Category Archives: Ministry

Real stories from the “mission battlefield”

I need more non-Christian friends on Facebook (and other thoughts about the Digital Day of Outreach)

Standard

We had our Digital Day of Outreach last Tuesday… and I’m still trying to take it all in. 10505555_704033839664553_7561683648455893440_n

What. Just. Happened?!

Over A THOUSAND AND SIX HUNDRED exposures to the gospel and spiritual conversations? What?! Where did that come from? How did that happen?!

GOD, of course. Amazing, amazing. As one of the people who planned and oversaw the event, it was amazing to see this come into fruition. Because truth be told, I was not expecting that.

I was not expecting everyone to be so game.  Because we were trying to anticipate tech difficulties, especially in setting up the WatchThinkChat platform*, we were worried that people, especially the not-so-techie people, would be overwhelmed or get discouraged. But everyone was so game! Oh, they were!

The students, predictably, easily got the instructions and were able to immediately use WatchThinkChat for their conversations. The older people, despite some challenges, were so teachable and patient in learning how.

And what about the other 5 teams in the regions who also did DDO simultaneously with us?

It made me realize: We have a gold mine of human resources, a vast pool of laborers just waiting to be mobilized.

I need more non-Christian friends on Facebook. I’m picky when it comes to Facebook friends. I reason, “It’s my privacy at stake here! I need to protect myself! We don’t talk anyway!” And all that jazz. Still, that reasoning falls flat when I realize the time, influence, resource and platform I waste when I don’t consider Facebook as a mission field. That goes for all the other social media.

I am not really that intentional in sharing the Gospel online, one on one. Not yet. Sure, I blog. I write. I use online resources. But I haven’t developed the habit yet. I have yet to develop that mindset. When I go on Facebook, I don’t instantly think — “Hmm, who is online at this moment? To whom can I share the gospel?”

10387345_10152211344472849_4349053470741229167_n

Prudy Verzo from YouVersion the Bible App, Jeff Lucas from YesHeIs Philippines, Mike Medlin and Lyn Balasico from UCB Media Philippines

How cool was it that people from YouVersion the Bible App, UCB Media Philippines and YesHeIs Philippines showed up? I don’t even have any words for that, except: AWESOME. It is so encouraging to talk to like-hearted people with a Kingdom mindset. Already we are talking about partnerships!

“How did you get wind of our DDO,” I asked them.

It was Jeff Lucas who saw the link (a friend showed it to him, actually). Then his boss required him to attend. He in turn invited Mike, Lyn, and Prudy.

Also, it was so funny how they all but pounced one me when they found out that I’m a writer. Apparently, in this kind of ministry (maybe just in the Philippines), there is a deficit of writers or content-creators.

Makes me wonder — what would it take to raise up a pool of content creators for the digital ministry?

What do you think about Digital Outreach?

Did you join our Digital Day of Outreach? How was your experience compared to mine?

 

 

 

 

*WatchThinkChat is a platform for online evangelism. Ask me about it! Send me a PM or email at sglawagan@gmail.com

I feel powerful in Ops (and other thoughts about my new team)

Standard

194476This Thursday I finally started my new assignment — with the Operations, specifically in the Media / IT Team, or Digital Strategy Team, as we prefer to call it. 

And so, the first two days of my life with Ops has come and gone.

My first two days, and I’ve been so used. I mean that in a good way. See, we’re working on a project, and it’s been really busy. Although, they say it’s only this busy during projects or events; the rest of the time, the team just chills.

So what have I been doing?

I’ve been writing like crazy. It is an exaggeration, of course, to say that I have never written so much in my life. Though I have been writing in such speed as I have never done before, except maybe when I’m tasked to take down minutes of a meeting, which doesn’t count.

And because I’ve been on a writing frenzy, I have lots of material to prove that my grammar and syntax suck. I should really get myself a copy of The Elements of Style and all my other grammar books and brush up. So embarassing. (Look at that, even with that idea in mind I still write in fragments.)

This project we’re working on, the Digital Day of Outreach, gives me a certain feel, the kind of feel I have whenever I work on productions, which simply gives me a thrill. I don’t know why, but there is something about working on a production that makes me feel alive. I might talk about that some other time.

I guess now that I’m in the Digital Strategy / Media Team, I can officially call myself a Media Missionary. Huh.

But the access to most of our organization’s social media – I suddenly feel powerful! Mwahahahaha. Oh, but I do! I still have tons to learn, but I kinda feel like one of those mutants in X-Men who’ve suddenly discovered their powers for the first time and are still learning to control it, or like Harry Potter when he first learned he was magical.

Oh yeah, I like my new team. My tech supervisor is cool, my new “big boss” (team leader) is amazing, my teammates are awesome, and like I said before, I like the “yuppie” feel from my peers in Ops.

God loves the Philippines.

Standard

[This is a response to Jim Solouki’s post God is punishing the Philippines].

tacloban

(Photo from rappler.com)

There are so many ways to respond to this blog post.

I may respond in rage, and anger, just as many have, as evidenced by the comments in the comments section. And if I do, I know many will feel it is justified and valid.

Still, let me say that what I feel most is not anger, nor rage, but hurt and disappointment.

Hurt at the apparent callousness of the writer.

Our kababayans ravaged by Yolanda are suffering greatly. I live in Quezon City – an area mercifully spared by the storm – and I cannot even begin to imagine the horrors my fellow Filipinos are experiencing out there. I see the photos, I hear the news, and I read the FB status updates of my friends and fellow CCC staffs assigned there. To say that it is depressing is an understatement.

My people are suffering. They have lost families, relatives, they are hungry, they are cold, they are hurt, they are angry, they are desperate… how do you think a people like that will respond to “…God will make an example out of you”?

At this point let me say that I am a Christian. I believe that God is holy, and that his holiness is paramount. God is holy, and therefore he hates sin. Yes, I believe He will punish the wicked.

Yes, based on the writer’s profile and from things he’s written I think I identify with the same basic beliefs.

Which is why I am disappointed.

Because if the writer is a “true Christian”, as he claims to be, then he must know, should understand, that such circumstances are immense opportunities to be channels of blessing and love to these “wicked people” (as he calls them, but are we not all?), so that they could be introduced to the Living God, and thereby save them from the wrath of God which is at hand.

Jesus never shied from expressing wrath to sinners.

But Jesus also spoke gentle, comforting words to the hurting.

I believe God is holy, and thus hates sin, and I also believe that God has a redemptive plan and purpose for the human race – which shows how much He is loving.

Which brings to question the writer’s motives.

I cannot help but wonder, what are his motives? Why did you write that (yes sir, if you are reading this, I am addressing you)?

Is it born out of a love and passion for God’s holiness? Is it out of love and concern for the rest of the lost world?

If the answers are no, as a sister in Christ, then pray, repent.

If the answers are yes, as a sister in Christ, I commend your heart. But there are better, more loving ways to express it, especially at times like these.

First time doing CE, and not the last time!

Standard

[Guest Post! I praise God for how our disciples are taking steps of faith to trust God in details of their lives. This is my disciple Angela’s account of her first time to share her testimony in a Classroom Evangelism (CE) setting. Angela Capitly is a 2nd year Communication Research student at the University of the Philippines Diliman.]

 

It was a Tuesday morning when I accidentally met Ate Sarah in the comfort room… and she asked me to share my testimony in a Classroom Evangelism (CE).

I was surprised. I was really inclined to say no, because I doubt my own effectiveness in witnessing, or speaking in general. I have difficulty expressing my thoughts into words most of the time.

Moreover, compared to other’s testimonies I had already heard, I felt that mine was relatively insignificant. There were Christians who were former drug abusers, alcoholics, prostitutes that have been changed by God… but all I had was how I transformed from being an anxious and shy person to someone opposite. The difference is so huge that their testimonies are comparable to Luzon and mine was to Mindanao.

So I was hesitant, but I still said yes to Ate, remembering how God used Moses and provided the words for him. I figured He’ll do the same for me.

Thankfully, I didn’t have trouble preparing – yesterday I’d just given a speech in my Communication 3 class, and the content was practically my testimony. All I had to do was revise it a bit and voila, I hit two birds with one stone!

2013-09-20 13.22.53When the day of the CE arrived, I was surprisingly peaceful.

But when my awesome discipler Ate Sarah arrived, I I felt the butterflies suddenly fluttering in my stomach. At that time, God’s word suddenly surfaced in my mind that He will help me speak and teach me what to say. I was also thankful for the confidence and encouragement I got from Ate Sarah. We prayed before starting the CE and I had the chance to cast all my anxieties on Him. Somehow, I felt that God was and is really with us.

Then the time had really come for me to stand in front of the class and share my testimony. I really thanked God that the students were all open and friendly. I could see that they were listening to me so it encouraged me more to just keep on talking though I was really really nervous then. My hands were really shaking – and I told the audience so!

The feeling after the CE was unexplainable! I cannot find a word that would describe the happiness and fulfilling experience this CE had given me. I was also very thankful for the constructive criticisms the other members of this CE group had given me. I really appreciated it.

At the end, I realized that my transformation may be relatively small compare to that of other the other Christians I had listened to, but I should not belittle mine for it is still a change that God had done in me. I also hope that I reached the students through my testimony and that I’ll grow more in faith towards God so that I’ll be able to share more on my next CE.

Indeed, I’m expecting a next CE experience, though thinking of it makes me jittery!

 

The March is just the Beginning

Standard

[Guest post! This is an account of the Changed March, which happened last August 27, written by my disciple Danielle Isaac. Danielle is a freshmen Journalism student at the University of the Philippines Diliman.]

Seeing people gather to campaign a message – with placards, shirts, and everything – always make me feel tense. Most of the time, these people gather to advocate their cause, to let their voice be heard, to struggle for change.

IMG_5049Who would have thought that Christians, who people think are passive in the community, would do the same? To see Christians united for God’s cause changed me.

People in white, black, blue, green, yellow, and red shirts were all over the steps of the famous Palma Hall, more known as AS. I sat and observed. They seemed to catch the eyes of other bystanders. I wondered if people thought we were going to rally – a common sight, especially in this venue. Some kept their eyes on us, some looked away.

I saw our number grow with people from other orgs. There were a lot of faces I didn’t know, but they all wore smiles, hope, and laughter. Still, I couldn’t help but feel tense. What would people think of this campaign? It was hard not to get nervous.

The songs, prayer requests, and schedules were given away. The placards danced in the people’s hands, and people waved to their friends. In a few moments, we descended the AS steps and formed lines on the road’s bike lane.

Then in a few minutes, God’s warriors headed off.

The March

It was totally strange for me to do a “march”, however peaceful it would be. I could feel plenty of eyes on us, and it felt uneasy. But then I looked to the other people I was marching with. They sang their hearts out and kept their heads held high.  I felt like a worm inside my cocoon, watching the rest fly free. I desperately wanted to be like the rest of them, so I prayed.

We made our first stop in front of Quezon Hall. People gathered in a semicircle around the speakers. They called on the participants from the Students of Destiny org to lead the first song and prayer. They were amazing people; I felt their love for what they were doing. They led us into a song — The Anthem. Everyone repeatedly sang the chorus with conviction:

“I am royalty

I have destiny

I have been set free

IMG_5137

Praying for Eng’g

I’m gonna shape history”

Then we prayed for the university, its staff, professors, and students. Most of the people went in pairs, but I was alone. I’ve never seen students pray with so much passion. Some cried out their requests; others simply talked.

I remained silent.

We continued to Melchor Hall, singing The Anthem’s chorus once again. It took me a while to notice, but I felt myself changing, smiling and laughing in the presence of people I don’t know, but I know share the same heart for God with me.

We stopped in front of our destination. Melchor Hall, otherwise known as Eng’g, was alive with students. It was a good time for us to be seen. A few passersby smiled at us. People from my org, CCC, sang another song, and led the second set of prayer requests. We faced the Eng’g building and prayed for their students as well. People also reached out to God their cries for Him to strengthen His own ministries.

The Grand Stand at the Grandstand

IMG_5067Despite our small number (we were only about a hundred), I realized how God unites people from different backgrounds to forward His Kingdom. We may not know each other, but we were bound by the Holy Spirit in those moments of prayer – and the event itself.

I prayed that we not only increase in number next time, but also strengthen in bond. Nobody seemed to notice the passing of time.

People either sang, or blessed the colleges we passed through while walking. But we all had something in common, we were all happy. I was happy. It was a cloudy afternoon, hinting rain.

The Grandstand witnessed our final hymn, Mighty to Save, and the gladness I felt when everybody sang it.

I really don’t know how I’ll describe that gladness, but it was all over me. I usually worshiped quietly, but the company of God’s people encouraged me to sing out loud.

When the rain finally poured, it seemed like the rain was joining our song of praise.

We got to the last batch of prayer requests, and I was surprised at what they were about. Fueled by my passion for justice, I became excited to pray these prayers.  I had two other people with me, and for the first time ever, I prayed out loud. I clenched my fists, cried to the air, and put out my whole self for God.

It’s amazing how God can change the way you do things even in just a matter of minutes. In a single place. With people you barely know. Although I cannot hear what everyone was saying individually, I knew that there was a connection between every one of us. Christians are not only Christians, they are also citizens, and in our case, also students. We, changed by God, also yearn for the change that we can make in our society.

Bright testimonies from people in the crowd closed the program. I felt inspired, realizing that God continuously changes us for the greater good. I dreamt to speak in front of people on how God has changed and will change me.

The I am Changed campaign is just the beginning.

“Ate, can’t I just witness with my life and not with words?”

Standard

Do I find it odd that three disciples I decided to challenge for higher involvement in discipleship ALL expressed to me, in separate occasions, that they feel feel discomfort at the mere idea of witnessing?

No, not really. I actually kind of expected it.

You’d think these girls would think differently, after seeing me model it and having actual experiences in witnessing (praise God, they actually do their homework!).

But yes, there they were, trying to tell me, as nicely as possible how scared they are and how the other Christian orgs in campus now seem more attractive, because they —  well, they don’t give them “Evangelism homework”.

“Ate, can’t I just witness with my life? Why not with words?”

“My friend is feeling the same pressure and discomfort, and is actually thinking of joining <insert other Christian org here>.”

I PRAISE GOD because asking these questions gives me more opportunity to emphasize the importance of obeying God’s Word, more avenues to vision-cast, and more occasion to encourage them to build Biblical convictions by prioritizing their personal time and study of the Word.

So what did I tell them?

A LOT.

Which can be summed up thus (almost in this order):

-The Bible is our authority.

-The Bible says <The Great Commission>. It’s active, not passive.

-You know God has already been speaking to you about this, right? You KNOW the right thing to do. (My girls affirmed this, thankfully)

– Maturity comes when we take faith-steps to obey. Because God is committed to us, He lets us do uncomfortable stuff, like witnessing.

-If “skills” are the issue, I will gladly equip and train you!

-Like I said when you first me, I am committed to helping you grow in your Christian life. As long as you let me, I promise to help you foster this kind of growth by letting you do this uncomfortable stuff.

Well, I told them to think more and really pray about it.

I guess next week is the moment of truth.

More than the Ideal

Standard

We had just finished our Bible Study last Tuesday, and I really wanted to model sharing the gospel to Danielle. So we started walking around Palma Hall searching, searching. All the time we were looking, I was praying that God give us an “ideal” scenario. You know — like, we’d meet someone open to the gospel,then she would pray to receive Christ, and willing to be met again for follow up. 

But, it was not to be. We got more than the ideal scenario I was wishing for.

Here’s the rest of what happened, in Danielle’s words:

 

It was my first time and I was nervous. I never had the experience of sharing God’s message. I never wanted to do it. I felt unworthy because I didn’t know what to do in such situations. But, with Ate Sarah’s help, I was given a wonderful insight into evangelism.

It was truly an enlightening and inspiring experience that I now always look back to.

We encountered two very different people that day. The first one, Hannah, received us very willingly. We found out that she is a Christian as well, and actually owns a copy of the Four Spiritual Laws booklet! It was an amazing time, because she opened her ears to us, and she was friendly and welcoming.

The next student we encountered, Irene, was interesting. She had lots of questions for Ate Sarah, and through the discussion that ensued, I learned a lot of new things about the Bible. Irene asked a lot about arguments against the Bible, which Ate answered very soundly. It was a great learning experience for me. Ate Sarah did her job well, I felt that Irene might finally be able to open herself to God, and fulfill her desire of knowing Him.

I was able to learn and realize a lot of things that afternoon. 

I realized that not everybody is open to the Gospel yet, and still needs convincing. I was vaguely familiar with apologetics, but saw it in action for the first time that day.

I also realized that imparting the Gospel to others is never an easy task. I think the people who do it are blessed, because they are still on fire despite the circumstances – especially in a school such as UP.

Also, something that made a great impact on me was when Ate said that God’s word will never go in vain; it will work in the best and most wonderful of ways. Its effect on some people may not show now, but it could show later.

I was motivated to study more of the Bible, and share it to others! Through that day, I felt that God has blessed me with the importance of sharing the Gospel, and now, I am inspired to share it to others as well, in whatever way possible.