By: Noreen Geñoso

What an unforgettable and uplifting celebration! The year-end gathering at the Sentro 1850 Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City on December 26, 2023, was a joyous occasion for the Jireh Evangel Church Planting Philippines—Northern Mindanao. Bringing together 49 churches coming from different locations, including Cagayan de Oro City, Lala, Malaybalay, Mambayaan, and Manticao.

The year-end gathering was filled with both fun and meaningful activities. Games like “Tummpakganern” and the alphabet game likely added a touch of lightheartedness and camaraderie to the celebration.

The emphasis on spending time together as a family, discussing God’s goodness, and reflecting on the year’s challenges and victories is a beautiful way to strengthen the bonds within the community. Gratitude is an essential theme in such gatherings, serving as a reminder of the positive aspects of life and the support received, especially during challenging times.

It’s truly inspiring that the celebration included essential elements like prayer, worship, and the sharing of God’s word. Pastor Roberto Padinit’s message on ‘New Year,” Same God’ and the focus on Philippians 3:13–14, emphasizing moving forward and being strong, carries a powerful and motivational message.

Facing challenges, such as the loss of outstation churches due to the COVID-19 outbreak, can be difficult. However, the decision to move forward with faith in God’s better plans reflects a resilient and determined spirit. Believing in the potential to plant more churches and produce more fruits despite setbacks is a testament to the community’s strong faith and commitment.

Despite their absence from the celebration, it is encouraging to hear about the excellent leadership and support provided by Pastors Andrew and Rowena Kwong. Undoubtedly, their unconditional affection and backing, together with their unwavering support of the church, are vital in cultivating a sense of unity and strength within the community. The anticipation of having them in 2024 adds to the enthusiasm for the future.

The gesture of Pastor Roberto, accompanied by Pastor Jefferson Ouano, Sis Nikki, and Sis Bonita, distributing gifts to the workers is a wonderful way to express appreciation for their commitment and support in planting churches. “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead” reflects a forward-looking and positive mindset. Letting go of unwanted baggage that hinders growth is a powerful concept, allowing room for God’s blessings and guidance in the upcoming year.