Tag Archives: spirituality

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.

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Breaking the status quo

It seems I have reached a some kind of plateau in my journey both in blogging and in my spirituality. Indicator: No new post on any of my seven other blogs for the past three months.

Probably, I was just exhausted after a successful defense of my dissertation last June. So exhausted that until now I have not submitted the final copy despite a minor revision. Although I know I can do it, if I will, in less than a week.

But I don’t want to prolong this experience. Today, I decided to break the plateau by idly opening this blog, attempting to make a new post. Surfing the web related to the subject matter, in random, two links caught my attention. Hence, I am sharing the Post dissertation stress disorder and Have You Reached A Spiritual Plateau? to break the status quo.

We need more politics to sustain our network

Now that we have reached the 13th year of celebration, we are certain to sustain the activity in the coming years. For number 13 has been considered both unlucky and lucky number. Countries around the world associated the number 13 with either luck or disaster. Let the debates go on. Regardless of the result, the fact remains that we have survived the 13th year which, for me, assures us of a bright future.

Slide1For the past 12 years we have experienced both worlds – the peak and the lowest condition of the Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (ICON) advocacy work particularly in spearheading the NGO PO Week celebration. To quote the wedding vow, we were together in “times of plenty and times of want, sickness and health, joy and sorrow, failure and triumph.” There was a time we had two full time staff, at other times, none.

ICON is a story of struggles – from the lobbying stage for the institutionalization of the non-government organization s and people’s organizations (NGO PO) Week to the subsequent pioneering days in organizing the network. We also struggled to sustain both the coalition and politics in the government.

A review of the history will help us understand the state of our coalition, learn lessons from the past to guide us in another decade of development. Circumstances, indeed, had determined the nature of the organization. Looking back, I realized that what sustains us for years is POLITICS. It has been defined in various ways to capture the complexities of relations of people in the society involving authority or power. Some even thought of politics as sort of “intrigue or maneuvering within a political unit or group in order to gain control or power.”

ICON 1

While we might have experienced these elements in our 12 years of struggle, I want to qualify what I mean by politics that sustains our network. It is an acrostic/acronym which capsulizes the sustaining elements in our organization, as follows: Participation, Optimism, Lobbying, Integrity, Tact, Interdependence, Coordination, and Spirituality.

Participation

Historically, the NGO PO Week, which gave birth to ICON was a by product of participation. When seemingly moderate organizations decided to take an active role in the mainstream of politics in the development council, which was dominated by veteran leaders, and subsequently captured the slot for the civil society organizations representative.

Thereafter, we have sustained our activities throughout the years, as well as our relationship, because of your participation. As development workers and empowerment advocates, we share common understanding of participatory approach and apply such in our network.

Optimism

Our existence as network has been characterized by ups and downs. The task to convince veteran organizers of various persuasions to form the coalition and sustain it had been taxing and wearisome. We also struggled to sustain both the coalition and politics in the government. We even had the foretaste of tug-of-war of politicians at Capitol during elections.But we succeeded against all odds because of our optimism. Such optimism will continue to guide us for another decade of struggle.

Lobbying

An effective tool but less applied by NGOs because of its association with traditional politics, lobbying sustains our relationship with government partners. The provision of the local government code for our participation in the development councils and local special bodies become a sort of leverage in our lobbying. Having represented the NGOs in the Executive Committee of the provincial development council for many years, I have learned how to maximize such privilege in lobbying.

Integrity

ICONWith pride I can say that, as a whole, ICON has maintained its integrity. Of course, there were tensions and even skirmishes among officers in the past but as a network our integrity remains intact as far as relationship with the government and the public is concerned. We were never accused of using others for our own needs or advantage. Neither did we allow our network to be used by others, much more the politicians. We always work in partnership with others for mutual advantage.

Tact

Our delicate condition as loose organization and task in coalition building has developed in us the skill to handle or deal with difficult or delicate situations. We have experienced crises but handled it with tact. I can still recall an instance when some of the member organizations protested against an electric company related to power supply and used our office for mobilization which created friction from other members who were supportive of the company. More important than citing other cases is the fact we were able to handle all these with tact and further developed our skills in handling more issues.

Interdependence

I always relate our relationship in the network to the beauty of the rainbow which is an excellent representation of systems theory. 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. Yes, it is our interdependence that gives color to our relationship, no mater how fragile it may be.

Coordination

The nature of our network is ambivalent. Since we are not implementor of projects we do not have much fund. On the other hand, we are not a threat to other organizations as we just facilitate and coordinate the welfare and development activities of NGOs and POs, as well as the government agencies in order to maximize resources.

Spirituality

By spirituality, I do not necessarily mean religiosity. Although we have religious sectors in our network since its founding. In fact, their presence have been instrumental in sustaining our integrity. However, spirituality is meant here as relationship among people, the non human environment and God. Thus, spirituality is eclectic and inclusive than religion. It encourages diversity and encompasses other relationship and beliefs. It is spirituality that serves as the well spring of our voluntary endeavors.

Yes, it’s  politics (participation, optimism,lobbying, integrity, tact, interdependence, coordination, and spirituality) that sustained our network for a dozen of years. We need more of these  politics  to sustain us in the next decades of networking towards development.
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Message delivered during the ICON Assembly of Leaders on December 6, 2012 at  the Conference Room, University Research Center, Central Philippine University to culminate the 13th NGO PO Week celebration in Iloilo.