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Go And Bear Much Fruit That Will Remain – Part 1

There is reason a-plenty to celebrate and to give ourselves little pats on the back for a job well done for the past years, remembering always that we were only able to do it because of Him whom we serve. But there is also reason a-plenty to reflect and look back on years of learning and experience.

We experienced difficulties and trials, obstacles and defeats. We experienced deep hurts, inflicted both by strangers and by people we have come to love. We experienced grave doubts and uncertainties in dealing with difficulties and in our own abilities. But we also experienced great triumphs. We experienced joys and laughter and most especially, we felt the peace that comes from knowing how to love.

There was a lot of learning too. We learned that we could do great things for Him if we only surrender to Hs will. We learned that our abilities are nothing as compared to the wonders God allows us to see and experience everyday. We learned that our hearts are capable of loving even the unwashed and the unlovable. We learned compassion, tenderness, humility and courage.

So much has been done, so much has been experienced and so much has been learned from the past years. The challenge, in an increasingly turbulent world, is for us to do more for His greater glory. What He has allowed us to experience and learn have prepared us for the more challenging task ahead. May all of us, in the next years, be as willing and eager to learn at His feet.

From one municipality in Manila, CFC (Couples For Christ) is now in all provinces in the Philippines (moving down to be present in every town and place) and is established in 87 countries. From a purely lay movement, it has expanded its ministry to serve also the clergy and religious. From engaging in purely “spiritual” work, concerned with the salvation of souls, it is now into the social dimension of the gospel, concerned with doing a holistic work of total human liberation.

It has grown to be a far-flung, global organization affecting individual lives and families, as well as societies at large. Its membership includes many different nationalities, and its international and regional conferences feature a delightful mix of races and skin colors - white, black, brown, yellow, red. But all are united in Christ, and united in the one vision, mission and culture.

The center of the work continues to be Manila, where it all started. And the pivot for its global mission is the Philippines. This country, being the only Christian nation in Asia (there actually is an emerging second, East Timor), has a prophetic role as God's light in Asia, and even to the world. Why did God choose the Philippines? What credentials does the Philippines have? It is riddled with crime and corruption. It has built up mountains of garbage, while it has denuded its mountains of trees. It is poor. It has Communist and Muslim insurgencies. It sends out millions of its citizens to work in other countries. Lately it has had serious political instability, which continues to divide the people. It is at the bottom of the economic ladder in Asia. The country is in a big mess.

Credentials? The above are precisely the kinds of situations that God powerfully works in.

Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something (1 Cor 1:26-28). This is good news for us all. God can use anyone, and especially delights in using those who are nothing. To do the greatest, God uses the least.

Why does God act in this way? According to Paul, “so that no human being might boast before God.” (1 Cor 1:29). Whatever God allows us to accomplish in this truly great global work, it will be clear that this is God's work, and we are only instruments. There ought to be no room for pride, since we cannot claim what we accomplish as due to our own merit. This is our protection, as we continue to do a great work, since “pride goes before disaster, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov 16:18). As we in fact are humbled by the mighty work God does in and through us, we realize our unworthiness, and we cling to God even more, imploring Him for His continued mercy and grace.

But humility does not mean not recognizing the mighty work we are doing. Such non-recognition of our work is false humility, and is actually another form of pride. True humility is recognizing the work we do, but acknowledging that it is God who works through us. And we need to speak to our brethren about the extent of our work in order to encourage and inspire them, and so move them to giving more of themselves and doing even more. But as we do so, we know what the foundation and source of power for our work is. And so, “Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor 1:31 ).

Today, after years of existence, we boast in the Lord. We boast that our individual and family lives have undergone tremendous transformation. That the Church in the Philippines looks to CFC as the premiere family renewal organization in the country today. That CFC is a prime example of lay empowerment and massive involvement of the laity in the mission of the Church. That CFC is one of the new ecclesial movements raised up by the Holy Spirit during these times, and has been recognized by the Holy See (Vatican) as such.

And in this third millennium, we excitedly look forward to more. We look to our ANCOP/ Gawad Kalinga work of building communities among the poor as having a great impact on the situation of poverty in the Philippines, as well as in other countries where we are present. We look to our LAYA youth movement as galvanizing the youth in the task of nation building, and assuring the relevance of the next generation in the plan of God. We look to our socio-political involvement as making a difference in promoting new politics and the cause of good governance. We look to building a more effective partnership-in-mission with the clergy and religious through the Society of the Holy Family, the Priests for Family and Life, and Nuns for Christ. We look to making a significant contribution to Christian unity through our ecumenical thrusts from the grassroots.

We celebrate our existence with deep gratitude to our God, who raised us up, formed us, empowered us, guided us, protected us, and sustained us. We marvel at our years of service, for being extended such a privilege, unworthy as we are. We rejoice at years of community life, where we have been given so many brothers and sisters, so many homes, and so much resources for the work of the kingdom.

May we continue to be worthy of such blessings, as we continue to give our all in the mission God has given us.

Life in the Spirit

In 1981, when 16 couples joined a Life in the Spirit Seminar and began a life centered on Jesus, they had no idea where their spiritual journey would lead them. They certainly had no inkling that the original 16 couples would grow to 1,154,201 persons, all of them committed to serving God here on earth. The 16 couples had no idea that the group they were a part of would evolve into a global community called Couples for Christ.

Years have seen changes and improvements in the way the community is organized but the philosophy remains the same - Win the world for Christ! While the initial focus was on couples, it soon became clear that winning the world for Christ meant evangelizing entire families.

By the late 1980's, it also became clear that CFC was meant to be not just a community for Filipinos. God's message was that CFC will be a worldwide movement for renewal of hearts and minds! Now established in 91 countries, CFC's goal is to gain a foothold in over 150 countries in the future.

Continue to Part 2

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