By Cristina M. Dalugdugan
Families are the bedrock of society, the core unit that provides love, support, and constancy. Amidst the Philippines’ cultural diversity and solid familial values, families often struggle with challenges that can strain their relationships and bonds. These hurdles have been caused by poverty, globalization, and the recent pandemic.
Pastor Andrew Kwong, the senior pastor of Evangel Family Church-Cagayan de Oro and the Deputy JECPP Overseer, has a burning passion for the churches to make a lasting impact in the Filipino community.
Since the end of 2022, God has impressed something urgent upon his heart: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” (Matthew 5:13). God’s answer to his heart’s cry came in January of this year during his brother’s visit to Cagayan de Oro to attend his daughter’s wedding.
During their conversations about his ministry and passion for the mission field, his brother recommended a transformative movement in Singapore called “Dads for Life.” Pastor Andrew then realized that the real change must begin with the very foundation of society—the family.
Excitedly, he reached out to Mr. Jason Wong, the visionary founder of the “Dads for Life” movement in Singapore, to collaborate and bring about positive change in the lives of Filipino fathers and families. Sharing a common goal, they envisioned a future where empowered and transformed fathers would lead to transformed families, creating a ripple effect and ultimately shaping a more compassionate society.
So, with the approval of JECPP’s Founding Chairman, Rev. Dr. Robert Lim, on June 27, 2023, Mr. Jason Wong made a memorable trip from Singapore to the Philippines to conduct a family seminar and workshop in Evangel Family Church, Cagayan de Oro. It was a whole-day event, and 87 people attended the workshop. Notably, the Spiritual Leaders of JECPP and pastors from Evangel Family Churches of Luzon, Western Visayas, Central-Eastern Visayas, Southern Mindanao, and Northern Mindanao, along with the members of EFC-CDO, were present at the seminar.
The seminar was divided into four sessions. During the first one, Mr. Wong recounted his journey in Christ and how it led him to become involved in the Yellow Ribbon Project in Singapore—a collaborative campaign with the Singapore Government to dismantle societal barriers and facilitate the successful reintegration of ex-offenders into society. Little did he know that God had been preparing him for a more profound calling and purpose, ultimately leading to the successful organization of the “Dads for Life” movement in Singapore. It was launched on November 19, 2009, to inspire and engage in active fatherhood. Also, the movement was adopted in Singapore and other countries, such as Mongolia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. And through God’s grace, the door has been opened for this movement to be adopted in the Philippines.
Furthermore, he emphasized the significance of active fatherhood, drawing inspiration from Malachi 4:5–6, which states, “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
During the second session, Mr. Wong discussed “God’s Design for Marriage and Family.” With the contemporary moral issues and ungodly trends prevalent in society, he emphasized the possible consequences and costs that arise from deviating from God’s intended blueprint for marriage. To encourage interactive participation, the participants were divided into small groups, where they openly discussed their perspectives and understanding of the topic.
In the subsequent session, Mr. Wong discussed the concept of “Going back to God’s Design” by addressing the restoration of family relationships—specifically, the relationships between God and man, husband and wife, and parent and child. During the discussions within the small groups, the participants explored the various reasons why parental hearts may drift from their children and vice versa.
Mr. Wong emphasized the significance of adopting a love-based parenting approach rather than one driven by expectations. Cultivating a bedrock of love and empathy will encourage unity as parents create deeper and more profound bonds with their children and ensure that God remains at the center of the family.
During the final session, the focus was on essential parenting tips, such as instilling values in their children, actively listening to them, creating a conducive atmosphere at home, and prioritizing quality family time. One pastor shared his journey, revealing how these parenting lessons resonated deeply with him. Having grown up with a violent father figure, he shared how he managed to break away from that cycle, ensuring he did not replicate his father’s behavior and instead applied positive parenting techniques with his children.
As the seminar concluded, the participants felt deeply inspired and eager to put into practice the valuable insights they had gained, aiming to create a ripple effect inspired by the “Dads for Life” movement. With this significant undertaking, our spiritual leader, Pastor Andrew, has firmly cast the vision. The churches under JECPP, each participant, and the secular sectors have embraced it.
According to Paul John, a father of two, “I learned that if we want to strengthen our community, we need to empower fathers to become more involved, consistent, aware, and nurturing of their Children. Our society needs fathers to put the right perspective and guide their children and families. To transform our society, we need fathers to be transformed first.”
As the movement spreads its wings to new regions, including the Philippines, it creates valuable opportunities for fathers to embrace their responsibilities and actively engage in their children’s lives. By providing a platform for fathers to connect, learn, and support one another, the “Dads for Life,” movement continues to empower men to positively influence their respective families, strengthening family bonds and weaving the fabric of a God-fearing society.