October 20, 2013

Thank you, Lord for everything

Dear God,

Thank you for this new day you have added  to my life. Thank you for  the extended years and the corresponding blessings, changes and development within me and through me. You know how everyday I savor the beauty of life- one thing I had neglected in the past.
Image credit: indulgy.com

For,  before, I spent most of the day on  thinking what to do rather than appreciating  what  life brings with each passing moments. I failed to appreciate the beauty of rest and even sleep as I wished I could live without  them so that our work would remain unhampered. ‘Twas the peak of my leadership and service in pastoral ministry that we were gearing,  without delay, redeeming the time by taking advantage of favorable circumstances.  How many times, I  tried to defy the laws of nature, yes, my  human vulnerability and even impending death in vain attempt to do more for your glory and honor, believing  I had the immunity to face consequences  in the name of service.

It is only now that I learn to enjoy the natural gift you have given us – fresh air, sunlight, exercises, nature's beauty, new spirituality  as I cannot  start each  day without them. It is only now that I learn to appreciate and value all of my body parts for having sustained my well being despite my negligence and  abuse due to unhealthy lifestyle and mindset.  There was even a time when  I seemed to spite them for being weak to  protect myself and resist illness and sickness.  But after  undergoing the painful and  harrowing health related experience, I realized their strength and made at peace with them as I apologized for my shortcomings as steward of my body.    

It is only now that I value my parenthoood as my health condition  constrains my mobility, forcing me to stay at home after office work to supervise  household chores and our kids. It is in this experience that I become closer to my kids and  learn the harsh lessons that most of the things I don’t like in them are mere  product of my own doing.  One time, I had to  slap my head  when  confronting  them  on the late night’s sleep, they replied:” Haven’t  you remembered, father, when we were still children that we could not go to bed until we bid you goodnight? Oftentimes, you went home late and we had to  wait for you. Since then, we have been conditioned to sleep late.”
Image Credit: inspiringquotes.in 

For long, I had neglected this endeavor,  considering my work including voluntary ones, especially those related to ministry, as an excuse for  not getting involved in such "menial task." Worse, I even reinforced the challenges to my wife to join me in a worthwhile calling, depriving our kids of family togetherness during weekends. I cannot forget  the night when we were informed about the narrow escape of our kids from the flashflood brought by Typhoon Frank in 2008. My wife and I were in another province doing voluntary work and we had to finish our speaking engagement the following day before going home to process the traumatized kids.  But now, I enjoy trading wits, reasons and arguments with our teenage  daughter and two  sons to convince them of my agenda as they now have minds of  their own which I  cannot dictate. Every day is an interesting struggle as I try to catch up with whatever left within my influence towards their growth and development. 

I can cite more changes and realizations in my life and the corresponding blessings- all because of the near death experience I had four years ago. That was when I faced all the consequences of my negligence and abuse to my body. Still, I attempted to  defy them by invoking faith and the imperative of service, until  literary  I became unable to walk for even a couple  of  meters or talk for  half a dozen minutes. It was then when I started  blaming even you, dear Lord, for my fate, as if You didn’t care with the unfinished tasks all for your kingdom and glory. 

But you  seemed to keep your distance. And in your deafening silence, I realized  my frailties  and started to value each step that I take both physical and steps of faith.  I continue to experience the gradual and painful process of recovery up to now. Yet, inside me the healing is almost  complete which matters most.  For I know the healing inside will soon be reflected  in my whole being. For this, I thank you, Lord for all the trials that come my way and for the victory that growing brings as I continue with my faith journey.

October 6, 2013

Katipan Hall: A legacy of faith in action

True to its meaning, Katipan  has become a symbol of solidarity among pastors. It bespeaks of the realization of collective faith and action (Katumanan sang Tingob nga Pagtoo kag binuhatan). A such, Katipan has   galvanized our relationship. It even boosted the morale of pastors who have been stereotyped to be always in the receiving end. The KATIPAN Hall also stands as monument of the gains in networking. Pastors have exhausted their linkages and network in order to complete the project.

Katipan Hall in 2006
Our faith journey  started from an invitation of the Pastors’ Kids (PK) Association to hold our National Assembly at Camp Higher Ground in 2006 for free. At that time, they were starting to develop the Camp Higher Ground after the mandate to manage this neglected treasure of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC) in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo. Few months later, the Convention leadership rescinded their action, forcing the PK to cancel its goodwill.

Having set our preparation on the venue, our Association decided to take matters in our hands. With the projected cost within our reach, we undertook the project. Only to found out later, there was an overly underestimation of the cost. Upon expert advice, we opted to improve the design with permanent materials due to susceptibility of the area to termites. Exhausting our own resources, we engaged in various fund campaign and use our network, both personal and organizational. Concerts, dinner for a cause, solicitation, loans were but a few of the strategies we undertook.

Katipan Hall in 2007
Like the boy in the parable of the feeding of multitude, our initiative, though viewed  with reservation, soon gained support.  Touched by our commitment to share  meager means, other organizations followed suit. Soon the spark  got the fire burning. The Pastor Kids’ commitment to develop the Camp Higher Ground was rekindled. They did not only give donation but took charge of the floor tiling. Women’s group, Baptist Men and Youth likewise contributed their share, as well as churches and related academic institutions and hospitals. Provincial Kasapulanans, individual members and even government officials  also responded to the appeal. The Gilopez Kabayao Foundation showed  support by making our association the beneficiary of their concerts. Pastors abroad sent their contribution. Rev. Danilo Borlado  mobilized the church in Hongkong to shoulder the painting cost. Funds surplus even completed the construction of basketball court beside the edifice. But the bulk of the donation came from pastors.

Katipan Hall is not merely another successful infrastructure project. Beyond the construction issue, the  Hall has been transformed into a spiritual warfare in reclaiming the legacy of the Camp Higher Ground. The place, which serves as venue for camping, conventions, retreats, conferences, has been a living witness to transformation of lives brought about by past experiences in the Camp. It is considered an icon of serenity, spirituality and renewal. However, the place had been abused and neglected for the past decades. Seldom was it used for the aforementioned purposes. Through the project, pastors attempted  to reclaim the spiritual heritage of the Camp. Thereafter, its beauty and usefulness has been gradually restored. Its presence has attracted other organizations to resume retreats, seminar, conferences and other religious activities.

But there is more to the Katipan legacy.  It has brought our association to the door step of the CPBC leadership and politics. Of course, there are  pastors who have been in the mainstream of  politics  in our denomination. Some already identified with a particular group or block. There was even a time when a pastor’s  group that participated in the people’s struggle during the dark years of dictatorial rule in our country  established alliances with leaders in Negros. Later, such alliance dominated the CPBC politics, sustained by new leaders and some members of our group. The rest refrained from politics, some maintain independence while others formed another block or aligned with young progressive pastors who are in the forefront of  Go for Change movement. However, seldom does our  association, as a whole, directly participate in the politics.

Katipan Hall in 2010
Things, however, have changed because of the Katipan project. There was a shift in my personal stand to dissuade pastors to leave the CPBC politics to lay leaders and focus in our association. Every time we were confronted with difficulties in sustaining the project, I recalled the culprit. The leadership flaw, as manifested in the rescindment of the Board in their approval of Pastors Kids management of the Camp on flimsy ground

I then decided to enter the CPBC politics during the May 2006 election running as independent. The pastors did not fail me, some crossing group lines/affiliations. I won in that election which was a show of force and money of organized groups within the CPBC. It was marred with block voting and boat buying, if not vote buying. Thereafter, I advocated for the pastors cause resulting to some significant changes beneficial for pastors.

Katipan in Katipan
Katipan Hall in 2011