LIT UP Leaders: Micah Pascual

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If we’re to talk about “Alpha Females”, she’d be on top of my list of friends, only because Ronda Rousey isn’t in my radar (yet). No, she is not a fighter like her in the Octagon nor any martial arts field (though she does of a bit of Taekwondo), I could say she’s one tough cookie in terms of the spiritual side.

She is one of my workmates back then when I had a short stint for 7107 International Music Festival and clicked we did right away. I consider her one of my dearest sisters in the faith and surely, how God molded her into this heroine is truly just amazing. She could have done her work here in the Metro, big city but she chose to dig deep and go back to her roots, and lead where God told her.

It’s been a while since I last had a “LIT UP” Leader section and sharing this short but concise interview. Let her answers do all the talking and let’s see if you’re not going to be impressed. Continue reading “LIT UP Leaders: Micah Pascual”

From Pain to Praises

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Let me start this one with a reference to one blog I did before, about my heroes.

My heroes aren’t in pedestals,
nor those etched in myths and legends.

Earlier I was able to have a chance to join a local prison ministry led by a friend and a fellow Kairos classmate, Krizzia Yuzon. The reason behind it is because I became curious with all of her posts about her being in this ministry. Just imagine being a woman in a crowd of almost all men, inmates with cases tied with their name. I wanted to first hand see how it is and break some mindsets I personally have.

Last time I was near a prison was in college when I had an assignment to cover a police station. I wasn’t even inside the cell but I could smell the stench, and feel the heat of a place packed with people. I could not imagine nor would I wish to go inside but that’s why I wanted to go with a ministry to at least have a glimpse, and also a bit inspired by this:

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ … (Matthew 25:35-46)

So if Jesus himself, our Lord, had this to say, I took it literally and went on. In reality, Sunday night I was planning to flake because I wasn’t in the mood or getting any details if it will push through but Krizzia did send me a message so I could not just say no to that.

Much like in every story I think that God wants me to see and experience, I tried to be “empty”, not expecting anything. I know God is a God of surprises and I really wanted to observe and learn what is God doing in these places? It’s just within the city I live in yet I feel I haven’t really had the chance nor time or even interest to check it out.

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This is Kuya Richard and he’s the speaker for this session. He looked pretty normal; very jovial and playful when he arrived at our meeting point and he still was when he spoke. But it was the meat of what he said that really was striking.

He was an ex-convict. He had his first case at the age of 15, theft. Each year he gets worse, robbery with extortion, dealing with drugs, and even was able to kill three people. Murder, if we use a ‘better’ term. He was imprisoned for it in Manila City Jail, with four cases, and with that bringing his mean demeanor inside the prison. He continued with his wicked ways until he was met by God inside the prison.

He started out with “fooling” the service providers or the prison ministries by memorizing verses as sharing them in the sessions can merit him money or food, which both will enable him to buy drugs inside prison.

See, knowing verses do not really speak much; it can just show you can memorize things but having a real relationship with God is far more different. Remember that even the Enemy, Satan, was able to quote the Scriptures when he was tempting Jesus. We all know what happened there.

Going back, Kuya Richard eventually came to know who Jesus was through a very personal encounter (I can’t disclose), and after that event, it really propelled him to really read his Bible and developed a close relationship with the Lord. It wasn’t all peachy as he did suffer a lot of persecution inside the jail but with this turnaround, miracles came into his life like him being acquitted with all of his cases (yes, all four including him even admitting murder), and even was given the grace of God to have a lovely wife, a teacher, and true God’s grace, this woman had him as her first relationship.

Now he’s actively serving the Lord through prison ministries, visiting them and showing the way that God has fashioned for him. He’s now being sent to places to tend to people hungry for God’s Word. He gave us his three C’s.

  • Choice – The life that you have currently is brought upon by choice. It is by free will which God have too. So no matter what situation you are in, it is something allowed by God because it was a choice. I am pretty sure it was a hard message for everyone who was able to hear it.
  • Chance – There is the Good News! Chance, that God gives so freely. If there’s someone you can look upon for chances, there he was, present in the inmate’s midst. With the lineup of heinous crimes he did, how could he be given another chance? Doesn’t it remind you of someone who was also an enemy of the early days of the church yet given another chance, and was cited to be the greatest missionary of all time? (Hint: his name is Paul)
  • Changes – With the chance given, the proper response is change. We’ve seen what the ugly side of sin and the hope is that we do change. Reminds me of the story of a writer named Dostoevsky, who was sentenced to die yet the execution did not happen. This led him to live a better life; change was evident with all the books he has written after that.

But with the three C’s Kuya Richard gave, I am going to add a fourth one:

  • Christ – True change can only be found in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” and it was the change that Kuya Richard got. It was the chance he needed from Christ that led him to a true change.

Indeed, that event I witnessed helped me to, at least at a certain degree, understand this ministry. Here are some points about leadership that I got too:

  • When you have a vision, execute it and people will eventually follow. That was pretty evident with how the newly-minted from Theology school Krizzia was able to do. Mobilizing people knowing that this ministry to all about going to the lost, unreached people too.
  • A small talk with Kuya Rodolfo (part of the prison ministry group) had me thinking about my own ministry, about the group of people who I am supposed to bring the Gospel. A declaration — to artists and designers.
  • Also, he helped me be enlightened with a current burden of how to have people help me with this. Reminded to continue in service and God will send people. To remain in the vine.
  • In line with point two, Kuya Richard was able to deliver the message well, and effectively because he too had his share of jail time. His life was the connection thus giving him credibility to speak because he can relate.

casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

It was a message of hope for the inmates. Jesus knows how it is because he too came here, and was broken, and imprisoned, the difference is that we humans have something to be imprisoned of, spiritually or physically. To think, you who’s reading right now may be free, but not from spiritual imprisonment, bondage to sin. 

Jesus was and is innocent, yet He was crucified. That’s a leader you can count on. True freedom comes with Christ.

Also, Krizzia too was imprisoned way back. You see, the biggest pain points in our lives becomes our biggest praise in the long run. As my leader said to me “Your mess becomes the message.” It becomes our biggest why. Like Kuya Richard who was restored from his dark past. Truly, the old is gone and the new has come.

They are leaders who I look up to. They are my heroes.

My heroes may never be counted,
not in dailies, or history books.
But lo and behold, they fight gallantly,
not for their glory, but for the Lamb to see.

Heroes.

My heroes aren’t in pedestals,
nor those etched in myths and legends.
Fighting skills they do not possess,
nor weaponry, artillery that strikes terror to the enemy.

For the great, worldly comforts already at hand,
or bright promises that await.
All abandoned, shunned, and tossed to the air.

But yes, my heroes are fighters.
They are engaged in battles, all bloodied and bruised.
Fighting an ancient war, one seemingly absurd and mundane.

Assess and possess.
The Nations as the mission, the goal.
Not for conquest or domination, no, not even close.
To bring the heavens, different set of operations,
not for an earthly master, but for the divine.

My heroes may never be counted,
not in dailies, or history books.
But lo and behold, they fight gallantly,
not for their glory, but for the Lamb to see.

This one is dedicated to all who’s doing missions now. Technically, every Christian is a missionary to each field we are called. But this one is specifically for the friends I have who are dying in and everyday to self, giving life to what Jesus said before He went back to heaven. People who are doing the role even when it entails not doing their ‘dreams’, but dreams of having heaven come down.

As for us, may we have our hearts beat for each field we are in. As the song “The Beat” says, may we have our hearts beat for the lost.

To Ate Janet

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“Pain teaches, pain reminds.” (Micah Pascual)

My sister, Janet Gonda, passed away last Sunday, ending a long and hard fought battle with Lam Lung Disease.

She was just 50.

About 11 years ago, she was diagnosed of this sickness and though the doctor gave her 10 years max, by the Grace of God she survived one more year. That was enough for her to leave us a valuable lesson.

My sister is a leader. She led a life of generosity. When she was still well, she was a giver. She gave when we asked, and sometimes even when we didn’t. She’s the reason why some of my college tuition fees were paid. So it was really a pain knowing she’s a really good person for me yet she had to go through this ordeal.

I was pondering the whole time, what is God teaching us in this situation and through her death, I learned generosity.

Honestly, I am a stingy person. I feel like I need to save up always; that’s self-preservation. I think I made some developments, all thanks to what the Scriptures teach, but it’s really different when there’s real life application and personal economics is affected.

What usually happens is she asks for food every Sunday for her family, or some sweet stuff like cake or junk food (I don’t condone that junk food), I guess her way of providing for her family. This led to some times having some thoughts of being selfish because at first it was just one time deal that became weekly. It did hit my current budget as I provide too for the house and being someone who just jumped from corporate to business, sometimes when there’s no collections, I tend to be rattled.

I was reminded though of what real giving is all about–that even when you don’t have much, give. Real sacrifice DEMANDS to be felt, and that’s the time you’d know it’s real giving, and that’s what she left for me to really understand. As I write this, I could remember me sitting down and thinking, knowing that she wouldn’t last that long now, and the only thing I could really do is… give.

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Sure, there was still moments when I had to back out, which is a painful regret now, but because of what she taught me, hopefully I do retain it. It’s different when you read about giving, but it’s different when you see someone actually live it out, and she did until her last breath. That’s her lasting legacy. Makes me think about mine.

We love you, Ate Janet. We’ll surely miss you. 

If you could read Tagalog, sharing some thoughts from her kids who wrote tearjerkers.

From her eldest son, Tyrell: To my mom.

From her second child, Kiara: Sweetest Mom

 

 

From where I stand (Pt.3): Integrity and Commitments

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We build relationships and trust through a person’s consistency and keeping his word, right?

I have had so much experience about delivering on promises and work, with me missing a lot of them in the past. Though that has lessened today (I hope!), I still miss some of them. This I try to keep to a minimum because even in this field of design, what I truly try and take care of is my name and reputation. It’s like if someone is asked on your name, what would their first response be? Jolly? Witty? Creative? Committed? As for me, I’d like to be known as someone who delivers and solves problems.

If there’s someone I personally know who really I can trust in terms of work, it’s my good friend Santa Bondesto. I have known her from 2011 and I know her work ethic. I always say to people, “If you want something done (events), ask Santa.” She goes above and beyond and ensures that things do get done, sometimes to a fault because she would sacrifice health and family time just to ensure items are in place.

But of course, she does have her share of shortcomings and broken promises but because of her reputation, I give her some leeway.

For our leaders, and for ourselves too as we lead, we want to have consistency in what we say and do. If we want to lead effectively, we’d want to have integrity as our solid foundation. That starts with being able to do what we say, and be consistent about it.

If there’s one man who said something so ridiculous but actually went over it, it was Jesus. Continue reading “From where I stand (Pt.3): Integrity and Commitments”

From where I stand (Pt.2): Cost of Leadership

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As we grow on our leadership, everything goes up, except for one: rights.

You read that correctly, rights. Sadly, when we see our leaders, especially what seems to be prevalent today, leaders get all the rights and privileges. Not saying all, but some. It’s visible not only in the positions in the government but also in our offices, families, and yes, even in the church.

Reading John Maxwell’s book, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”, one chapter there is dedicated on the Law of Sacrifice. In that chapter, one line struck me:

“As you rise in leadership, responsibilities increase and rights decrease.” (John Maxwell)

Continue reading “From where I stand (Pt.2): Cost of Leadership”

From where I stand (Pt.1): Care for some feet?

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Have you ever had that time wherein you had to wash someone’s feet? Or say, accidentally, you had to face someone else’s feet?

I know. Our feet, being a part of the body in close contact to the ground, tend to be really gross and stinky. Good thing we have shoes compared to people before, but still with it enclosed and after a long day, I doubt you’d like to hold and smell them, right?

This week, we commemorate the death and resurrection of Christ. It’s a story that unfolds dramatically,
Roads in Israel is filthy, and imagine yourself walking at those roads. With or without sandals, it will surely make your feet nasty too. And for ancient Israel, it is very important for people to be clean, especially before meals. As additional detail, people ate in low tables, thus feet can be seen at that point, which makes it important to wash the feet thoroughly.

We all know the Last Supper and what happened there, and Jesus has shown us leadership by washing His disciple’s feet. This was a work so filthy Jews do not allow other Jews, even as a servant, to do this that’s why they ask Gentile slaves to do it. Yet Jesus, who the disciples see as their Lord and Savior, did this stunning act. It was a work for the lowliest, and also timely because recently the disciples were arguing who’s the greatest among them all (Luke 22:24). Jesus was showing His disciples on how to lead—by serving in humility.

not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

Oh how wonderful if only we’d have this kind of attitude of leadership, right? Just imagine our leaders today acting upon Jesus’ example of service and humility? Just imagine us acting upon this kind of leadership, acting to build one another in the light of humility and love? How would the world look like?

I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15)

Would you have the same posture like how Jesus did it? Can you wash your neighbor’s feet? Would you have the heart to serve as leader like Jesus did?

 

With the end in mind.

Single-minded: /adj/ having or concentrating on only one aim or purpose.

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Last night I attended Victory Alabang‘s event, Single-Minded and I like how for me it has double meaning or purpose.

From the outside, it is indeed packaged as a “Singles” event, targeting single people, with raging questions on love life and what not. To make things better, the speaker is one of my favorite writers/bloggers, David Bonifacio.

I like David and his no non-sense, almost tactless style of speaking in his blog. From my perspective, he’s like that impatient boss yet he walks his talks, and he might be like that because all he wants is excellence. Last night I got to listen to him. One of the reasons why I also wanted to see him speak is I try to learn a lot from the speakers I listen to and apply what I can in my life, and to speaking engagements I do (which is mostly I Saw Design only, for now).

He started off with his disclaimer, and right there I got something already. He said he doesn’t like being idolized or being put in a pedestal and that the audience is very much welcome NOT TO take what he says word per word, that we are given a brain to countercheck with people, and most especially, the Bible.  Continue reading “With the end in mind.”

LINES and LABELS

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* I would like to place this note that I am not in any way an expert in relationships, but this is based from reading, asking around to people, and of course, personal experience. I only had two relationships, and the current one I am engaged with as of writing and looking forward to that day we are reunited and gets married. Until then, I’ll be preparing for marriage with my fiance, Jacque.

Recently, I was invited to be interviewed in a show with a set of questions regarding start of a relationship. I prepared for it in a week, asking the men in the church regarding it so I could properly answer, according to Scripture. Then that day came and with God’s twist, the scenario changed to a ‘debate’ on placing labels on relationships.

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Not my first time in television, but surely this was the most nerve-wracking one. And who knows, this won’t be the last I talk about Biblical manhood.

Talk about getting shocked.

The scenario would be: how important is it for us to have labels in the relationship nowadays, or we could survive with the modern “Oh we’re a thing“, exclusively dating but no labels like boyfriend or girlfriend.  I was placed, of course, on the traditional “we-need-labels” relationships.

The points on the modern no label kind of relationships does pose some valid points, like trust issues (you just trust and love, no labels), and about having a “leash”. It does place some points that are indeed good, basing on trust. Labels place unwanted pressure in both parties, they said.

Here are my thoughts on this, summarized in points:
Continue reading “LINES and LABELS”

“As Christ loved the Church.”

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Jason and Melai (local celebs here in PH) just announced that they are breaking up. Actually, it is a norm already; celebs breaking up because of “issues”. Though I cannot judge them really, but it breaks my heart whenever people, especially the married ones, break up. It seems like the line between marriage and dating as couples are now gone and that couples can now break away from each other that easy.

Then I saw this.
Continue reading ““As Christ loved the Church.””