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DYING TO ONESELF (Part 3)
It is never easy to leave our comforts behind. It only becomes rewarding when we have the conviction that leaving is in response to the Lord's greater call. What tremendous and perfect joy it becomes!
Along the way, we get bewildered. The perplexity has nothing to do with the work from our perfect God, nor with our relationship with Him. Rather, it comes from circumstances and events which we feel are not of God's anymore. We feel it deeply in our hearts.
There comes the call once more to die to oneself. The pain is intense, yet joy abounds, knowing that we are heeding the same voice which beckoned us to serve. Here are more thoughts from our brethren who made the sacrifice for the sake of truth.
It is never easy to leave our comforts behind. It only becomes rewarding when we have the conviction that leaving is in response to the Lord’s greater call. What tremendous and perfect joy it becomes!
Along the way, we get bewildered. The perplexity has nothing to do with the work from our perfect God, nor with our relationship with Him. Rather, it comes from circumstances and events which we feel are not of God’s anymore. We feel it deeply in our hearts.
There comes the call once more to die to oneself. The pain is intense, yet joy abounds, knowing that we are heeding the same voice which beckoned us to serve. Here are more thoughts from brethren who made the sacrifice for the sake of truth.
PANCHO LOPEZ – TAN
“Marilyn and I completed our CLP in November 1990. Just a few months after attending MER 1 in 1991, we were tapped to serve as facilitators of a CLP in Baliwag, Bulacan. We were a young couple then – Marilyn was only 28 years old, and I was 29. Since the time we graduated from the CLP, we never missed a single household meeting. We were raising our young family then, with three small children -- all babies at the time -- yet God gave us the grace to be committed and obedient from the very start. We became Household Heads the following year, then in 1993, we were tapped to handle the YFC program which was just being launched at the time. After two years serving the youth in our area, we opted to head the next CLP Team and became Unit Leaders in 1995. Eventually, we served as Chapter Head, Cluster Head, Sector Governance Team member, and then I became a Sector Head in 2002. I got elected to the Board of Elders (BOE) in 2003 where I served faithfully and obediently until July 31, 2007. By then, I had begun to realize that the BOE was no longer the body of elders who were supposed to safeguard the life and mission of Couples for Christ.
“I clearly saw how the string of events unfolded after the resignations in February. I saw how the issues being raised by our brother Frank (Padilla) turned into a biased and personal issue against him. In the beginning, we in the BOE were all in the same mind and heart. But as the weeks went on and our leaders, the Council, were not addressing the problems, elders started to take sides and were no longer focusing on the real issues, but merely on personalities. As part of the BOE Ad Hoc Committee which reviewed CFC’s conflict with Gawad Kalinga, I saw how GK was indeed veering away from the charism of the community which gave birth to it. Objectively, I saw what was happening. Gradually, I saw how our top leaders – people I had looked up to and respected for so long – were no longer behaving as Christian brothers and sisters, as the disagreements and personal biases started to surface.
“On July 31, 2007, I decided to let go of all my services -- as Sector Head, as member of the BOE, and as KFC International Council member. What led me to this decision? While I was on a mission trip to Leyte on July 13, Marilyn had a strong leading to attend the 1st Restoration Prayer Assembly that evening. She called me and shared how uplifting the whole assembly was, as she also recalled how Spirit-filled and meaningful the worship turned out to be. What I witnessed in Leyte was the exact opposite. I saw how an elder, a former Council Member, mercilessly attacked Frank Padilla verbally in front of CFC members and leaders of that province. His behavior was very unbecoming of a Christian elder and totally unacceptable to me. That incident was indeed an eye opener. I wondered why the Lord allowed me to see and hear this unfortunate incident with my own eyes and ears. He was obviously allowed me to see things clearly, to discern without a doubt, and lead me to make a strong and hard decision to go against the easy and more acceptable path. After that, I recalled several other circumstances and situations I had been in (which happened even before Leyte) that made me realize where the Lord’s Spirit was really leading me. All these made me more prayerful because I had always been an obedient follower to all my leaders, yet the Lord was leading me in a different direction. Though it was a very difficult decision for me, I realized my obedience is to my God and not to men.
“The Lord has given me strength and a strong conviction. I am at peace with my decision to be in CFC-FFL. I believe this is God’s call for me and He has great things in store for this community and for all of us. He will pour His abundant blessings on us because we have all risked much for love of Him. God is good!”
“On the 10th year of my being a part of CFC (1997) I received a message from God while attending a recollection for school supervisors of St. Paul College of Pasig. He said, ‘Detach from the school that you love most and attach to Me. I need you in Couples for Christ where we have much work to do. Be with them (St. Paul College of Pasig) at a distance. I will take care of this school you love. Have no fear. Detach from them and attach to Me, and go where I need you.’ Our Directress gave me her blessings, since she and the other nuns were aware of what CFC service was all about. As a fulltime pastoral worker, I was asked to be a part of CFC Educational Foundation, Inc., Teodora, Kids for Christ, Handmaids of the Lord, support my husband, Jack, in his mission areas, and do whatever task was assigned to me. When the SPCP Directress learned about my “assignments”, she remarked that I might lose balance, but I told her that probably, that was the nature of the work. Eventually, I ended up focusing on my work with Teodora, where I experienced so many things. Aside from my specific responsibilities, I learned to do all kinds of tasks: secretarial work, general services, counseling service. Of course, I really served as a support for Jack.
“My being a Paulinian and being in Couples for Christ complemented each other in my spirituality. When I responded to God's call, He gave me "Friends of St. Paul's", a lay associate of St. Paul's of Chartres, which allowed me to be still connected with them particularly in spiritual formation. Our Lord also gave me CFC heads who were all loving, caring, prayerful, passionate, supportive, and inspiring (Mimi David, Maribel Descallar, Linda Tayag, among others). I drew my strength and grew spiritually and emotionally from the people I worked with: Annie Faustino, Cristy Balilo, Regie Cajulis, Liezel Rodriguez, as well as those I worked with in Metro Manila, the provinces, and abroad. Truly, the atmosphere at the CFC Home Office was warm, welcoming, loving, and trusting. Anyone can just come, sit and debrief, and leave the area feeling good.
“Sadly, early this year, I somehow saw our trial coming. We were all in Lamentation for God's purpose. Somehow, I felt the Lord was pruning our community as we were no longer how we used to be. It brought me restlessness. My prayer life had become so disruptive as I questioned God. I thought, ‘If my prayer life was in disorder, something must be terribly wrong, and disorder in all aspects of my life will follow.’ The atmosphere, then, became stormy. My health was likewise affected. In all these, I clearly heard the Lord say, ‘Have no fear, for I am with you. Step out in faith and listen to Me.’
“As I told our Lord that I cannot take this any longer, He gave me another message. During a retreat for the "Friends of St. Paul" in preparation for our yearly renewal of vows, I read something from our book of life entitled, ‘Walking in the Truth’ (on Maturing in SPC spirituality). How can I stay as a FTPW when what I see, hear, and feel in CFC is in conflict with SPC Spirituality? I saw in the top leaders how Paul was before his conversion. The nun who gave us the retreat was used by our Lord for me to make my decision to retire as FTPW. After my retreat, this was the message I got from the Lord: ‘In 1997, I asked you to detach from the school that you love most and attach to Me. I need you in Couples for Christ where we have much work to do. This time, I want you to detach yourself where you are now and attach to Me again where I will bring you where your desire to walk in truth will flourish and bear much fruit for Me.’
“On July 30, 2007, I gave my letter requesting for normal retirement effective August 31, 2007. Where is the Lord leading me? Where else but to the truth!”