Category Archives: Holistic Ministry

Organic agriculture: Manifestation of nationalism

I would like to congratulate the Magsasaka at Siyentipiko Para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) for being consistent with its name i.e. being hardworking in advocacy to promote organic agriculture and for initiating today the interaction between the academic community and the real world where people live and move. For today until tomorrow, there will be a market not only of your organic products but also of ideas in a forum to follow the opening of organic festival. All in the name of holistic development as gleaned from the vision mission statement of your organization.

This is one reason why the Department of Social Work, Central Philippine University and the Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs that I head have been supportive of the endeavors of MASIPAG. For your vision-mission statement is in line with our direction. We believe and aim for a holistic development . One that does not only promote economic growth but the equitable distribution of the fruits of development that would change the socio economic and political landscape or even spiritual ones.

For holistic development covers multi dimensional aspects of human life in line with the belief that humans are bio-psycho-social and spiritual beings. Holistic development does not isolate any other aspects in preference to a particular area. For there are times, when development in infrastructure, golf courses and other edifice has caused aggression and dislocation, depriving people of their dwellings. Hence, we find development sans the people who should benefit from it and are supposed to be the subject and not just the object of development.

Holistic development is akin to sustainable development. One that brings progress which does not harm the people’s health and the environment. A development that satisfies the needs of today but does not compromise or threaten the needs of future generation. It is for this reason that I consider the endeavors of MASIPAG in focusing on organic agriculture a manifestation of nationalism. For being an agricultural country, Filipinos must value the God given resources suited for our particular land and environment.

The richness of our natural resources no longer need foreign pesticides and chemicals in order to grow and produce our local products. But at times the sophisticated advancement in technology and industry which many used as standard of progress has enticed our people to take the easy and quick route to development and later suffer its detrimental consequence. As such many have been fooled or misled in the name of development. Just like us what the traditional politics has done to our people before and during the election: buying votes, fooling the people and thereafter enjoy the fruits of development without the people.

On the contrary, holistic development is a development that does not buy the people, fool the people and later off the people. But a development ( to borrow Lincoln’s line) of the people, by the people and for the people.

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Message delivered during the Opening Program of the Organic Food Festival 2013 held at the Alumni Promenade, Central Philippine University on October 3-4, 2013. The festival is sponsored by the MASIPAG in partnership with Central Philippine University thru the College of Agriculture, Resources and Environmental Sciences, Department of Social Work and College of Hospitality Management

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The challenges of holistic ministry Part 3: Towards holistic development

Jesus, the Christ, has summed up the holistic ministry theme in the model of spirituality which he taught and exemplified in the greatest commandment and Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer or Model prayer is essentially a model for development and for that matter holistic development because it contains the three core values of development.

Michael Todaro, a pioneer in development economics, identifies the trilogy as life sustenance, self esteem and freedom from servitude.daily bread Life Sustenance connotes the ability to provide basic necessities. A basic function of all economic activity, therefore, is to provide as many people as possible with the means of overcoming the helplessness and misery arising from lack of food, shelter, health, and protection.

forgiveSelf Esteem implies being a person with a sense of self-worth and self-respect, of not being used by others for their own needs. All people and societies seek some basic form of self-esteem. Call it by other name, authenticity, identity, dignity, respect, honor or recognition, the essence is still the same. Its nature and form may vary from society, and from one culture to another.

freedomFreedom from Servitude, on the other hand, means the ability to choose. This refers to the fundamental sense of freedom or emancipation from alienating conditions of life. It covers freedom from the societal servitude of men to nature, ignorance, other men, misery, institutions, and dogmatic beliefs. Freedom also involves the expanded range of choices and their members together with the minimization of external constraint in the pursuit of some of social goals, which we call ‘development’.

There had been no problem with the holistic ministry in the past when the dominant worldview was holistic. Supposedly there is no problem for us in the Asian context because the Orientals view things in cyclic manner which is conducive for holistic ministry. However, because of our colonial past, our psyche has been dominated by Western linear mindset which tends to dichotomize. Hence, the tradition of separating mind and body, good and evil, theory and practice, religion and public life etc.

Holistic MInistry2

As a result, we tend to  practice a split level Christianity .The religious life is not integrated with the day-to-day life. There is a different set of church and religious life and another set for everyday affairs. More often, they are contradictory. This is reflected in our view of ministry and even on development.

For this reason, we always  look for biblical basis to justify our actions to distinguish ourselves from other humanitarian endeavors. Although, in the last parable of the great surprise, there appears to be no mention about biblical references. Still, we have lots of them. Aside from the previous scriptures, here are some: Acts 4:32-37; James 2:14-24; Romans 15:24-28; Galatians 2:10;2 Corinthians 8:13-15; Acts 2:44

shalom

In fact, the Sermon on the Mount itself has element of holistic ministry. For even the byword among Christian greeting implies wholeness. The words Shalom  and Salaam  mean “peace” in Hebrew and Arabic respectively and often represent a peace symbol. The Word shalom can be used for all parts of speech; as a noun, adjective, verb, and as an adverb. It categorizes all shaloms. The word shalom is used in a variety of expressions and contexts in Hebrew speech and writing: Completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.

(to be continued)

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Delivered during the Closing Celebration of Training on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, September 7, 2013 at Highway 21 Hotel, Iloilo City. Organized by Asia Pacific Baptist Aid of Asia Pacific Baptist Federation, the 3 day training was hosted by the Development Ministries, Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches.

The challenges of holistic ministry Part 2: Relevance to disaster

But how do we relate the challenges of holistic ministry to the theme of your training for the past two days? 

I seem to find the answer in one of my favorite verses when discussing about holistic ministry. This is the last parable Jesus recorded in Matthew 25:31-46 loaded with the scenario of great surprises. In the final end, during the awarding ceremony, as the chaff is separated from the grain, sheep and goat divided, the result is beyond expectation. and the division of all the world’s people into the blessed, on the Right Hand of God, who are welcomed by the Father to inherit the Kingdom and eternal life, and the cursed, who are cast into the eternal fire with the Devil.

The division is entirely based on the acts of kindness and mercy done by people to their disadvantaged fellow people feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, visit the prisoners, clothe the naked, invite strangers to their homes. Yes, it is how holistic our respective ministries were and have been.

I have looked at and used this parable in many angles and various context. This time I have seen another one. It is in the context of disaster. For when do you see a person naked, hungry, thirsty, sick, and a stranger? Is it not in the midst of disaster?

The author delivering the Closing Challenge. Photo Credit: Ms. Henna Baclagon, Director, Development Ministries, CPBC

The author delivering the Closing Challenge.
Photo Credit: Ms. Henna Baclagon, Director, Development Ministries, CPBC

But let us not wait for the disaster to initiate holistic ministry. For even Jesus, the Christ , has made it clear in his inaugural address as public declaration of ministry that it is holistic: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favorLuke 4:18-19

Throughout his life, Jesus consistently preached, taught and acted on the socio-economic, political, environmental and spiritual themes of his ministry as he went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil.In fact, he summarized his holistic ministry theme in the model of spirituality which he taught and exemplified in the greatest commandment and Lord’s Prayer.

The spirituality taught by Jesus is summed up in the greatest commandment: Love God and one’s fellow human as one’s self. This type of spirituality has two dimensions, personal and social or communal. This vertical and horizontal relationship is the essence of the Lord’s Prayer which is a Prayer for Development.

A2.Model Prayer

The first part pertains to relationship with divine, the last with humanity. “Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” The use of plural words in the prayer – our, we, us – reveals the inclusiveness of Jesus in relationship.

The second part is model of relationship with humanity which comprises the three core values of development. “Give us this day our daily bread“. Bread represents basic necessities in life akin to life sustenance.

Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors“. Whether it is a literal debt or sin as some suggest, the implication here is self-esteem. Because a person who commits sin or is burdened by debts, loses some kind of self-esteem. Asking forgiveness or forgiving others restore one’s self-esteem.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil“. Deliverance connotes freedom. Yielding to temptation is a prelude to enslavement to any form of evil. This evil manifests in both personal manner and societal structures.

(To be continued)

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Delivered during the Closing Celebration of Training on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, September 7, 2013 at Highway 21 Hotel, Iloilo City. Organized by Asia Pacific Baptist Aid of Asia Pacific Baptist Federation, the 3 day training was hosted by the Development Ministries, Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches.

The challenges of holistic ministry

 

The author delivering the Closing Challenge. Photo Credit: Ms. Henna Baclagon, Director, Development Ministries, CPBC

The author delivering the Closing Challenge.
Photo Credit: Ms. Henna Baclagon, Director, Development Ministries, CPBC

I have been an advocate of holistic ministry. I talk about it in every opportunity given to me, in season or out of season, in whatever fields of endeavor I am in. I have witnessed and encountered various reactions of church people on the issue. In fact, when I was at helm of leadership in our Baptist ministers association and part of the leadership of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches, I initiated an extension program for pastors which lead to a Master of Social Pastoral Ministries.

The mission of the Master of Socio-Pastoral Ministries program is to prepare pastors for leadership roles in church, church-related institutions and community. Specifically, it is geared towards a healthy and balanced pastoral leadership in church and community services. Pastor are taught that they are pastors not just  of churches but also of communities. So that they can also teach their parishioners the commitment to service both in churches and communities.

Credit: kidmia.org

For me, this is one challenge of the holistic ministry. People should be taught to memorize and internalize not only John 3:16 but also of 1 John 3:16. Of course, all of us know by heart the enviable privilege in John 3:16. But how many pastors or church members know about the accountability in 1 John 3:16? Indeed, it is heartwarming to know that there is a God who loves us so much that He gave His only son for us. But it is different thing when the time comes for us to lay down our life for others. And if we move on further to the next verses, we will hear this rebuke from John: 

john

When I was still involved with our theological institutions, one of the questions I asked Theology students to engage them into discussion is why they enroll in the seminary or why did they take up theology. The common answer is to serve God. Seldom do you hear responses on serving the people or community. My follow up questions then are: Are you sure God wants you to serve Him? Can you cite biblical basis? How would you relate the question to Christ’s own statement that he came not to be served but to serve? Haven’t it cross your mind that  our assertion  to serve God alone can be  an escapism in fulfilling his mandate to serve the people?

For it is more convenient to serve God than serve the people. God never complained the way we serve him. How much time and resources we give him? But it is different from people. You will hear negative feedback if you deliver poor services to them.

Another challenge of holistic ministry is for us to preach and teach church members the whole story not just a compartment that would satisfy their need. So in emphasizing the good news in Ephesians 2:8-9, we should not exclude the succeeding verse that involves accountability. Lest we falsely assure people of eternal security without minding what has been expected of them. For while it is true that salvation is a gift of God, not from ourselves or by good works for it is by grace through faith, we are also God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

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Holistic ministry challenges us also to introduce people to the Way, which Christians believe to be the only way to heaven. But it is just one third of His claim. For this Way also expects us to be on the side of the Truth and stand for it without fear or favor; advocate and work for that which brings or gives Life, not destruction. Thus, Christians should always seek & do things in proper way; stand for the truth and nothing but the truth and engage in service and in life giving endeavors especially to the marginalized so that they too can attain the promised abundant life.

Similarly, holistic ministry challenges us to let the people know the answer. But not without the benefit of engaging them into critical discussion on questions. For it is when people understand and properly analyze the questions that they find the relevance and significance of the answer.

Holistic MInistry

This reminds me of the risks involved in espousing holistic ministry. In my case, it caused a delay in the completion of my theological studies. In fact, I had experienced some sort of isolation because at that time, our denomination was quite not comfortable with our advocacy. So I was forced to shift to another course. After finishing my Bachelor of Science in Social Work degree, I resumed my aborted theological studies. During the first day of the class, in her effort to make me feel comfortable, our professor asked me to differentiate theology and social work or the difference between a pastor and a social worker.

In jest, or should I say, out of the abundance of the heart, I quickly responded: “When a social worker enters the community, although he/she may have prior knowledge of the problem, still  the social worker immerses with the people and learns from and/or with them their problems. The process may take sometime, perhaps weeks or months. Thereafter, the solution undergoes another participatory process in order to find and work out the solution. A pastor, on the other hand, has already the answer prior to knowing the problem or even before entering the community. Worse, if he/she would not even dare ask the questions.

(To be continued)

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Delivered during the Closing Celebration of Training on Disaster Risk Reduction and ManagementSeptember 7, 2013 at Highway 21 Hotel, Iloilo City. Organized by Asia Pacific Baptist Aid of Asia Pacific Baptist Federation, the 3 day training was hosted by the Development Ministries, Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches.