By Gina Yana
In 1997, Pastor Bene was 26 years old when pioneered EFC-Tagbilaran. Two years later, he married Pastor Leah Abi-Abi, a fellow JECPP church planter based at EFC-Mati in Davao del Norte Region. On fire for Jesus and with big dreams for the Kingdom, their two-decade journey unfolded like a tug of war. Relentless sowing and laboring produced not only fruitful harvest but also discouragement and thoughts of quitting. But God’s faithfulness always rose higher. He has always remained true to His promises, as Pastor Bene and Pastor Leah conclude after years of following Him at all cost.
The reaping of EFC-Tagbilaran’s persistent sowing came. The church is prosperous with faithful and devoted members. The Music ministry has improved as the church was blessed with music instruments and with skillful song leaders and musicians with dedicated service to the Lord. Church income and attendance grew significantly over the years. The church’s Youth ministry is being used by God to bring life and infectious energy, especially in leading the outstation church in Cortes.
The church’s 20th anniversary service last April 30, 2017 with the theme, “Celebrating 20 years of God’s Goodness and Faithfulness” was indeed a joyful display and remembrance of these two attributes of God. The church was blessed with the presence of JECPP Vice-Chairman Rev. Jay Bautista and wife Pastor Em and daughter Chelsea. Pastor Jay was the guest Speaker and Chelsea rendered a beautiful song offering. Highlights of the celebration include the dance presentation of mothers and kids from the Cortes church and the giving of certificates of appreciation to the Danila and Sebandal families whom God used as strong pillars of the church in the last 16 years.
For Pastor Bene and Pastor Leah, the work God entrusted to them in Tagbilaran City will continue to shine in the next decades because God’s Kingdom is forcefully advancing. He will surely reward and bless those who persevere in the work that pleases Him.
As they enter their third decade of ministry, the church expresses its deep gratitude to the JECPP family for the unending mentoring and support, especially to Pastor Robert and Pastor Marion Lim and to the fellow pastors who have always been willing to lend a hand all throughout EFC-Tagbilaran’s journey. The church also extends its thanks to the Cebu City Church that has been very active in supporting Central and Eastern Visayas missions all these years.