Love . . .
Faith . . .
Hope . . .
Basic as they might sound in a Christian leader’s perspective, they are enough to point us back to what really was the cause of Jesus Christ in the Philippines, especially Luzon. The three days spent in the slopes of Baguio City were worth more than years of waiting for God to powerfully redirect the vision, recapture the burden, and renew the church planting strategy in the vast island of Luzon.
It was early morning on the 29th of October when the bus left Evangel Family Church Quezon City carrying 60 delegates composed of pastors and leaders from the different sections in Luzon to attend the very first Luzon Church Planting Movement (CPM) Retreat. Most of the delegates arrived a day or two days earlier from their respective towns and provinces to participate in this very first gathering for Luzon slated from October 29 to 31.
Everyone was filled with excitement. On the eve of the departure, we had fellowship and some even stayed awake until the early morning bus arrived for a six-hour journey to the City of Pines-Baguio.
Blessed with a safe trip, the bus arrived at Teacher’s Camp in Baguio City earlier than expected. Upon arrival and short briefing done by Pastor Rachel Yu and Pastor Vernie, lunch was served. Everyone enjoyed the first meal in the cool atmosphere of the city. After a short break in the afternoon, all were ready to hear what God has prepared in the evening service.
. . . Love
The awesome presence of God was felt as all were ushered into a wonderful time of praise and worship. Rev. Christine Wee shared the story of how God’s love always protects us. From the beginning of time, God never failed to love us. The Creator of the Universe, so great in power, tailored clothes for His first children – Adam and Eve. Despite their sins, God slew an innocent animal, shed its blood, and made garments for the very first humans. He replaced the insufficient fig leaves they had made for themselves. This cloak of love was made as a prophecy of what Christ will do as a sacrifice for all – the One who knew no sin became a sin for humanity.
As the message ended, everyone felt once again God’s love and presence moving and awakening each heart, reminding each one what it felt the first moment we experienced God’s love.
After a refreshing sleep, the second day started with morning devotion. Despite the tremendously cold centralized air conditioning system (naturally embedded by God’s hand into Baguio’s location), all rose early to spend time with God. In the morning sessions, Pastor Jessie and Pastor Doming introduced the CPM and the T4T or Training for Trainers. The T4T was used by Jesus himself when He sent out the 72 disciples, apart from the 12 apostles. The key in the T4T strategy was finding the “persons of peace” who are open to the gospel in the target community.
After the morning sessions, the afternoon break was a time to check various beautiful spots in the city which included a tour to the Philippine Military Academy campus and of course, the famous strawberry farm in La Trinidad, Benguet. And the night became another time for the Spirit of God to move and touch lives.
. . . Faith
Confidence in God and the story of Abraham became the message of Rev. Chuck Chua. He recounts the story on how Abraham obeyed the Lord and became the father of many nations. Rev. Chua defined confidence in God as obedience. He shared once again his own personal story, of how God directed his paths to the Philippines. For Rev. Chuck Chua, it was a hard decision to make. He noted that the command of the Lord for Abraham to leave his country, his people and his father’s household were never easy to obey. But just like Abraham, having the confidence in God’s promises is more than enough to say “Yes, Lord”. Though Abraham’s eyes could not see yet the promised place and the promised people in his present time, he was sure of one thing- God’s promises will always come to pass.
Once again, God’s presence was overwhelming. The faith in each heart was rekindled, and the challenge to apply that faith into the work of God was implanted deeply into our being.
Time passed quickly, and we reached the final day of the retreat. With an introduction video on the impact of the CPM around the globe, the morning teaching sessions continued with Pastor Jethro. He spoke on the application of T4T from vision casting to forming churches and reproducing leaders. The morning session ended with a time of worship and thanking God for what He has done thus far in Luzon and what He will do after the retreat.
After lunch, the delegates went to the Mines View Park and had a superb time looking at the majestic view of the mountains and just stood in awe of God’s creation. For some, especially to those who saw this place for the first time, it was also a moment of thanking the Lord. This God who made this breathtaking view is the same God who loves us deeply. Upon returning to the camp site, all prepared for what God has in store for the final night in Baguio.
. . . Hope
Again, the Lord spoke through Rev. Peter Wee, giving everyone the message on overcoming shame. He directed us to the ‘cloak’ that God provided to Adam and Eve who hid from His presence because of shame. Rev. Wee narrated that because sin entered the world, so did shame. He identified shame as that feeling of being flawed. He continued by citing examples in his personal life. But the heart of it all is that Jesus Christ took not only our sin on the cross but also our shame by dying in the most shameless and despised manner, so that we could live forgiven and free.
As the service closed, we felt God embracing us with His love as His people once again put their hope in Him and be reassured that there is no shame in His presence. And that we will move shameless to spread the cause of Christ and the good news of God’s salvation to the place He has positioned us.
The evening ended with plaques of appreciation awarded to our guests- Rev. Peter and Rev. Christine Wee and Rev. Chuck and Rev. Jocelyn Chua for gracing the event and the encouragement they brought through their messages, company and support. As this was the final night, the fellowship among the planters and delegates extended up to most part of the evening.
And this would not be possible without the love and assistance of people whom God has used greatly. Thus, we would like to extend our gratefulness to our Founding Chairman, Rev. Dr. Robert Lim for giving his tremendous support to the work in Luzon. Also, many thanks to Pastor Jessie and Pastor Rachel Yu for organizing and coordinating the event, to those who gave the special numbers every night and to everyone who assisted in making this event possible. To God be honor and glory in this one small but pivotal step to claiming our promised place in the massive land of Luzon!