Ilocos Sur Trip

14 09 2009

“Tell me how, how to make disciples,” All day these words became our topic during our table conversations.
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I could not say more about my trip to Vigan, Ilocos Sur, it was one of my favorite. Not only everyone is excited about my coming but also challenging that dropping at Clark airbase from Cebu I didn’t know anyone nor have been to the place before. It was 10 in the evening; it could take $10 to fetch a taxi just to get to the city. Well, from this time on I find a better way to minimize cost, I approach a white man with a beautiful Filipina wife who is renting a van and I get even to sit in the front seat with no cost at all. “Hmnn…I could do that then whenever I travel.” My cash is only $12 when I arrive at Clark, taking a taxi, bus fare and my dinner could have make me broke then. I find my way to have my dinner for $2 and a bus fare for $9 and that left me $1 to reach my place which is a 5-hour trip.

My host there which I met for the first time, Edwin, a 30 year old man married to his wife Norma who is 33, they have 3 wonderful kids, 2 boys and 1 girl, pick me up at 3 in the morning. From then on we talk ‘til the morning. A day later, I knew then that he didn’t have sleep that night, he is excited waiting for my coming.

House Church Talks

Edwin hosted some families and young people at his house for a house church meetings every week, along with that he has some Friday night prayer meetings. But my purpose in coming is not about telling him what to do and what not to do. I simply was coaching him by asking some questions that he can find answers through what he has been doing.
When the church does meet? For how long are we going to meet, until Jesus Christ comes?

Not only that most house churches are like having a little Sunday Morning Church Services in their homes but also they’re having endless meetings week-after-week ‘til forever, and forever is such a long time. Until we become family we will still continue to meet. Nothing wrong with meetings but until we stop calling them ‘meetings’ we will not become a family. A ‘meeting’ is not the church but the church meets. Nobody ask me as a member of my family, “When is your meeting?” But we certainly do meet during meals together, walking together, sit together, just doing things together. Have we called it a ‘meeting?’ Do we have to call it a ‘meeting?’ What kind of meetings? A ‘Sunday’ meeting? A ‘Wednesday’ meeting? A ‘Prayer’ meetings? A ‘Bible Study’ meetings? For how long again?

“Now we will not have any more prayer meetings,” as his wife Norma announced after hearing enough of my explanations one night of fellowship, “but we do pray.” Another night also while discussing a topic on ‘how to convert a Christian into a disciple of Jesus’ we ended up at 2 in the morning and then when I woke up the next day Edwin and his wife have a good talk in their Ilocano language which I could not understand and then they paused and said in English, ‘Good Morning’ to me and continued, “Indeed you’re coming is a blessing to us. Thank you.” Norma then continued, “After pondering on how to make disciples, God reminded of my friends who believe in me, trust in me and loyal to me. It is time to meet them with a meal and make them Jesus disciples.” Here is a part of Edwin’s email to me after days that I left:

“My wife started also making disciples to the young ladies. We are in the process of learning about making disciples and being a church. Thank you.”

A Real House Church

A real house church looks like a family of Jesus; actually it is a family of Jesus on earth. And if it becomes a family, you don’t even have to call it a ‘house church’ anymore. But then it should start on Jesus commands to ‘go and make disciples to all nations’ for if not then we will simply ended up having ‘endless’ meetings. It is easy to start a house church that looks like a Bible Study or a cell group especially here in the Philippines. I can start 3-5 house church in a day with a lot of meals to eat upon! But then it becomes the hardest thing to maintain it. I did it and was burn-out instantly and the question arises in my head, “Oh my, for how long should I have to do this?” That becomes my nightmare every time I did it!

Jesus family is the best name that I can call it if there is one! Here is the diagram shown below:
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And here is the explanation:
I have made my friends disciples of Jesus, friends who believes in me, trust in me and loyal to me. This is how I will know that they are ‘faithful’ as in 2 Timothy 2:2. Whatever I will say and let them do then is easier than ever simply because I have their trust and loyalty. But this does not stop there. As quickly as you can make them disciple you have to let them follow Jesus as they continue on their journey. Jesus is The Good Shepherd and the Holy Spirit is the better teacher than anyone else. The person is encourage to follow Jesus by ‘practicing’ to listen to His voice, he is then ‘walking in the Spirit’ and being ‘led by the Spirit’ of God.
After he will know that he is a disciple now following Jesus by telling him intentionally, I will also tell him intentionally that I have become his ‘father’ or ‘parents in the Lord’ now and he becomes my ‘son in the Lord.’ Again, unless you tell him word for word that he is a disciple or your son in the Lord he will never know. My relationship to him is not ‘pastor-member’ who is dependent on his present or absence in church services. My relationship to him is a life-time event. It is not a ‘church-based’ relationship but a ‘family-based’ relationship. And because there is a relationship between each other right from the beginning that then is my only reason to see or meet him anywhere, anyplace at anytime. No ‘weekly’ schedule at all. We simply meet because we have become a family – a father and a son relationship.

The forming a ‘house church’ or a ‘Jesus Family’

I have 36 people around me who are my friends and whom I make disciples. This is my Jesus family. We meet, not all of them but 2 by 2, or 5 of us, depends, anytime, anyplace and any day. At times I called them all and go swimming or just eating together as a big family, no schedules, no programs, just being together. Each of them sometimes know each other, sometimes not, sometimes they’re in the process of building healthy good and devoted relationships. All ‘becoming’ family together while doing things together.
But, each of them has made disciples to their own friends as well. That is they’re having their own Jesus family, a house church. So, I only have 36 people in my house church family yet each of them has their own house church family too. How can I be sure that they make disciples as well? Simple, they have friends who believe in them, trust them and loyal to them. The only person that can make them Jesus disciples is them because they are their friends, not mine.

So in the chart, no one is the leader except everyone leads for awhile, that’s all, and then everyone follows Jesus.

Are You Worth To Untie Jesus Sandals?

I like the attitude of John the Baptist, he has his own followers ‘for a while’ and soon enough when Jesus appears on the scene he did not forbid them to follow Jesus. In other words, even he, a prophet used greatly by God to prepare Jesus way is not worth to ‘untie’ Jesus authority over people! Jesus has the only authority to gather people to himself and to him alone, not a lot! John saw himself only, if you don’t mind, as a leader for while and then ultimately pushes people to follow Jesus. He sees not only his capacity to lead people ‘for how long?’ to himself but also his role to be played with Jesus – that is to prepare God’s people to Jesus. In the same way, our role is to only ‘make’ disciples, disciples of who? Yours? Nope, Jesus! As I said on my past articles, there’s only two things that you can do to God’s people, either you draw them to yourself or you draw them to God.

The Role of Philip and Nathanael, Molong and Albert [John 1:43-51]

When Jesus found Philip and told him, “Follow Me” Philip found his friend Nathanael and told him, “I found Jesus and followed Him, do you want to follow Him as well?” Philip urges Nathanael to follow Jesus, not him! Do you know why? Jesus said to Nathanael, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Before we can call up anyone to follow Jesus, God has already prepared them – a hungry for reality, a longing to be set free, “Before Philip called you,..I saw you!” What does it take for Nathanael to believe in Jesus it is because he has belief in his friend Philip. Look at the chain:

Jesus found Philip and he found Jesus
Philip found Nathanael and wants him to found Jesus – “Come and see.”
Jesus saw Nathanael before Philip found him – “I saw you.”
And Nathanael found Jesus.

I make Albert Jesus disciples one night, and urge him to follow Jesus. Then Albert found his friend Jomy and urges him to follow Jesus. And Albert and Jomy found their friend Jillian and urges him to follow Jesus as well. And Jillian found his friend Louie Dan and introduces them to Albert and Jomy and the three of them make Louie Dan Jesus disciples in 30 minutes and the three of them baptizes him directly in my house that day. Time passed, Jomy make his two sisters disciples of Jesus, and have also found Mark and make him disciple also. While Jomy makes disciples, Albert also makes another three of his newly friend Jesus disciples and now is ready to baptized them. This all happened in just 2 months.

And while they are making disciples to their friends, I continue making friends to make them disciples of Jesus later on.

Ian, Edwin’s younger Brother – a new disciple

DSC_0272As I was in Vigan with my host Edwin, his younger brother Ian, a silent 17 year old guy became new disciple the second day I was with them. Though Edwin has church already for many years but his brother is from Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, and since they were separated when they’re young they are not that close enough yet but sure he will be disciple by Edwin sooner. Cut to the chase, I sense this younger brother of his, Ian, has some belief in me and is ready to trust of what I am going to do with him. We didn’t talk, but somehow I felt I can make him one of Jesus disciples. To find my curiosity, he bats in to my comments and the journey begins. I then approach to him one morning and we talk over a cup of coffee. He has a Christian background already because their father is a pastor of an Assembly of God church. So I make the quickest ‘making disciples’ approach with him – 10 minutes. At the end of my words I ask him if he wants to follow Jesus and be baptized and he said yes. That day I baptize him in the sea. Here is a part of Edwin, his older brother, wrote me about Ian just yesterday:

“Ian keeps on reading the book and bible. According to him GOD is teaching something to him. He is learning.”
Just when he decided to be baptized I handed him a small New Testament Bible. I know that I know that he will read it, why? Because he believes in me, trust me and loyal to me. After, I dump him into the water I do the second intentional word for word affirmation, “Now, I have become a father unto you and you have become my son in the [faith] Lord. Our relationship is lifetime, if you ever come to Cebu let me know and you stay at my house. Edwin, your older brother also will be there as your father in the Lord. Any questions you can ask him and have some [relational] discipleship.”

How To Make Disciples

Edwin’s wife, Norma, did a great job of taking an 8 minute video while we discuss about how to make disciples. The discussions were in Tagalog dialect, and a bit of English words. Hope you find it helpful HERE.

God meets my needs along the way. Thanks for your prayers and support.

And by the way, Ian is my 37th in my house church family.

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