Pong Dolojan, Director of Mindoro Bible College, in the Philippines, is an alumni of two servant leadership courses we presented there in 2008 and 2009. During our course, Pong and the rest of the SL class participants were sent out into their neighborhood to meet their neighbors, many of whom are desperately poor. Out of experiences like that, they decided to supply pigs to poor families as an income generating project.
I would like to apologize for my silence… Here are our reflections, report, and realizations:
To start with, we really praise the Lord for his faithfulness throughout the years. I would like to share the developments going on here in Mindoro.
The awareness and conviction of practicing servant leaderships is now growing into our souls. We are learning not to do it out of duty nor as a responsibility but out of love. Here is what happened to us for almost a year upon starting the G-Life livelihood project.
G-Life is an outreach ministry MBC among the poor families in our community. Poor means no piece of land, no education, no resources or even courage to change their way of life. They temporarily build their Nipa huts (small house with no rooms) on somebody’s land fearing that one day they will be asked to leave. They already heard about the pig fattening program and they were very excited that we went to them. We were able to cater 19 families. Others still came for the project but because of limited funds, we put others in a waiting status depending upon the availability of funds. We gave them pigs to grow and supply them with feeds. We come to know them had great time with them sharing in some of their troubles. They can come to us freely and we can go to them openly. The project becomes a blessing to them they are making profits to add to their income. It was almost perfect to see things going on. We did experience minor problems but everything turns out to be a big lesson to us. Then, we come to evaluate the authenticity of our intensions. We ask ourselves, “do we really love these people in our community?” To our amazement, our answer is a big NO! but why are we doing this to them? Is the big question now that we faced! We found out that we just do it for the sake of helping them; for the sake of pitying them; for the sake of power; for the sake of relevance showing that MBC is doing spectacular and relevant things in the community; and out of arrogance we are not a loving community! Sad to say that we fall into the temptation of Jesus Henri N is talking about in his book “In The Name Of Jesus.” We served, sacrificed and minister but we didn’t do it with love! We already received God’s grace of forgiveness and comfort to our sins and sorrows. We are reminded by God’s Word in I Cor. 13: “1If I speak in the tongues of humans and angels but have no love, I have become a reverberating gong or a clashing cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can understand all secrets and every form of knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains but have no love, I am nothing. 3Even if I give away all that I have and surrender my body so that I may boast but have no love, I get nothing out of it.” As we dig deep into our hearts the real problem we are experiencing are not the people whom we are serving but our actions without love.
Jesus taught us two outstanding values in life. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all you strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” We now find joy in the process of loving people before serving them. Learning from our mistakes we found new meaning in what we are doing. As Mother Theresa said, “Small things with great love. Love once you give it to God it becomes infinite.” We are now entering the second year of the project with new passion and motivation to love. Please continue to pray for us.
Last December and January the fattening pigs were disposed. We have seen big smiles receiving their share. In February the two sows gave birth with 20 piglets in all. Another one will soon deliver this April. The 20 piglets from the sows now will be distributed first to those who were not given pigs to grow, because we were not able to accommodate everyone the last time. The seven sows now will provide us the piglets that we need for our partners. G-Life funds will support them with the feeds that their piglets needs. Funds are still not enough we are studying other possibilities like goats and cows raising. Goats and cows are all that is needed. It is easier grow and is inexpensive to raise, grass and leaves is just around and the demand for goat and cow’s meat is becoming great and more expensive.
As we continue to build our relationship and the sustainability of our partnership time and effort is very necessary and crucial. Please pray for us.
Last October our town Mayor Hon. Wilfredo Hernadez was present at the inauguration of the G-life. He encouraged us to start a small community market with meet shop for the community. The community encourages me too to start a meet shop, I felt that excitement but I back off, I felt the pounding of my heart and started to fear, fear of taking another risk. To Quote Suzzane, “You will never know where the Lord will lead you.” This Idea is still hanging and the Honorable Mayor is waiting for our step. (Honestly, I am afraid).
Here are some of the experiences of the G-Life members:
Leonie Cantos: She has 4 Kids, 1 in high school, 2 kids in elementary and 1, 3 years old. She expressed it in one of our meetings that she feels safe and made strong by our community meetings. The income from the pig was really a big help to her financial to pay their long overdue bills (with tears). She is taking care of 2 sows.
Marie Fe Espiritu: she has two kids but not married. She refused to deliver her second baby, because she doesn’t have money to go to the hospital or to pay the midwife. When we visited her she was about to give birth. Upon seeing us, just few hours… she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. After that we gave them 4 pigs to grow. Last January she received her first share.
Gloria Orial: a single mother of a 14 year old boy. They were staying with us for more than 6 years. She is one of the first batches of Servant Leadership School in 2008. She had seen her life as not growing because of her relationship and dependence to us. Now she found courage to live separately from us, so we find a place for her to stay… God so willed… Now she has her own small house together with her son. She cooks food and sell it to the community. G-Life gave her 4 pigs to grow and now she is also one of our volunteer workers of G-Life. She asked the G-Life about poultry (chicken) rising. It’s almost 12 year now since her husband abandoned her and came here in Mindoro. G-life now became a family to her.
As we continue get deeper and deeper into community and personal of the people, we found out how unconcern we are. We cannot answer many of their questions. We didn’t see ourselves as God’s gift to them. A sad realization, it seems to be that we are teaching our community to hate God through our actions, prejudices, and judgmental attitude towards them and society. Our world, work, concepts, beliefs, convictions, “ministry” and most likely our pains and fears separated us from our society. But on the other hand, after all these learning and realizations the community can now feel the love of God through the presence of MBC. We are just starting, learning, practicing and improving our love to our community. So help us God.
We (Faculty & Staff) of MBC had a lot of things to learn still with regards to becoming an authentic community. The Lord has put us to different situations to deeply experience authentic community: The death of Rudy Salazar, Bebot’s husband had revealed to us many lessons we cannot escape but to learn them. It was like a “domino effect” challenges arise one after the other but we are a community and we are in good shape and very much better than before.
Two traumatic experiences we had in our community of Guinhawa that hurt us so much this March: One is the attempted murder/abandonment of a newly born baby by one of our neighbors. The parents dig a pit to bury the baby alive sensing that somebody is around they just leave the baby crying in the pit. The baby was found by another neighbor in the pit for may be an hour passed. Ants were all over the body with the umbilical cord still hanging.
The second is a machete massacre. It was associated to rubbery due to poverty. Three persons were murder with a machete. One is a 14 year old boy, his aunt 36 years old and 65 years old retired utility worker. They all have multiple machete cuts at the back of their heads. The machete cut through the skull only the skin of the face holds the head together. I almost fainted when I saw the bodies. The whole of Guinhawa and our town mourn for this crime and the sad thing is the perpetuators are still on the loose. Since there are no witnesses and concrete evidence to the suspects, they were release after 24 hours. Until now Guinhawa is still at the state of shock, fear and mourning to these happenings.
Our hearts mourn over these events. Why these things are happening in our community? But as we ponder to these circumstances we have seen a bigger and wider responsibility God is giving us. We are living in a place where the community is waiting for us. These events are wake up calls; we need to be a kingdom priest in our community. Many years had passed we are waiting for the students to come in order for us to minister but for those long years we fail to minister to the people around us. We really believe God put us in these scenarios to be awakened by the truth and realities of life to live accordingly, act righteously and to accomplish God’s Dream in this place not just for the students but for our community (Guinhawa) and MBC as God’s agents to give LIFE and TRANSFORMATION.
The First Servant Leadership School in 2008 was our turning point. Our dilemma of living out the truths we have learned from our former way of living is really a challenge to us, to our ministry, to our churches were we attend. It is like a new wine in an old wine skin. Since then we never stop discovering, sharing and expressing this truths to others. As I look back we are different persons three years before. We (Rev. Wilson Dumelod and Dr. Dan Ballast) never stop convincing the MBC board to overhaul the whole system and the curriculum to walk and live the servant leadership principle that Jesus lived here on earth. As a result of that long process, the MBC Board now had approved a New Mission Statement: “The Mindoro Bible College Exists to model authentic community that Develops Servant Leaders who are Equipped for holistic Christian Ministry.”
Our whole curriculum now will be gradually overhauled in line with the new mission statement. Together with some of the board members, faculty and staff of MBC did a brain storing retreat last January. It was a great retreat our Core Values were identified and God gave us this dream at the conclusion of the retreat: “To make MBC center for Community Transformation in building authentic communities.” A model community! This coming May another retreat is scheduled to plan an applicable curriculum (we need help and insight on this area). We are now on the process of slowly changing our course to the path of the dream of God for our community. It is a long way ahead, but we praise God we had seen great developments.
One area of development is the oneness of our soul and dreams for our community. I really had hard times with some of the faculty and staff especially with Ptr. Ricky Tapao and Ate Remy Lingon and may be me to them. Ptr. Ricky’s priority is not much in MBC but more in the Churches Associations – Mindoro district. Ate Remy is very passive and inexpressive that we really don’t know where she’s thoughts were. Finally, there was a breakthrough when we start confessing our sins, sharing our struggles and servant leadership experiences to one another during Tuesday devotions and before starting our monthly staff and faculty meeting. We are all struggling, covering our inner most fears and pains that our interpersonal relationship was greatly affected. We had found out lots of indifference and false assumptions but the Lord leads us to be one “to accept our uniqueness and to enjoy our differences.” Unlike before much of our concern is about work… work… work… we substituted work to our interpersonal relationship. We are greatly affected by the world’s general concept: “if you excel in your work and can make excellent results then you are good regardless of what is happening on in your life.” We are made aware that giving more regards to what we consider ministries (work…work…work…) ruins the two greatest commandments of loving God first and loving your neighbor as yourself. Jesus values relationship with others more than work…work…work..! It is so easy to do and do things for the people than to build an authentic relationship in the community. Our goal now is to produce excellent result as community effort giving greater value on the person more than the job. We have seen a more productive person because we value them as God does. Praise the Lord for the solid unified soul and dreams amongst us.
Looking at the big picture, God is preparing and leading us to His dream for MBC, the Lord is doing great things not only amongst us but also in building our team. Ton-ton Ortega (MBC team member) will be back in May after two years of schooling in Baguio City. He took Masters In Guidance Counseling in-line with his personal mission statement which is also directly connected to the Mission of MBC. Affirmatively, God is building His own team for MBC. In one of our sharing time, Ptr. Ricky came to realize his personal mission statement (“to educate, encourage and mobilize people of Mindoro to eliminate poverty”) under the Mission statement of MBC. As a result he now sense new meaning to his mission statement and he applied for further training in the area of community transformation. The MBC board approved his application for further studies. He will take Community Transformation Course in Asian Theological Seminary this coming school year and after his schooling he will go back to MBC to work out MBC’s Mission.
The Rice Business is not as easy as it was written in the paper. We are competing with giant and expert in rice business world and we cannot compete into their markets. Inclusively, the idea of rice business is partnership to extend and help other churches and Christians put up a sustainable income generating project and a Christian model in business. The Lord has led us already to 5 business partners among ABCCOP churches. We bought a FOTON Tornado Truck worth Php 936, 384.35 including others expenses for operation. We have had deliveries twice to thrice a month. As of now our monthly rice delivery worth Php 450,000. We still need to broaden our network and partners to increase business profit. We are now six (6) months in operation. In the process of broadening our network and partnership, the BOT decided to use the unused Rice Fund to buy an agriculture land that will be productive for rice, vegetables and other crops. The reasons are: 1.The money invested in the bank has little interest compared to the income a farm can give. 2. The farm can produce rice to support the rice business that will increase profit. 3. It can generate more jobs for the community. 4. The farm land investment is to secure the funds from unstable economy. 5. Managing the farm properly can speed up the return of investment. With these given reasons given the Board approved a resolution to purchase a 5.8 hectares of agricultural land amounting to 1,750,232 including other documentations last January 2011. The 5.8 hectares had different portions. One portion is coconut plantation, another portion is banana plantation, another portion is Nipa plantation, another portion is Rice Land and finally an area for vegetable plantation.
The beginning of all these business endeavors we find it very challenging. The Lord has widens our scope of ministry. This is not what we think we should be doing, but God in His grace opened our heart how to be a responsible Christians in our community/society. The Lord put us here in Mindoro to be God’s gift to the people a package of God to bring forth His love, give hope to the hopeless, strength to the weak, shinning lights to the darkened and help to the needy.
Please pray for me as I supervise the projects. In the long run the whole MBC community including the students will take part in this project. As some of them are now involved. This coming 2011-2012 school-years the plan for the students is to let them engage in transformation Guinhawa community. We are also enlisting volunteers now for the G-Life project. A bookkeeper is what we need most.
Please continue to pray for peace and order; righteousness and justice; Barangay officials; peace and comfort from the tragedies. Please pray for MBC as we take part in the transformation our Barangay Guinhawa.
Please pray for the G-Life Project: May our love to God and to the people grow more and more; the families may be able to value the values of G-Life. Many are struggling in this area. To experience more quality time together with the people.
Please pray for the productivity of the farm, for the machineries needed, for the right person to till the land and extra funds for operation.
Please pray for the Rice delivery be safe from road robbery. A single load will cost more than a million including the truck. God will give us more trustworthy business partners. God will bless this business to support our General Fund. We are now on the red!
Servant Leadership is not a subject or a course to be taught but a life to be caught.
The Grace of God be in us all.
To God Be the Glory!
Ptr. Pong Dolojan