|A late-evening worship service held in a gas station owned by Kim and Janette Aguilar (front row).|
Kim, 40, the son of a successful banana farmer, has a degree in banking and finance. Janette, 39, studied to be a nurse but decided to be a home-based entrepreneur and full-time housewife.
Declining a Job Offer. After college, Kim worked as a teacher for two years, then was invited by his father to work on his 30-hectare banana farm and be trained to be a farm manager. It was the father’s plan to eventually ask Kim, the oldest of his four children, to manage the farm for him. However, Kim felt that the banana business is not as viable as other businesses he could enter, and declined the offer.
and Janette opened a computer services shop in 2003. Starting out with five computers, the shop grew to have 20 computers by 2008. At this point the couple gave the business, no strings attached, to one of Kim's brothers. This brother was born with only one seeing eye and despite being intelligent and finishing college no one would employ him.
The couple then bought a franchise of their first Waffle Time outlet. By 2015 they would have five outlets with gross earnings of about P1M a month.
Going into The Refueling Business. Whenever Kim and Janette drove past a vacant lot near a busy intersection in Tagum City, one of them would say, “How I wish we could build a gas station right there.”
They asked around, found the owner of the land and were told that they were the fifth to inquire. The other four were fuel companies. Somehow, the owner took a liking to the young couple, and in October 2011 they signed a ten-year rental contract for the 300-square meter piece of land. They also entered a contract with Petron, flew to Manila for training on how to manage a refueling station, and opened a gas refueling station after a few weeks.
For capital, Kim and Janette used income from their waffle outlets. They also borrowed a land title from Kim’s parents which they used as collateral for a P1.5M bank loan.
They opened a second gas station in 2014, this time choosing to be an individual player and not a franchise holder of any well-known company. They named their gas station Petrollo.
Making a Wrong Decision. Early in 2015 Janette made a management mistake when she agreed to sell fuel to a friend at a price that was too low. The friend brought the fuel to small, remote villages where she sold it by the bottle mostly to motorcycle owners. A series of price rollbacks that year kept them from raising prices and the business ended up owing suppliers P13M.
In May 2015, Janette confessed the mistake and their business predicament to her husband. Thankfully he did not rant or rage but simply decided to help her get over this problem.
Prior to this, the couple had become too engrossed with growing their businesses, coming home at 4 in the morning, seldom seeing their children, and neglecting their daily prayer habit. Although they had plenty of money, they had also begun to experience a sense of emptiness with their religious rituals and were seeking something or someone to fill the void.
"The weight of our problem made us feel like we were going crazy. Kim’s parents and my mother were angry with us them. We lost sleep. The ringing of the cell phone made us nervous, thinking each time that the caller was a supplier demanding payment. We felt hopeless and helpless," Janette relates.
Then a friend told Kim about CCT. He decided to check it out and found that attending a Bible study each week as required of all CCT Credit Cooperative members was not at all a bad idea but was in fact something he felt he and Janette needed.
Seeing the Light. During the first fellowship meeting both Kim and Janette attended, Pastor Peter Ligaya shared a reflection on the blessing of forgiveness using the verses Isaiah 41:10, Jeremiah 33:3, and I Peter 5:7. For Pastor Peter, it was just another weekly message, and he left the fellowship meeting totally unaware that two persons in the room had listened intently, took the message to heart, internalized it, and studied it further at home.
“We saw the light during that first meeting,” Kim says.
That was the beginning of their turning to the Lord. They also found help in time of need, through the emotional and spiritual support of CCT staff and financial assistance of the CCT Credit Cooperative.
Kim and Janette began to feel a strong yearning and hunger to learn more about God. Initially, CCT Team Servant Racel Aliviado discipled the couple using material from her church from about September 2015 to February 2016. She was surprised at the rate of their spiritual growth.
In February 2016, Kim requested Pastor Peter to lead a fellowship meeting every Sunday night so that his employees would also be able to hear God’s Word. Soon, staff, family members and friends of staff, and relatives of the Aguilars began attending the gathering held every Sunday at the Petrollo gas station at 9:30 in the evening. The reason for the unusual hour is to give workers at the Waffle Time outlets time to travel from their work areas one or two hours away. After the fellowship, the Aguilars serve a heavy snack.
Because of their hunger for more of God, Kim and Janette attend discipleship sessions led by Pastor Peter twice a week. He started them off with 12 biblical foundation lessons, then followed these with a discussion of the four spiritual laws, then with a study of the life of Job and the life of Christ.
Pastor Peter, who has served the Lord for about 20 years, says, "Never in all my years of ministry have I seen anyone whose hunger for learning about the Lord is as great as that of Kim and Janette, It is a blessing and a privilege from God to be able to minister to them."
Hosting a House Church. Kim and Janette freely share their testimony with anyone who will listen: friends, relatives, staff and suppliers. The Lord has worked through them so that today, about 50 individuals have come to know Christ. Some of them regularly attend the late evening worship service at the gas station and now compose what is recognized as a house church. Others attend a Sunday afternoon worship gathering in the home of Kim's parents.
In June 2016, Kim and Janette were nominated by CCT to the Lydia Award, an award program sponsored by the organization PEER Servants. Their business was noted for how it "blessed one person who in turn blessed others" and they received a a cash prize of $300.00. They used the prize money to buy a frame tent for the gas station meeting place to protect attendees from sudden rain showers. "When it rains, we all have to meet in the office, which of course is crowded," Janette explained.