From Porn (again) to Born Again

When I was a young man in my twenties, I dreamt of becoming a millionaire. I grew up in a middle class home, with a loving mom and dad who provided for our needs. We never went hungry. But I wanted to be rich.

I had very worldly dreams and God—or not even religion—was not part of it.

Even though God was chasing me, I kept on running away from him.

Friends who had become born again Christians would try to share the gospel with me.

But I would say, “if you’re born again, I’m born against.” There was a Christian who approached me at a mall one day, and as he gave a gospel tract and said, “Hi, I’m a Christian!…”, I said, “Hi, I’m busy!” and I ran away.

A schoolmate I kept on rejecting told me, “You know, you can’t run away from Jesus all your life.” And my reply? “Maybe I can’t run away from Jesus, but I’ll run away as long as I can, because I am having a good time.”

I had believed the enemy’s lie that a life with Jesus would be miserable.

Pleasure was my God and pleasing me, me and myself my priority.

One day I read the autobiography of Hugh Hefner, the playboy publisher and millionaire who could have any Playboy centerfold that he wanted. I wanted that kind of life.  And I was headed in that direction; I even published a porn magazine for a popular mens club in Manila.

Later, I got promoted in my job as a manager in an international magazine and was sent to Stanford in the US to attend a professional publishing course. There I met many US publishers and the ambition to be a pornographic publisher was rising in my heart like yeast. When asked by an American colleague what my plans were after the course, I replied, “I will get the license to publish Playboy magazine in the Philippines.”

Yes, I kept on running farther and farther away from the Lord like a gazelle running away from a chasing lion.

And then I got entangled, stumbled and fell hard in a muddy pit of debt and depression—snared by my own greed and schemes as a business venture failed miserably.

I believe Satan was allowed to snare and inflict pain on me, but God meant it for my good and provided an escape. Because Jesus was there to catch me.  When I finally cried out to God to save me from my truckload of debt and problems, he used my girlfriend who became my wife, to bring me to a Bible study. There the word of God became alive.

Every question I had, God showed me the answer. I prayed to receive Christ in my heart that night and committed my life to his Lordship.

I was never the same again.

I could not lie anymore. The desire to chase my dream of being a playboy millionaire died. I burned all my pornographic materials. I delighted myself in the word of the Lord, reading the Bible the first few hours of the day. The Lord renewed my mind, molding me into a new jar of clay so that I could be filled with Him. I was a new person.

I read up also on how to free myself from debt by becoming a good steward. Christian books ministered to me, the authors became my mentors. The Lord blessed my businesses.

And he gave me a new vision and identity…and purpose.

One morning after reading the Purpose Driven Life,  I asked, “Lord, what is it that you want me to do with my life?” The Lord told me to read the Bible. I immediately did, but strangely what was in front of me was an old King James bible that I had just bought for one dollar in a book table sale the day or two before. I opened it and read Psalms 26:7,

“That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.”

PUBLISH and TELL!

My heart rejoiced with this message.

It turns out that there was also a purpose why I bought that KJV bible, because it’s the only version that says “Publish”.

And so write and publish I did. I wrote and self-published a gospel tract called Ang Buhay na Hindi Bitin (Life that is not short).

It was not easy to obey. It took discipline and hard work. Writing is enjoyable but it is not always easy. And when our business was booming and my successes celebrated by the world, I would get distracted. But the Lord was always faithful to remind me of my purpose.

In 2005, while at the Mt Carmel School of Ministry in Haifa, Israel, I got such a life-shaking reminder.

As I knelt at the altar of the church, I asked the Lord once again, “Lord, what is it that you really want me to do? I feel that I have not used my talents for you… I’m successful in this business you’ve given me and I’m also writing, although I am writing for a newspaper column and books on business… What is it that you want me to do, Lord?”

As I waited, the Lord answered clearly, “I’ve already told you. But if you want to hear, go to Pastor David (the teacher who had just given the message on obedience), he will tell you.”

As I was about to stand up to look for Ptr David, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked back and it was Ptr David. I had not yet met him formally, but then he spoke to me and said: “You are a writer. You are a writer for the Lord. And you are going to write for Him.”

I wept uncontrollably like a father who had just been handed his first born child. I couldn’t stop from praising God and saying “Hallelujah!”

Since then, I had written 7 books. Many, many copies have been sold. And I have been invited to many places to tell my story. But more than that many people write back to me saying that they had accepted the Lord Jesus as their saviour because of what God has written through me and the stories He has given me to write. Today, it’s funny that I am now the one giving out my gospel booklet to people. From a porn publisher to a born again publisher.

Life is a joy to live. There are good days and there are so called bad days or trials. But I have embraced what James has written, “consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

And praise be to God, I never lack for anything. Jesus is my all in all. He is my joy. In Him, I am complete.

It is my pleasure to serve Him, to write for Him.

“To publish with the voice of thanksgiving and tell of all his wondrous works. “

I am Ardy Roberto, a writer for the Lord, and that is my story.

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May 24, 2017

Haggai Institute, Maui, Hawaii

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About me

Ardy Roberto

Ardy Roberto

Best-selling author of 8 books; Co-founder of Salt & Light Ventures and Inspire Leadership Consultancy; Husband to Miriam Quiambao and father to Joshy Boy.

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