Tag Archives: transformation

True service*

The scriptural basis for this message, as requested, was Luke 5: 1-11. Inexhaustible, I love this text as I have preached many times on this passage in various context. One of the provocative titles I used is Rock the Boat in two separate occasions but both city churches. One needed a reminder on a change of perspective in order to go deeper towards productive endeavors. This was exemplified by Jesus in the story when he transformed the boat into a pulpit which eventually resulted to paradigm shift of fishermen to fishers of men. The other one was beset with conflict including legal battle that needed more rocking in order to go back to their senses.

As I prepare for this message, another enlightening took place. Hence, I want to emphasize the transformation of Peter and his company after enjoying the fruits of their adventure. Daring to challenge their own knowledge, ability and skills, even their own belief and reservations in order to respond to the needs, they experienced the life-changing encounter.

Using the acronym of the seminary –NETS, I have organized my points in the context of the story, as follows:

NEEDS

1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,[a] the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets.

The first two verses present the needs of people and Jesus, as well as that of the fishermen. Jesus needs a pulpit to satisfy the cravings of the people for God’s words. In finding a boat, Jesus ably meet the needs both of the people and the owner of the resources. For Jesus also knows the needs of Simon and company. He understands that Peter and his coworkers are capable of bringing in a huge catch. But the problem is that they are absolutely convinced nothing is there to catch, having spent the whole night. There’s a need to overcome their pride.

A proud mentor. My wife, DZ, flanked by young graduates. DZ is one of the founders of NETS


ENCOUNTER

3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

Such is the encounter of Jesus with the veteran fishermen. After the paradigm shift of using the boat as pulpit, Jesus moves on to the next level of change. In the guise of gratitude for the favor, he encouraged Simon to resume fishing for a compensated catch. With reservation grounded on experience and expertise, Simon dared to risk another attempt. Surprisingly, the cycle has been broken by such paradigm shift. An overwhelming catch rocked their boats.

The pioneer graduates


TRANSFORMATION

8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”

Humbled by the encounter, the veteran fisherman bowed to the carpenter’s son. It is safe to presume that Simon might have under estimated Jesus. A transformation takes place in Simon’s heart. But it was just a prelude of the real transformation in the lives of the fishermen. Thereafter they become fishers of men.

SERVICE

11So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

This seals off the transformation process. Instead of savoring the gains of their catch, they forsake all and follow Jesus. Rather than advancing their needs and interests, they serve the interests of Christ – advancing the Kingdom of God.

True service is a by- product of transformation, resulting from a personal encounter with the One who knows our needs.
It unfortunate that there are some who see the need without any attempt to respond. Hence, they deprive themselves of the personal encounter. Some have encounters but without transformation. While others experience transformation but fail to actualize this through service.

You are privileged to be part of the history, having been honored as the pioneer graduates. You have an obligation to spread the word of the NETS based on your actual experiences. You joined the NETS because of particular needs. Such needs have been met by personal encounter which have transformed your perspectives and lives. It is your turn to translate this transformation into true service. Congratulations and God bless you in your mission to spread the NETS story.

*Excerpts of my recorded video message during the First Commencement Exercise of the Negros Theology Seminary (NETS) held at Balay Kauswagan Sagay City, Negros Occidental on April 8, 2011. Photo credit: Maemeh De-maala Salvador

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KATIPAN Hall: A multi- faceted testament

Indeed, Katipan has become a symbol of solidarity among pastors. It bespeaks of the realization of collective faith and action. 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. But it was not merely another successful infrastructure project. It has become a spiritual warfare in reclaiming the legacy of the Camp Higher Ground as icon of serenity, spirituality and renewal. 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.

Never did it occur in our wildest dream that our association would engage in an infrastructure project. More so, under my term as president. My social work orientation and past organizing experience taught me to be people-centered in approach to development, not on infrastructure. However, circumstances led us to this new challenge.

Katipan Hall in 2006

It 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.

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. Our NGO network was also tapped, as well as linkages with the government officials in the city and province of Iloilo. The Gilopez Kabayao Foundation showed support by making our association the beneficiary of their concerts. But the bulk of the donation came from pastors.Pastors abroad sent their contribution. Rev. Danilo Borlado mobilized the church in Hongkong to shoulder the painting cost. The rest is history. After fours year, the collective faith and action was realized. The Katipan Hall was finished- a monument of gains in networking.

Beyond the construction issue, the Katipan Hall was 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 were able to reclaim the spiritual heritage of the Camp. Thereafter, its beauty and usefulness has been gradually restored.

Moreover, Katipan has brought our association into the mainstream of politics in our denomination. While some pastors have been involved in the CPBC politics, seldom does our association, as a whole, directly participate. But things 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. We could not have experienced the suffering had the Pastors Kids continue.

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