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See The Fulfillment Of His Plan For The Poor

LUIS

Everybody calls me Luis but my real name is Jose Luis Oquinena. I'm September born too, like lssa. My birthday is September 26, 1979 so that makes me 10 years older than her. I am also the eldest among four children but I share this distinction with my twin brother Mari who is also a full time worker. I was raised in the province and I finished my BS Mechanical Engineering and BS Industrial Management courses at the University of Negros Occidental Recoletos (that's in Bacolod).

I joined Christ's Youth in Action (this was later reorganized as CFC's Youth for Christ in 2003) but I didn't work full time until 2006. Right now I'm a member of the YFC Council as well as YFC Area Head for Southern Mindanao and National Coordinator of Gawad Kalinga.

I have many hopes and dreams in life. I dream of marrying my beautiful girlfriend from Bacolod someday (hopefully not in the distant future), start my own family and live happily ever after. But I know I cannot be happy ever after if right now I don't do something about the poor people around me. That is why, instead of simply dreaming about it, I prayed that I may see the vision for total human liberation so I can help people share the dream I have of a good life.

I got into work with the poor by accident. There was no one else in the room during the meeting, so it was assigned to me! My attitude towards God's work is always to say yes even if I am not sure of what to do (besides when it is Tito Tony who is doing the asking, who could say no?) That is why I can really say that this is God's work! I didn't exactly know what to do and I honestly didn't know if my heart was ready for this work. Although I must admit that I got excited at the thought of directing work of such magnitude!

The mandate was to replicate the work in Bagong Silang to the provinces in a “bite size” manner so that other provinces can follow. So the engineer in me started to work and I thought of operating manuals, structures, implementing guidelines, training etc, etc. The pastoral worker side of me provided the much needed confidence and sanity since there was no textbook that could support such an approach to poverty alleviation! In fact it was the first time I even heard of such terms like poverty alleviation, total human liberation, theology of liberation and a whole bunch of terminology I couldn't even spell! Little did I know that the Lord was already setting me up for a journey that would turn my world upside down!

I draw my inspiration to continue working for the Lord and for the poor from three characters. One of them is the Old Testament Joshua (Joshua 1:1-10). He is the perfect example of a servant who has complete confidence and trust that the Lord will always be present and will always help those who do His will. I believe that the work for total human liberation is God's mandate for each individual who calls himself a Christian, whether you are a couple, young, single, widowed, abandoned or whatever. Liberating a hundred thousand families from both material poverty and spiritual poverty in ten years' time is as challenging as claiming the Promised Land during the time of Joshua who eventually saw its fulfillment! I believe that like Joshua, so shall we!

The second character who inspires me is again Biblical - Abraham. His loyalty and obedience to the Lord to the point of being willing to give up his son Isaac whom he dearly loved strike me as awesome. There will be times when the Lord will ask us to give up our “Isaacs” in life like our dreams and even our comforts for His greater glory. In this work with the poor, the Lord has spoken to me thus: “Do you love me? Are you willing to give up your Isaacs in life for them (poor people)?”

My third inspiration is Nespa, a 12-year old girl from Bacolod who, because they are poor, is not only suffering from physical ailments but is deprived of basic opportunities that a “normal” 12-year old should experience in life. Every time she holds my hand, it's a gesture of desperation for her, but I think she is really asking God in her heart: “Does God really love me?” I can't explain God's love for her by quoting Bible verses to her or some profound statements from Mother Teresa about the poor. I have simply decided to demonstrate God's love for her by showing her my love. By deciding to involve myself in this work, I know I am concretely reflecting God's love for her and all the other little kids around her. There are hundreds of thousands of little kids like Nespa out there and their silent desperation can be very deafening. Can you hear them?

I have three great plans for my life: To be a good husband (an exciting prospect!), to be a good father (a good pastor and provider!) and to build a family who will help renew the landscape of this nation by working together to liberate the poor in our own special way.

I try to live my life according to these quotes: “My word is my deed” (although I falter at times), “Less for self, more for others, enough for all” (a borrowed quote but a personal one for me … )

God has brought me to this because I know this is His plan for me. I just pray that like Joshua, I will see the fulfillment of His plan for the poor in my lifetime and like Abraham, I will always be willing to sacrifice myself for His work. When I look at Nespa and at the world she lives in, I grow in strength and conviction that God will help me see His plans to fruition.

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