By: Pastor Liza Angelias
It was a picture-perfect moment last July 15, 2016 when 13 new graduates of the Tribal Workers Intensive Training (TWIT) proudly smiled and posed for a memorable start of their missions journey. Graduation is not the end; it’s the beginning. But before they would step into a new level of commitment, the supportive family, friends and mentors came to witness the graduation event. This is an exhilarating time when one receives honor before God in the presence of many witnesses.
The training lasted for seven months which started last January. The JECPP’s ministry on (ETTC) Evangel Tribal Training Center situated at Arakan Valley, North Cotabato has existed for more than 5 years, with the faithful partnership of Tribal Missions Foundation International (TMFI).
The program was opened by a prayer led by Pastor Patricio Margate. Rev. Peter Wee, the senior co- President of JECPP and Regional Director of Southern Mindanao delivered a welcome address. According to him, the Bible School is a miracle of God. Pastor Wee said he was moved with what God has done by providing the land, the school facilities, the trainers, and the TMFI partnership.
Sister Sherelle Cotecson of TMFI explained the rationale of the training which is all about reaching cultural communities in obedience to the mandate of God. The Tribal Missions Foundation International (TMFI) is also mentoring and training the ETTC in sustainable farming.
Five of the graduating trainees gave their testimonies from each subject they enrolled in. The School of Worker (S.O.W) course, according to Bro. Josel Caputol, is a tool in making someone a relevant teacher of the Gospel. Sister Josiefe Maanib, on the other hand, shared her testimony on the subject of Primary Health Care (P.H.C). She is so grateful for the medical knowledge she now has, considering that medical services and hospitals are quite far from their tribal community. During the training, she said that they were taught first-aid techniques as well as herbal medicines. The next testimony was shared by Brother Dennis Lumonday on their course Chronological Bible. He motioned that this is very simplified way of sharing stories of the Bible. They are taught the easy, accurate and conversational style of sharing the Scripture. “You can share without bringing the hard copy Bible with you,” he said.
Rural Agricultural Development and Faith Garden subject was testified by Brother Carlito Lasquite. He said that the focal point of this course is to teach the trainees to always have food on their table through sustainable organic farming. According to him, he is blessed by the knowledge being imparted to him because he immediately applied the theories on farming while in the training. True enough, he said he began to experience the richness of God’s food supply. Not only were they trained spiritually, but were also given practical teachings how to be in the ministry with their material needs also taken cared off. Lastly was Sister Judith Lapasan who discussed Culture and Development. She realized that there are uniqueness and gifts God granted to each culture while there are also many cultural issues that need light and change from the word of God. She was also thankful that she made it to her graduation despite the difficulties she went through. During the training, she did not stop even if her husband got sick and her schooling children needed much of her attention. She also praised the Lord because God has now healed her husband completely.
Rev. Tony J. Angelias gave his exhortation message as challenge to the graduating trainees. “A Call for Courage” was the theme of his message. This is about the story of Gideon found in the book of Judges. He expound the verse particularly in Judges 6:12 saying “… the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior’.” The story of Gideon teaches us five lessons: 1) Never underestimate what God can do in and through you. He can use anyone and anything to accomplish His purposes. 2) God will always be with you in whatever He’s called you to do. You may feel helpless and inadequate, but you’re never alone because “the Lord will never leave you nor forsake nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). 3) The Lord is ready to give you assurance when you doubt. He’ll work in your situation in a way that reinforces your trust in Him. 4) His ways are often surprising and challenging, but they’re always the best and the most successful. The Lord may ask you to do something that seems totally unreasonable, but success is guaranteed because God is the one who gave the assignment. 5) The Lord always works in ways that exalt Himself. This reminds us that if we are willing to die to ourselves and surrender to God, He will powerfully display Himself through us by accomplishing more in our lives than we ever expected.
Pastor Tony concluded his message with these words “A courageous life begins with the word of God and prayer. However if we shut our Bibles, we’re closing our minds to His encouraging words. God wants to work in us and through us if we’ll just cleanse our hearts, surrender our lives, and walk obediently with Him in confident trust.”
On the presentation of the graduating trainees, Rev. Mivelyn Margate presented the 13 students who faithfully finished the course. Rev. Peter then accepted and confirmed them as graduates of TWIT by the authority vested upon him. He congratulated them joyfully while the congregations applauded the graduates. Rev. Mivelyn Margate read the citation of the certificate while Rev. Peter Wee and Sis. Sherelle Cotecson stood up on stage as the congratulatory board. Mixed emotions were evidently seen on the faces of the graduates while their names were called. The place was overwhelmed with joy knowing that there is another batch of people who will do great things for the kingdom of God. As the graduates rendered their graduation song, all of them sang from the deepest of their souls. In fact one of them was not able to do so because tears streamed down her face as she felt the presence of God. After the pictorial, Rev. Christine Wee asked all the teachers and the congregation as well to pray for the graduates as she led the dedication prayer. The program successfully ended, followed by a delicious lunch. A wonderful fellowship was experienced with the abundant provision of the Lord. To God be all the glory.