Address of the Senior Head Coordinator to Ligaya ng Panginoon on its 44th Community Anniversary
A Happy 44th Anniversary to you all! They say that an Anniversary will always be a good time to talk about 3 things: where we've been, where we are and where we are going.
WHERE WE’VE BEEN
Last April, I was invited by the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP) leadership team to grace the occasion of their 39th Anniversary in Bacolod, and mainly to attend the launch of their book “Christ in the Center of Business”. The first few chapters of that book were devoted to our community, on how BCBP was started through the collective efforts of some Ligaya leaders then, and how what was envisioned to be a simple evangelistic breakfast has branched into many different locations, and has evolved to be where it is today - no longer just a movement, but a community that tries to address not only the aspect of business conduct and integrity in the marketplace, but more so concerns itself with the affairs of parenting, raising children, the importance of family. In fact, their family life team engages our Youth leaders regularly to seek help, input and find ways to collaborate.
The day before the launch, they had their opening Prayer Assembly, spent in a long period of praise and worship and sharings. As the leader was trying to close the meeting, you can sense the enthusiasm of the attendees wanting to stay, wanting to sing and worship some more. At one point, one of the brother-leaders saw me turning around to look all the way at the back to see whether the clamor to stay, was just among a few of them. He basically smiled at me and quipped, “See what you guys have done!” I ended up pointing at Fr. Herb Shneider.
In that book launch the day after, they formally honored Fr. Herb being their Spiritual Director, and they honored our community through my representation, thanking us for what we have done for them.
That experience probably captured and summarized for me, what the Lord has done for us, with us and through us in our life as a community for the last 44 years. My mind went back to the parable which teaches us that the Kingdom of God can start as small as a mustard seed, but when it has grown, can serve as a great shrub and become a tree, allowing birds of the air to come and make nests in its branches. And this seem to be our story: from the early day challenges of how to become a community, to the different outreaches, movements, ministries and communities that the Lord has allowed us to put up. It has always been a story of faith, of obedience to His word, of offering the little we could offer – our own loaves and fishes, only to watch God multiply them.
All these were made possible because of God’s own initiative. It was His call, His invitation, His formation, and it was His grace that gave us the ability to respond, to serve, to endure, to stand up again when we fall, to reconcile and be reconciled with one another, to say “yes, Lord, use us” inspite of our frailties and despite our limitations. We can only thank the Lord for choosing us to be His earthen vessels.
A SERVANT COMMUNITY
In the end, we can only recognize the hand of God in our lives and like the psalmist, utter in humility:
Psalm 115:1 – “Not to us O Lord, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.”
Long have we recognized that we are but a servant community, at the disposal of the Lord. We exist as long as the Lord wants us to, and chooses us to be a part of his unfolding plan of salvation. We’ve long recognized too, that indeed, we are just a part and not the whole. There are many others tasked to work at the vineyard. But we need to be faithful in our own little corner of God’s work.
Next year, 2020, we will commemorate and celebrate 50 years of covenant community life. Along with our brethren in the Sword of the Spirit, we will thank the Lord for the way of life He has bestowed us with, and reflect on how He would want us to move forward. This will be launched in May during the International Coordinators’ Meeting and each of our communities will be commemorating this till the following year.
SO WHERE ARE WE TODAY?
We know that the Lord is not done with us yet, both in the way He is forming us to be His people and in the way He intends to use us. In the last couple of years, the Lord has been relentless in having us focused on the purpose of why He has called us, particularly in offering more of ourselves to Him and for His cause.
Just now, we were exposed once again to the prophetic summaries spoken to us in recent years.
Expand Your Hearts, Your Reach, Your Mission
More Sacrifice and Courage for a Mission Greater than Us
Surrender, Offer, Sacrifice
Pierce the Darkness with my Light and Truth
We will continue to listen to the Lord, to His bidding, to His instructions. In the last community conference, while reflecting on how the Lord wants to use us in Piercing the darkness around us, we focused on three topics: Holiness, Faithfulness and Mission. In the same conference, the Lord spoke to us these words:
“I have called you to pierce the darkness of this world with your light, with the sharp and penetrating light of holiness. For the light of holiness is your only effective weapon against this darkness. A holy life to subdue the darkness of evil. But your light is weak and dim. Lacking power and intensity. You have allowed your light to become so because of two reasons: one, because there is personal and collective sin in the body and, two, because there are attacks from the enemy under which you crumple and give way. How then can you hope to fight, much less pierce and conquer this darkness – the darkness not only of your soul but of the world in which you live? Indeed, how can darkness prevail over darkness? How can evil overcome evil?”
“To pierce this darkness, you all must live holy lives. I call you to greater holiness of life -- to work hard to overcome your weaknesses; to live in the light and expose your hidden sins; to follow righteous conduct; to unite and close ranks with your brothers and sisters and heal any broken relationship; to boldly proclaim My truth and stand up for what is right; to oppose and fight what is wrong and evil around you; and to live your way of life faithfully.”
I believe the Lord will continue instilling these messages to us as expressed in this year’s banner: Pursue My Way, Proclaim My Truth, Preserve My Life
‘Pursue my Way’ exhorts us to pursue God's ways of holiness and righteousness, his consistent reminder that we be a people set apart, living a life according to His ways.
‘Proclaim my Truth’ directs us to the constant call to mission - to win the hearts and minds of people around us by spreading the truth of the Gospel and expose the lies and deceptions in our environments and in society.
‘Preserve my Life’ commands us to be faithful to the Christian life and witness to this particular way of life handed down to us which we intend to faithfully hand down to the next generation.
Let us heed God’s word for us, my brothers and sisters.
YEAR OF THE YOUTH
I am thankful that our leaders have already been conscious of this initiative even during our earlier days. We are installing two new coordinators, Lito Saquilayan and Eric Santos, and two new Sector Coordinators taking into office, Svahn Rivas for Central and Ricky Dagelet for South. With the entry of Ricky and Svahn into the OLC as Sector Coordinators, we can conclude that the investment and pastoral emphasis on discipleship and mission for our young people have borne very significant fruit. Ricky and Svahn are both children of community covenanted members brought in at their very young age, ‘Mga laking Ligaya po sila’.Ricky has been here since the days of Children’s Formation Program, or what is Friends of Jesus today, while Svahn was sent as a missionary to Mindanao when he was a young single man. They have been serving as coordinators for many years now and have been overwhelmingly elected and confirmed in their respective Sectors. We can also fully say that all four sector coordinators and myself, were at one point members of the University District and were actively serving in Christ’s Youth in Action (CYA) from our respective schools.
For me, this reality communicates important takeaways: first, as parents, let’s continue to sow and plant the seeds of faith, no matter how our children are responding today. Let us be reminded that our children are the Lord’s and He loves them more than we will be able to love them. Let us patiently wait for their ‘Kairos’ moment, and continue to love and nurture them with Gospel values.
Equally, let us support all the work we are doing to bring the next generation of leaders and members to our fold. Let us strongly support all that we are doing in our Youth Bridge programs Friends of Jesus (FOJ), Junior Young Adults (JYA) and Young Adults (YA), and help see them through involvement in the University District, CYA and Lingkod. Brothers and sisters, the next set of future leaders, both for men and women, that will run our community and hopefully, our movements, a decade or two from now could be any of our kids. It could be that reluctant YA member who doesn’t even want to attend our camps or even maybe the doubting college student who has consistently rejected your invitation to consider exposing himself/herself more to our way of life.
How large are the stakes brothers and sisters?
Presently, we have 628 children spread across FOJ, JYA and YA. That’s almost equivalent to one sector. So, if we are able to help transition all these children from one stage of their youth life to the next, and if all of them make their own adult decision to follow the Lord, the future should look good for us. This does not include the more immediate need to take care of 364 University-aged members. And yet it is this same group of people in our community who will and are already probably facing the most difficult challenges of today’s culture.
Our task as parents and pastors is to help our young people face the evolving challenges of the modern world especially in the aspects of:
• Growing in their knowledge of Christ and living righteously and courageously amidst the modern youth culture;
• Developing their ability to give a defence for Christian truth and for our way of life that is effective for their peers and in their environments;
• Inculcating this early, a strong Christian social awareness and learn how to get involved in society especially in serving the poor and underprivileged.
WHERE WE ARE GOING
We, in the leadership, offer no new directions nor strategies, but we all need to recognize the urgency of the times and the urgency of our Mission in terms of:
• Evangelization and invitation into our community or into our movements;
• Training of present and future leaders;
• Formation of our members and be united in our understanding of our life together;
• Better care for our Seniors and find ways of getting them continuously involved in our life even as they share and leave behind their wisdom and learnings;
• Building communities and movements and having more workers on the vineyard;
• Defending the gospel and protecting our sacred institutions like the Gift of Life, Family and Marriage.
2 Timothy 4 :1-5
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: 2 proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. 5 As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.”
Brothers and Sisters, let us be confident to take our place and respond to where the Lord is leading us for such as time as this. Let us Pursue His Way, Proclaim His Truth, Preserve our way of life !
Again, a Blessed 44th Anniversary to you all!
Andy B. Juan
July 21, 2019
In Support of Our Bishops
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Many of you have asked what we, in Ligaya, should do in the face of President Duterte's recent remark inciting people to kill our bishops.
Our most basic response is what Christians ought to do when human lives are threatened. We protect and defend.
Bishop Pabillo, head of Council of the Laity, asked how the Catholic lay organizations are responding to it.
We, in Ligaya, have made a response through FTJP. Attached for your info and support is a statement sent to various government officials in a letter format.
We are urging our Partners-in-Mission organizations to make a similar response. And even allowing them to borrow or adapt our FTJP letter for their own use.
We believe this is a serious matter that cannot be dismissed as just another joke. Please continue to pray for our leaders, our bishops and our nation.
READ THE STATEMENT
Live in Light, Live in Love, Live in the Spirit
Download Speaker's Notes from the LNP Community Conference here
What does it mean to Surrender, Offer and Sacrifice?
Download Andy Juan's talk at the 2018 Community Conference here.
"Do Not Hold Back - Surrender, Offer, Sacrifice!"
How time really flies! Another year has passed and it is good to recall and celebrate God’s faithfulness to us.
There are many reasons why we ought to be joyful, and the main thing that stands out is because we have a God who is all loving and whose faithfulness has endured all these years.
GOD’S WORD TO US OVER THE LAST 3 YEARS
In 2015, we summed it up with ‘EXPAND OUR HEARTS, OUR REACH AND OUR MISSION’. It was followed up last year with a firm yet stronger call: ‘MORE SACRIFICE AND COURAGE FOR A MISSION GREATER THAN US’.
How much more is more?
And now, at the very day, we see the familiar resounding words: ‘DO NOT HOLD BACK - SURRENDER, OFFER, SACRIFICE!’
I could imagine many of us telling ourselves, “here we go again.” And this is where I think we can fall into a trap. That is, if we start thinking that the emphasis of these words are primarily about us and our ability to offer, our ability to surrender, to sacrifice, then we may we be missing the point. While it is true that our response does matter, the Lord’s sovereign plan will take place, regardless of that response.
I believe that “more” is about God and the wealth of grace that He alone provides. The ability to surrender more, to offer ourselves more and to sacrifice more that we are already doing – all these come from Him, from His overwhelming grace and power that He wants us to avail of.
While He challenges and asks more from us, as we participate in His mission and its new expressions, He will supply, He will strengthen, He will provide – plus more!
We need to grow once again in our total reliance on the Lord, His leading, inspiration, strength and provision. Let His Holy Spirit be that second wind that will allow us to surrender, to offer and to sacrifice.
In other words, we can do more, because He has more.
Many times, we quote this line: “Our God can never be outdone in generosity”, as inspired by the writings of Saint Paul. Why? Because He did it first and showed us how He was the One who gave and did not hold back. He gave us His only Son! And throughout our 42 years of existence, we have been lavished with that generous love and faithfulness. Because such is our God, we His people can also be generous.
ACTS OF GENEROSITY
Over the last year, many of you gave more of yourselves in terms of time, talent and other resources for His service, took on additional and difficult services, tried out new things that may not be your comfort zones. I will not do justice to enumerate all the various selfless and heroic acts of generosity from many of you serving – brothers and sisters with fulltime jobs, doing different roles and expressions of pastoral work inside and mission work outside, or even serving at the background for these activities and programs.
Generosity is a fitting response to a generous God, and that it is what He looks for if we are to radically respond to where He will bring us in the coming years.
‘ALREADY BUT NOT YET’
Simply put, the Lord is not done with us yet. We continue to be a work in progress, like a clay in a potter’s hand but that which He has already made useful and continues to make useful as He sees fit, despite our sinfulness, despite our weaknesses.
Secondly, we need to be reminded. We are creatures who easily forget. We are all capable of being unfaithful. So (it’s just right) to be reminded.
Lastly, as we move on, we need to be further sharpened. 42 years? The Lord may just be starting. It could be our children, or our children’s children who will do the more difficult part of the mission. Our task is to hand over a Ligaya that is faithful to our life and covenant and always prepared for mission.
One thing I’m certain, the Lord is truly at work in our midst, and that we “are being transdormed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, from this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”(2 Cor 3:17-18).
Lord, fill us with gratitude and generosity for all You have done for us. Take our lives and all that we have as an offering of love for You, who are our All, who are our Joy!
Excerpts from the talk by Andy Juan, Senior Head Coordinator, during the Ligaya ng Panginoon 42nd Anniversary celebration in July 2017 in SMX, Pasay City.
An Appeal for Prayers & Vigilance
Dear brothers and sisters,
By this time, we are all aware of the situation in Marawi City and I am sure many among us have responded to the crises through prayers and intercessions. And in the midst of our various personal, family and community concerns, we also want to maintain and sustain a heightened awareness of the goings-on in the lives of our fellow Filipinos and our nation as a whole.
I am re-posting here a statement of the Catholic Bishops of Mindanao which calls for prayers and vigilance during this time of trouble in Marawi. I hope that you will find the time to read this and bring these concerns in your individual and communal prayers. This goes without saying that as Ligaya, we share the same posture as our Church leaders in this unfolding event.
May the good Lord look kindly on the innocent victims of the terrorist atrocities in Marawi City and may our civil and military leaders have the wisdom to address this difficult situation in restoring true and lasting peace in Mindanao.
God bless our people and our nation.
On behalf of the OLC,
29 May 2017
"Head out into the deep"-Duc in Altum
Our call is to be a Community of Disciples in Mission.
Our core mission is evangelization and building communities.
We proclaim the Good News; and we gather people together to be joined with one another for support; as we put ourselves in positions of influence to serve as a leaven and a light in our environments; and where necessary, we defend Christian truth and morality both in Church and society
We are also called to be a Community. We are called to be a people, to serve one another in covenant love, and out of our committed relationships, we become a bulwark and a source of defense and refuge for many, a prophetic people that lives radical Christian lives and thus witnesses effectively for Jesus, and a servant people that speaks to Church and society to stand for Christ’s call to holiness and righteousness
In other words, living our way of life is not separate from our mission, but it is very much a part of it. Our community life many times in fact serve as our strongest witness for evangelization and building communities.
“Come and see” is our invitation. Hopefully what we’ll hear as a response would be: “See how they love and serve one another”
Given this background, where could the Lord be leading us today? Our 2016 prophetic banner reads: “More Sacrifice and Courage for a Mission Greater Than Us”
A mission greater than us
The walls are being expanded. The Lord seems to be saying – make room: make room in your hearts, make room in your homes, in your community, in your service.
God seems to be changing the categories of what’s in or what’s out in our mission agenda.
We are just a part, not the whole. God is all about a Bigger Mission. We are privileged to participate in His grand plan and action, the full picture of which we do not know.
Our future is at stake. The implications of what we are doing today are not just for this present time and generation. We ought to prepare for the long haul. A lot of the fruits of our work will take a while to build.
Our individual and corporate response today to mission, our action or inaction, our resolve or indifference, will have a bearing on the future of the next generation, impacting our children and our children’s children.
Of course, God can fulfill His plans with or without us. The question is – are we going to allow ourselves to be part of the plan, part of His grand rescue mission - of saving lives? Or will we just watch from the sidelines?
A new courage
There is another angle of courage that the Lord is saying to us - that is the strength and ability to go further than where we are - to go into the deep.
Jesus said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking.”
Bishop Barron called Jesus’ jumping into Simon’s boat as “an invasion of Grace”. Thus Simon’s transformation has begun, when he uttered: “I will let down the nets.”
When the Lord Jesus gets into your boat, He will ALWAYS lead you from the shallows into the depths.
There is a growing call to reach out to areas and peoples we’ve never reached out before. There is a growing sense to help and serve the wider Church - especially the training of lay leaders.
There are new opportunities to contribute to the work for stronger marriages and work with young people, especially high school students in public schools, on values formation.
And there are still many other opportunities in training of leaders and sharing the Good News through social media.
As a community and as individuals, where are the deep portions you are afraid to go? Why are you playing too safe? What is your comfort zone?
Ask the Lord what he wants us to do with our lives – our time, our talent, our money, our family.
Don’t accept spiritual mediocrity - Go into the deep.
Excerpts from the talk by Andy Juan, Senior Head Coordinator, during the Community Conference, in February 2017 in St. Paul Pasig.