Monday, July 15, 2013

God Bless, Canada!

by Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva

An online report pegged the current number of Filipinos working or residing abroad at roughly 9.5 million to 12.5 million, or about 10-11% of the total Philippine population1. A separate online report said that there are about 842,651 Filipinos living in Canada today, making Canada the third top destination for Filipinos overseas2.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Government in the Philippines said that there are approximately 7,500 Canadians residing in the Philippines3.

The various numbers essentially tell about one reassuring story of strong and friendly bilateral relations between the Philippines and Canada.  It is most heartening indeed for citizens of both countries to find home in foreign lands.

Over the past 26 years of doing ministry work in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, Canada has been a most gracious home to the international outreach ministry of the Jesus Is Lord Church4. A Philippine-based, Christ-centered, Full-Gospel Christian Church that is also doing ministry work in 55 countries around the world, the Jesus Is Lord Church is blessed to have found a home in Canada, wherein the people accepted the church.

Hence on the celebration of this year’s 146th Canada Day, the united and collective prayers of blessings of JIL Church members worldwide go out to the amazing people and nation of Canada.

It is the LORD’s principle to protect and care for the foreigners, the orphans, and the widows. “The LORD protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked” (Psalms 146:9, NLT). 

It is His purpose to defend their cause. “He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing” (Deuteronomy 10:18, NLT).

It is also His promise to bless those who act justly, such as those who do good to more than 800,000 vulnerable Filipino pilgrims who finally have found their home in Canada.  “Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right” (Psalm 106:3, NIV).

In blessing, you shall surely be blessed. God bless Canada! Happy 146th Birthday!

Shalom! Shalom!


Thursday, July 4, 2013

What Do You Seek?

by Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva

“What are you looking for?”

In life, there is seemingly no question that can jar a person into deepest contemplation other than this probing inquiry.  It easily pierces right through the heart, effortlessly shakes the very core of one’s soul, and utterly reveals the real person of a man.

It is not surprising, therefore, that when the first two would-be-disciples of Jesus came after Him for the first time, John 1:38 says that He responded to them with the very same question: “What seek ye?” In other words, “What do you want?”

Fast-forward to our present time, the same question of Jesus continues to prod and nudge us. As we turn to Him, He turns right back at us and asks us: “What do you seek?”

To the discerning, the question of Jesus is considerably the greatest and grandest offer of a lifetime! It is, in fact, as good as receiving from Him a blank check with our name on it. But before we hastily make genie out of God, let us take a quick look at how the first would-be-disciples of Jesus responded to His inquiry:
“Jesus turned around and saw them following him. He asked them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which means "teacher"), "where are you staying?"” (John 1:38, HCSB)

Surprisingly, there was no mention of request for wealth, or healing, or miracle. There was no mention of petition for power, fame, or indestructibility. Rather, the would-be-disciples responded to Jesus’ question with their own question,“Where are you staying?”
In this beautiful exchange, we can glean two beautiful lessons on seeking God and following hard after Him:
  1. That we ought to seek and value the Person of Christ beyond the blessings that come from knowing Christ and having Christ as Rabbi, Master and Teacher; 
  2. That we ought to not be satisfied with a one-question-conversation with Jesus, but that we ought to seek His dwelling that we may abide with Him.
The Psalmist also discovered the overflowing goodness of seeking God and finding Him, and the inexhaustible grace of having everything by having God. 

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm16:11, ESV).

These are what God is making available to us when we make Him our delight: 1)the path which leads to the Source and Centre of all life, even God Himself - the way to heaven; 2) fullness of joy, literally, satiety of joy - enough, and more than enough, to satisfy the extremest cravings of the human heart; 3) at thy right hand, ready for bestowal on the saints; 4) pleasures for evermore, an inexhaustible store, which may be drawn upon for ever (Pulpit Commentary). Simply, nothing can be grander than that.

“What are you seeking?”

From the example of seekers in ages past, it will serve us right today if we likewise respond to God, in all humility and sincerity, “LORD, I seek You, and You only!”

Shalom! Shalom!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sagigilid Empowerment

by Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva

One of the priceless treasures that God has given to the Jesus is Lord (JIL) Church Worldwide is an endless thread of testimonies of the love and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ from our members. One of which is the testimony of Bro. Bimboy Soque.

His boyhood and early youth were spent on the streets of Manila. On the surface, he was an industrious boy selling cigarettes to jeepney drivers and passersby. This gave him reasons to keep himself a regular “street boy.” But he earned more money from robbery and theft on the streets. Every now and then, he would find a parked car which he would illegally open and then, steal valuables in it. At night, when selling cigarettes was over, he would board on jeepneys and rob their passengers.

He was also a drug addict, just like the many other street boys he mingled with.

Bro. Bimboy would always look back at his past with deep gratitude to the Lord Jesus Christ. God willed that he would be invited to a youth camp. It was there that he heard about the love of the Lord Jesus Christ; Bro. Bimboy accepted Him as Lord and personal Savior. His life was totally changed.

Today, Bro. Bimboy is a missionary. He has dedicated his life to the Lord in going to the mountains and other remote areas to share about Jesus.

The Philippines has a perennial problem on the increasing gap between the rich and the poor. This problem remains whether the economy is good or bad. Bro. Bimboy was living in abject poverty. He was forced by circumstances to practically make the streets his home. Because he was poor, he could not afford to study. Instead, he worked to survive – even if he was just a boy. He is part of the marginalized sector. In Filipino, he is a “sagigilid.”

Could a robber, forced by poverty to be a law-breaker, draw near to God? Yes, if he seeks the Lord with all his heart. Yes, if he wilfully chooses to ask for God’s forgiveness and then, genuinely repent from all his sins.

Could he be blessed? Could his life improve? Yes, because God promised His blessings to those with clean hands and a pure heart.

The Word of God says:
            “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face” (Psalm 24-3-6, New King James Version).

Many Filipinos are still marginalized or “sagigilid.” While they compose the population’s majority, they are still struggling to make their voice heard, to be significantly represented in crafting policies that could make economic growth inclusive of their interests as well. They work hard, but survival is still on a per meal basis. They are the same people that Bro. Bimboy is ministering to in the mountains and other remote areas.

We share Jesus’s love for the “sagigilid’ and we lovingly pray for them. But we must also have tangible actions to improve their plight, to empower them. So that no one would be left behind while the country’s economy improves. So that we could lessen the gap between the rich and the poor. May all nation-loving Filipinos work together to make this happen.

With God, nothing is impossible!

Shalom! Shalom!