“Hey uncle,” Arlen approach me today, “can I go home to the mountains this afternoon while there are still some waters at the river?”
“What? What about having ‘waters in the river’ mean?” I’m quite confused.
“I should go home with Analyn today,” she explained,” because it rained a lot last night and we had some five baptisms pending because of lack of water.”
I get it.
Arlen, 19yo, along with her younger sister Analyn were the 2nd generation disciples. Their brother Albert, 1st generation 21yo, has made them both one morning during breakfast here. They all, along with their other two younger sister, have been living with us for almost 5 years now. Their father died two years ago, their mom named Auling who became a widow, (2nd generation also, Albert made her into a disciple), is a disciple-maker also. The families were all involve in disciple-making, about 30 people have been baptized last month reaching up to the 5th generation.
The family has a house up in the mountains where their father has built for them. They went to school there walking for an hour in the bushes and of course another hour going back. When we transferred in the same town closer to them (after our family house was burned with fire 7 years ago) we decided to help them have an easy access to school, this requires them to live with us. From time to time, they go up to their own house and make disciples there. Their own family clans and old friends have become disciples too. “Who are they anyway?” I ask what’s the relationship between these five people who were ready to be baptized and Arlen. “They’re my barkada before.” she replied. “Barkada” is a Cebuano group name for your circle of friends. There comes a time in your life in school where you met nice people and they became your friends and your relationships with them deepens until they will become a sort of your “second” family. You go to them not only just for fun but also for advices when you need a hand. No leadership of one person required, only what all can agree with and all directly do it together. When they meet together they don’t depend on schedules or programs, they just come and wants to see each other because they liked each other. Most of these people who has become your “barkada” would also become your best friend “in life.” A “barkada” is so common to us as Filipinos. Almost everybody has one either they’re religious groups or not, in school or in companies, each has one or can create one without knowing it. One can start it even without realizing. And then later he would know.
One thing we have in common here why a disciple can easily find people to make disciples: friends. We make disciples to those whom that we have relationships already. We don’t evangelism in this definition: preach at to someone in the park to the person whom you do not even know or knows you. We make disciples through our circle of friends.
Well, Jesus did.
Calling peoples names like Nathaniel, Zaccheus, Nicodemus, surely He has built some relationships with among them. If not, then He knows how to, like the Samaritan woman. I once was in the taxi in Manila with an “evangelist” friend of mine and right away he shared the gospel to the driver. “I don’t make disciples to the person unless he’s a friend.” I interrupted him.
“Wait a minute,” he’s confused I know. I intentionally do that to him. “Did I hear that right? What do you mean?” He insisted.
“I don’t just do what you did. We don’t do that in making disciples.” I replied, ”but surely I understand if one is doing some evangelism. Are you?”
“Well Molong, what if God told you to make disciples to the person you just meet?” A very good question right?
“That’s easy. I will make him my friend.” How long does it take for you to become a friend to the person? How long does it take for Jesus to become a friend of the Samaritan woman? To the tax sinner and collectors? I don’t know about you but one thing I know for sure: Jesus makes friends with sinners. He was even called a “friend of sinners.”
Here the problem lies, we don’t have an “unbelieving” friends anymore! We’ve lost them all. We’ve been deceived by these Bible verses itself: “Do not be unequally yoke with unbelievers.” “He who is a friend of the world is an enmity with God.” “Do not love the world.” We simply miss the point if we’re not looking unto Jesus way of making disciples – He makes friends first!
Jesus is 30 years old when He started His mission. What did He do then before that? I believe He makes friends. The disciples He has been long His friends. He “calls them by name” when He choose them to become His disciples. He knows Nathaniel’s name and calls him as He sits under the fig tree. How did He know his name?
Back to the story above. People up in the mountain depends on rain water so much for their daily use. Their wells dried up on hot season. They can’t even plant vegetables on their soil because there’s lack of water. As much as they can, they gather rain on big buckets. We baptized many people in the rain there. And yes, it’s very cold water for their bodies. It has been raining here since the biggest typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan, its international name). Recently, about 13 days of non-stop rain and flooding a lot of cities and landslides and many died too. In three months straight, we were bombarded with a 7.2 quake, a biggest typhoon ever, and floods. And honestly, the very reason why Arlen went home with her sister to do some baptisms with their friends at the river while there is still water because we just had a category two typhoon last night! It rained more water with some air blowing everywhere.
Thanks for the typhoon, God must have sent it to use it to cleanse people’s sin? huh!