This, my story, is of someone who’s “gone around the block,” a couple of times and of someone who’s has gotten old in the process.
From my Manila birthplace this journey took me to Lingayen, Pangasinan, to Davao, to Cagayan de Oro, to Nova Scotia, Canada, to Cagayan de Oro again, to Columbus, Ohio, then back to Cagayan, and on to Mambajao. Camiguin, and back to Columbus , where in my retirement years, my buddy Dito dela Cerna in a 2018 visit with wife Zenaida, with Fabs Gorospe, Eric and Mariza Cordeta and Art Romanos told me “Ed, after much prayer and listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I believe it is time that BCBP be organized in Columbus.”
Maybe out of inner pride and somewhat presumptive I said ” This is easy let’s do it” and not at all Spirit-filled. And so, with the help of the BCBP Chicago,BCBP Washington DC and New York missions we proceeded with the work: two years they came monthly and together we labored hard and long, but failed to recruit the critical number of members enough to sustain it.
Despite the fact that a Pinoy priest was our Chaplain, another Cagayanon priest as member, despite a CLP and a Baptism in the Spirit, the mission is or was not a success. Deep inside we believe, that the seeds planted The Lord will allow to grow in His time.
Our BCBP Cagayan de Oro Chapter 30 years ago was profoundly different.
After visiting Cebu, Lita and I were introduced to BCBP Dr. Romeo Du, who invited us to their prayer meeting. Months later, they decided to send a survey party to determine whether Cagayan was “ripe” for a mission.
Chap 2 from the Book of Joshua: “Then Joshua, son of Nun, secretly sent out spies from Shittim, saying, “Go, reconnoiter the land.” Came to me in prayer.I sent this scriptural verse back Rene Almendras, and to Ed Lising.They had planned earlier to evangelize Cagayan de Oro but Typhoon Rupping and the Col. Noble mutiny in Mindanao had stymied them from coming.
They came in January 1991, with Tatang Lito Urgino giving the Saturday Breakfast sharing and continuing on to the first CLP that same afternoon with the Batch#1. Our teachers included Tatang Louie Morales (+) (Tatang Larry Veloso (+), Rene Almendras, Sadi Saguisag, Joe Ecco, Jun Tan, Tatang Nemenzo, the Puno couple, Rene Congmon, Jeff Villa, Romy and Elvie Du, Kit Garcia, Jimmy Escano,Leo Luche.
Some of the prayers in my journey are actually questions.
At 4, I said “Lord, can I see your world?”
And at age 20, on the American Airlines plane on my way home after a year in Nova Scotia, I remember again, asking, “Lord, why did You choose me?”
At age 55 or so, as head of what was the state university in Cagayan de Oro I lived through what many would call “ interesting times,” when I found myself in a maelstrom of a campus turbulence.
So on the first day I walked into this “lion’s den” of a university, a coed student handed me a small slip of paper, which said, “Sir, you are not fighting flesh and blood but are against principalities and powers.”
Somehow, in God’s providence, these words also came to my attention: “ With Me you will find peace, but with the world, you will find trouble.”
When the “firestorm”came, I had these passages covering me and my inner disposition as an invisible shield. A neutral observers on campus, actually noticed my peace and said so to me.
Today at 80 before resting I pray asking for God’s blessings.
“Mighty God, compassionate God, Father of all. Bless every person I’ve met, every face I’ve seen, every voice I’ve heard, especially those most dear to me. Bless every city, town and street that I’ve known in all my life;
Bless every Sight I’ve seen, every Sound I’ve heard, every object I’ve touched.
In some mysterious ways, these have all fashioned my life; all that I am, and all that I have received.
Great God, bless the world that I have seen.”
Somehow with this prayer I am able to say thank God for the gift of life and the gift of the universe that comes with our humanity.
Now one prayer which I recently learned is to remind oneself upon waking up, not to be fearful but to be ready to fight, to have courage, to combat temptations and to fight our inclinations to evil habits, and temptations like lust and greed and pride and willfulness which lead us to sin
It is a prayer, in which one is told to imagine upon rising, that on one side of one’s bed can be seen The Lord, St. Joseph and Our Blessed Mother Mary, with St. Michael, our guardian angel; and on the other side, Satan with all his minions.
In scripture, we are told that Satan is like a “roaring lion that roams about looking for someone to devour,” while elsewhere we also read that “angels are spirits who serve God and are sent by Him to help those who are to receive salvation”.
So, with these insights, we could then imagine hearing St. Michael the archangel telling us:
“You are to fight this day against this and other enemies of yours. Let not your heart fail nor your spirit faint.
Yield not on any account, neither for fear, or any other cause.
For our Lord your leader stands beside you with all his glorious hosts, and will do battle for you against all your enemies and will not suffer their form to prevail against you, or to overcome you.
“Fight valiantly then, and be not loathe to suffer. For it is this toilsome resistance to your evil inclinations, this painful struggle against evil habits which will gain for you the victory, and win for you a treasure with which to purchase the Kingdom of Heaven and unite your soul to God forever.”
As a US immigrant in 2003, facing uncertainty I had asked my own children to pray the words of this psalm: “The heavens are the heavens of the Lord but the earth, the Lord has given to the children of men”
And so it happened: first as visiting professor at The Ohio State University, then as a J1 visa holder, which entitled my dependents their J2 status, then, finally as a green card holder and to eventually become a citizen of the US.
I could have said that it was genius of me to attain the status that I had when a friend of asked “ how did you do it?” but the truth of the matter was, it was the Psalm prayers and its prophetic words, delivered somehow to my attention which was what made me become a US citizen. Indeed there is power in the Word of God.