I’ve been writing for a living since 2009. It was the only full-time job I could have at that time. I didn’t consider myself a good writer then (I still don’t), but I’ve always been persistent – determined to get a story out there.
Since then, I’ve become a content manager, tech reporter, and operations officer for a media start-up. As I’ve told my friends, ESL for me stands for English as a source of livelihood. My assignments have been limited though since I voluntarily terminated my full-time staff contract. It’s why I’m incredibly grateful that for the month of August I’ll be writing for the website Scribol and assisting in the content development of a church website.
Church splits, bickering deacons, embittered pastors, and offended missionaries. As an evangelical who has been exposed to a few churches since I was a kid, these were realities I’ve seen and heard of.
The scenario is painful for everybody – from the most experienced church leader to the newest member. It’s an ironic sight, especially when the church is supposed to be the place to get encouragement and support in your faith journey. It’s why my heart goes out to every member of Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC). The Philippines’ largest indigenous religious movement is facing its biggest scandal, in full view of public eyes. The scale of their reach is so immense that the Justice Secretary of the Philippines is well briefed on the topic and the nation’s largest newspaper dedicated an editorial on the issue. Continue reading
“I think she sees my sins,” was the first thing that came to my mind when I was first introduced to a person labeled as a “prayer warrior.” You know those men and women who we think do nothing but pray, eat rarely because they always fast, and see our bone structure and internal organs with their naked eyes.
Of course, my reaction was not at all an exception. It’s usual for many to think that prayer warriors, intercessors or however you want to call them, are part of a Holy of Holies SWAT Team. We think that membership to the prayer team is only for those so sinless you feel so unworthy when around them. Instead of being encouraged by them, we feel unnecessarily frightened or intimidated.
But this exaggerated reverence (read: mockery) for men and women of prayer comes from a misconception of what prayer is and it’s incredible significance to your daily walk in the faith.
“My son, you can make it.”
I’ve heard these five words over and over again from my parents in the seven years I was living in New York City. It was a phrase whose impact has brought me life when I felt I was in a dead-end. There have been more than a few moments where I was feeling hopeless, wondering if there’s anything worthy to see in my future. These very words have in many ways saved me from myself. It became a statement that helped me to press on. Looking back, my parent’s spoken words over me exhibited the significance, impact, and value of speaking life.
Prayer can be treated as either an emergency response mechanism, especially when you’re facing a challenge or a difficulty, or it could be a starting point in whatever you do in your earthly life. If you proclaimed that Jesus is your Lord and Savior and confessed the same, you are commissioned to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40). This is His greatest commandment. You are also called to make disciples (Matt. 28:18-20)- which includes bringing people to church and helping them grow in their spiritual journey, as well as building influence wherever God has place you so you can promote Kingdom values such as love, peace, integrity, and unity.
As you obey these commands and instructions, it’s important that prayer begins and recaps any of your pursuits. When prayer is the starting point of your life and ministry, you recognize that your effectiveness as a follower and ambassador of Jesus is rooted in your intimacy with Him whom you represent (John 15). It is only by His power and grace that you can fulfill His call, His way. And an infusion of His power and a deeper revelation of His grace will come from an intimate fellowship with Him.
The powers of words have been taught to me early in life. Both my parents are ministers and growing up, they would always speak blessings and declarations: that I will succeed in this life, that I will make it, and that there’s a great future ahead of me. They will share it while praying for me, in conversations, and on the numerous pep talks I’ve had with both of them or with either Papa or Mama.
When I moved out in 2006, living in New York City where I stayed for seven years, I’ve learned how important words are to one’s life. As a kid and teenager, it’s easier to ignore its effects. But as an adult, I’ve discovered that words spoken to you and by you – good or not – can make a difference in your day, your attitude, and in a greater scope of things, your life. It’s so important and powerful that your very words can either limit or expand our possibilities.
When I was a teenager, I’ve had a sense that anything is possible in the Philippines. I believed that change could happen on a broad and massive scale. Transformation, for anything and anywhere, even for a nation is a realistic proposition.
It’s been almost a decade since I’ve read the book From Third World to First, The Singapore Story: 1965-2000, whose author- Lee Kuan Yew is considered the Founding Father of modern Singapore. The decades-long prime minister of the country shared how this tiny city state in the pacific with no natural resource, even a source of water, to call its own has become one of the most progressive economies in the world. This book, which I bought during my first trip to Singapore in the early 2000s, inspired me to believe the seemingly impossible for my country. It led me to attempt to do a bit of nation building work when I was in my teens, when I was a young economics student full of hope for the Philippines.
It’s been eight days since the Paris headquarters of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo was attacked, claiming 12 lives. Less than a day after the barbaric slaughter, a Kosher supermarket was held by terrorists, killing four hostages and two police officers when the ordeal finally ended with a shootout. The days that followed were filled with funerals and rallies – including one that united world leaders to publicly stand together against Islamic extremists.
French President Francois Hollande has iterated the truth about the perpetrators of the tragic events. “These fanatics have nothing to do with Islam,” he said in a televised statement. The suspects in the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher attacks were promoting a twisted and perverted ideology that has claimed the lives of the very people they claim to defend. Terrorism, in the form of Islamic extremism, has killed more Muslims than anyone from the west. Continue reading
In December 2013, our pastor invited a group of us from church for a Christmas dinner at his family’s place in Harlem. It was an incredible time of fellowship with some of my closest friends, all of whom were God-fearing individuals determined to make a positive impact in the world. While we were at the living room, sharing stories of what God has done in our life, Pastor Kaz asked each of us what one word would best describe the year 2013, based on what we’ve gone through and learned. At that time, the word that summed up the year for me was “restored.”
This year has been anything but easy. It was a transition year for me, as my best friend would describe, filled with many things expected. The biggest would be my moving back to the Philippines after seven years of living abroad.
But though the past 12 months have been challenging, there were tons of people in my life – here in the Philippines – whom I’m eternally grateful to have. My family would definitely be one of them, together with many old friends and new ones – all of whom have been instrumental in being reminded that I am exactly where I need to be (for now) and I’m blessed to be here.