Imagine life without Christ, I would have experienced the pleasures of life but not with an unexplainable fulfilment. Looking back, I never regret the day I decided to give my life to Jesus and follow His steps.
London seats in the deepest recess of my desire. I preferred Australia over it, in fact. I fancied pursuing my post graduate education studies in that country. But the more I think about my own life and the more I think about my achievement, the more God reveals Himself to me in unexpected manners. Hence, this London trip in August 2014.
A wonderful surprise
The revelation came in as my post-birthday surprise. Sometime in July, Ps Ancho announced in the dinner table that I am joining Joshua in the summer camp at Pag-asa in London. I flashed a smile beyond measure; my heart leapt bounds in gladness. In my head, I have thrown the dinner table before us and hugged him and Tita right there and then.
My heart sank even deeply. I could of imagine God’s deep well of mercy and grace. That feeling that it could have been someone else, but I was the one chosen, that resonated God’s love even more for me even more. Now is my time and I had to grab it. Leaps of faith often means “Yes, Lord!”
Suddenly, the Holy Spirit brought me in the span of my past nine years in the ministry. My humanity tells me that when I look at my past, I am underserving of this. But my spirit tells me of God’s love and favour for his children. I am a child of God, who am I to stay I do not deserve this when a man of God tells me to go?
Viewed from above, London looks familiar. It is the mother of one of my favourite cities, Singapore. An aerial view showed such an organised place. Contrary to what I expected, here were a lot of greeneries. Viewing from my neighbour’s window, I saw an rare mix of green and urban living. It is really possible. European cities and the developed countries usually can achieve the feat. It was heaven to see this. I might not be able to see myself live here, but studying in order to WSMD is a viable option.
Quite expectedly, the spirit here is hungry for equipping. There were doubts about intentional discipleship at first. Doubts that comes from hesitation and failing to see one’s self doing an extra mile for others. They saw the works first, before the yield. Certainly, it is. But we kept on telling them that theirs is an excellent environment positioned for growth. They told us since ID came, many left the church. That is part of the weeding process.
Pag-asa camp – The young people are amazing. They were so on fire. The spirit was youthful, vibrant, and motivated. They are, in short, vigil. You see the language used pertained to discipleship. You will feel that their energy will yield positive results. They have the number to start with. The DNA is becoming more alike.
Joshua laid the foundation and the reasons behind ID. He spoke of confidence and boldness, out of real stories of real lives who were never churched, but when they did, they have gone as far as bringing friends and their families. The power of producing and reproducing are so real here. He spoke also on writing the devotion and strategies in forming their twelves. We used workshops and games to illustrate on the specifics.
I remembered my MIP 2006 camp experience. I came to know the Lord through it. It was the most improbable thing to happen. But it did. All I needed to have was a wonderful support environment and a climate of love, acceptance, and hope. LifeChurch made that available for me.
So in my message, I told them Imagine yourself after nine years or less. Imagine what God can do into your life, by virtue of the ‘law of the lid’, such that, what the leaders have achieved can be surpassed by the ones led, especially the young ones. Case in point, the British today enjoy such high intellectual and economic development because of the hard earned disciplines of the past leaders. The only setback is that, while they were formed intellectually, they were not moulded spiritually. So much so that the moral decline has led to so much individualism, or vice versa. The effect of the Britons leaving the city for the suburb was tremendous. Indians and middle easterners are spawning in the city.
I used the analogy of the seed. While Joshua used Matthew 13 to illustrate the ladder of success, I saw the immense potential of the growth of the seed using John 4:34, Psalm 1, and John . As the seed dies out, there are many things to get rid of. I used Ps message on multiplying effect of a person. In Psalm 1, I shared why they cannot leave their present church. They were called, strategically, to be there. Except if they had to move to a new place. Last would have been Ps Lut’s message on getting connected in the vine in order to bear fruits, but we lacked time already. Certainly, the series is a powerful one, showing:
- Plant and allow the seed to germinate
- Keep the seed planted by the streams of living water
- Connect to the vine until the fruits are produced
Sunday Service – It was funny, I thought I was merely to stay in LifeChurch so I went with Joshua to Pag-asa. My sister rang me and told me that I was supposed to speak in our church. Good thing, I have my devotions handy, much more the Holy spirit led me to speak of Daniel and how he was used to by God to be the deliverer of His generation. They were about to be annihilated once again, if God did not show His power through Daniel. He served 3 generations of kings: Nebuchadnezzar, Beltheshazar, and the medo-persian king. I felt the need to talk about how each of the disciples in LCL can put their talents and skills to use, especially in the context of church. It is the only way to unite the body of Christ. That is the only way to help our people.
Primary huddles – Here I felt like an expert. I had to pick from the cases and situations back home. Their questions suggest that the are eager and curious about what to do first. These are basic questions that must be addressed initially, so that when they start growing their 12s, they will have avoided the pitfalls we fell when we were starting up. I shared and dealt about obedience, citing how the primaries are back at home. I shared about how each primary should learn how to submit. Their task is to become reliable men. They exist and were chosen by God because they are supposed to make the leaders work unbearable. So that the pastor may have time to listen to the Holy Spirit for messages.
LifeGroup sharing – During life groups and fellowship, what I did was to make myself available in small talks. I was ready to mingle and share what I learned. I find my mentoring or coaching strength here. And I saw that what I needed to do was to listen first about their hearts, and then coach them by sharing stories from back home, ever since we transitioned to ID. I also talked one-on-one, using it as a ministry time. We talked about strategies to build the 12 and ways to write the devotions with impact.
I see England as a museum containing artefacts, relicts, and stories of the past—how God’s people struggled, survived, thrived and forgot. It is close to seeing it as a relic of grandeur and history. Its remnants show of how man’s ingenuity could take him. Each place, each building, each street traces points in human history and development. The grandest being are points when God is still in the centre of its culture. Today, it is a museum because children of the past almost totally abandoned the ways of their ancestors.
London’s cities and burrows are highly organised. It is every cities’ dream of becoming—reliable transportation system by trains and buses, well planned commercial, industrial, and housing zones, and stable economy and industries. But such lofty dreams come at a price and is not achieved overnight. It is also every students’ dream learning space.
Imagine the Edinburgh castle, the Holyrood palace, and the Edinburgh Old Town. These are grand historic places tracing the story of medieval England. Stand in the middle of the old town was like going through a time warp. I could imagine vividly how the royal family and dynasties struggled to stay in power. At the same time, they could have not abandoned their faith in God.
Glasgow’s summer is cold, the whole UK in fact. Here is a world where the past and present mix without apology. Even, London and Edinburgh, actually. The city was like a C-shaped thing, you can do a complete roundabout and find yourself back in the same spot. It is also a university city, there is the Glasgow university, Glasgow Caledonian University, and another one. Every step I took, I could but just imagine how my former professor in International Relations share about his Glasgow experience. I had that pinch of envy.
The natural history museum shows God’s hand in the course of life development here on earth. When he said, “Let there be” it never stopped. From the moment he created until now, the creation story still happens. This is part of the infinity in God. He assigned that authority to his prized creation—man. The museum traces earth’s and life on earth’s history from millions of years ago until today. The exhibit ranges from dinosaur bones and reconstructions, to flora and fauna preserves, and the earth’s core and structure. It is a haven for any student.
I was also able to spend time with dad and Mirelli. From Glasgow, Edinburgh, Winchester, Porthsmouth, and London, we walked, dined, and talked together. We explored the places. Though there were clashes because we were not trained to be together, we sorted things and iron things out in the end. Until the last moment in fact, we had some clashes. And I will get God’s spanking and love at the same time for it. Of course, I realise that I am not showing good examples by this, but I could short cut the process to iron things out.
Family is the key
The key to church growth in the UK is family. Once a child is saved or invited and show positive changes, the family is later on brought to church. If the parents are saved first, then they bring the whole family to church. Filipino gatherings and meetings like birthday or anniversary parties are good ways to connect and build relationships. Later on, these can be tapped as people to bring to church, once the relationship got deeper. The investment may take a while. It costs one money, time, and effort. But done in the spirit of prayer, that person and family will later on become disciples.
Wherever you are, be planted. Be in that moment. Seize that moment. Do what is more than required. Exert more effort. Do things exceedingly abundantly. But be sure submission to leadership transcends individual will or ability. The problem perhaps while you are not receiving it yet, is that we are there for the longest time, but what we are doing is not exactly what our leaders require of us. We do it our own way. We do not obey. And so, we are the primary reason why blessings may come, but sporadically and intermittently. Our disobedience and “I’ll do it my way” mentality block us from the floodgates of blessings.