Rich or Poor?

Being a missionary fulfills our desires.

Raian Villacruel
Rich or Poor?

God used the mission field to change my life.

When I was baptized at the age of 15 in 1997, I was the only Seventh-day Adventist in my family in the Philippines. I felt called to become a pastor, and the missionary who had held month-long evangelistic meetings in my village encouraged me to study theology.

But when I enrolled at the Adventist University of the Philippines, I found that it would take eight to 10 years for an impoverished working student like me to become a pastor. I also decided that I wanted to make more money than a pastor. So I opted for a four-year degree in English education with an eye on studying law and becoming a well-paid lawyer.

After graduating, I wasn’t sure what to do next. My law school plans were not materializing, and I felt very sad because no one in my family had been baptized even though I had witnessed to them for nine years. I felt like a sinner and a broken vessel.

Then I remembered that I had longed at one time to become a missionary, even for only a year.

“God, if You open a door to serve You, I will go,” I prayed.

That same year, in 2006, I was called to serve as an eighth-grade teacher at the Yap Seventh-day Adventist School in the Guam-Micronesia Mission. Then I married my college sweetheart.


Life was not easy. I remember one year, when we were expecting our third child, my monthly stipend amounted to US$250, while my wife earned $230 as a teacher. But we decided to keep serving God, trusting that He would provide.

We fell in love with the mission field, and we stayed in the Guam-Micronesia Mission until 2020, teaching at schools in Yap, Ebeye, and Majuro. Along the way, God provided a way for me to finish a master’s degree in education at La Sierra University, and today I’m a missionary, principal, and teacher in the United States.

Looking back, I realize my heart was not right with God when I began to serve Him. But He accepted and molded me. During my first year as a missionary, my father, mother, and all my siblings were baptized. Wow! I thought. I worked so hard for that to happen, but God gave me the desire of my heart only when I gave up and focused on His work as a missionary.


Once I thought that serving God would make me a very poor person, but God has given me much more than I could ever want. I’ve traveled widely for my work, including recruiting student missionaries across the United States, and received a master’s degree without going into debt. God truly owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps. 50:10).

I’ve found that if you seek Him first, then all these things will be added unto you (Matt. 6:33). Give all your life to God. If you do, you’ll receive it all back! “Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back” (Luke 6:38, NLT).*

* Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Raian Villacruel