By: Pastora Ann Novero
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24-25
Fellowshipping and encouraging one another, these are just a few of the reasons that led to Jireh Evangel Church Planting Philippines, Inc. conducting the first Core Leaders Gathering following the global pandemic. With the theme, “Transforming Communities: Be Salt and Light!”, the gathering was held at the Acacia Hotel in Davao City from July 24 to 28, 2023, every core leader from different parts of the Philippines convene for the first time in five years.
The event started on July 24 with the arrival of all the participants from all 5 JECPP Regions namely, Luzon, Central and Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao and Southern Mindanao. During this time, the Core Leaders were able to socialize with other pastors as participants came in while others chose to rest for some time as they came from long travel periods. Later in the day, the guest speakers, Rev. Dr. Robert Lim and Rev. Dr. Marion Lim arrived as well and met all the participants during a welcome dinner held at the 3rd floor of the Hotel at Luk Foo Palace where a sumptuous dinner was served as all the participants ate together and they enjoyed each other’s company. After the nourishing dinner all went back to their respective rooms to have their rest as they prepare for the activities in the following days.
All the participants were treated to a hearty buffet breakfast for the next three days where they had a chance to further bond with one another and get themselves geared up for the activities set before them for the next 3 days. Every day, before the actual program, a prayer session was initiated to invite the presence of the Lord, and pray for the success of the event and for the needs of their respective hometowns as Tropical Storm Egay and Tropical Storm Falcon took turns in ravaging several parts of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao during the duration of the 4-day gathering.
On the second day, a short briefing for all the participants was given by Pastor Judith Kintanar and then the first service commenced with a moving praise and worship followed by the opening and welcome greetings by the JECPP Chairman, Rev. Benjamin Chavez. He immediately proceeded to his talk on the topic “Dealing with Ministry Burn Out” which is a very timely topic for the participants of this event. He quoted from the Word of God written in 1 Kings 1-21 and defined burnout as losing zeal and fire one once had. Citing Elijah, a great prophet of Israel who was able to perform great miracles during his time, as an example, Rev. Benjie Chavez gave three points on how one can overcome burnout. Firstly, the need for rest and refreshment, as God allowed Elijah to fall asleep then an angel touched him and said, “Wake up and eat.” Secondly, the need to rediscover God, as Elijah did after regaining his strength, he traveled 40 days and 40 nights to Horeb to seek God. Thirdly, the need for redirection from God, as Elijah reconnected with God in Horeb he received God’s direction. God gave Elijah rest and refreshment, allowed him to reconnect with Him and gave him redirection. He did not want Elijah to succumb to depression and burn out as He has something significant for Elijah to fulfill and it is the same for ministers in the church who has great things to fulfill in the name of God.
In the afternoon, Pastor Roberto Padinit gave a workshop about Ministry Succession. He said succession is inevitable and that there is always a need for continuity in the church as he gave the participants pointers on how to establish proper succession. First, a leader must prayerfully decide, citing Numbers 27: 16,17-18, he emphasized that there are two qualities in choosing a leader, they must be capable in leading people and they must have a nurturing heart. Secondly, he stated that a successor must believe in the same things as his predecessor as demonstrated by Joshua who was Moses’ assistant and a homegrown leader. Thirdly, he highlighted that the successor must be a servant as exemplified by Joshua who had a heart to serve. Fourthly, a successor must be loyal and that loyalty should be unwavering in good times and in bad. Fifthly, the need for spirituality is stressed on as Joshua showed that he had the Spirit of God and stated that those who lead under the Spirit of God can lead people to the purpose of God.
The evening session was preceded by the participants sharing a delectable dinner, it started with a powerful praise and worship led by Pastor Brian Calalin. Dr. Rev. Marion Lim showered us with a beautiful song before she talked about “The Test of Disappointment” She defined disappointment as a non-fulfillment of one’s hope or expectation and stated that as long as we live on the earth, we must accept that many things, including disappointment, can hurt and devastate us and this should not disrupt our faith and trust in God. She narrated some of the many disappointments she herself noticed in Scripture, in the life of the prophet Habakkuk and of King David. She also pointed out that disappointments can rob us of our blessings if we do not respond well and how it should not take us by surprise, as it is part of God’s plan and accepting God’s plans brings great rewards.
The third day’s program was started with praise and worship and then Rev. Tony Angelias shared about loyalty and its rewards. He explained that God views one’s loyalty to one’s pastor, mentor, and spiritual leader as loyalty to Him. He asserted that loyalty is a crucial aspect of who we are, noting that a person can only be sure that he is loyal to God if he is loyal to the men and women of God. Quoting from Kings 18:41-46, he talked about Elijah’s experiences in the ministry and how many are called to do great things by God, and as overcomers; one should consider himself as a victor and not a victim. He also emphasized that loyalty can lead to anointing as what happened to Elisha who received a double portion of Elijah’s anointing.
For the afternoon workshop session, the participants were divided into two groups as the men spent time with Pastor Robert Lim and moderated by Pastor Alberto Polino , Jr, while the women spent time with Pastor Marion Lim and moderated by Pastor Greta Tamayor. During this time, several pertinent issues about the ministry were addressed which made the open forum very beneficial for the participants and enlightening for the leaders as they were given insights on some ministerial issues the core leaders are currently facing.
To top the day off, the participants were blessed to be empowered by God’s Word through JECPP founding chairman, Rev. Dr. Robert Lim. Using passages from 1 Kings 17, 18, and 19, his sermon focused on “The threat and fear in the ministry.” He exemplified Elijah who, after performing great miracles in the name of the Lord, ran to hide in fear of Jezebel’s threat. He said that similar things periodically occur in ministry: after a while, we would feel exceptional and triumphant, and then something unexpected would happen. God can allow adverse things to happen which can make the life of a minister difficult, but God always has a purpose even in this. As with what happened to Elijah, even a person with spiritual background can fall into depression, but this can easily be remedied with a conversational prayer to the Creator, that despite our fleshly nature, God wants us to be accessible to him. As with Elijah, God demanded an honest and direct connection with Him.
The program for the fourth day started with praise and worship and was immediately followed by Rev. Dr. Marion Lim’s second sermon where she focused on “Tithing,” diverting from her original topic about “Friendship.” To acknowledge that God had blessed them, the Israelites were compelled by the law of God to give back a tenth of the produce from their land, livestock, and income to the Levites. She pointed out that because God only wants the best for us, we should always give him our best efforts. According to Malachi, those who do not pay their tithes are robbers because the tithes belong to God and the church. She told uplifting tales of their ministry experiences and how the Lord had rewarded them due to their faithfulness. She even stated that it is scriptural for the church to assist the pastor and that the church must take care of the needs of the pastor just as the other 11 tribes of Israel provided for the needs of the Levites who served as priests among them. She told the participants that it is vital to teach members how to pay their tithes for them to be blessed and that the church will benefit when they tithe and bless the pastor. Money entails accountability and responsibilities and with whom much is given, much is also expected. She warned all the pastors to handle the funds cautiously because we are all responsible to God.
In the afternoon, the participants were given time off for them to be able to roam around the city and buy “Pasalubong” to bring back home to their families. They were asked to come back in the evening for the last service which was started by a praise and worship session that immersed the participants in the presence of God. Rev. Robert Lim stressed that “God always has someone” and that he is never short of people and resources. To conclude, he inquired of the participants about the spiritual legacy they are leaving behind, pointing out that the participants should raise the next generation with the same level of conviction as they have. Elijah passed on the spiritual legacy to Elisha as he ascended to heaven and his absence did not stop God from moving forward and as pastors, the participants are responsible for developing the generation that will carry on the spiritual tradition that is significant to a great God rather than to great men. The message was strong, illuminating, and incredibly uplifting and it gave the participants something to think about before they rest for the final day of the gathering the following day.
The Core Leaders meeting was a huge success as it reignited the core leaders’ passion for ministry as the messages given were relevant and timely. As the event ended, Pastor Robert Lim acknowledged all the participants for sacrificing their time in traveling to Davao City to attend this event, he recognized the efforts of the regional spiritual leaders in organizing their participants and the efforts of Rev. Peter and Rev Christine Wee and EFC Davao staff who went above and beyond to ensure the comfort of all the delegates. A group picture was taken which was followed by a lengthy parting fellowship among the guest speakers and the participants