Staff House

Want to share a beautiful poem by Marwin Jogenes Serrano that describes my life as a staff. Marwin graduated from UPLB last year and is a volunteer staff with CCC.

Walking down a familiar trail

Right across the corner of the dim light

Weak, tired and very frail

From the day’s work of saving men

From the darkness of eternal night

 

 

After the pavement a rocky path

And so my thoughts turned to my heart’s secret doubts

Shall I proceed, shall I wait, is it strategic are things that in my mind bout

And so I conclude that leaders are no more or less human

Than a child begging, thirsting for water in a drought

 

 

But one could not afford his hopes be lost

For his leadership matters to the people he’s leading

For this bittersweet reality is a leader’s blessing and curse

He has to hope against hope and for a weary fellow

Be strong even if his strength is fading

 

 

And passing along the curve I thought of such loneliness we face

Alone we charge the untamed and chart the uncharted

Realizing our moment by moment plea for grace

Gripping firmly to seeing a grand vision fulfilled

Pleasing only our Great Reward and Shield

 

 

And I came to a halt in front of my scarlet gate

Seeking the comforts of my musty bed

Holding in one hand hope in another courage and in my heart a light

Resting in my Father’s song

For tomorrow I go, saving the world one soul at a time.

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LASTING FRUIT

Two days ago Rachel and I finally made it back to Manila from our ten day trip to New Zealand, leaving us just four days to prepare everything for our furlough. But we definitely have no regrets going there.

We were invited to a joint conference sponsored by our ministry in New Zealand, Australia, and South Pacific in Auckland and then stayed 4 more days with a former disciple of ours from our ministry in the 1980s. The best part was that Andrew, our oldest son, was with us the whole time.

There were a number of students at the conference whose parents migrated from Southeast Asia and as we shared what the Lord was doing in their home country, they got excited about sending teams from Australia and New Zealand to help us start ministries in private universities where most students speak English. It was such a blessing to see New Zealand and Australia have a vision of sending hundreds of students to the world in the next few years. Even countries like Fiji and Papua New Guinea want to be a sending country in the near future.

But it was the time with my former disciple that was so touching for us. He has done well in life, starting his own company and being blessed with a loving family. He came from a dysfunctional family and in his last two years in college often only had one meal a day, yet he was one of our student leaders and became a leader in his church in Manila. After graduation he worked in the Philippines and Japan, but because of health concerns, eventually migrated to New Zealand.

A few years ago he helped start an international church in Auckland and is still one of the leaders of the church. Many of the new members were brought into the church through his business. On the last night Rachel and I shared what we are doing in our student church, Stillwaters, and how it’s multiplying. Rowel began to get excited and shared that because of our time with him, he now wants to launch out and plant a new church. Through the years, Rowel never lost the things he learned while a student in our ministry. The impact of his life is having a global effect.

Then we found out that another disciple of mine from the 1980s was also living in Auckland. One night we had dinner with Sirwin and his wife, Angeline. It was great to see how he was walking with the Lord and living out his Christian life. He moved to Auckland 5 years ago and is an active leader in his church. Recently, he and Angeline joined three other couples to start a new church plant. He likes his job in an IT company because he has more time now for his family and ministry.

As Rowel and Sirwin shared about their fellow students that were involved in our ministry in the 1980s in Mapua Institute of Technology, it was a blessing to hear that most are not only still walking with Jesus, but leaders in their church. They are located all over the world, but still reaching the lost. One former disciple is in Alaska, working for an oil company, but is planting churches that are reaching out to the Inuits, while others are in the Middle East working as an engineer during the day and planting churches at night. These are just two of the many examples.

Truly, one of the greatest joys in life is to see the fruits of your labor multiply. What started as a seed in a school in Manila has turned into an orchard around the word, for the glory of God. Thank you for being a part of this journey in seeing a fallen world transformed by the gospel into a chosen people who will worship Christ for all eternity.

We look forward to seeing many of you during our time in the US. One urgent prayer request is that we can find a car from August to early October that we will use in the Carolina/Georgia area.

Phillip and Rachel,

Rowel, Isa and three of their daughters

 

Rachel, Phillip, Sirwin and Angeline

 

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Discipling students in minefield of controversy.

CCC has a blogfest where topics are brought up and staff/students are able to respond and post their thoughts.

This week is about Rob Bell and his controversial book and the discussion is about what we do with our students who are curious about the book or author since he is well know by many students from an evangelical background (think DaVinci Code as a similar controversy). Below is my reponse on how we should respond to those we are working with as staff. :

As long as we truly understand our role.

Someone who decides to not trust in Christ alone for their salvation is making a decision for themselves. Someone who decides that they want to continue to be carnal is a decision they make for themselves.

I can’t force them to make the decision I want them to make. But i am responsible for what I do share and say to them. That is heart of this issue.

When dealing with students, I need God’s wisdom on understanding where they are in their spiritual journey and is needed for them at that time.

A new believer that is struggling with the deity of Christ and is given a book written by Jehovah Witnesses on why Christ is not God, would not be encouraged to read it. An older Christian with a stronger Biblical foundation may read it to solidify his/her arguments regarding Christ’s deity. For the new believer, i would focus on the Biblical basis of Christ’s deity and tell him/her that the Bible should always be our starting point.

So with the issues of Bell’s book it’s the same principle. If I have some students who grew up in a Christian home, but only have “hand me down’ Christian faith and is really struggling with it, i would not recommend the book, but first go through scripture in dealing with the issues. I don’t want to continue the “handed down” faith, but allow them to struggle with the passages until they own it for themselves. Then you can walk with them as they see what others like Rob is saying and be able to defend for themselves what they believe.

So the goal as chosen shepherds is to continue to bring those entrusted to us to Christ and help them mature by allowing them to wrestle with the scriptures as God’s spirit works in them to conform them to the image of Christ. As the foundation is laid in their heart and mind, we want it to be strengthened by allowing them to wrestle with the issues of life including books like this one. Increasingly it’s less of me and more of Jesus leading and guiding them.

Just remember we can’t make the choices for them, but will give an account of what we do with them.

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SLM in Southeast Asia

STUDENT LED FOCUS
SOUTHEAST ASIA MID YEAR REPORT 2010-2011

Two months ago, a band a recent student graduates from all over the Philippines met for three days to make a strategic plan on how to reach their generation in the next 40 years. They are from the leading schools in the country and pursuing careers in law, medicine, business, church planting etc…, but the one thing in common is the commitment to work together to shape the future of their country for the glory of God. Another group in one of our countries is starting the same thing for their country.

This is the end product of what we are trusting Christ for in our campus ministry. Therefore we are increasingly moving toward seeing students leading the ministry of evangelism and discipleship on their campus so that by the time they graduate, they could continue multiplying spiritual wherever the Lord leads them.

One focus is working in the top level schools where we have staff teams is to see students leading the ministry where disciples are discipling disciples who are disciping disciples. Right now we have 170 staff working at least 4 days a week in 46 universities throughout Southeast Asia.

As of the end of the first semester, the Lord has raised up 508 students sharing their faith and leading disciples. Another 136 students are discipling students who are discipling students.

In another country, the top two universities in the country (think Harvard and MIT for the US) our ministry is entirely led by students with over 1% of the target audience composed of students sharing their faith and discipling others. Soon they are planning on sending some of their student leaders from their school to open up other universities nearby.

The recent graduates from these two schools are now meeting on how to mobilize others their age in the workplace to begin the process of reaching their generation. They plan to have a gathering of 200 graduates to start communities in the different sectors of society.

The other focus is what we call catalytic; universities where there are no CCC staff working there, so right from the beginning it is completely student run. The focus here is to increase the number of catalytic schools each year to eventually see every university with at least 1-3 students seeking to reach the school for Christ.
At the end of the first semester, there are now 391 catalytic universities in Southeast Asia. 358 of them already have prayer groups started and 304 of these schools have students regularly sharing their faith on campus.
The exciting thing is that we now have 221 universities that have students leading Bible studies and 96 campuses where at least one student is discipling another student who is leading a Bible study. God is continually stretching our faith to trust Him that on every campus, He is raising up at least one student wanting to reach his/her campus for Christ.
Also, when these students graduate, they will be equipped to continue on for the rest of their life to multiply spiritually.

This summer, the Lord is leading the way to something extraordinary, called HYBIRD. Already 130 students from the Philippines (and we are trusting for 500 students across Southeast Asia) are raising money to travel to another country to open up two catalytic universities in two weeks and every country is involved; sending and receiving students from another country.

The goal is that by the end of the summer, God will have raised up at least one student leader in 200 universities to begin the catalytic ministry in their campus. Also we will be doing intensive training in the mornings that would include John Piper’s series in Romans (Biblical understanding of the gospel), reaching leaders/influencers, innovative ways to share the gospel, knowing your target audience and doing a demographic study of a university.

Two years ago, we did a pilot project in Davao, Philippines, where we brought 50 Indonesians to open up 20 universities in two weeks. Not only were they able to raise up local students to start a catalytic ministry in 19 schools, with 14 of them still going, but the Indonesia students went back to their university and took over the leadership to reach their campus. Today, those 50 are still on fire for Jesus.

Thank you for playing an important part in seeing Christ raise up the next generation of spiritual leaders of Southeast Asia who will be used of God to shape the future of their nation. You partnership is not only seeing lives changed, but nations as well.

God bless,

Phillip Baron
Southeast Asia Campus Leader

National Campus leaders of Southeast Asia.

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Glimpse of Authentic Campus Ministry

The following story is from Melvin’s blog (he is a staff of Stillwaters, our church).  http://melvinandflo.com/

It demonstrates at different levels what campus ministry should be about.

Truly spontaneous. Truly connecting.

It’s election period for the university student council of UP. In the Palma Hall lobby this afternoon, a debate between two political parties drew a large audience. When it was done, a Stillwaters student and I began a conversation about leadership.

Talking with this student was great because both of us felt very strongly about the importance of leadership. (This student is heading the Thursday house church. His name is RJ.) Then we asked ourselves: what do UP students think about leadership? Thus began a crazy experiment.

We got 2 sheets of paper and wrote in big letters: “Running for fitness” on one and “Running out of money” on the other. We stuck those sheets to our shirts. (This was funny because candidates in UP wear placards wherever they go, stating their name and the position they are “running” for.)

We introduced ourselves to people as “Melvin, Melvin, Melvin Abundo” and “RJ, RJ, RJ Garcia”. (Candidates invariably do the same.) Our goal was clear: to engage with students in an informal way because forums and debates were sometimes boring. We asked questions that RJ and I had already been asking each other minutes before.

What do you think of the elections this year?
If you had absolute and undisputed power, what changes would you make in UP?
Do you think you would make a good leader?
What are the characteristics of a good leader?
Give examples from your life of:
negative leadership
positive leadership
What difference would it make in your life if you had an ideal leader taking care of you?

We gave them a little token of appreciation for their time. Then afterward we would tell them: “We have experienced a very real, personal and powerful leadership from God. It’s the greatest experience of our lives. Would you be interested to experience the same thing?”

We got very interesting responses. One guy, who seemed very shy, said: “If I had an ideal leader taking care of me, I would be inspired. Not apathetic like I am now!” Everyone, even a shy guy, had something to say on leadership. Both conceptual and from personal experience.

RJ and I had lots of fun doing a spontaneous, meaningful and crazy thing today. We’ll be doing this for the next few days. I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂

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and we groan..

Romans 8:18-27 talks about the reality that Christians will groan in their weakness. That is something that is rarely if never taught, but eventually we all experience. It does not mean that we are not spiritual, but that we do live in a fallen world, surrounded by fallen people just like me.

This week i have been groaning a lot. It’s been a long drawn out week that makes me long for heaven. And as a child of God, I should not be surprised. Honestly, i have complained, tried withdrawing, longing to run away from everything. But this is exactly where God wants me to be. You see, when i have to face life in my weakness, the only place to turn is Christ. Not that He will remove everything, but that He is in control and through the cross, has made/is making everything eventually right. And then there is heaven…..

So this week is a walk in faith, trusting in God’s Word regardless of what my mind and heart is screaming. It’s a walk of learning to die to self and allowing God to glorify Himself as He pleases. He is good and loving.

One thing that keeps me going is the reality that Jesus never took shortcuts from groaning while here on earth. He never protected Himself from the impact of living in a fallen world with fallen people. He endured His emotions of sorrow and pain in ways that i can’t even begin to imagine. All for the love of the Father.

That is what i am increasingly thirsting for; to live a life of love for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit resulting in a love for my neighbor. All else grows faintly dim.

A broken life surrendered to the arms of a loving Savior.

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Valentines Day in the Philippines

Valentines Day is intensely celebrated here in Manila. The highways, restaurants, and motels are jammed with people. That is why for the past few years, Rachel and I celebrate it a day or two before the 14th. Otherwise is just too stressful going out for dinner.

At Stillwaters, our students have found creative ways to celebrate this day and one of our female students came up with this video: http://www.facebook.com/video/?id=755063284 The guys are planning something else for the women, but i have no idea what they will do. Last year they were on campus giving every female in our church a rose.

But for a lot of students, it’s a very lonely day. It’s ironic how so many people are so desperate to find love, yet so blind to the One who is the greatest lover of all.

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