BoD’s only Rose among the Thorns: Meet Ptra. Marilyn L. Neric

posted in: Features

File Photo of Opif Digest

We usually picture the Board of Directors with a group of highly respected male leaders in their suits and ties. But it’s different with OPIF’s Executive Team, because the organization is blessed with a female leader who can live up to what 1 Corinthians 16:13 is asking. It says, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” And that’s how we describe our very own Pastora Marilyn Lawenko Neric. She’s a woman of substance who stands firm in her faith, a woman of courage, and of strength.

She’s born in the beautiful town of Bacacay, Albay on November 14, 1956 to parents Jose Lawenko and Agripina Bea. She may be the youngest among the brood of 10 but she’s still has gotten the leadership skills of her late father who has served the town as municipal mayor for 17 years-long. She studied in Colegio de Sta Isabel in Naga City and later on went to the University of the East in Manila where she graduated a Certified Public Accountant in 1977. A year after all the hardwork in college, she landed her first job as External Auditor in Guzman, Bocaling and Co., CPAs.

Two decades ago was her first entry to KSA where she has worked for four years as an Internal Auditor in Alissa Group of Companies. But because of better opportunities, she then applied for another job in an American International School in Riyadh where she worked as an Accountant for the next 16 years.

It was in Laguna in 1993 when she first heard the Word of God through her closest friend and she was enlightened by it. Two years after, she got water baptized in JESUS’ Name and five years thereafter she received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. She remembers the experience as a moment of unspeakable joy. Her first impression of the Apostolic Born Again Christians as being legalistic has changed as she came to know the truth and had a better understanding about the Oneness Doctrine. Her faith had a remarkable impact on her life. Her life was transformed by it— now she’s a Christian living a life in accordance to His Word and delivered from the world.

For many times, she has felt the move of God but it was when she experienced the Gift of Prophecy that she has felt the power of God. She has served God for 8 years as the Church Treasurer and 2 years as the Church Auditor in OPIF Dunes - Sector 9. At present, she has been teaching Bible Studies since year 2000 in the same sector and to add, she’s the Finance Directress of OPIF from year 2016 up to this date. It was her understanding of the truth about JESUS being the one and only true God that prompted her to answer the call of God without any hesitation.

When asked a personal question if there was ever a time when she wanted to come back to her old self, she honestly admitted to it. It was when she could not accept what she thought was a shallow explanation given to her about the standard of outward holiness. But it was God who has given her the clear understanding  which then caused her to completely submit her life to God’s plan of salvation. In the first years of her God given ministry, she has set a goal for herself and that’s to be able to read the whole Bible for the purpose of her to have a full understanding of the Word. But never did she thought that she’ll be used by God to be one of those who will lead His church. But she remembers that although she was just starting, she already has a vision for the organization and that is for it to grow bigger for God alone to be glorified.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” in Matthew 6:33 is her most treasured verse. She has proven this verse to be true, that if you put God first, you will be blessed in all aspects of your life. And it was Paul among the Bible characters she can relate most to. Because like Paul, Pastor Marilyn used to debate against the oneness doctrine but now she’s boldly teaching it to others.

Now that she’s back in the Philippines for good after she has retired from work, her plan is to render a full time service for God in His vineyard. So she made sure she’s financially, emotionally and most specially, spiritually ready for it. She envisions that more OPIF churches will be built after 5 years and that it will expand globally 10 years from now. And by that time, she envisions herself continually being used by God in various ministries.

When asked what three adjectives best describe her, she answered, being diligent, with strong personality, and being soft spoken. It is known that she’s definitely an accomplished woman  in her personal life and her ministries which the younger generation of ladies look up to, but like everyone she also has some shares of regrets in her life. She regretted the time when she has deeply focused on developing her career which took too much of her time, sacrificing her own family. She also felt apologetic about some time in her ministry as a BS Teacher that she felt she did not exert enough effort to use her God-given gift. But these regrets have served as a challenge for her to make things right and be the woman of substance she is right now.

She has an advice to new OFWs being an OFW herself for 20 years and it is for them to look for a church where truth is being taught which will lead them closer to God which in turn will give them the strength that they will need to sustain them daily. And also, her advice is for them to be wise in managing their resources to ensure a better future for their family. And she encourages the newly baptized brethren to be diligent in studying the Word of God and in attending church services for their spiritual growth. She also has left a message to those who are serving in the ministry that they should be committed and dedicated to the ministry entrusted to them by God and for humility to manifest in all aspects of their lives.

When questioned of how she will answer if God asks her how she lives her life up until this moment, the rose among the thorns, Pastor Marilyn Neric answered that she finds her purpose in giving her best to please God in everything with the help of God’s Spirit. And if there’s something she’s most grateful for, it would be when she let JESUS in her life because with Him she’s complete and couldn’t ask for a better life.