Category Archives: Volunteerism

Resurrection: A Payback?

Article first  published on PADAYON: Our Life Journey.

Image Credit: turnbacktogod.com

Image Credit: turnbacktogod.com

Let me propose this angle in addition to the countless and unlimited significance of the resurrection of Jesus to our daily lives. Of course, we are aware of the basic teaching that resurrection is the cornerstone of our Christian faith. This has been elaborated every year by preachers of various religious groups and denominations.

For a change, let us explore resurrection as a reward to the greatest volunteer the world ever had. A precedence that may inspire millions of nameless volunteers worldwide. No matter how unsolicited this inspirational piece appears to some, though. Others may dislike this proposal. Volunteers will even protest the title. But certainly majority will agree with the claim that Jesus is the greatest volunteer.

Biblical writers have various description of the voluntary act of Jesus. But I like the Pauline version in Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV): “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

The Gospel records instances when Jesus insists on undergoing the voluntary process despite the supposed favor from people who know him as the messiah. When John the Baptist appears reluctant to perform the baptism ritual, Jesus prevails on him: “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 4:14-15)

Many times, Jesus rebukes his disciples in their actuations to seek redress to injustice and discrimination against his dignity. Unwelcome in his attempt to bridge the gap between warring cultures, he suffers discrimination in one Samaritan village. When James and John insinuate punishment to the humiliating experience, Jesus forbids therm. (Luke 9:51-55). Jesus calmly tells Peter to hold peace, in the latter’s attempt to fight back against the savagery of his captors: “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew26:53)

He washes his disciple’s feet at the height of leadership struggle position during the last supper. The lobbying of both John and James and their mother for position in the kingdom might have sparked the internal conflict. Hence, nobody appears willing to do the menial t ask which earlier they enjoy taking turns. Jesus volunteers.

Jesus consistently exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism in his lifestyle and teachings. He voluntarily follows all the requirements of the law, although in some instances, he deliberately skirt man -made unreasonable insertion and imposition to the requirements of God. He successfully passes the final challenge in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Subsequently, the divine justice expedites the awarding ceremony for the greatest volunteer in the world. St. Paul beautifully uses this clincher to the narrative of Jesus voluntary act: Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)

I am not advocating pay back mentality.  Jesus even issues a strange rebuke to the perpetrators and perpetuators of this kind of mentality in Luke 14:12- 14. “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Youth volunteers pose for posterity after the forum on volunteerism sponsored by ICON. An umbrella network of volunteers and development advocates, ICON allocates a day for volunteerism endeavors in the week-long celebration of NGO- PO Week in Iloilo.

YMCA volunteers together with adviser pose for posterity after the forum on volunteerism sponsored by ICON. An umbrella network of volunteers and development advocates, ICON allocates a day for volunteerism endeavors in the week-long celebration of NGO- PO Week in Iloilo.

Certainly, volunteers do not expect rewards. The bible teaches us to give  or  serve without expecting a return. The last parable in the Gospel of Matthew (25:31-46) confirms this 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. But volunteers receive their awards.

True, volunteers do not expect awards. But who can question God’s divine justice to recompense the faithful? Is there something wrong in viewing resurrection as a payback for volunteerism?

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Open letter to our colleagues and partners in welfare and development endeavors

Today starts the celebration of the 14th NGO PO Week in Iloilo. Spearheaded by the Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (ICON), the annual celebration is done in partnership with the provincial and city government to give due recognition to the role of Non-government organizations (NGOs) and People’s Organizations (POs), and other civil society organizations in nation building. It has been institutionalized by Provincial Ordinance No. 2000-042 and City Regulation Ordinance 2001-190.

ICON  2013

This year’s theme is “Reclaim our Noble Heritage: Sustain the Power of Networking.” It was supposedly intended to respond to the multi-billion pork barrel scam that has besmirched the noble aim and name of NGOs. In fact, the planned highlight of the celebration is the big gathering of NGOs and POs in the city and province of Iloilo to tackle the current national crisis brought about by the pork barrel scam. As well, as the subsequent backlash even to genuine organizations that have been consistently serving the marginalized sectors of the society. At the planning stage, we felt the need to strengthen our ranks through linkages and networking to safeguard the organizations from fly-by-night ones. We consider the crisis an opportunity to bring into the public consciousness the noble heritage and role of NGOs in nation building.

In fact, in a statement published after the finalization of the plan last November 2, ICON has deplored the use of fake NGOs in a conspiracy to steal taxpayer’s money which besmirched the noble aim and name of non-government organizations . The Coalition has observed two angles in the current controversy- the systemic graft and corruption practices and the role of the NGOs.

We considered the act a double injury. The large -scale misuse of the people’s money is outrageous. Siphoning money out of government coffers thru fake NGOs adds insult to injury. For it besmirch the good image established by the genuine NGOs for decades. Worse, it provides justification to some government officials and local chief executives who do not feel comfortable with the watchful eyes of NGOs and their seeming intervention as provided for by the local government code in the Philippines. For indeed, one way of averting the systemic robbery in our government is to involve genuine NGOs in monitoring projects.

MASIPAG Visayas handles the relief operation of the Philippine-Misereor Partnership, Inc.-Panay Cluster to famers in San Dionisio, iloilo

However, as we started our information-dissemination campaign Typhoon Yolanda had overtaken us, as it battered the Central Philippines. We almost forgot our plans as respective NGO members started their initial response in the form of relief operation. It was just last week, when the board of directors reviewed the theme and the activities for the week-long celebration. We have decided to continue with the theme, as this current crisis provides the same opportunity to reclaim our noble heritage. Such nobility is manifested, among others, in the quick response of NGOs to the recent needs, havoc, and ravages brought about by Typhoon Yolanda to supplement the government’s intervention.

We have simplified the celebration, though, due to pressing needs of the time which have also made our officers and member organizations busy in respective relief operation and rehabilitation plans. The following are the activities we decided to retain out of the previous plan:

icon

December 2, 2:00 pm Opening of Photo Exhibit, Robinsons Place,                                                              Iloilo City
December 3 – 8:30 am, Forum on Volunteerism, 4th floor                                                                              Henry Luce III Libraries, Central Philippine University
December 6- 8:30 am NGO-PO Fellowship and Capability Building                                                           Seminar, 4th floor Henry Luce III Libraries, CPU
December 7- Advocacy- Dialogue with NSTP students in various                                                             universities and colleges

The supposed highlight of the celebration on December 6 will be spent, instead, to discuss how we can maximize our participation  in the  on-going relief operation and  how we can sustain linkages and networking in helping in the rehabilitation or rebuilding process. In this way, our theme will still be relevant in responding to the crises in our country in various fronts or aspects. Despite the  crises, let us continue to celebrate this milestone of networking in Iloilo.

Indeed, our labor will never be in vain: A sequel*

The break came when through the pastors’ support, I was elected in the CPBC Board in 2006 and 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. From its humble beginning at NNBBC in July 2007, the program got its boost when Dr. Domingo Diel, Jr. suggested during one TEMC meeting to offer it to other theological institutions. Approved by the CPBC BOT on November 9, 2007, the program has become an integral part of the CPBC UNITES.

Peculiarities & Mechanics of MSPM

But why MSPM? 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. For we have a holistic mission and ministry exemplified by our Lord and Master Teacher, Jesus, the Christ as he put into action the avowed mission in Luke 4:18-19.

Under the CPBC UNITES, MSPM classes are conducted in provincial centers by TEMC and CBMA. Participating theological institutions will grant the degree. Enrolment can be done simultaneously while attending classes or later. The program is student friendly and very affordable, with only P500 as payment per semester/ summer plus contribution for transportation expenses and food of the faculty for four semesters and two summers.

MSPM2

More than another story of endless possibilities

Today’ s event is not just another story of endless possibilities but also a tribute to those who believe in the cause. Like the little boy, they shared their respective contributions. Foremost, is our General Secretary, Rev. Job A. Santiago, who courageously provided the necessary support from the start to the finish, amidst pressures – the extent of which he only knows. For this, he deserves our applause for this legacy, which can be considered among the benchmarks of his administration to be looked upon by future generations that, as the CPBC celebrates its diamond year, it has initiated a program that produces the first MSPM graduates.

Secondly, my wife, who made the crucial decision to volunteer full time in implementing the TEMC program, whose commitment, labor and sacrifices are beyond comprehension which only few of us were able to appreciate –closed friends, Rev.Santiago, our maninays and maninoys and ihados (godparents and godsons) included, apart from our children and the students who directly benefited from her voluntary endeavors.

Of course, our volunteer faculty/lecturers for MSPM- ACDA Center, as follows: Dr. Lucy Catalogo, Atty. Nicias Alameda, Pastor Francis Neil Jalando-on, Pastor Elizer Geromiano, Rev, Joniel Howard Gico, Rev. Jerson Narciso, Dr. Melvin Mangana, Pastor Melchor Lariza and those in other provincial centers.

Special mention to Dr. Domingo Diel, Jr., and other members of the Theological Education and Ministerial Concerns Committee, especially the heads of theological institutions at that time- Prof. Josita Alpha Jalando-on in CBBC; Prof. Ruth Valencia &Pastor Georem Gutierrez in SONBI; Pastor Stephen Gallenero in NNBBC-for their support.  To all pastors and lay who have been praying for us. Lest I forget, Dr. Juanito Acanto for allowing me to implement the program during my term as director of the University Outreach Center, CPU.

Lastly, but not the least, the MSPM students – the important characters today, the survivors- who serve as our inspiration to tell the whole CPBC that the program is feasible. Without them, MSPM has never been materialized. They were able to sustain the momentum, sacrificing their free days and overcoming difficulties of time and finances. Of course, with the support of their respective families, church officers and members, and the administration of Ajuy Christian Development Academy and Ajuy Baptist Church that opened their doors to us.

Today’s event carries a very strong statement to the skeptics and critics, but good news to other pastors who also dream for an alternative continuing pastoral education, affordable but qualitative, without necessarily leaving their pastorate and families. Its message to the whole CPBC constituents is clear: Nothing is impossible if we only share.

Our pastors can earn masteral degrees if we pool our resources together. The CPBC, with the help of our theological institutions and volunteer faculty – our pastors and lay leaders can liberalize the educational opportunities and improve the plight of the pastors. Because education is not an exclusive property of the privileged few. It is the right of every individual. Continuing quality education is the right of all pastors.

Of course, the program is not perfect. Just like any other new programs, it needs refinement and improvement. Undeniably, however, we made a breakthrough. A benchmark which no skeptic or critic can deny or take away. Whichever angle one looks at, no matter how dim or gleam, irregardless of arguments, nobody can deny the fact that MSPM is another story of endless possibilities.

MSPM is comparable to the story of the KATIPAN Hall at Camp Higher Ground. When we started the project, there were various reactions of skepticism, disbeliefs, and criticisms even from pastors themselves. Understandably, because of the mindset that pastors are always in the receiving ends. But we have proven them wrong. The KATIPAN Hall and MSPM are living testimonies that whenever we start sharing whatever we have, God will work more stories of endless possibilities.

MSPM: Agent of Change

But MSPM is not just another story of endless possibilities. Through  MSPM, a new movement of change has started. From these graduates, will spark the fire of change and development that will benefit our churches, institutions and even communities. Unlike the traditional school system which commences in graduation, our partnership will continue even after today’s event. For MSPM is not merely another degree program. It was designed to change the pastors’ perspective and way of life which will subsequently trickle down to the lay leaders, youth and whole members of churches in respective pastorate. God’s blessings for all!

*Last of the two installments of my message for the  1st Conferral Ceremony  for Master of Socio Pastoral Ministries graduates held at Ajuy Christian Development Academy, Iloilo on May 1, 2010. Daughter Dazen Dawn delivered this message.

Resurrection: A pay back?

Resurrection has been considered the cornerstone of Christian faith. Inexhaustible commentaries have been done about its relevance to our lives  with particular emphasis on respective areas or angles.

Two years ago, while still in the process of resolving the ambivalence in my life’s experiences brought about by critical health condition partly because of my  voluntary work,  I poured out my thoughts and emotion on  blogs to fight depression. In one of my blogs, I viewed resurrection  through the eyes of volunteerism. I want to share the following article that was  first published on PADAYON: Our Life Journey and Ezine Articles to solicit comments and discussion.

Let me propose this angle in addition to the unlimited significance of the resurrection of Jesus. Viewing resurrection as a reward to the greatest volunteer the world ever had. A precedence that may inspire millions of nameless volunteers worldwide. No matter how unsolicited this inspirational piece appears to some, though. Others may dislike this proposal. Volunteers will even protest the title. But certainly majority will agree with the claim that Jesus is the greatest volunteer. So, let’s start from this commonality and settle the differences later in this article.

Biblical writers have various description of the voluntary act of Jesus. But I like the Pauline version in Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV): “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”

The Gospel records instances when Jesus insists on undergoing the voluntary process despite the supposed favor from people who know him as the messiah. When John the Baptist appears reluctant to perform the baptism ritual, Jesus prevails on him: “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 4:14-15)

Many times, Jesus rebukes his disciples in their actuations to seek redress to injustice and discrimination against his dignity. Unwelcome in his attempt to bridge the gap between warring cultures, he suffers discrimination in one Samaritan village. When James and John insinuate punishment to the humiliating experience, Jesus forbids them. (Luke 9:51-55). Jesus calmly tells Peter to hold peace, in the latter’s attempt to fight back against the savagery of his captors: “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53)

He washes his disciple’s feet at the height of leadership struggle position during the last supper. The lobbying of both John and James and their mother for position in the kingdom might have sparked the internal conflict. Hence, nobody appears willing to do the menial t ask which earlier they enjoy taking turns. Jesus volunteers.

Jesus consistently exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism in his lifestyle and teachings. He voluntarily follows all the requirements of the law, although in some instances, he deliberately skirt man -made unreasonable insertion and imposition to the requirements of God. He successfully passes the final challenge in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Subsequently, the divine justice expedites the awarding ceremony for the greatest volunteer in the world. St. Paul beautifully uses this clincher to the narrative of Jesus voluntary act: “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. “(Philippians 2:10-11)

Those who are interested to join the Volunteers National Summit may visit this link.

Those who are interested to join the Volunteers National Summit may visit this link.

I am not advocating pay back mentality. Jesus even issues a strange rebuke to the perpetrators and perpetuators of this kind of mentality in Luke 14:12- 14. “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Certainly, volunteers do not expect rewards. The last parable in the Gospel of Matthew (25:31-46) confirms this 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. But volunteers receive their awards.

Youth volunteers pose for posterity after the forum on volunteerism sponsored by ICON. An umbrella network of volunteers and development advocates, ICON allocates a day for volunteerism endeavors in the week-long celebration of NGO- PO Week in Iloilo.

True, volunteers do not expect awards. But who can question God’s divine justice to recompense the faithful? Is there something wrong in viewing resurrection as a payback for volunteerism?

Another story of endless possibilities: A Sequel *

The break came when through the pastors’ support, I was elected in the CPBC Board in 2006 and 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.

Prof. DZ Patriarca-Lariza moderates the discussion during the joint class of MSPM students

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. From its humble beginning at NNBBC in July 2007, the program got its boost when Dr. Domingo Diel, Jr. suggested during one TEMC meeting to offer it to other theological institutions. Approved by the CPBC BOT on November 9, 2007, the program has become an integral part of the CPBC UNITES.

Peculiarities & Mechanics of MSPM

But why MSPM? 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. For we have a holistic mission and ministry exemplified by our Lord and Master Teacher, Jesus, the Christ as he put into action the avowed mission in Luke 4:18-19.

Under the CPBC UNITES, MSPM classes are conducted in provincial centers by TEMC and CBMA. Participating theological institutions will grant the degree. Enrolment can be done simultaneously while attending classes or later. The program is student friendly and very affordable, with only P500 as payment per semester/ summer plus contribution for transportation expenses and food of the faculty for four semesters and two summers.

More than another story of endless possibilities

Today’ s event is not just another story of endless possibilities but also a tribute to those who believe in the cause. Like the little boy, they shared their respective contributions. Foremost, is our General Secretary,Rev. Job A. Santiago, who courageously provided the necessary support from the start to the finish, amidst pressures – the extent of which he only knows. For this, he deserves our applause for this legacy, which can be considered among the benchmarks of his administration to be looked upon by future generations that, as the CPBC celebrates its diamond year, it has initiated a program that produces the first MSPM graduates.

Secondly, my wife, who made the crucial decision to volunteer full time in implementing the TEMC program, whose commitment, labor and sacrifices are beyond comprehension which only few of us were able to appreciate –closed friends, Rev.Santiago, our maninays and maninoys and ihados (godparents and godsons) included, apart from our children and the students who directly benefited from her voluntary endeavors.

Of course, our volunteer faculty/lecturers for MSPM- ACDA Center, as follows: Dr. Lucy Catalogo, Atty. Nicias Alameda, Pastor Francis Neil Jalando-on, Pastor Elizer Geromiano, Rev, Joniel Howard Gico, Rev. Jerson Narciso, Dr. Melvin Mangana, Pastor Melchor Lariza and those in other provincial centers.

Special mention to Dr. Domingo Diel, Jr., and other members of the Theological Education and Ministerial Concerns Committee, especially the heads of theological institutions at that time- Prof. Josita Alpha Jalando-on in CBBC; Prof. Ruth Valencia &Pastor Georem Gutierrez in SONBI; Pastor Stephen Gallenero in NNBBC-for their support.  To all pastors and lay who have been praying for us. Lest I forget, Dr. Juanito Acanto for allowing me to implement the program during my term as director of the University Outreach Center, CPU.

Lastly, but not the least, the MSPM students – the important characters today, the survivors- who serve as our inspiration to tell the whole CPBC that the program is feasible. Without them, MSPM has never been materialized. They were able to sustain the momentum, sacrificing their free days and overcoming difficulties of time and finances. Of course, with the support of their respective families, church officers and members, and the administration of Ajuy Christian Development Academy and Ajuy Baptist Church that opened their doors to us.

Today’s event carries a very strong statement to the skeptics and critics, but good news to other pastors who also dream for an alternative continuing pastoral education, affordable but qualitative, without necessarily leaving their pastorate and families. Its message to the whole CPBC constituents is clear. Nothing is impossible if we only share. Our pastors can earn masteral degrees if we pool our resources together. The CPBC, with the help of our theological institutions and volunteer faculty – our pastors and lay leaders can liberalize the educational opportunities and improve the plight of the pastors. Because education is not an exclusive property of the privileged few. It is the right of every individual. Continuing quality education is the right of all pastors.

Of course, the program is not perfect. Just like any other new programs, it needs refinement and improvement. Undeniably, however, we made a breakthrough. A benchmark which no skeptic or critic can deny or take away. Whichever angle one looks at, no matter how dim or gleam, irregardless of arguments, nobody can deny the fact that MSPM is another story of endless possibilities. MSPM is comparable to the story of the KATIPAN Hall at Camp Higher Ground. When we started the project, there were various reactions of skepticism, disbeliefs, and criticisms even from pastors themselves. Understandably, because of the mindset that pastors are always in the receiving ends. But we have proven them wrong. The KATIPAN Hall and MSPM are living testimonies that whenever we start sharing whatever we have, God will work more stories of endless possibilities.

MSPM: Agent of Change

But MSPM is not just another story of endless possibilities. Thru MSPM, a new movement of change has started. From these graduates, will spark the fire of change and development that will benefit our churches, institutions and even communities. Unlike the traditional school system which commences in graduation, our partnership will continue even after today’s event. For MSPM is not merely another degree program. It was designed to change the pastors’ perspective and way of life which will subsequently trickle down to the lay leaders, youth and whole members of churches in respective pastorate. God’s blessings for all!

*Last of the two installments of my message for the  1st Conferral Ceremony  for Master of Socio Pastoral Ministries graduates held at Ajuy Christian Development Academy, Iloilo on May 1, 2010.My daughter, Dazen Dawn, delivered the message.

MSPM: Another story of endless possibilities

Today is Labor Day as celebrated in many countries worldwide. In my other blog, I shared some researches on the historical significance of this day to commemorate the economic and social achievements of workers. Inspired by the Pauline epistle to the Corinthian, I titled it Our labor will never be in vain.

However, it is not only the historical significance of the Labor Day that inspired me to blog. Equally inspiring is the 1st Conferral Ceremony for Master of Socio Pastoral Ministries graduates held two years ago at Ajuy Christian Development Academy, Iloilo, Philippines. It was graced by no other than the General Secretary of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC), Rev. Job A. Santiago, who was the conferral speaker.

The occasion could have been a day of rejoicing for me as it would be a culmination of my pioneering and voluntary work. I was supposed to give my message for the pioneer graduates. Unfortunately, seven months before the event, I was seriously ill caused by chronic heart ailment, compounded by unusual nerve disorder. However, though bedridden, my message still reached the target audience. It was delivered by my daughter Dazen Dawn.

Entitled MSPM: Another story of endless possibilities, it was published on PADAYON: Our Life journey. I decided to reblog my post in two installments  to commemorate the Labor Day.

“Today, we are witnesses to another story of endless possibilities. Overcoming the tests of times and circumstances, our pastors in North Iloilo and Negros will receive with joy and pride, without necessarily being boastful, their hard- earned certificates in today’s Conferral Ceremony. The choice of the date for this event, which happened to be Labor Day, was more circumstantial than intentional. However, viewed in the context of the long winding road trod by students and faculty to sustain the MSPM program, the date has become doubly significant. With gladness, we can shout on this Labor Day that our labour is not in vain, after all.

The biblical account of the feeding of the 5,000+ serves as inspiration to the MSPM story. Aware of the needs of the time, a boy offered whatever he has to respond to the call for service. He was not disturbed by overwhelming discrepancies and limitations, even criticisms. His 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.

An inspiring story to remind us that our labor, no matter how small and simple, will never be in vain in the Lord. Let me stress this point because it appears that our past experiences of difficulties or disappointments have made us callous and apathetic for change, especially as far as organizational or institutional life is concerned. Sometimes, we cannot even start any good project or movement because we are already overpowered by the difficulties and perceived problems or impossibilities, even before we give it a try.

The MSPM Program has a foretaste of this experience. Since its start 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.

MSPM pioneer students during the Semestral Joint Class in North Negros Baptist Bible College

In our response, we dared the critics to a debate whoever they are and wherever they want. We argue that MSPM has been designed with quality not inferior to what Central Philippine University  offered in Master of Social Work program which was patterned to that of the University of the Philippines- Diliman, yet 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.

Favorable conditions

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.

Those aforementioned favorable trends served as signals for us to entertain the questions: Why can’t we design similar approach for a graduate studies program for pastors? If it was successfully implemented in professional social work courses, why can’t we do the same for pastors? But, how?

My previous sad experience has also served its purpose. When elected as president of Convention Baptist Ministers Association, I continued the term of my predecessor in the committee which was tasked to study and recommend to the CPBC Board cases of pastors undergoing graduate programs from other theological institutions. The arguments were overwhelming against recognizing the degrees from other schools not affiliated with the CPBC and related affiliations. The most that I could do at that time was raised the question: Can CPBC provide alternatives?”

(To be continued)