nothing more made me happy than knowing that I was ‘disqualified’ to be a minister ever! My father died in 1998, bringing his grief and disappointment of me to his grave.
Darkest Part of My Life and the Dawn of Salvation
My wife and I lived in Iloilo City, starting 1997. We lived in total darkness. We knew no God. We did not go to church. We did not even utter a single word of prayer. We were together in gambling houses, bringing with us our very young children. In 2001, I got a permanent job in the City Government. We have three daughters at that time and we thought we were just okay. That was the darkest point of my life.
One day in the year 2003 at about 6.00pm, when I was fixing something on our house’s roof, I decided to stay for awhile on the roof lying in a cold breeze of relatively fresh air. Then at about 7.00pm, I saw many stars in the sky. I wondered how those stars came to be. Then something happened inside of me. Suddenly, I felt that I missed something very important in my life. Then the realization came upon me that I was an awful sinner and destined for judgment! I desperately felt the need for a savior. Then I remembered what my father preached. I cried my heart out. I prayed to the Lord that if He could forgive me, I will serve Him.
My Walk with God
My interest with the Word of God was awakened that night and I started to look for a ‘Message’ church in our city. I sent an SMS to my brother who was a pastor. He pointed me to the only church in our city who believed the ‘Message’ brought by Brother Branham. When I knew that the church was very near to our house, I was very happy. Together with my nephew, we attended the Sunday service of that church. However, that pastor preached that the Bible was useless without Bro. Branham; that on Judgment Day we would be judged, not by the Bible, but by the sermons of Bro. Branham. I may be the hungriest man on earth for the Word of God that time, but I could not stomach the pastor’s message which borders on blasphemy! I never went back to that church. I sent an SMS again to my brother and he told me that there was a church some 30 kilometers away from the city. I went there and had found that the church was very new to the ‘Message’. I decided to fellowship with them. By the grace of God, during that time, my wife left her old religion and joined me in the same precious faith. Praise God!
I did not know Brother Richard Gan personally until 2004. I never read his books and writings. I heard his name once from my brother when we were discussing extreme personalities and doctrines in the ‘Message’. In fact, I had sort of been warned about Bro. Gan and his teachings. In mid 2003, when I searched over the internet for websites of ministers and churches that believed in the ministry of the prophet, William Marrion Branham, I stumbled upon the Prophetic*Revelation website. Realizing that the author was Bro. Gan and that he was known to have extreme doctrines, I wanted to bypass it. I would have if not for God who guided me in that moment. I had read part of the website “startpage”. My heart leaped for joy that moment. It was like my father was brought back to life by what Bro. Gan wrote in his “startpage”. I said to myself, “I thought this man had extreme doctrines. But he is writing things just like what my father preached!” I was addicted to Bro. Gan’s website and I read almost all of his writings. Then I remembered that my father was connected to Brother Raymond Jackson. I had long known Brother Jackson by his publication and by my father’s ministry since I was a child. That time I already knew that Bro. Jackson was an apostle of God. I also knew for sure, by that time, an answer from God, that Bro. Gan was a true apostle of God too. However, when I learned of their differences, it was a very hard blow to my young faith and it really confused me “big time”!
For almost a year, I was in a state of confusion. I could not explain and reconcile why these true apostles of God could not resolve their differences. It was my idea then, at that time, that if two ministers have differences, then they did not have the unity of faith. I wrote both of them. Only Bro. Gan replied to my email. Still the confusion lingered and I prayed to God and wished that these two men of God would resolve their differences and reconcile. The confusion was so severe that I cannot move forward in my walk with God without this being resolved.
Then I had a dream. I am not a ‘dreamer’ and I seldom dream. But this dream was different. It was so vivid. I dreamt that the rapture had just happened and I was left behind. Then I was transported by the Spirit to Singapore, to Bro. Gan’s church. I saw that a few of Bro. Gan’s congregation were also left behind. I asked them the whereabouts of Bro. Gan. With sad faces, they told me that Bro. Gan was already translated or raptured and that they were left behind. Suddenly the scene changed and I was in Jeffersonville, Indiana, U.S.A., in Bro. Jackson’s church. There were also people there who were left behind. I asked them where Bro. Jackson was. With sad faces they also told me that Bro. Jackson was already raptured or translated and that they were all left behind. Then I awoke from that dream. I could not sleep that night and I knew the Lord had a message for me. I knew that if I continued to dwell on the differences of these two men of God, I would be surely be left behind in the rapture! At that point in time, I thought that despite their minor differences, they were still united in one faith! But I noticed that Bro. Jackson was overbearing in defending some of his doctrines and criticizing Bro. Gan and his teachings.
I studied God’s Word for the confirmation of the message I got from that dream. Sure enough, it is there. The epistles of Apostle Paul helped me a lot. When Apostle Paul likened the church to a body and the believers as members or parts of that body with Christ as the Head, my interest in human anatomy and physiology was awakened. Then I learned that all parts of the body were connected and under the control of the head/brain. A hand cannot control any part of the body. So too are the eyes, ears, legs and etc. They can only send and receive signals to and from the head/brain! All information are processed in the head/brain and interpreted and transmitted to other parts of the body. For instance, when we look at a botanical garden, what our eyes see are just energy waves. But when they are sent to the brain they are processed and interpreted as beautiful scenery of flowers and plants! The brain in turn sends varying degrees of information to the part of the body it wants the information to reach. In a specific stimulus, not every body parts receive the same degree of information from the brain. Thus, it is clear that physically a human being is only controlled by the head. In like manner, the Church of God is only controlled by Christ and not by any man of God. There is no such thing as chief hand, chief ear, chief eye, etc., as there is absolutely no chief teacher, chief pastor, chief evangelist, chief prophet, or chief apostle other than the Lord Jesus Christ!
I also know why God permits some little differences among true men of God today. It is a tool in God’s hand to sift or fan those who stand by their ministers, as if they are “the absolute”, in contrast to those who are standing firm with the Word, which is the true ABSOLUTE!
Running Away from God Again
Just when it seems that my confusion was gone and my questions answered, the fear of life’s reality overtook me again. I looked at my children and I promised to myself that they should never experience hardship, the likes of which I had gone through, all because my father was a faithful minister of the Word.
So I ran away from God again. This time I was willing to serve God on my own terms! I wanted just to be an ordinary believer with the freedom to pursue my ambition to be a lawyer. I did not want to stand at the pulpit to preach or teach. This went on for about 4 years. I kept praying to God that He would raise someone to oversee our fellowship but to no avail. I nearly lost my eldest daughter in 2008. She was diagnosed to have Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever and Typhoid Fever at the same time. I realized that God wanted me in His ministry. So I asked for His forgiveness. Sure enough, God healed my daughter.
Still there was something inside of me that wanted to be a lawyer. Every Sunday I ministered the Word to the church. But other than that I did not want to take the responsibility. I gave all the responsibility of administering the church to one of our elders.
Surrendering to God Completely and Having Peace
Just this March 2010, a few days before the yearly convention in Butuan City, Philippines, one of my daughters fell sick. At first, I thought she was just suffering from a common stomach ache. But when she had not eaten nor drank water for 2 days and was vomiting often, I was worried. I called my whole family to pray for the child. When I prayed, I immediately knew in my heart that the problem was not with the child! The problem was with me. I waited for another day, wishing that my child would eventually recover. But her situation became worse as the hours passed by. On the night of March 27, 2010, I knew that my daughter would eventually die if I did not repent and surrender to God. By about 10.00pm, my daughter was very weak and dehydrated. She could not stand on her own. She could barely speak. I called my wife and told her that I have decided to surrender to God completely. My wife knew all the time that I kept running away from God’s calling. In submitting ourselves completely to God’s will, we both realized that it would not be a bed of roses ahead of us. Life is going to be difficult for us. We both cried that night. That night, at around 11:30pm, I emailed Bro. Gan that I would finish my testimony and send it to him as soon as possible. (By the way, Bro. Gan had asked for my testimony some three years now but I kept giving him excuses. I repented it all and asked for forgiveness from Bro. Gan for my insincerity.)
My daughter was able to sleep soundly the whole of that night. The following day, March 28, 2010, a Sunday, I told my wife to stay at home (so that she could personally witness a miracle) while I went to church some 33km away for the morning service to tell the congregation that I wholly accepted God’s calling. I preached “The Two Most Important Questions” as uttered by Saul (turned Paul) when God met him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:5-6). First question was, “Who art Thou, Lord?” The second was, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” When I came home that Sunday afternoon, I marveled at how quickly my daughter recovered. She ran and greeted me at the gate. She could even dance! To see a 6-year old weak child, who could not stand and could barely talk the night before because she was ill and very weak and dehydrated, run and dance, completely defied human understanding! It was certainly the Hand of God that healed her. And it was a confirmation that I got God’s message right. Glory to God!
On March 30, 2010, I left home to attend the Annual Fellowship of believers in Butuan City, Philippines. There I met again many saints and ministers, including Bro. Gan. Had it not been for God’s mercy and longsuffering, I could not have gone this far. But God has chosen me in His Word before the foundation of the world was ever laid. And slowly, God’s predestinated will is unfolded and is manifested before our very eyes. Indeed, the purpose of God according to election will stand, not of works but of Him that calleth (Rom. 9:11).
Please pray for us. The church in our place is a young and growing church. There is still plenty of work to do. We know that God did not promise His servants good earthly lives. But we know for a certainty that whatever will happen, God will never forsake us. He will always be with us. That is His promise and we believe it! Now, we have peace that surpasses all understanding. Truly we can say, “Anywhere with Jesus we can safely go.” Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
Bro. Andrew Murray D. Durano
April 10, 2010