volume 9 â€˘ number 3 â€˘ DECEMBER 2014
Kingdom Builders With Jesus christ as the cornerstone
Expanding God's Light
1 Journeying with the Sarcedas
VOLUME 9 • NUMBER 3
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Ramoncito dela Cruz Managing Editor Aly Sulit-Placino
Our cover boys are the site leaders of Ligaya’s Pathways Ministry. Trained for spiritual warfare, they didn’t back down from the rigors of a photoshoot. The brothers held their stand and stared right into the camera. In between takes, they joked and bantered. They also took the opportunity to update each other on their evangelistic efforts in their respective sites. We salute you all!
Editorial Board Gary Mendoza (coordinator-in-charge) Berry Marfori Anna Sobrepeña Chito Sobrepeña CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Elmer Andes Mae Abiva-Leung Manny Manuel III Ruby Lauren Manuel Madel Sabater-Namit Jhola Salazar Ellen Viriña Jun Viterbo PHOTOGRAPHER John Rich Villas
IN THIS ISSUE 3
Editor’s Note Two Songs, One Mission 4 Youth Chat Evangelizing the Youth by the Youth 6 His Take Built by the Great Mentor TRUE NORTH BEAT 1 10
W here God Meets You Wherever You Are
In navigational parlance, True North is a constant that guides travelers. In the course of our lives, our True North is Jesus Christ, the constant for all times.
Journeying Deep into The Heart of Mission
True North is a publication of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon (www.lnp.org. ph) and its partners – Christ’s Youth in Action, Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon, and the Institute for Pastoral Development. LNP is a member of the federation of communities around the globe, Sword of the Spirit (www.swordofthespirit.net).
TRUE NORTH BEAT 2
Why True North?
you are invited
True North is inviting all engaging storytellers—through words and pictures. We are expanding our pool of writers, editors and photographers for our forthcoming issues. Before we can write beautiful prose and compose inspiring pictures, we also need story ideas. Interested members of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon and all its outreach organizations are welcome to email or call Monching dela Cruz at ramoncitodelcruz@ yahoo.com or 0917 891 7644.
Expanding God’s Light
W illing and Obedient Hearts
The Curious Case of Atty. Bobby Quitain
6 24 14
The Joy Worth Sharing
32 A Christian’s Guide By Their Own Words, In Their Own Style 34 10 Questions From the North, He Calls His Son
NOTE: All recent True North issues can be shared and read in www.issuu.com. Look for the True North page.
photo credit: john rich villas
Two Songs One Mission “Tell the world of His love:” That’s the haunting refrain of the World Youth Day song composed for St. Pope John Paul II’s Manila visit in 1994. In January 2015, we will be singing: “We are all God’s children” to welcome Pope Francis to our country. I believe the two songs – composed and sung one generation apart – share a much deeper connection, over and above the obvious fact that they are used for a Papal visit. The second gives purpose to the first song, and the first fleshes out the meaning of the second song. As we are all God’s children, so we have the grace to boldly proclaim God’s love for us and the whole world. With this truth and message, True North presents the New Evangelization Issue focused on the rekindling of faith in persons and cultures where it has grown weary. In this issue, we feature some Ligaya brothers and sisters who have bravely responded to that call. Bobby Quitain is the Evangelization Head of our community. A sought-after inspirational speaker here and abroad, Bobby is at his best when he enthusiastically tells stories about God and His goodness and faithfulness. But do you know Bobby’s life story? Flip to pages 24 to 27. Raul and Hedy Sarceda heeded God’s call to do mission work in Mindanao and Thailand. Their life story of obedience and
perseverance – overcoming by God’s grace a tragedy – is worth telling and re-telling. If you want to hear more inspiring stories, attend – or better yet, invite your family and friends to – a Pathways session. Pathways is the evangelistic ministry of Ligaya. It is where people from all walks of life meet God, wherever they are – geographically and in their spiritual journey. Get to know the different Pathways sites in and around Metro Manila and also meet their respective site leaders (our cover boys). Ligaya is not just about building God’s kingdom in strategic locations. We are also building God’s kingdom right in the palm of people’s hands. Have you downloaded or told your friends about the coolest faith app in town – One Touch? More on pages 18 to 21. Ligaya has also evangelistic efforts targeted towards nextgen leaders in the community, in industry and in the country. Do you know that there is one planned and executed by, and made exclusively for, young adults, called the Evangelistic Stepping Stones Retreat? It is spearheaded by our Young Adults who invite their peers to make their first step closer to God (pages 28 to 31). The young professionals of Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon, on their part, are organizing The Executive Mentors series for men and the Built to Last series to cater to the upwardly mobile set. Read pages 6 to 9.
I’m sure there are a lot more other evangelistic activities and initiatives that are happening within your families, men’s and women’s groups, districts and sectors. We want to hear from you. In the meantime, we want to say to you co-evangelizers: Be inspired! Be bold! Be brave!
Ooops: On page 30 of the July issue, some words were deleted in the profile of Grace Tan. It should read: “Trisha, the eldest, is now married to a wonderful Catholic gentleman from Long Island.” On page 8, the name of the sister who wrote about her experience in the Summer Household is Joan Ravalo. We apologize for the error and the oversight.
YOUTH CHAT These three phrases highlight the mission of CYA which is evangelizing the youth by the youth and training them to be servant-leaders, reaching out to and making an impact on their fellow youth and others in the Church and society.
We are Catholic We aspire to share the joy of being Catholic and to learn more about the richness of our Christian heritage. Our faith is both doctrine and a way of life.
THE YOUTH BY THE YOUTH
We are young Now is the time of discovery of new independence, of making decisions that affect the direction of our lives. Now is also the time to answer the call to follow Christ and enliven hope in our generation.
We are active We reach out and serve in big and small ways. Through service opportunities, we are formed to become servant-leaders.
College life is a crucial period in the lives of many young people, because oftentimes critical and life-changing decisions are formed and made at this time. One decision that can be made is about faith. And this is where Christ’s Youth in Action, or CYA as it is more popularly known, has been making its presence felt for the past 34 years. CYA began as an outreach to young people of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon Community. This was in response to the need to reach out to more and more university students across Metro Manila who had become members of Ligaya, and their compelling aspiration to have other students experience what they were experiencing – a strong and vibrant relationship with the Lord. Starting with simple get–
together where time, stories and food were shared, more and more students joined in. In February 1982, the "Student Outreach" became formally known as Christ's Youth in Action, a name that more effectively embodies its call, identity and mission. Evangelization is a part of the way of life of a CYAer. In fact, a week will not be complete without a CYA event, be it a prayer meeting, a 3F (food, fellowship,
photos from: http://www.christsyouthinaction.com/agroups.html
By Manny Manuel III
fun) activity, hanging out in the tambayan or org room, or simply just having lunch or merienda and exchanging stories. These activities are always open to guests and have a welcoming atmosphere where CYAers can invite a friend for him or her to get a glimpse of what CYA is. It really is creatively bringing to life the mission of evangelizing the youth by the youth. Our first example of evangelization is Jesus Christ himself who taught us how to invite people into a personal relationship with Him, and how to show an effective environment of witnesses through love. The most effective evangelizer is the one who walks the talk – living his or her life focused on the greatest commandments of loving the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul and strength and loving their neighbour as themselves. As you will hear from any CYAer, evangelization is always about blessing and being blessed, because you are not only blessing the person you are sharing your faith and your relationship with Christ with, you are also being blessed by him or her because of the way the person has made a choice to give his or her life to the Lord. This should be enough inspiration to proclaim His words like an all-consuming fire, to do more for God's greater glory. As more and more activities and commitments compete for the time of a college student, CYAers have to exercise their creative juices and think out of the box to come up with activities that will appeal to their fellow students, such as: • Crossroads Retreat, where students can take a step back and look at where their lives are headed. Over one-and-a-half days, these students are given the opportunity to take a long, hard look at the choices they face in their lives and are encouraged and motivated to make important choice that will define the rest of their lives.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses . . . even to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
• Mission Week, usually done during the semestral break, where students can reach out to communities outside Metro Manila like Pampanga and Bicol. Students are given the opportunity to serve others – from helping indigenous people, being immersed in their culture, to conducting leadership training for other students. This one week offers a faith–building experience of finding out that we are blessed as we go out and care for others, concretizing the call of the Lord “to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31)”. • Summer Training Conference (STC), where talks and presentations on many different topics are given to enhance both the students’ personal relationship with the Lord and their skills sets to aid them in evangelizing their fellow youth. In this digital age, CYAers have learned to harness social media for evangelization. Fr. Stephen Cuyos, who was the speaker in the STC on using social media for evangelization, even gives this reminder, borrowing St. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9:16, “Woe to us if we do not preach the Gospel (even online)!” CYAers are able to invite friends to the different CYA events with the use of social media, e.g. making use of Facebook pages
and events, sharing online posters that bring out the clever and, at times, wacky and fun side of those who made them. One of the more recent blessings to the evangelization efforts of CYA is the CYA Youth Center in the Manila area, where a wide array of events catering to students from various universities (even those from UP Diliman and Ateneo who make the long but worthwhile trip to join these activities). One of these activities is the Coffeehouse, a monthly event where CYA talents are showcased. The Coffeehouse is a great venue to bring friends who CYAers want to evangelize through giving them a glimpse
of what it is like to make use of talents and abilities for God’s greater glory. Every CYAer lives his or her life with this mission statement "Kay Kristo Buong Buhay, Habambuhay”. It is a testament to the choice one makes, from the time a fellow student or friend evangelized him or her to the time when one steps out of college and begins to tread another path on the life journey with Christ.
Built by the
Great Mentor By Ruby Lauren Manuel
As a college student, Rob had encountered Jesus through a Christian group. He felt a stirring in his heart and had a personal relationship with Christ who brought him out of his wayward ways. From being mediocre in his studies, he became a star student. But the temptations of the world were much too much for him. After graduation, Rob turned away from a life of discipleship. When most of his group mates went on to be become more committed and radical, Rob went the other way. A graduate of Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of the PhilippinesTacloban and a Master’s degree in
Management from the University of San Jose Recoletos-Cebu, Rob came to Manila to pursue his Doctorate degree in Business Administration and work as a logistics supervisor. Some years back, he was invited to attend the Ang Lingkod Ng Panginoon-Greenhills' Open Prayer Meeting by a persistent officemate. He attended the Christian Life Program entitled Build To Last Series in 2012. He only attended the first session because of the insidious voice inside his head telling him that he was not worthy and it was just going to be a waste of time. In 2013, Rob was stricken by a mysterious allergy that left him very weak, to a point that he desired death. Here, he prayed: "Lord, if this is a wake-up call, please give me another chance." And God heeded his plea.
FOR MEN ONLY
During those days, he was getting text messages from some brothers of Lingkod-Greenhills. He was invited to the group's series of mentoring sessions for single young men who are managers,
supervisors, team leaders and entrepreneurs. The session is called The Executive Mentors (supported by Ligaya North Sector). As the venue was in Ortigas Building, a very convenient location for him, he accepted the invitation. Aside from the free sumptuous dinner, Rob also appreciated the fact that it was an all-men affair where they could freely talk about issues confronting men of today. He took on several pieces of advice from older and more experienced individuals. He witnessed professionalism and brotherhood in the group. He was able to hear testimonies from speakers who shared their past lives without God and how their lives were transformed after their total surrender to the Lord. He was amazed that these men who spoke boldly are true witnesses of success brought by the power of Jesus Christ. Earlier this year, The Executive Mentors participants were invited to attend another Build To Last Series. This time, Rob was ready. He finished all the Monday sessions diligently. He
photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/buildtolastseries/photos_stream?tab=photos_albums
For many years, Robert Presley’s life was a heady mix of sex, lies and drugs. He chased after money and contentment that were fleeting and shallow.
happened to him. One was his capacity to see the positive side of things. One day, right before the fellowship night for Build To Last participants, Rob’s allergy came back. He was thinking of not joining the fellowship night. "This is embarrassing," Rob thought. But God spoke to him saying, "Why was refreshed by the talks, which reminded him of the Truth that he once believed in. He also heard the Lord giving him personal revelations in every assembly, piercing some light into the dark way of life he was practicing. There was one particular session that spoke directly to Rob. It was from Brother Jon Kasilag – during the fourth session entitled "Retrofit, which was originally known as No Damage Beyond Repair" – who said: "You may
run away from God. You may run towards the hole that you may think is enough to fill up your life right now. You may all run towards every little thing that substitutes God in your life. But I tell you, God will find you."
During this program, Rob decided to re-commit his life to Christ. He also took this opportunity to make a pact with God. He noticed some changes that
Rejoice with Me; I have found my lost sheep. (Luke 15:6)
will you be embarrassed? You are going to your family." Rob is a Born-Again Christian, but he has become very fond of the warmth emanating from this Catholic movement of single, young professionals. He has found a real sense of family in Lingkod. Rob is fully aware that temptations are just lurking around, ready to pounce on him when he is weak. Yet, Rob is ready to rebuke them by calling on the Lord: "God, I have already made
a pact with You. May You put the blindness in my eyes in front of temptations, and may You open my eyes to Your truth." Rob has found the kind of happiness he once longed for. He has attested that the joy in the fullness of life in the Lord cannot compare to anything in this world. He is grateful that God has used The Executive Mentors and Build To Last Series of LingkodGreenhills to bring back the lost sheep into the welcoming arms of the ever-loving Shepherd.
Lingkod-Greenhills holds its Open Prayer Meeting every Friday from 7:30Â PM to 9:30 PM. Venue to be decided soon. It also has an Ortigas Monday Group where single working men and women in Ortigas have lunch together within the area. It is held once a month. You can bring your single officemates to the event. Please like its Facebook page to get more information: https://www.facebook. com/OrtigasMondayGroup
TRUE NORTH BEAT 1
Go and make Godisciples into
a l l t h e World and of all nations (Matthew 28:19)
proclaim The Gospel
G o into a l l t h e World and
Go into all the World and
Go and make disciples
of all nations When I (Matthew 28:19)
When I am lifted up, When I am lifted u
I will draw
am lifted up,
I will dra I will draw All men All men All men
to myself to myself to mysel
(John 12:32) (John 12:32) (John 12:3
Make known Make knownMake know
His deed His deedsp e o p l e His Deeds among the
pP se oapll me
among the (PSALM 105:1)
p e o p l P s a l m
TRUE TRUENORTH NORTHBEAT BEAT11
Where God meets YOU wherever you are
Many of us have a story about how we first met God. God might have come during a particularly turbulent time or maybe during a seemingly ordinary moment in our lives. Whatever your circumstances were, your personal conversion marked a turning point and a beginning of a new journey. In that conversion story, there’s always that someone who had invested some time with you, gave you a little more love and understanding, and ceaselessly prayed for you. As a grateful response to your conversion experience, you now want to be that “someone” to your family, colleagues or friends. And you need a venue and a group to support you. You can count on Pathways — the perfect place for people to get to know God more and accept Him in their lives. Pathways is for you. It is the evangelization ministry of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon Community. “Pathways is the brainchild of our brother Ken Noecker who was commissioned sometime in 2004 by then-Senior Head Coordinator Tony Panajon to launch a program to re-ignite the evangelistic fire in the hearts of Ligaya members,” Bobby Quitan, one of the pioneers and Pathways Ortigas site leader, says. Ken simplified and re-packaged the 13-week Empowered Christian Living Seminar (ECLS) into an eight-week seminar to give it a fresh start and make it as the evangelization tool for Ligaya. In
2005, Ken asked Bobby to lead the first Pathways Seminar which served almost 500 participants. With some 200 graduates, Ken wanted to make sure that there would be weekly inspirational and evangelistic prayer meetings to help these graduates grow in their Christian faith. The prayer group became known as Pathways and the seminar came to be known as Choices. Pathways has come a long way since 2005. With the supportive efforts of Ligaya members, many hearts were touched and many lives have changed. Pathways has grown and expanded into eight sites: Southside, SMART-Makati, Bonifacio Global City, Ortigas, Cubao, Cradle of Joy, Pascual Lab, and Miriam College-Katipunan. The bigger sites have around 80 to 100 attendees, while the smaller sites have around 40 to 60 participants. With God’s grace, more sites are emerging. The primary objective of
Pathways is to help a person make that initial commitment to Christ and to help him or her make the necessary steps towards Christian growth. With a tagline of “Where God meets you where you are”, it is Pathways’ desire to reach all types of people from all walks of life, in whatever life situation they are in. Whether you are married, single or separated, single mom or single dad, or simply single, you are welcome to join Pathways. While all sites are open to all ages, each site has a primary target market. For instance, in Pathways-Cradle of Joy, the participants are mostly married couples, and therefore it has its own children’s ministry. Over the years, Pathways has spearheaded several major projects: the annual Catchfire Rally and the Harvest Conference. It has spread its wings in mass media too, with an evangelistic radio program Kakaiba Ka! and an evangelistic app for smartphones, One Touch. Under Pathways, it has vibrant sub-ministries including the Healing Ministry, the Intercessory Task Force for Evangelization (ITFE), the Training Ministry, the Men’s Ministry and the Media Ministry.
Evangelization Never Stops
As Pathways expands, the need for more servants becomes more critical and urgent. Pathways is
photo credit: john rich villas
by Mae Abiva-Leung
TRUE NORTH BEAT 1
Bong Manuel Pathways Smart Every Wednesday 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM 12/F, Sadoce Smart Communications Ayala Avenue, Makati
Melmarx Marcojos Pathways BGC Every Monday 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM 5th Floor, Top Shelf, Fully Booked B6, Bonifacio Global City
Anthony Jamias Pathways COJ Every Saturday 2:30 PM to 5:00 PM Penthouse Cafeteria Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) Building Mother Ignacia Avenue, Quezon City (near Capitol Medical Center & St. Mary's College QC)
Jun Ravalo Pathways Southside Every Wednesday 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM Auditorium Virgin Mary Immaculate School Daughters of Virgin Mary Immaculate (VMIS - DVMI) Commerce Avenue, Alabang Town Center (across St Jerome Parish Church)
TRUE TRUENORTH NORTHBEAT BEAT11
Jam Mariquit Pathways Ortigas Every Monday 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM First Floor Function Room Renaissance 3000 Meralco Avenue Pasig
Bobby Quitain Evangelization Head Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon Site Leader Pathways Ortigas Gerric Gomez Pathways Pascual Lab Every Tuesday 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM 9th floor Cyberpod Tower One Centris, ETON EDSA Quezon City
photo credit: john rich villas
Mike Angeles Pathways North Cubao Every Monday 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM 3rd Floor, Obispado de Cubao 41 Lantana St. Cubao, Quezon City
Amang Mejia Pathways MCKatipunan Every Wednesday 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM AVR-C Room Miriam College Katipunan Avenue Quezon City
HIS TAKE making a clarion call to each and every member of Ligaya to serve in the evangelization efforts. “For many years we were used to delegating the evangelization efforts to our outreaches. Pathways is a different creature wherein all Ligaya members are part of. We want Ligaya members to evangelize directly by bringing people regularly to the weekly inspirational and evangelistic prayer meetings. We are trying to convince all Ligaya members to ‘own’ Pathways,” Bobby says. “Don’t withhold your resources (time, talent and treasure) from the work of mission. People sometimes forget that we are a Community of Disciples on Mission. Discipleship and Mission should go together. Hence, let us invest in both areas with the same intensity, focus and zeal,” he urges the members. All the site leaders point out that there’s still a lack of awareness among Ligaya members about Pathways. Jun Ravalo, site leader for Southside, says: “One classic example is that some members don’t have an idea what Choices and Pathways are. They think Choices is Pathways and vice versa.”
WANTED: MORE WORKERS
Aside from inviting people to Pathways, the leaders are asking for more servants and discussion group leaders. “The harvest is really bountiful, and so we need more servants to help out in Pathways,” Amang Mejia, site leader for Miriam Katipunan, says. Pathways needs more leaders to step up. “Since some of the brothers in our site are tapped to serve in other sites, we urgently need to develop new leaders so they can effectively handle new
participants in an ‘action group’ setting,” Mike Angeles of Pathways Cubao says. Aside from leaders, Bong Manuel, site leader for Pathways SMART, emphasizes the need to train discussion group leaders. “There is a need to train them, especially the ones handling participants with difficult circumstances in life.” Jun Ravalo and Gerric Gomez, site leader of Pascual Lab both dream of having a robust music ministry, while Pathways COJ is looking for volunteers to help out in teaching the children attending their Friends of Jesus program. DJ Jacob, site leader for Pathways COJ, adds: “We need more funds to finance our other evangelistic activities that will make our regular monthly prayer meetings more life-giving. Activities like bible study, social action, family day and fellowships need funds too.”
BRINGING GOD CLOSER
On top of these, Pathways is also asking Ligaya members to actively invite friends and family to attend the regular sessions, not just the Choices seminars. Melmarx Marcojos, site leader for BGC, tells us: “Bringing God's word to people is quite challenging nowadays because there is too much noise in the world. The key challenge is how to make people stumble upon the hidden treasure in a field that looks familiar to them.” “If you invite people to a prayer meeting, most of them will decline. But if you invite them to a talk about career or financial stewardship or marriage, they will come even if they know it is a Catholic Renewal group that is organizing it. Many people are not looking for God but they are looking for good advice on how to live life well. This is where our opportunity comes. We have good advice and good solutions to offer them. In the process, we
help them discover that the most fundamental solution is God,” he adds. In the spiritual front, Jam Mariquit, former leader of the Ortigas site emphasizes the need for prayers. “We’re at the forefront of the battle, winning hearts and minds for our God,” he says. “Prayers are needed to protect Pathways from people who have ulterior motives, from traffic and other logistical problems. Intercessory prayers are also requested for its leaders, servants and members too.” When asked to evaluate the achievements of Pathways so far, Bobby said the main goal is still not fully achieved. “The goal of Pathways is two-fold: to reawaken the evangelistic fervor of our members and to bring God closer to people. In both areas, we are still very far from our goal,” Jam says Still, Pathways has bigger dreams. One of the hopes is to build sites outside of Metro Manila, all over the Philippines, and even around the world. “Yes, it’s a dream. But that’s how Catchfire, Harvest, Kakaiba Ka! and One Touch all began—as a dream,” Bobby says. “For this expansion to happen, our prayer meetings must be coupled with prayer, fasting and intercession.” In preparation for this, Pathways is trying to develop and train more site leaders and resident preachers. It is also looking into a more aggressive marketing push for Pathways in the coming years, with the establishment of a Pathways website and a more cohesive marketing team. Pathways is a perfect venue to evangelize our friends and family. We can do so much for God. He has chosen each one of us to be that “someone” who can lead our friends or family members to a life with God. Let’s invest! Let’s evangelize! Let’s pay it forward!
TRUE TRUE NORTH NORTH BEAT BEAT 11
Journeying Deep into the
Heart of Mission by Ellen U. Viri単a
Raul's Salesian education and exposure to their founder's advocacy of educating the youth had influenced his tender mind. He and some like-minded socially conscious neighborhood buddies decided to do something to help send poor, but deserving, boys to school. They sold cigarettes (this was in the early 1970s and there was no health warning by the Surgeon General) to raise money for their scholars. Their social responsibility, tight friendships and upright values caught the eyes of the parish priest at Sacred Heart, Kamuning, who tapped them to help in community-building activities, like sports and formation programs. He also put his training skills to good use in helping frame the parish's Vision and Mission at that time. While still in his 20s, he was among the three lay people who formed the Parish Pastoral Training Council with three priests and three nuns. Even in courtship, he did things differently. Armed with his own program of how he would know if the woman was Ms. Right for him, he systematically inquired and got to know the young Hedy who was with the Population Commission and a client of one of his consultancies. He had his 30 or more questions that he asked during their dates that allowed them to explore each other's background, values and pertinent touch points that would be crucial to marriage. Hedy initially wondered about the questions and the direction of their conversations. But they both liked what
photo credit: john rich villas
Even as a young man, Raul Sarceda did things differently.
TRUE NORTH BEAT 1 they saw in each other so that within nine months of meeting each other, they tied the knot.
The Breakfast That Started It All
"I was working for PLDT then as Senior Manager for the Human Resource Development Department when I was invited to a men’s breakfast meeting in Makati Sports Club sometime in August of 1980,” Raul recalls. "This was organized by Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon and held every Wednesday morning. That must have been the fourth breakfast meeting. That group eventually evolved into an organization what is now known as the BCBP (Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals).” In that meeting, an announcement was made for a Life in the Spirit Seminar (LSS) for married couples. Since they just got engaged and were about to get married in four months, Raul thought it might be a good preparation for them. "The LSS helped affirm our initial decision on how we would live our marriage and family life. Some of our married friends had separated, others had serious relationship problems. We wanted to avoid those things. We decided to live a simple lifestyle and be available to help couples in their marriages,” he adds. Soon after, the Sarcedas were invited to be part of the Ligaya Community. “We found the community to be supportive of our ideals in life, marriage and family life. We continued to grow in spiritual life as we were trained for Christian service. Before a year elapsed, we were invited to serve as a couple discussion leaders for married couples. Soon after, I found myself part of the leadership team for the couples ministry, which later became Couples For Christ (CFC),” he narrates.
As both his corporate life and service grew exponentially over the years, Raul found himself drawn to the work of CFC. He began working on the teachings and leaders’ formation program, and organizing them into a manual.
Getting More than Feet Wet
"After four years in PLDT, I resigned in response to an invitation to work full-time for the Lord. I was appointed to be the Executive Director of CFC. Hedy and I did not struggle in the discernment and decision as the call and service was at the heart of our vision as a couple,” he says. Their decision was not without opposition though. As Hanzel, his son was only 3 years old and Rizza was only 8 months old, friends from outside community were not as supportive; and even some brothers in the community, while inspired by their decision, were apprehensive. "They thought I still had a big future in the company as I was only 36 years old then, the youngest AVP (Assistant Vice President). Besides Ninoy Aquino
was assassinated eight months before that." Amid the political and economic turbulence, Raul gave up his job. A good friend told him: “While others are scouting for a better job, you have given up not only a good job, but a bright future.” The monthly income he received from full-time community work was a third of what he used to receive. On top of that, he also had to forgo all the corporate perks. Despite the drastic salary cut that he voluntarily took, “we've experienced that in giving all to the Lord, He gave back to us much, much more." A year later, the Community responded to a call of sending missionaries. Raul and Hedy were chosen and sent to Malaybalay with the Visenio couple, two single men, Svahn Rivas and Ray Rodriguez, and two single women, Norma Plata and Fe Warque. The Malaybalay mission lasted three and a half years. Their mission gave birth to a local covenanted community, Ang Buhing Pulong Community; and the seeds of CFC in several
TRUE NORTH BEAT 1 provinces and towns in Bukidnon and Iligan, as well as Lingkod in Davao were sown.
Casting Out Into the Deep
While still in Malaybalay, Raul heard another call. "In my morning prayer, I heard the Lord called us to go to Thailand. Back then, I only knew two things about Thailand: It’s a Buddhist country and the only Asian country not colonized by a foreign power.” It took three very clear signs and six years for them to take on the Thailand call. He and Hedy underwent personal experiences of purification, testing, even opposition from leaders, and skepticism by some, that they had to go through much discernment including a three-day Ignatian retreat with Fr. Herb as codiscerner. After much prayer, the Bishop of Udon Thani invited them to go soonest and wrote that he would take care of everything. (Udon Thani is at the northeastern part of Thailand, about 600 kilometers from Bangkok and 50 kilometers from the border with Vientiane, Laos). The first two years were the most difficult and challenging. Apart from the cultural adjustment, like language, food and practices, they also experienced rejections from some of the leaders, both lay and the clergy. Even their housing, use of vehicle and better remuneration became a big issue. But they were grateful of the full support and care of the Bishop. After learning the Thai language, Raul was assigned to take care of the Diocesan Youth Center for boys, while Hedy taught English at the minor seminary. At the same time, they did some office work for the Bishop on English communication, translating reports from Thai to English and raising funds for the social development projects. On weekends, they
conducted Bible sharing and study in a parish and at times held retreats for couples and training for lay leaders. They even expanded their mission to Vientiane, by conducting renewal programs for the youth, couples and the catechists. The Bishop of Vientiane, Bishop Kamse (who had his seminary training in the Philippines), once commented that the renewal program they conducted especially for the youth gave new hope to the church of Vientiane, which at that time the Diocese had only three priests, including himself. One was even old and sickly. Through all these, the Sarcedas home-schooled their children and
the faith in action and at all times. In time, they were joined by Menchie Rojas, Norma Plata, Noyette Magno, and later Patrick Lansang. After nine years in Thailand, the Asian financial crisis hit the country and the financial support from the Bishop stopped. By God's grace, an offer from Habitat for Humanity paved the way for them to continue with their mission and a broader mission among the poor.
tried to live out the community way of life — celebrating regular Lord's day, doing Bible sharing in the family, intercessory prayers, and one-to-ones. Their family life inspired some Thais who were used to separation of men and women at rites, worshipping of a distant god and a not-so-demonstrative way of loving people. The children gained many friends. Hanzel was even called by the priests to scout for seminarians. Rizza and Monica were members of the Parish youth group where Rizza became the president. They have discovered that evangelization was mostly a ministry of presence – living out
them for this and the family is still in mourning. They take comfort that their faith and experiences of God’s love will guide them and show them how to move on in life. In his sharing with the BCBP this year, Raul had this to say: "It is said, when a seed dies, new life bursts forth. I believe something good will come out of his death, something even bigger than what I can imagine. Why do I say this? In my life, after committing myself to the Lord, when I remain faithful to Him and His call, even with crises, trials, tribulations, and challenges, something unexpected happens, something good, a pleasant surprise from the Lord." Inspired by the decision of
WHEN A SEED DIES
Early this year, a tragedy blindsided them with the sudden death of Hanzel from complications arising from a bout of chicken pox. Nothing prepared
Habitat For Humanity to build two houses in Hanzel's memory, and his son’s call to continue planting the seed of faith in people’s hearts, the family has decided to use a part of the property they acquired in Malaybalay as a relocation site for decent housing. Raul's sense is that God wants him to "build His kingdom." The project will not just be a housing project, but to build a community of believers, having a decent shelter to live in, supported by a livelihood project and other interventions like education and health.
photo credit: john rich villas photo credit: john rich villas
Raul recalls his mother telling him that when he was born, the church bells were ringing. Perhaps to inspire him that his birth was a cause for rejoicing, she impressed upon him that the Lord must have special plans for him. Mission to him as a youth was teaching catechism, and helping the poor. Not even when he was in the seminary did he imagine life's turns for him in the future. Yet the Sarceda couple is united in openness to service and their deep faith allowed them to go farther and deeper in their life in mission. They always seek the Lord in their discernment. "We need to discern them properly with a codiscerner. If it’s indeed a genuine word of the Lord, take the first step and you will see God’s hand working mightily. Everything opens up.” Summing it all up, they are one in saying: "Life in mission has been a continuing growth in faith for us. It is a growth of faith in God’s presence in our life. Life in mission is a growth in faith in God’s faithfulness. God is dependable at all times in all our needs. And lastly, life in mission is a growth in faith in God’s love."
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God’s Light by Elmer Andes
Directly in front of her are one digital teleprompter and two cameras propped on standby. Lighting kits on one side, equipment boxes on another, cables run across the floor. This clearly is not the Badong Lazo Hall that most people are familiar with. Amid the setup is Eric Teotico who is busy directing his crew – composed of young, dynamic and energetic individuals. The atmosphere, the setup – it all seems sort of intimidating. Out of nowhere, laughter broke the silence. “Sorry! Baliktad pala!” giggles the young woman who is working on the teleprompter. After the proper adjustments, the team is ready for another take. Everyone’s in position. Complete silence. “Action!” As the cameras start to roll, the lady in front of the camera shares a miracle that God has manifested in her personal life.
photo from cradle of joy
It’s a setup just like any other professional TV production. The room is dark, except for the spotlights beaming in the middle of the room where a young woman is seated on a chair.
I stand there transfixed as I listen to her story. I’m glad that Ligaya is doing something like this. I’m supposed to talk to Direk Eric about One Touch - the new mobile app his team recently launched. I struggled to make the connection since I assumed One Touch was just another gospel reading app. Maybe this video was for some other project. And then I realized, this IS One Touch.
We now live in the time of mobile Internet, where everything — all information — is accessible in the palm of your hand. Smartphones allow one to have a number of apps to suit one’s needs and purposes. As the current saying goes, whatever you can think of or whatever need you have, it’s on your phone.
Aside from the digitized copies of the Bible, devotional apps give users access to daily readings, insights and prayers. It’s inevitable for the smartphone revolution to be used as a tool for personal prayer and spirituality. Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon thought along the same lines. Senior leaders Bobby Quitain, Ricky Buhain, Bob Tenchavez, Ricky Dagelet and Direk Eric
shared a common vision for sharing the Gospel through digital means, leveraging on this information age and using the Internet and smartphones as a new avenue for evangelization. Thus, the idea for having a smartphone app was born. By God’s urging and grace, Direk Eric was able to form Ligaya One Digital, the dynamic team that is putting this vision into a reality. Through their combined efforts, we now have One Touch – a mobile app available for Android and iOS devices that offers daily Gospel readings, prayers and reflections, and a digital songbook with sing-along feature. But on top of these basic functionalities, One Touch is purposely designed to differentiate itself from the thousands of devotional apps out there. Guided by the mission to “Inspire Always”, the application is a “channel for inspiration and evangelization” in the truest sense. “It’s a mini-television, offering content and inspirations throughout the day,” Direk Eric says. Compared with other devotional apps, One Touch is a complete multimedia package. True enough, One Touch’s
Inspirations section offers Insights and Miracles - video clips of inspirational messages and sharings from community members. Rienne Angeles, art director of Ligaya One Digital team, adds that what makes it different from other apps are the people being featured. “It has specific content that comes directly from the experiences of community members.”
What makes One Touch unique aside from its inspirational content are the circumstances that led to its making. While mobile apps are secondnature to the current, younger generation, the Ligaya leadership is obviously much senior. “The challenge was to show that it really is an effective tool for evangelization,” Direk Eric says. Boom Tenchavez is one of the team’s “second-generation” Ligaya members. The son of Bob and Betsy Tenchavez is now serving as one of the team’s editors and directors. God knew what talent is needed to bring everything together, and it seems He has assembled the perfect crew specifically for this purpose. “I’m not creative,” Bernie de Guzman admits. “But iba naman ang pinapagawa ni Lord sa akin dito. Iba naman ang role ko dito.” She now serves as the Executive Producer. Ryg Belza used to work in production for one of the major TV networks. While her experience, creativity and youth were spot-on, she had to somehow re-think how that creativity would be applied.
“I had to do a paradigm-shift. Sa network, it was all drama and violence – things that sell. For this one, I needed to think of positive and inspiring things.” She now works full time for the team and judging from her raised spirits, it is all for the better. It is a small team, but it has proven to be more than enough. Direk Eric had a young, energized and inspired team experienced in content and video production – writers, editors, and producers all. But one huge challenge presented itself. “Puro kami creative, zero kami lahat sa technical. We were really at a loss on how we are going to put this all together. All we had was, ‘gawa tayo ng app’,” Direk Eric smiles as he recalls this glaring problem. “We all easily fleshed out what to put in. But it was like having a TV program without knowing how to air it. It was then na pinadala sa amin si Melmarx.” Apart from the content that is going to be rendered through it, a mobile app needs to be designed, coded, tested and uploaded to the Google Playstore and the iOS Appstore. For that, God tapped the mobile development team under Melmarx Marcojos.
Inspiring Thousands – And More To Come The One Touch app was launched at the 39th Anniversary celebration of LNP.
photo credit: john rich villas
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TRUE NORTH BEAT 2 In two to three weeks, the app has received 1,000 downloads from the Google Playstore, with up to 10% downloading from abroad. The theme and usability of the app is geared towards the young (2135 age bracket), aligning with the current generation’s tendency to be always connected and receiving their information in quick, bitesized chunks. For instance, One Touch makes available its Feelings section where one can go through Scripture passages depending on one’s present mood or circumstance. Racel Jimenez, the team’s production manager, explains that all in all, One Touch is “younger, more vibrant and dynamic, as compared to other apps like Laudate.” But it is also through these modern techniques of accessing and spreading information that the app reaches a much broader audience, beyond the younger community. Bernie attests: “Sometimes it can be challenging to share the Word. We are directed to bring people to Lingkod, Pathways…but now you have Facebook, you have One Touch. You can just click on ‘share’. Who knows, once you share a Gospel reading, even with one-fourth of your Friends list, you have reached a lot of people already.” The Ligaya leadership had given One Touch the direction to go beyond the Ligaya community, that the content and the audience should not be restricted to Ligaya members. The Events section
features church events that belong on a much larger scale audience, like Catchfire and Harvest. And true enough, one event the Ligaya One Digital team is preparing for is the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines. Through One Touch, users will be able a have a much richer way to access and engage in the event through live streaming.
The Calling To Be Digital
To Direk Eric and his team, the timing for One Touch could not have been more perfect. God works in His own time, with the resources at His disposal. “Lahat kami, deep in our hearts, had this calling to do this kind of evangelization – a form of mass media evangelization. Then all of a sudden, we have not just the Internet but smartphones and apps as well. You would think, napaka-high-tech pala ni Lord!” says Eric. “Yung calling sa amin ni Lord, yung personal calling na aming nararamdaman, and how we were put together, and how it’s being received now – is like a confirmation that this is really from God.” Direk Eric is definitely excited about the possibilities. “Let’s say you have a million people connected, imagine what you can teach them, where you can lead them. Imagine with all the junk and darkness in the Internet, we can give them Light.”
One Touch app is available for download under these names: - One Touch by Ligaya One Digital (on Android Google Playstore) - One Touch Digital by Roberto Tenchavez (on iOS Appstore)
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Willing and Obedient Hearts by Madel Sabater-Namit
My Familia, your work is beginning to take root in a few places spread over the country. But I desire more. There are more territories waiting to be reclaimed. It is My desire that even to the farthest corners of your land and even beyond, My presence will be felt and My love will be known and experienced as they have never experienced before.
These are the prophetic words of the Lord to Familia members during their national planning conference last year. With more than 17,000 members, Familia continues to strive to reach out to more parishes in order to help more people know the Lord better. “Our vision is to have a Familia community in every parish,” says Edwin Ondoy, national evangelization head of Familia. The vision may be grand, but Tito Edwin always reminds himself and his Familia members with this mantra: “Do not fall into the trap of the ‘impossible barrier’.” Familia has never been known to back away from its evangelization thrust. In the 1980s, following the breakaway of the Couples for Christ (CFC) from the Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon umbrella, members of the CFC who opted to stay under Ligaya were called members of Familia, a name coined by Kuya Vic Gutierrez. In the beginning, evangelization within the parishes was not easy, as some parish priests were either wary
of or reluctant to support the evangelization mission of Familia. But there were some parish priests who welcomed Familia because they wanted to form basic ecclesiastic communities in their parishes. Thus the evangelization arm of Familia took roots. “Our strategy was to scout for members who are
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photo credit: www.freedigitalphotos.cnet (family icon, house with heart); https://www.facebook.com/myfamiliacommunity/ photos_stream
close to priests or who have relatives who are priests,” Tito Edwin recounts. At the same time, he urged Familia members to develop more personal relationships with their parish priests so that it would be easier to ask support for their evangelization programs. Aside from evangelizing new members and getting support from the parish priests, resources posed another challenge for the newly-formed Familia. Tito Edwin, however, can attest to God’s generosity over the years. “If we trust Him, the Lord will act,” he proudly witnesses. Slowly but surely, the support from Familia members started to pour in. “It is laudable that Familia members are stepping up and volunteering themselves for the mission work even if they are not part of the service team,” Tito Edwin says, adding that some of them are more than willing to do mission work even in the provinces. He said more training programs need to be administered for its members, as many of them still don’t have the confidence to evangelize. Familia is working on having a Familia community in every parish in the Philippines. To date, Familia is present in 143 parishes, with 17,000 members, of who 4,000 are based in Metro Manila, while the rest are based in cities and provinces, including Baguio, Bulacan, Cagayan de Oro, Davo, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Samar and Tarlac. By 2016, Familia is targeting to double its number. Aside from parish churches, Familia is now targeting private homes as their evangelization venue for their Empowered Christian Living Series. Because he believes that evangelization is the work of God’s hands, Tito Edwin can truly claim the prophetic vision of “a Familia in every parish”, as truly there is nothing impossible with the Lord.
I want you, My Familia, to take on a great role. There is so much work ahead. I just need willing and obedient hearts, eager to love and serve in My name without counting the cost. And when you do, My Holy Spirit will take you to greater heights, greater places to conquer and My Holy Spirit will lead you to fulfill the vision I have given you. 23
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The curious case of Atty. Bobby Quitain Do you know how it feels like to walk away from your dreams? Atty. Bobby Quitain surely knows how. It was Bobby's childhood dream to play for a professional basketball team. He entered the University of the Philippines-Diliman with a sure hope of becoming the best player in the collegiate league, which could open doors for him to the Philippine Basketball Association. But one fateful day, he sustained a bad injury during a practice game that he was not able to play for that season. This injury caused him so much pain. He got depressed. The frustration of not being able to go back to collegiate basketball took its toll on him. Loneliness crept in. He became hooked on vices. Bobby was looking for someone to blame, so he blamed God. After the injury healed, Bobby tried to play for the UP Maroons again. But, at that time, he was already deep into on his vices that he was performing below par. Arguments with his coach and with teammates became common. Painful as it was, he knew that time that he couldn’t excel on playing the game anymore. As a result, he quit the team. To cover all the frustration and pain, he became involved in campus violence and got deeper into his vices. He was doing many things just to cope with the pain. He hit rock bottom. By God’s grace, he continued with his studies and was passing his subjects despite what he was going through. He remained quite popular though and even ran and won as an officer in the student government with the help of his fraternity. When he was in his third year undergraduate, he ran as representative for his college. This is where he met the man who would
lead him to God. Gabby Medina was a student running as the representative for the College of Fine Arts. Gabby had an inborn speech impediment. Bobby asked himself: “How can somebody with a speech impediment win an election? How can he attract so many people to support him?” But Gabby won the election. Bobby recognized that there was something different about Gabby. He exuded a deeper sense of joy and confidence. They eventually became good friends, and Gabby became Bobby's confidante. One day, Gabby invited him to attend a Crossroads Retreat. He didn’t want to go but was enticed because he would be excused from campus military training if he attends the retreat. However, the night before the retreat, Bobby entirely forgot about it. He got so drunk with a friend and found himself sleeping under the Oblation statue. He woke up at 7am and went back to the dorm. He saw Gabby and another guy waiting for him. So he reluctantly went and attended the retreat, and even bringing his friend along. The Crossroads Retreat was the turning point in Bobby’s life. The first speaker was a Student Council officer, the next one was a semi-professional basketball player who injured his knee and wasn’t able to play anymore, and it was followed by a frat man. Bobby knew in his heart that God was getting his attention and was speaking to him. He did not know that the retreat was being given by Christ’s Youth in Action (CYA). He had a previous encounter with some members of this group but he eventually shied away from them. The one who was
photo credit: john rich villas
by Jhola Salazar
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I consider everything as garbage because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Philippians 3
leading the retreat was the same man who led a CYA-sponsored recollection Bobby attended when he was still a freshman in Kalayaan dormitory— Andrew Guitarte. Seeing Bobby again in this retreat three years later, Andrew told Bobby: “Bobby, the Lord never gave up on you.” These words struck him so hard that they kept echoing in his heart during the entire retreat. The words of the third retreat speaker also challenged him: “You may have tried many things in your life and have not found fulfillment, why don’t you try God?” Bobby was still afraid to make a commitment to Christ because he was not confident that he could follow through with his decision. He did not stand up when the retreat master asked those who would like to commit to Jesus to do so. After the session late that night, he talked to one of his friends who was serving in the retreat and shared with him his apprehension. He told Bobby: “Just give it a try and God will give you the grace to fulfill your commitment.” Bobby was led to pray that night: “God, I’ve tried many things in my life. After everything I’ve done, will you still accept me?” He closed his eyes and felt a warm embrace. He attended the Christian Life Series (CLS) the following days. At a certain point though, he still didn’t want to finish it. A CYA Staffer, Terry Savage, made a bet with him. If Bobby wins a one-on-one basketball match with him then he can choose not to continue attending. The score was 12-2 in favor of
Terry. God really knew how to pursue him. Bobby started to regularly attend the CYA meetings and eventually formed strong relationships with other brothers. Bobby began evangelizing other students, even his frat brothers. After graduation, he joined the Servants of the Word (SW) brotherhood and worked as a full-time staffer for CYA. However, during this time he also passed the UP law entrance exam. Attending UP Law School was one of his childhood dreams. He prayed about it and he discerned that he had to let go of yet another of his dreams to follow the Lord’s will for his life. He served the Lord in SW and CYA for three years. After three years of radically serving and loving the Lord through SW and CYA, Bobby discerned that God wanted him to pursue another call. It’s another difficult time of his life, but it was totally different from what he experienced five years ago when he hit rock bottom. This time, there was a restlessness of searching for what the Lord wanted him to do. He spent six months in his hometown and became active in the community there. Eventually, he came to a conclusion that God is calling him back to law school. This decision surprised him. He knew it would be difficult since he hasn’t studied for more than three years. Yet, he took the exam and by God’s grace, he passed. He was the last one (according to score) on the list of passers, the last in ranking. Seeing his name at the bottom of the list spoke to him of God’s
photo credit: john rich villas
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TRUE NORTH BEAT 2 affirmation to Him saying to Bobby, “You gave it up for Me but now I am giving this back to you. I will make things possible for you.” Thus, a new journey has begun. Doing mission continue to enflame his heart as he studied law. He became active in evangelizing his classmates in the UP Law. He also helped establish the Quezon City branch of Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon, a group dedicated to evangelizing single young professionals, and became its first Branch Leader. He passed the Bar in 2003 and started to work in a private law office. However, while the pay was very good, it did not give him a sense of fulfillment. He thought that working for the government could give more meaning to his life, so he decided to work in the Office of the Ombudsman. But then after around five years, he sensed that God was calling him to do mission work. He responded to that call. He began working with the Pathways Ministry and became more engaged in preaching. A principal sponsor during his wedding told him: “Now you know the ‘what’, the next thing you have to ask is ‘when’.” He realized then that he has to work towards being a full-time missionary. Many opportunities opened up for him to do some kind of minimal legal work and yet have a very flexible schedule so he could do more evangelistic work. He also became a legal ethics professor which allowed him to evangelize future lawyers. Brothers and sisters also began donating for his mission work in various ways — in ways only God can think of. Through these, Bobby felt God’s assurance that He will be the one to provide the means for Bobby to do mission work. Today, he lives in Quezon City with his wife, Jeng, who is a missionary teacher at the Cradle of Joy Center for Learning. They have four kids, Robelle, Mara, Franco and Marco. His greatest desire today is to see that his children take on the missionary legacy that they are living. He considers it a tragedy of gigantic proportions if he would be able to bring many souls to the Lord because of his mission work, but not his children. So he tries to balance his time and makes sure he spends enough time with them. Bobby’s schedule is quite full. He functions as the Evangelization Head of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon and runs the community-wide Pathways Ministry. All the other evangelistic events like the training for evangelization called the Harvest Conference and the inspirational event called the Catchfire Rally are under his leadership. He also runs a company, together with other brother and sisters, called the Lampstand Inspirations and uses it as a vehicle for corporate evangelization. He continues to work with Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon as its Regional Director for International Missions. He also has a regular slot in
preaching in Inquirer Radio through a program every Sunday at 4pm entitled Kakaiba Ka! He has also authored seven evangelistic books and is finishing his eighth. He preaches regularly in different places in the Philippines and even overseas. He desires to expand the community’s evangelistic effort not just in Manila but also in the whole country and abroad. He wants to see many other brothers and sisters going on mission, doing their own evangelistic efforts in their offices and with their families. Aside from the One Touch App which started through the initiative of the Pathways Ministry, Bobby continues to work on making new efforts to reach out to more people especially to the youth: to have a Christian band out in the market, to develop a course on mission, and to have a TV and FM radio program on evangelization. Bobby takes as his motto the passage from Philippians 3 that says: “I consider everything as garbage because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Everything else comes second to the Lord, all his achievements and everything he has accomplished are really garbage compared to his relationship with God. What he considers an achievement is the fact that despite all his weaknesses and his faults, he still continues to have a personal loving relationship with God. He envisions himself living long enough to do more for the Lord and to die with his boots on serving Him and bringing people closer to Him. Now, Bobby dreams with the Lord and walks with Him towards achieving his dreams.
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JoyWorth Sharing The power of peer pressure is widely acknowledged by the Young Adults (YAs) of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon that they have decided to turn on their charm and tap their persuasive power to evangelize and introduce their friends to Ligaya’s YA program. It was in 2010 when a group of YAs first invited their cousins,
friends and classmates to a weekend retreat which they themselves organized for high school students. The retreat was so successful that it became an annual event billed as the Evangelistic Stepping Stone Retreat (ESSR) – a spin-off of the YA’s first retreat called the Stepping Stone Retreat. Early this year, the YAs organized not one, but two ESSRs, with around 20 of their peers in attendance for each of the retreat. “I want them to experience the happiness that I feel whenever I’m in YA events,” says Hannah Arago (daughter of Romeo and Marivic Arago of South District E), when asked why she actively invited her friends to ESSR. “My motivation was to allow them to experience what we have experienced – the games, dances, songs, activities and worship – because all of these lead to one main purpose: bringing them closer to God and to experience Him in a personal way,” says Jag Dagelet (son of Ricky and Brenda Dagelet of South UD).
Marga Agcaoili (daughter of Rey and Marj of South District B) added that she wanted to show her friends that they could do all these together for the Lord, with
photo credit: john rich villas; www.freedigitalphotos.com (christmas balls)
All young people know this too well. An endorsement from a friend, a recommendation made by a classmate, or a simple “like” by a Facebook friend is enough to pique their interest, and eventually influence the choices they made as teenagers.
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people in their own age group. It was not easy to invite friends to ESSR though. “In my school, inviting people was really a struggle,” Mikee Mabagos (daughter of Ritchie and Melissa Mabagos of North District B) says. “Some of my friends did not believe in God. Or if they do, they have different beliefs and that made it difficult for me to invite people I really want to evangelize.” As for Jabby Teotico (son of Joey and Ampi Teotico of Central District E), his friends would always find excuses for not going. “But something told me never to quit. In each YA activity, I see smiles on everyone’s faces, they’re all so happy and full of life. Then a question always comes to my mind: ‘Don’t you want this for your friends too?’”
Jag, who served as the Retreat Servant, invited his cousins initially through Facebook. He also printed copies of the
invitation letter and distributed them to his classmates and friends in school. Marga, who was one of the speakers, convinced her friends to attend by “always talking fondly about Ligaya.” Karel Tan (son of Timothy and Guia Tan of Central District C), who successfully invited eight friends to ESSR, shared his “strategy”. “Two months before the retreat, I decided to start bugging and inviting my friends about it. I invited around 15 to 20 friends who I felt were close to me. I told them the details of the event such as the date, the place, and the duration of the retreat in the hope that they may relay all this information to their parents and get their approval.” Karel even offered to pay half of the registration fee and provide easy transportation going to the retreat house and back to their respective houses. “I also prayed every day that at least five of my friends would join us for the retreat. I remember making some kind of a deal with God. My part was to bring my friends to the retreat house. For His part, He would be the one to take care of them.” Ianne Saguilayan (daughter of Lito and Bless Saguilayan of South District A) shares two more strategies: “You should make
The retreat is not only for them, but it is also for us servants.
the retreat seem really, really interesting. You should also pick your friends who have background in youth activities so it will be easier to invite them.”
Doing It for the Lord
Taking on the same role as his older brothers in the previous ESSRs, Karel served as the Retreat Servant for one retreat. “All the running around, coordinating, and working behind the scenes fit very well with my personality. Instead of giving me stress, they gave me a kind of joy that only true service can bring,” he says.
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make such an impact on them especially just after one day. It was amazing to see them raise their hands to the Lord and give themselves wholly to Him,” Marga adds. “The ESSR definitely has a positive impact on my friend. In one of my conversations with him, he asked me when would be our next activity. When I heard that, I felt like all of my effort was worth it,” Jabby adds. Jabby bravely shared his life story with the participants as a sharer. He also served in the music ministry. Aside from making their friends experienced a different high, the YAs themselves also learned a lot from the retreat. “I realized that as young as we are, we can already make a positive influence on other
“God is faithful to His side of the agreedupon deal. During the retreat, I was brought to tears by the way God worked through everyone and everything.” – Karel Tan Jag, another Retreat Servant, agreed wholeheartedly. “The whole experience (of being a Retreat Servant) was so much fun. I’m so glad that I was able to do it with my fellow YAs.” Others served as speakers, sharers, and discussion group leaders. Some worked behind the scene as part of the registration team, the music ministry and the games committee. “I really enjoyed giving my talk. It helped the participants understand their relationship with God,” says Anya Santos (daughter of Rico and Darling Santos of North District B). “I enjoyed being a discussion group leader, because it was fun
people’s lives. It showed me how much fun and uplifting serving other brothers and sisters can be,” Jag says. “The experience showed me how good it feels to be able to serve each other and bring people close to the Lord,” Marga adds. “It also showed me that I can do a lot of things that I’d never thought of doing, especially with the Lord’s guidance.” It was Marga’s first time to serve as a speaker. “In my case, some of the realizations that come to mind is: First, God is faithful to His side of an agreed-upon deal. During the retreat, I was brought to tears by the way God worked through everyone and everything.
photo credit: john rich villas; www.freedigitalphotos.com (christmas balls)
talking to the guests and getting to know them. It was really enlightening for me. My other favorite part is the praying-over session. When we prayed over them, it really felt as if we were helping them solve with their problems,” says Paul Villamiel (son of Brien and Maudie Villamiel of Central District C). Worship time was also a highlight for the YAs. “The most unforgettable experience in ESSR was when the participants started to raise their hands in worship, because the action itself fulfilled the reason why we brought them to the retreat – to finally see God in a different light and to praise Him with their whole heart,” Hannah says. “I never thought that we could
TRUE NORTH BEAT 2 He blessed each speaker to convey their messages clearly and every discussion group leader to deepen each person’s understanding and view on God. Even the weather and the venue, He blessed them to fit our needs. Another realization is that hard work pays off in the end. He has opened the eyes of our friends to what life is like in our community,” Karel says. “I think the retreat is not only for the participants, but it is also for us servants,” Anya says. “It unites everyone (in YA), bringing us to worship Him together as a community.” When asked whether they would do it all over again, Paul sums it up for the group when he said: “In a heartbeat.”
A Christian's Guide
By their Own Words, In their Own Style by Jun Viterbo
We all have our own “encounter stories” with them. Some are wellmeaning, some are dubious. Some have moved us, some have turned us off, and some have even scared us. A credible evangelist can open doors for us to know and be closer to Christ. But beware, there are a lot of con artists (mis)using the name of God for his or her own personal gain. In the spirit of fun, let us recall and do a rundown of the present-day evangelizers that we have encountered in our lives.
The Sidewalk Evangelists
The Bus Evangelists
Modus Operandi. They hop on the bus during stopovers of long rides to the provinces. They are neatly dressed men or women who proclaim the Good News to passengers who are either sleeping (or pretending to sleep), on earphones or glued to the pirated video showing on the blurry TV monitor. Their topics seem to center always on the need for repentance (the-fire-and-brimstone variety). And as you are slowly drawn to their rhetorics, their passionate pleas will abruptly end with a white cacha bag – a prominent red heart in the middle for “love offering” – being passed along the aisle. Degree of Difficulty & Effectiveness: 8.25 – We laud their courage to speak for God. To speak in front of complete strangers earns our respect. But for the life of us, we can never remember the gospel event or message that they talked about. Yet still, for their boldness and valor proclaiming the Word of God in a cynical world and environment (a moving bus!), they deserve our kudos.
Modus Operandi. They set up their little “stage” right in the middle of food stalls, ukay-ukay shops and pirated DVD corners. While we eat our squid balls, banana que or chicken “adidas”, they mount their music stand and portable sound system and proceed to give an extemporaneous Bible study. Favorite topics are the “you-must-be-born-again-to-be-saved” variety. They are usually accompanied by an assistant who is the sound and technical person during the talk, and the designated “love offering” collector after the talk. Degree of Difficulty & Effectiveness: 5.0 – The trouble with this kind of evangelization is the relatively short attention span of its target audience. Even if one savors the squid balls with the pace of a food connoisseur, the time is still too short for a meaningful study of the Scripture. The target audience, sad to say, are the “passingthrough” type. Those who want to give their love offerings may feel short-changed, with the abbreviated lesson they are supposed to support. Notwithstanding, these men and women earn our admiration for their passion for God, come rain or shine.
The Campus Evangelists
Modus Operandi. The targets are college students who are gathered in four or more inside the campus. Clean-cut men and dainty women will approach you and utter these six words: “Do you have time to spare?”
The ever-gracious and innocent students, of course, are bound to respond with a tentative: “Uhm…, I guess”. Thus begins the barrage of questions ranging from “Are you saved?” to “Are you going to heaven?” to “Have you repented?” At 18, you don’t really think about those questions since all you really want is to pass your midterm exam, so you just say: “No” or “I don’t know”. They will then lecture you on repentance, man being a sinner, etc. It ends with you being invited to a meeting or a lecture sponsored by their group. Degree of Difficulty & Effectiveness: 5.75 – Approaching total strangers in order to share Jesus is commendable, but Christian relationships cannot grow on a “divide-and-conquer” strategy, as some anti-Catholic sects are known to do. Basic evangelization must teach that Catholicism is Christian too.
The Male Evangelizers or “Evangeligaw” Modus
Operandi. An “evangeligaw” can come in many forms. A brother can earn “pogi points” when he invites a woman he is courting to an evangelistic event. The lady, of course, is impressed because it is a rarity in today’s world that a man takes his faith seriously and publicly. A variation of this is when the man volunteers to drive for the lady during her day of prayer – the hidden motive being that the gentleman driver expects to be the “answer” to the sister’s questions to the Lord about her state of life during that day of prayer.
A Christian's Guide predictions like the world ending in May 2014 after being hit by an asteroid. Degree of Difficulty & Effectiveness: 3.50 – To be fair, many famous televangelists started with their sincere mission to bring many souls closer to Christ. The problem starts when fame and fortune take over. Temptations from adultery, tax evasion, fraud and drug use are some of the issues they have succumbed to. Still, there are those whose insistence on humility, civil rights and ecumenism have made them effective today as they were 60 years ago. Many, far from the limelight, bring the Gospel closer to the people for sure.
photo credit: www.freedigitalphotos.com (jeep and bench); https://www.facebook.com/ buildtolastseries/photos_stream?tab=photos_albums
The Filipino televangelists
Degree of Difficulty & Effectiveness: 7.50 – Impure as it seems, the man’s “less-than-venerable” agenda can be purified by the Lord. We admire any man wanting to bring the one he is attracted to closer to God. But here lies the danger for the “evangeligaw”: The female may indeed discover God, but turn down his love. She may even decide to live single for the Lord. But if the man believes that “losing to the Lord” is worth the rejection, then this earns high marks with us.
The Female Evangelizer/ ”Nagpapaevangeligaw”
Modus Operandi. This may appear crafty on the surface. A woman gives the impression that if a man who is courting her attends prayer meetings or other evangelistic events with her, the chances of his being accepted by her grows exponentially. Attendance at these events can even be a precondition for courtship. The male, now emotionally hooked, can only oblige. Wonder of wonders, many prayer community love stories start this way. Yet, the “yes” that men seek is suddenly replaced with their own “yes to the Lord”.
Degree of Difficulty & Effectiveness: 9.35 – It is a fact that women are very effective evangelizers and intercessors of stubborn men. Let’s call this the St. Monica strategy. No amount of a man’s decadent lifestyle seems to perturb women in their hope of bringing him closer to God. While the men who court them see them as potential girlfriends, many women see these ardent suitors as prospective disciples instead.
The American televangelists
Modus Operandi. They were staples in our Sunday morning television shows. Televangelism is often led by fiery preaching and “slaying-by-the-spirit” healing sessions, enlivened by spirited choir, and concluded with a plea for donations. Various merchandises are sometimes also offered for sale. One even dared that if he was not able to raise $8 million for the university that bore his name “God would call me home”. (He raised $9 million and lived for another 22 years). Many are rooted in preaching the prosperity gospel and making outrageous doomsday
Modus Operandi. Our local televangelists have mimicked pretty much the trappings and the theatrics of their American counterparts. In terms of messaging, they are a mixed lot. Some comment on faith vis-avis what’s happening in the world of politics; one exists to attack the faith of another; and the other exists just to fight back. They have gained some extent of credibility or notoriety in recent years. Many of our political candidates pay courtesy visits and attend their gatherings to get their crucial support and muster block votes from their followers. The cult figure tendency is a cause for concern. But our favorite Filipino televangelist, hands down, was the late “Father Tropa” who predicted that Jesus Christ would descend from an E. T. space ship for his second coming in 2000. Well, we are still waiting for this. Degree of Difficulty & Effectiveness: 3.25 - Many of our Filipino evangelists have been fodder for some of our comedians. The spoofs have actually sparked more interest in their church, so it’s a win-win situation. Still, we cannot underestimate the extent they have reached in sharing God’s word. Unfortunately, like their American counterparts, they have likewise not been spared from criminal woes, financial disputes and internal squabbles.
At the end of the day, while these evangelizers have somehow planted the seed or watered that seed. Still, God causes the growth. The work of those who evangelized us is nothing if we did not respond positively and radically to their invitation to grow in our relationship with God. Many have sweated, even died for the defense of the Gospel. Let’s thank God for those He has used for us to know Him. 33
10 QUESTIONS Ali Leong
his son 1
Why are you called Ali?
My full name is Ali-Raschid. My dad, who passed away in 2003, told me that when he was taking up his Master's degree in Sociology in Michigan, he had a roommate — a Jordanese by the name of Al Rashid. They became good friends and agreed they would name their first born sons after each other.
Tell us something that many of us do not know about.
I have a third name—"Victor"—which appears only in my Baptismal Certificate. From what my parents told me, the priest didn't want to baptize me unless they added a Christian name to my Arabicsounding name. Though I would have preferred a more ordinary sounding name, I like what my name challenges and calls me to be: Ali is to be excellent, noble; Rashid is to be wise, rightly guided, having true faith; Victor is to be a conqueror or champion, symbolizing Christ's victory over death.
At the top of the list are my mom and dad. Up to the end of their lives, they consistently showed me and my two sisters what unconditional love meant, in countless concrete ways. We each had our moments of crisis. They were always there for us, providing much needed support and encouragement. The way they expressed their love and served one another as husband and wife was a great example for us. They were always looking out for one another and anticipating each other's needs. Among the valuable lessons my dad taught me: Be honest and always do the honorable thing; men should take on the physically more demanding & riskier tasks at home; always take initiative to offer help and do not wait to be told; plan ahead; live within your means; love my mom and look after her, anticipate her needs and do what will make her happy and comfortable. Through her examples, my mom taught me to be compassionate and generous to those in need, even if unappreciated.
Ali is the Sector Coordinator for North Sector 2. He is married to Nanique and they have four children — Niqui (23), Biboy (22), Bart (17) and Cozette (9). He joined Ligaya in 1983 and has been with the Community for 31 years. He also serves as the Head of the Community Building Team of the Sword of the Spirit - Asian Region, and Chairman of Cradle of Joy. He is a businessman, engaged in the production and marketing of native chocolates or tableas, made from pure cacao beans.
photo credit: john rich villas
Who is your greatest inspiration?
What were you like as a kid?
Among many others traits, I was adventurous. I loved the outdoors, especially the beach. I enjoyed climbing nearby hills and hiking trips. I loved making and flying kites, playing with toy soldiers and cars, and collecting comic books. I also enjoyed playing street games with our neighbors. I loved dogs. I also liked doing carpentry, painting and fixing things around our house.
How did you raise your kids for them to be active members of Ligaya?
First of all, our main goal was that the kids experience God's personal love for each of them in our family and by encouraging them to be actively involved in our community's youth programs. In His own time, the Lord will be the one who will touch their hearts and invite them to enter into a personal relationship with Him. Our role as parents and as community members is to provide that loving and affirming environment where they genuinely experience God's love for each of them. We take every opportunity to speak to them about God's unconditional love for them and how deeply He is interested in their lives. We constantly speak about God's vision for their lives and encourage them to embrace it. About three years ago, my son Biboy (I think he was still 18 then) asked me how he can make sure that he reaches his fullest potential as a man. I replied: “Follow our Lord Jesus Christ and entrust your life fully to Him. God, who created you, knows you best and will gladly lead you to become fully the man He has meant you to become, if you let Him.” Nanique and I also share these thoughts with Niqui, Bart and even Cozette. We tell them that if they are enjoying the kind of family life we have now, it is because we have said “yes” to the Lord and strive to put Him at the center of our marriage and family, and we have said “no” to those things that can harm our family life.
Do you have a sweet tooth?
You can say that, but I mainly enjoy fruits, a few slices of cake and dark chocolates. Our tablea business was born more out of necessity. After our piggery business that we put up in Bulacan with four other partners failed, Nanique suggested that I look into producing tableas which our family was already making as gifts during Christmas, and sell them in Metro Manila.
Which is easier — being a father or being a coordinator?
What did your wife found most attractive in you?
I wouldn't say one is easier than the other as both have required much from me, but in different ways. Both entail laying down my life every day for my children (as a father), and for the brothers and sisters under my care (as district coordinator then), expressed in varied ways. Both entail coming down on my knees to pray for them, that they may experience God's love intimately and entrust their lives more fully to Christ. What I have learned is that the more I give of myself for my family and my brothers and sisters, the more deeply I experience joy in my heart.
I asked Nanique to answer this. She wrote: "He loves passionately. He loves the Lord, his family and community. He seeks the Lord's leading in decisions he needed to make. I found it amazing that while he was still courting me, he wrote in his prayer journal his sense that the Lord will give him four children, and even specified their gender, which all came true! He cared deeply for his mom and takes care of his two younger sisters, both of whom are now in community, with their families. I knew I will never be taken for granted, even when I get old and gray".
Can you share about your spiritual journey towards becoming the new Sector Coordinator?
I consider having been granted a full scholarship in the Ateneo de Manila University as among God's biggest blessings to me. I share this not to boast but to say that this God-given opportunity set the course that has led me to where I am now - in Ligaya. If not for this scholarship, I would not have chosen to study in Ateneo. I would have missed joining the Ateneo Christian Brotherhood (ACB or what was known as CYAAteneo) sometime in 1981. If I did not join ACB, I would have missed being invited to Ligaya after graduation. I would have missed knowing and being married to Nanique. The four wonderful kids we have now - Niqui, Biboy, Bart and Cozette, would not have existed. I would have missed the personal relationships I have now with many brothers and sisters, who have become my closest friends. During our Coordinator's Retreat this year and in one of my prayer times during which I sought the Lord whether I should make myself available to serve as Sector Coordinator, given my growing involvement in the SOS-Asian Region's Community Building Team, I sensed the Lord asking me if I was willing to lay down my life even more for Him. I took that to mean that He wanted me to be open to be elected as Sector Coordinator and to trust that my brother-Coordinators' collective choice is His voice as well. I said yes to whatever the Lord was calling me to do.
What would you tell your 18-year old self?
Joining CYA-Ateneo is the right thing to do and among the best decisions you have made in your life!
I was only 16 when I left home to study in Ateneo and was 18 when I joined CYA. I am grateful to the Lord for giving me the grace to say yes to CYA because that decision led me to the path which the Lord has in store for me. I fully believe that the life I am living now is where God wants me to be and that I am experiencing a taste of the fullness of life that the Lord has promised.
volume 9 • number 3 • DECEMBER 2014
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Bulwark Defenders Strengthened by the Holy Spirit
Expanding God's Light
Journeying with the Sarcedas
The New Evangelization Issue