Category Archives: Miracle

When the Baptist Pastors move

The upcoming Truth Forum on April 15 has renewed my ambivalence. On one hand, I feel excited of  another opportunity to restore the spirit of solidarity among pastors, especially in fighting against perennial ills in our denomination. On the other hand, I am a little bit hesitant that the influence, I once had, will no longer work this time having been out of the mainstream in our organization’s life for a couple of years or so. Undeniably, the division has been obvious and  hurts too deep  which have marred the developing solidarity among pastors.

Primarily, the forum is intended to know the truth behind the Convention Baptist Ministers Association (CBMA) Fact Finding Committee Report  related to the boat buying and other fraudulent practices in the CPBC elections and reveal more truth to be incorporated in the report. It will also serve as avenue to discuss other issues and concerns related to Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC) and CBMA and unite on common agenda and plan of action. Finally, there will be a presentation of the mechanics of the PADAYON Welfare Fund for Pastors Project as springboard of unity for change and development.

Despite the ambivalence, I believe that “miracles” happen when the Baptist Pastors move based on past experiences. Their flashbacks started to rush through my mind. Foremost, was the 2006 election. While it has been labeled as the controversial , expensive and partisan elections, it became a witness to the power when the Baptist pastors move. I will never forget the scenario the night before the election when I was guided by the Spirit to stroll around the campus in order to have a feel of the political pulse. Earlier, I had witnessed the movements of both groups trying to outwit one another to ensure victory of respective candidates.

Along the way, I met pastors from one political grouping in pensive mood and apologetic that they could not openly campaign for me because of the directives for block voting from patrons who sponsored their fare, as well as that of their church members. However, aware of my battle cry for the Pastors Cause, they assured me of covert  support.

Some meters away, I met another group coming from a caucus of rival political grouping with similar sad news due to the same directives for block voting. Likewise, they assured me of their secret  support so as not to antagonize their patron. Of course, those alarming revelations prompted me to speed up my campaign strategy since that night until the election day. The rest is history. I was one of the 3 independent candidates who survived the highly politicized, charged and explosive election. I had the rare privilege of joining two other candidates whose names were sort of institution in the CPBC. That was the wonder when the Baptist Pastors move.

Of course, I had discussed in my other blog the movement for change  resulting to significant events that brought changes in the political landscape of the CPBC and related institutions/organizations. I even featured the emergence of the movement of young ministers in Negros who dared to challenge the status quo perpetuated by influential ruling group in my article The Wonder of YOU.

Then the breakthroughs and milestones in the organizational life of the CBMA and in projects and programs that galvanized our solidarity highlighting the Katipan Hall.

And how can I forget the show of solidarity of pastors during the selection process for the General Secretary of the CPBC in 2009. It was the culminating event of our solidarity, some sort of a clincher to our  organizational struggle which gave us valuable lessons on how concerted efforts made a difference. The spontaneous support of pastors succeeded to frustrate the well planned scheme of a group that had been dominating/ programming/ dictating the course of events in the CPBC particularly the election and selection process in the leadership and administrative position. It averted an obvious attempt to railroad the process.

From my memoirs, I want to quote the following excerpts: “The launching of the movement for change, accountability and transparency at CPU the day before the CPBC Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting and the subsequent mobilization during the Board meeting on October 16, 2009 to watch and pray have contributed to the conglomeration of events that led to the BOT to defer the selection process despite attempts by the other group to proceed with the process knowing they have the numbers.”

“…The unprecedented endorsements and support of various chapters and sub chapters of the CBMA as well as the CBYFP, Kasapulanans, auxiliary organizations and institutions various organizations and institutions  to my nomination were overwhelming. The strong support of  Negros pastors neutralized the political maneuvers, smear campaign, misinformation, and other machinations directed against me. The timely mobilization of Iloilo pastors to hold a watch and pray movement during the meeting has sealed the show of protest and concretely manifested the growing unrest and tiredness of too much politics and the need for change. “Most of those involved have become part of the REVIVAL 1020 Network which serves as convenor of the upcoming forum.

All these and more happened when Pastors move. Both a reminder and an inspiration to us to restore the solidarity we once had. With these in mind, I have high hopes that the coming truth forum will make a difference in the lives of CBMA and the CPBC. Yes, against all odds. We are determined to put closure to the issue and enhance reconciliation and healing without sacrificing the whole truth. This can only be attained when the Baptist Pastors move.

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The spirit of EDSA lives on

Its cathartic power continues to provide relief and refreshes hope. The over arching and encompassing spirit cannot and will never be domesticated. Its mystery remains unspoiled, not completely unfolded.

These three insights summarized my series of reflections on EDSA and Lent during  the Silver Anniversary of People Power Revolution in 2011. I have decided  to repost these insights for their relevance to the 27th Anniversary of EDSA Revolution with the theme “Pilipinas Natin: Abot -tanaw Na.”

The Cathartic power of EDSA

The Philippine Star Editorial Cartoon 2/25/2013

The Philippine Star Editorial Cartoon 2/25/2013

Nobody will ever deny that EDSA Revolution had provided relief to wounded and bruised nation, captive for decades by an abusive rule. Although debates over extent of healing still looms, it does not diminish the magical power of the historic event. I continue to experience this power while recalling my half a decade involvement in people’s struggle in the local context as part of the national call. Inevitably, haunting past events involving comrades, friends and the basic masses characterized the slow and painful process undertaken until that victorious day.

The feeling of gratitude to God for my survival and the thoughts of my contribution in shaping the history has been cathartic. Although my involvement pales in comparison to the intensity and period suffered by nameless and countless faces. The cathartic power of EDSA also refreshes my hope to attain full recovery from lingering illness. Chronic heart ailment, compounded by nerve disorder, has constrained my active life of service for three years now. The delay of complete healing makes me vulnerable to discouragement and depression. But recalling EDSA Revolution gives me new drive to conquer, if I will not give in to despair.

EDSA’s  over arching and encompassing spirit

Like Lent, nobody can domesticate the EDSA Revolution. Even the so called EDSA heroes cannot claim exclusive right to the historical and mystical event in the Philippines. For the spirit of EDSA is inclusive. It is above all and encircles all.

What happened in EDSA 27 years ago reflects the truism of systems theory. The key concepts of the systems theory are wholeness, relationship, and homeostasis. The beauty of systems theory is represented by the rainbow. While there are only three primary colors (red, yellow, blue) there is a multiplication of colors when these link, interact, and overlap. Try to separate one from the other, and the beauty of rainbow is gone.

edsa shift

cbclawmatters.blogspot.com

So with EDSA. It is a culmination of respective struggles participated in by the basic masses who since time immemorial always take the lead as they are ones affected. Then comes various sectors of diverse orientation, status, political and ideological leanings, colors and shapes. Youth, professionals, church people, businessmen and women, government officials, military and others. All have contributed their share in shaping the Philippine history. Try to isolate one, and the beauty of the event is gone.

Such inclusive spirit should have been the focus in celebrating EDSA and in sustaining its gains and the struggle for change. Most often, movement for change and development in any field of endeavor is often hampered by bigotry and exclusivism. Essential issues are sidetracked or left behind to give way to the struggle for supremacy misled by an illusion that one has the sole reservoir of truth and best approach in any given situation. It is only when one realizes the need to link with each other that the beauty of unity in diversity is seen like that of the rainbow.

The unspoiled mystery of EDSA

Twenty seven years after, the mystery of EDSA has not been fully unfolded. Analysts from various socio-political persuasions attempted to explain the event. Some had to come up with new concepts as EDSA Revolution departed from any of the standard categories. While new testimonies from living participants came out every year, they just shed light to understand the pattern of events and contributing factors. But the mystery still remains.

EDSA bloodless Revolution defied logic. For how can you explain this phenomenon: “When guns and tanks of a dictator melted before the flowers held out by priests and nuns, by millionaires’ sons and squatters’ daughters, by ordinary men and women and by young and old alike; when… a new day was ushered in by ordinary Filipino common tao who rose to heroic heights that won the admiration of the whole world…” The quoted description was that of Jorge Lorredo, Jr. in his article “Four Days that changed History” published in Bulletin Today exactly 25 years ago, as cited by Douglas J. Elwood in his book, Philippine Revolution.

The hand of God was there…” was the explanation of the late Dr. Quintin Doromal, former PCCG commissioner & president of Siliman University. Quoted by his friend Douglas Elwood in the book, Doromal, an Ilonggo leader, was a witness to the event, having joined his old friend Fidel Ramos at Camp Crame and stayed there with him throughout those critical anxious hours. Indeed, God acts through people, as surely as he speaks through people, and that he uses the sometimes complex interconnection of human forces to serve his larger purposes.

EDSA Revolution: An Unspoiled Mystery

The mystery of EDSA Revolution remains unspoiled, not completely unfolded.

More than two decades have passed, the mystery of EDSA has not been fully unfolded. Analysts from various socio-political persuasions attempted to explain the event. Some had to come up with new concepts as EDSA Revolution departed from any of the standard categories.

While new testimonies from living participants came out every year, they just shed light to understand the pattern of events and contributing factors. But the mystery still remains. EDSA bloodless Revolution defied logic.

For how can one explains this phenomenon: “When guns and tanks of a dictator melted before the flowers held out by priests and nuns, by millionaires’ sons and squatters’ daughters, by ordinary men and women and by young and old alike; when… a new day was ushered in by ordinary Filipino common tao who rose to heroic heights that won the admiration of the whole world…” The quoted description was that of Jorge Lorredo, Jr. in his article Four Days that changed History published in Bulletin Today, as cited by Douglas J. Elwood in his book, Philippine Revolution 1986.

The hand of God was there…” was the explanation of the late Dr. Quintin Doromal, former PCCG commissioner & president of Siliman University. Quoted by his friend Douglas Elwood in the aforementioned book, Doromal was a witness to the event, having joined his old friend Fidel V. Ramos at Camp Crame and stayed there with him throughout those critical anxious hours. A noted Ilonggo leader, Dr. Doromal is a son of a Distinguished Centralian, Atty. Rosario Salas-Doromal.

Indeed, God acts through people, as surely as he speaks through people, and that he uses the sometimes complex interconnection of human forces to serve his larger purposes….”

MSPM: The miracle of sharing

I always relate the Master of Socio Pastoral Ministries (MSPM) experience to the feeding of 5,000 with few loaves of bread and fish. Although our experience pales in comparison to the miracle. It is one of the only two miracles that are recorded in all four Gospels. The other one is the resurrection. Of the four, I like John’s narrative (John 6:5-14) which portrays the role of a boy with five loaves and two small fish. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

Apart from the dominant view on the literal multiplication of the food, some emphasize the miracle of sharing. This view assumes that people have brought with them little food of their own. They just kept them for themselves, hence the scarcity. However, upon seeing the unselfishness of the boy whose generosity was blessed by Jesus, they began to share what they have. Thus, the abundance of food are more then enough for their needs.

In the same way, we also offered whatever we have to respond to the needs of the time. Like the boy, we were not disturbed by overwhelming discrepancies and limitations, even criticisms. Such voluntary spirit made a difference. Amidst reservations, if not downgrading of the modest offering, Jesus made use of what was available and another miracle happened.

When the program started in 2007, some downgraded the voluntary effort while others already expressed skepticism of its sustainability, even before it is tested. Worse, there were those who consistently campaign against it when the program was well accepted by pastors, even to the extent of recruiting those already participating in the MSPM program to join the program they promote.

In our response, we dared the critics to a debate which was never materialize. We argue that MSPM has been designed with quality not inferior to what Central Philippine University (CPU) offers in Master of Social Work program which was patterned after that of UP Diliman. Yet, the program is friendly and affordable for pastors. The faculty are more than qualified. The only difference is compensation because in MSPM, we teach voluntarily, gaining the love and respect of pastors, not monetary profit.

Conglomeration of events have been favorable for the design of the MSPM program. A couple of us tried the distance education program of a state college in Iloilo for our doctoral degree which met once a month. Some were also teaching, once a week, in Korean seminary in Iloilo City which offered Master of Arts in Missiology. Moreover, we were inspired by the successful revival of the Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) program in CPU which produced the first graduate, after 30 years. We even opened an extension class with weekly meetings at Convention Baptist Bible College for Negros students.

The aforementioned favorable trends sparked the idea to design similar approach for a graduate studies program for pastors. The break came when through the pastors’ support, I was elected to the board of Trustees of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC) in 2006 and subsequently chaired the Theological Education and Ministerial Concerns (TEMC) Committee. By divine guidance, the first document that caught my attention was the CPBC Strategic Plan for 2000-2010 which highlighted the TEMC program. Finding the missing link, I started advocating the program, trying to bridge the gap through voluntary involvement in its implementation. My wife also volunteered to teach in theological institutions in Negros to strengthen the TEMC program.

Studying previous initiatives of various organizations related to continuing theological education, eventually the CPBC Unified Theological Education System (UNITES) was conceived and gradually implemented. Two breakthroughs were undertaken, namely: Formulation of Standardized Curriculum; and the MSPM program.

But why MSPM? As registered social worker and holder of master of social work, I can only offer a degree program within my area of specialization. My exposure to development work and community service has also shaped my holistic perspective. Likewise, pastors who were enrolled in Master of Social Work in CPU encouraged me to integrate social work courses in designing a masteral program for pastors. Comparing the curriculum of divinity and theology masteral programs with that of social work and other masteral programs, the relevance of MSPM appears convincing in terms of meeting the needs of pastors, its practicality and length of time for studies, as well as usefulness to their work in church and community.

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. MSPM classes are conducted in provincial centers by volunteer faculty. Students in respective centers shoulder their transportation expenses accommodation. Certificate is issued upon completion of each subject with corresponding grade. This will be used for official enrolment in the aforementioned theological institutions. The enrolment can be done simultaneously while the students are taking up modular classes. Or may be enrolled later.Participating theological institutions are the ones granting the degree after official enrolment.

The program in Master of Socio-Pastoral Ministries is a combination of Master of Social Work and Master of Ministry. The curriculum incorporates Ministry Core courses, Biblical Core Courses, and Socio-Pastoral Courses. Both ministry and biblical core courses include the following: Philosophical Foundations of Ministry, Ministry Assessment & Equipping Strategies, Church: Ministry & Mission, Hermeneutics, Biblical Theology, Biblical & Theological Foundations of Discipleship.

On the other hand, the Socio-Pastoral Courses consist of Socio-Behavioral Theories, Group, Community, Social Institutions and Processes, Family Wellness & Pastoral Counseling Models of Ministry and Leadership in the Church & Community, Strategies in Church and Community Mobilization, Seminar in Socio Pastoral Ministries, Social Research, Social Jurisprudence & Local Governance, Pastoral Ministry in Conflict Situations, Administration and Management of Church & related organization/institutions, Community Organization & Social Welfare and Development Services. After completion of academic courses, students have the following options as final requirement: Thesis Writing, Special Paper, or Community Project.

Through sharing of resources, our pastors can earn masteral degrees without necessarily leaving their pastorate or respective work. Indeed, the KATIPAN Hall and MSPM are living testimonies that whenever we start sharing whatever we have, God will work more stories of endless possibilities.