‘I will not Leave You as Orphans’

John 14:15 – 27
By Rev. David Ahearn

Our passage today belongs to what is called the “farewell discourse” in the Gospel of John. Jesus is preparing his disciples for this death. It is his last will and testimony. Much of his teachings did not make sense until after His resurrection.

Jesus is worried about his followers – not only the 12 disciples, but especially Mary of Bethany, Lazarus, and Mary of Magdala – who are central figures in the Gospel of John. His physical body will leave them, but Jesus will not leave them as orphans.

Jesus promises that he will send to his disciples an Advocate, the Holy Spirit who will be their parent.

There is an elderly woman in my church who lost her husband 20 years ago. She goes to his grave every week and talks to him out loud, literally.

She describes her day, tells him what’s happening with their children and grandchildren, and she asks for his advice. She feels him speak to her from the grave, helping her through times of troubles.

In the same way, Jesus is gone but is also present with us. This presence we call the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit has two main works—the first task is the one we read in the second chapter of Acts, that the Spirit unites everyone in the church, even across all languages and nationalities; Jesus also introduces a second work of the Spirit in the Gospel according to John—that the Spirit comes to us as a kind of teacher and parent combined.

But why do we need a Spirit to teach us when Jesus left behind his teachings? When we don’t know what to do, why can’t we just go to the book and look it up?

The answer comes to us when we think about good parents. The best parents don’t just give their children a bunch of rules when they are babies in a short list and then expect them to follow those brief rules for the rest of their lives. No, we parent aren’t just rearing children. We are rearing adults we want our children to become.

My mother brought me to church every week. My church was very, very dedicated to world missions. I often met missionaries who worked in Brazil, in Africa, and sometimes in Asia. From my earliest days, I learned to imagine the church as a worldwide movement that included all persons in one family

My wife’s father is a very famous theologian in Japan. Our two countries – Japan and the US were enemies in World War II. My father-in-law was in a military school when the war broke out. He made a vow to the emperor of Japan to die rather than surrender to the Americans.

But the war ended, and somehow our two nations became friends. A church in Kansas City in the United States gave my father-in-law a scholarship to do his doctoral theology studies in America. So, from his earliest days, his main mission in life was to form deep bridges between the Christian churches in the US and in Japan.
So both of us learned from our parents about the worldwide community of the church. But guess what happened when my then fiancée and I decided to get married? Both of our parents were against it.

I think my mother had some prejudice against Asian people, to be honest. And my wife was an only child. Her father would never admit it, but he could not bear the idea of his daughter moving far away.

Now, both my wife and I had a decision to make. What did it mean to be faithful children? When we decided to get married, we went against our parents’ superficial wishes in order to live out the deepest values that they taught us.

Parents want their children to learn not just obedience but real wisdom. It is our responsibility as parents to give our children wings, and then find the courage to watch them spread their wings and fly.

With my own children, I’ve tried to follow these reminders:

1. Give my children not only love but also respect. They should feel not only my affection, but also should feel safe. Home should be a refuge, a place where they are completely accepted and know they are loved.

2. Respect means showing confidence in my child’s capabilities. I tried to let my children express some wishes from every early age. At first it was perhaps only choosing which vegetable to eat, or picking out what t-shirt to wear. As they grew up, we tried to give them more choices about more important things in their lives. Often they made mistakes in the choices, but that’s part of growing up.

3. Teach my children that they have some control over their lives. Often they don’t fly in the direction we would have predicted. They need to develop their own good judgment and their own wisdom. I hope I gave my children a strong foundation, but it is up to them to build the house that they will live in as adults.

“I will not leave you as orphans,” Jesus says. He comes again as the Holy Spirit to be that divine parent to us. So what kind of parent is the Holy Spirit?

First, I firmly believe that God does not want blind obedience to simple rules. God wants Jesus to grow in wisdom. If Jesus just gave us a rule book, we wouldn’t need the Spirit to help us know how to live. The Spirit helps us to remember the many things that Jesus said and did, and apply the right lesson to the right life-situation. And the Spirit will teach us new things, guiding us along the path in each new age.

I teach courses at LaGrange College in ethics, peacemaking, religion and science. Knowing how to be a Christian in this complicated new age requires Christians who are wise. How can we be faithful Christians when thinking about genetic therapy? Or artificial intelligence? Or how to have good, healthy relationships in this age of social media?

Jesus never talked about these things directly. We need to read the Scripture faithfully, of course, but we’ll never find any clear rule about them. The Spirit teaches us like a good parent. Jesus gives us a strong foundation. But the church needs intelligent, wise Christians who can imagine and dream and discern how to live in this new age.

On this day, we are especially thankful for the parents and teachers who guided us. These are the ones who gave us not just knowledge, but wisdom and support and encouragement. I am a teacher now, but every time I come to a graduation, I remember all the mentors and teachers who guided me.

 

I never could not do anything to say thank you to them. And so now I just “pay it forward,” by being a mentor to the generations of students who come to me.

Let’s give thanks that Jesus doesn’t ask blind obedience, but works in us by the spirit to rear up wise, well-grounded adults in the faith. And we are thankful for all the parents and teachers and mentors in our lives who have helped us along this path.
We must not only give thanks, but we must to vow to pay it forward. Be the Spirit of Christ in someone else life. Help them grow, become wiser, become more free.

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A Day of Healing and Restoration

By Rev. Maricel Monceda-Osias

The Pastoral Concern Department (PCD), in partnership with the counselors from the University of Santo Thomas and St. Scholastica, held a one-day counseling ministry for the staff, volunteers, and partners of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) last May 6.

It was participated in by nine predetermined clients and 12 counselors.
Dr. Ma. Lourdes Medina, Trauma Therapist President of EMDR (Eye Movement Decentralization Reprocessing) Philippines Inc., led the 12 counselors who were Guidance counselors and clinical psychologists by profession into a day of healing and restoration ministry.

The said activity did not only give the participants an opportunity to be healed emotionally and psychologically but also to experience an emotional catharsis that enable them to let go and move on from what is keeping them from moving on.

The activity started by a prayer and orientation of what the activity is and should be, followed by first session, case conferencing, second session, prayer and meal fellowship. It was indeed a day of healing and restoration.

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Let Your Light Shine: Day-C Retreat 2019

By Rev. Maricel Monceda-Osias

The Day Center for older Persons (Day-C), a program of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) conducted its annual retreat at Pateña’s Residence in Barangay Malaking Tatiao, Silang, Cavite, last May 18 with the theme, “Let Your Light Shine.”

Rev. Janeth Rufino, administrative pastor of St. Mark UMC, gave the biblico-theological reflection (BTR), which was taken from Matthew 5:13-16.

She encouraged the Day-C members to let their light shine and keep their light shining amid their personal and social “darkness” (struggles) in life.

The Rev. David Pateña (ret.) gave an inspirational message to the Day-C members, encouraging them to do good and do no harm to their neighbors.

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On the other hand, the Rev. Maricel Osias, KKFI chaplain, stressed the importance of being a light to their neighbors and not a stumbling block instead.

“I am blessed. I am encouraged,” said one of Day-C members. “When you get older, sometimes it’s hard to remember that you still have a light in you and that you still have something to share unto your neighbors.”

It was, indeed, an activity full of fun and reflection.

These Ladies Prove that Age is Just a Number

By Lweendo Janny Hachilenge
Global mission Fellow 2018-2020

As the longest member of the Day Center for Elderlies (Day-C), 68-year-old Divine V. Cruz is a loyal fan of the program. In fact, she is a regular and has been for the past 30 years.

Divine said her life has been enriched by Day-C in many ways.

“My spirituality is always strengthened though the Bible study sessions and the learnings from the experiences we, the elderlies, share,” she said.

She said they impart what they learn about the Word of God to non-members who have yet to know Him.

“We help them see the importance of spirituality and the power of prayer,” she said.

DayCBS.jpg“The response has always been positive. They pour their worries and burdens to God and then we pray together.”

Divine said because of the positive attitude that Day-C helps her acquire, she does not feel her age.

“I naturally have a young and vibrant spirit and that makes me feel happy and young,” she claimed. “I still enjoy visiting different places, attending spiritual retreats and outing fellowships with the Day-C members.”

She still wants to be part of the community and share my experiences “because they have been very useful to my soul.”

At 82, Mrs. Marrietta Asedillo wears the distinction of being one of the oldest members of the Day Center for the Elderly or Day-C program of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI).

She started her involvements way back in 2001, after she retired from work at the National Teachers College (NTC), where she worked as a cashier and payroll master for 40 years.

“When I retired, I immediately began to look for activities I could join to keep me busy,” Marietta disclosed. “Thank God, I was introduced to the Day-C group at KKFI.”
Since then, she said, she has always been looking forward to Fridays, when the group meets regularly inside the KKFI Compound on P. Paredes St., Sampaloc, Manila.

“Our main activity every Friday is to have devotions and bible study,” she said.

“Sometimes we have socialization by going to places that would enhance our physical and social life.”

Marietta admitted that being a member of the Day C has given her the opportunity to meet other women from all walks of life.

“I also was able to share God’s word to them,” she added. “I always thank God for all the benefits and blessings that the Day-C members continue to enjoy through the goodness of KKFI family.”

Marietta admitted that health at her age has become a challenge.

“I constantly think of ways how my ministry will continue since I’m getting old, but God will help me.”

She concluded: “I feel very happy because I’m still involved in the community work and I will continue to help the young generation until I’m finally unable to. Being happy also makes you feel young and strong in body and in mind.”

Mrs. Erlinda A. Fernandez, 71, first learned about the Day Center for Elderlies (Day-C) from her sister-in-law, Marietta C. Asedillo, who would often tell her about her regular Friday schedule.

She would tell her about the “Kapatiran,” where she would meet with other senior citizens like her to study the Word and do other activities that compel their bodies and minds to move and be active.

“I got curious and told myself that once I retire, I will also attend Day-C to see exactly what it is,” she told herself.

But once she started attending Day-C meetings on Fridays, Erlinda got hooked. She observed that the regular attendance of the group was between 10 and 15. Then something unexpected happen.

“I was barely in my second year as member of the Day-C when I was elected as its president for a two-year term,” she said.

However, she found it weird that during the election, the Day-C members voted for her by raising their hands but with their eyes closed! Does that mean something? I thought.

Thank goodness there’s one person whose eyes were completely open, the Rev. Floyd Alcantara. The KKFI chaplain’s eyes needed to be open since he was the one tasked to count the votes.

“So it came to pass that I became the Day-C president, she said. “As I was not really familiar with its activities, I had to ask the older members for guidance.”

Then the group formalized the membership list and conducted a program planning session.

“I am glad that KKFI management has supported and still is supporting our plans and programs,” she said. “Our activities have attracted new members.”

Erlinda is thankful to the Rev. Maricel Osias for streamlining their Bible Study since arriving as the new KKFI chaplain more than a year ago.

“We now have a manual to follow. New members, mostly Roman Catholics, were challenged to read and study the Bible, its background and context,” she revealed.

She added: “We have members who are very thankful for the opportunity to learn and fellowship with like-hearted elders. There are members who confessed that it was their first time to read the Bible.”

Erlinda admitted that “managing” elders who have different quirks and strong personalities “is a bit challenging.”

She disclosed that logistics is a concern, “but with the Lord’s guidance everything works together for good.”

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“I thank God that I have officers who assist me, especially Esther Decena, the vice president, who is always available and is willing to help me perform various tasks,” Erlinda said. “Sometimes problems seem daunting, but God is good and His will always prevails.”

She was reelected last October, apparently as a recognition of her effectiveness. If the number of member is to be the gauge (the roster has increased to 31), Erlinda deserves to remain in her present position.

“With the able support of KKFI, the chaplain, and the members, I am confident we can overcome trials and achieve our objectives,” she confidently said.

At 71, Erlinda said she feels young and optimistic.

“I thank the Lord for life every day for giving me another day to do whatever task He has lined up for me, for the opportunity to serve others, to be able to support my husband in his various obligations,” she articulated.

She concluded: “I may have sprinkling of silver hair but I’d like to think that this gives me dignity and inner peace.”

Enjoy tayo, di po ba?

by Dr. Cindy Dollente-Ang

It was during the 80s when the program for senior citizens of the Women and Family Department (WFD) started. Ms Nellie Lacson Mercado (NLM), then KKFI’s executive director, suggested we put up a socio-recreational activity for the elderlies as a salute to their special, loving role in building responsible and caring families. For this, we appointed Rose Concepcion, who was also the telephone counselor of Life Line Manila Telephone Counseling Center (Lilim), another WFD program, as program officer.

NLM had then acquired for KKFI a yellow Hi-Ace van with Mang Ely Angeles as the “ever faithful, ever true” driver. The program went this way: Once a month, we would gather a group of elderlies from churches and communities in Manila, make the van available for them, and equipped with “baon” for lunch and snacks, drive them to Puerto Azul in Ternate, Cavite, to picnic at Quezon Memorial Circle or Rizal Park, or to a nearby beach. Sometimes it would be to see a movie. There was always a medicine box on hand. And of course, a camera to record their smiles.

This went on monthly and faithfully as it could not be at anytime suspended because the seniors were having too much fun! The staff’s reward came through the words, “Anak, kung hindi niyo kami dinala dito, mamamatay na lang kami na hindi namin ito nakikita!” How heartwarming that a little trip organized for their recreation could give them much joy.

When NLM had the ground floor of Hugh Wilson Hall renovated, a large area was provided for the elderlies’ use and we called it the Day Center for the Elderly, or Day C. This meant the seniors had an office, a sitting room, a rest room, a conference room, and a multi-purpose room for Bible studies, birthday parties and other fun activities. The members took turns as Bible study leader or at times the KKFI chaplain would do it or conduct a recollection session. A mezzanine atop the Day C had lodging facilities which allowed them a resting area.

Saturdays were spent for meetings, dancing sessions, eating together, and rehearsals for numbers during the Day C or KKFI’s anniversaries, for then they were always requested to present special cultural numbers. They joined the parade around Sampaloc to open the annual celebration of KKFI’s founding. And yes, they wouldn’t be behind beauty pageants. We had the Search for Ms Day C complete with judging and talent portion and of course, the walk, the gown and the coronation!

NLM opened a loan program for them too, whether for personal reasons or for a livelihood generation project. They faithfully paid up as the program enabled them to have a better quality of life. A trip to the cashier to pay had a smile on their lips.

And there were the glittering ladies. Mommy Pie Tolentino, famous for her “My Fairy Lady” hats, busy with her expertise in plant science and culture, would conduct demos and exhibits of her experiments. With her finely chiselled and delicate features, she could be a model for a classic artist in painting. Mommy Luz would have her own craft at costume jewelry making, with she herself modelling them. When she took them to the Day C, they were easily sold out. The daughter of Mommy Valencia invited everyone to the Manila Hotel to celebrate her mom’s 90th birthday. Mommy Valencia treated the guests with her song, “Darling I am Growing Older.” A member from the neighborhood barangay couldn’t care less if her voice would reverberate all over Sampaloc. She would sing anytime she wanted to. She would start her favorite song with the line, “Hinahanap Kita…” and the rest would jokingly say, “Oh Mommy, nahanap mo na ba?”

Every one had a talent which they were always willing to show off, how lucky could the Day C get. Meetings and activities were well-attended. We never had a problem with attendance because every affair was well planned and organized. The involvement and commitment were deep. Each one just had to be a part of it. The Day C was a small world they themselves could create and own.

We could only look back? No, we can only move onwards now because we are seeing how KKFI moves on and continues with the love and care for our Lolas and Lolos, the very foundation on which the Day C was built, the very inspiration which assures us it will never die.

In all this, Rose was their Mother Hen – gathering them for the monthly outing, readying the Bibles, arranging for meals, leading the rehearsals, following up their attendance, and in a thousand other ways ever ready and being patient in attending to their needs, and surely there were lots. We of the staff were in all-out support to her and the lovable lolas. Theirs was a real family presence.

As I write this, there are tears in my heart recalling how it was over at Day C: NLM’s move, Rose’s care, the staff’s support, and the elderlies’ innocence and capability to give and receive love.

To our very dear Lolas – enjoy tayo, di po ba?

Chilling Out: Care Group Outdoor Fellowship

by Rev. Maricel M. Osias

Care Group leaders led the group of students/reviewees in an outdoor fellowship held at La Mesa Eco Park, Quezon City on May 23, 2019. It was an activity aimed at giving the students/reviewees a time to chill out after taking their board exams and before heading back home.

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The Care Group Ministry of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) is designed to make it become a part of students’ lives and aspirations. It also aimed to walk closely with them as they made their stay in KKFI easier, more meaningful, and memorable.

God Sent Me Angels

By Jazel Resurreccion

First of all, I want to thank God for another achievement and for giving this opportunity to share how blessed I am to be part of family of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI).

I became a KKFI scholar in 2010. I stopped studying for one year after graduating from elementary school. My family was too poor and my parents could not afford sending me to high school. We were desperately looking for someone to help me continue my studies.

Then a miracle happened. Kuya Vince Eliver found my family. He shared to us a good news, which is a scholarship program of KKFI. He invited my cousin and I to go to Gilead Center in Pulilan, Bulacan to apply for scholarships.

Like other applicants, my cousin and I were interviewed and screened. A week later, Kuya Vince visited us with a good news–I passed the tests. I was not totally happy, though, since my cousin was not as fortunate like me. I had mixed emotions.

I had to take the path that was laid out in front of me. Everything happens for a reason, I thought.

I became scholar of KKFI for eight years. It was not a walk in the park, I’m telling you. Those eight years were characterized by continued struggles in school and, in general, in life. College was the hardest part. I lost weight because there were times that I had to skip meals to study. Family and financial problems did not help. Those were crazy times!

But I made it through the rain, as the saying goes. I feel blessed because God used people to encourage me, inspire me, and lift me up when I was almost down and out. He made me realize that life has a purpose.

The people around me, many of them from KKFI, made me feel worthy. I know God used KKFI as an instrument to put me on the right path so I can reach my dreams. I feel blessed beyond measure.

I’m so thankful to God because he is really faithful. He sees me when I’m broken and he hears my cries, so He sends good people to soothe my restless heart. As it is written in Psalm 91:11: “For He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”
God gives me the strength to keep walking for my journey has just begun.