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Fulfill your ministry (2 Timothy 4:5)

Ed’s Note: This is the second in the two-part series expounding on the CFC theme for 2018. The first article, published in the October issue of the Monitor, was Rekindle the Gift.)


The Second letter of Paul to Timothy is even more personal than his first. Writing to Timothy in Ephesus while he is imprisoned in Rome, Paul is fully aware that his death is imminent. Imprisoned because of his preaching, Paul exhorts Timothy and others to also be ready to lay down their lives for the sake of the Gospel. He tells Timothy to be prepared to replace him. He urges him to protect the community from the inevitable impact of false teachings without fear of the resulting possible personal attacks. Paul suggests that Timothy rely on the power of the Scriptures without being troubled by those who do not accept the teaching. At the end of his second letter, Paul expresses hope that Timothy and others will be able to visit him in prison.


The second part of our community’s theme for next year is taken from the Second Letter of Paul to Timothy: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry. (2 Tim 4:1-5)

It is clearly evident from his letter that Paul is passing on the responsibility of leading the community to the next generation of leaders. Previously, it was Paul’s ministry. But now it is your ministry – Timothy’s ministry. The ministry that Paul is passing on involves proclaiming the Word, performing the work of an evangelist.Paul emphasizes the need to pass on the ministry in the strongest possible words. He could just have said, “I charge you to proclaim the word” and by using the word “charge” it would have been strong enough. Or he could have said, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus to proclaim the word” and it would have been even stronger. But no, Paul felt the need to make known his desire to pass on the ministry in the strongest and clear-est manner possible. Thus he said, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power, proclaim the word.” 


Paul elaborated his charge because he wanted to express the need to pass on the ministry in the strongest possible manner.It should be the same for our community. Leaders ought to understand that after 36 years, the time has come to pass on the community’s leadership to younger but capable members. But why proclaim the word? Because Christ will be appearing in his kingly power to judge the living and the dead, and thus there is an urgent need to prepare the people.


This month I turned 72. At this age, I have become even more conscious of my own mortality. There were five of us who were very close friends as pro-fessors at the UP College of Engineering. Two have already passed away. Of the members of the Estrada Cabinet, which I served, five have passed away. In my daily personal prayer time, I recall the words of the psalmist: Lord, let me know my end, the number of my days that I may learn how frail I am. (Ps 39:5-6)


Seventy is the sum of our years, or eighty, if we are strong. Most of them are sorrow and toil; they pass quickly, we are all but gone.(Ps 90:10) Now that I am old and gray, do not forsake me God that I may pro-claim your might to all generations yet to come. (Ps 71:18). I pray to God for the grace of being able to tell the story of Jesus to more people that they may get to know and learn to love the Savior who died for us. When should the word be proclaimed? Paul tells us that it should be proclaimed whether it is convenient or inconvenient. Since many have started to follow their own desires and insatiable curiosity, have stopped listening to the truth, and have been beguiled by myths, the word urgently needs to be proclaimed constantly, in all circumstances, in season and out of season.


Many years ago, when I was Secretary of Science and Technology, I was invited to attend a five-day scientific conference in Budapest, Hungary. Recognizing an opportunity to introduce CFC in Hungary, I purposely scheduled my visit to include two weekends in the hope that I could hold CLP sessions during those weekends. I got in touch with the Philippine ambassador in Hungary and with some leaders of CFC Vienna to inform them of my plan. The Philippine ambassador agreed to hold the CLP at the Philippine Embassy and to invite people to attend, and some leaders of CFC Vienna volunteered to drive to nearby Budapest to serve in the CLP. Over half a dozen people came including a Hungarian priest. I delivered two talks the first weekend and another two talks the following weekend. After I had returned to the Philippines,CFC Vienna continued the CLP and later informed me that the Hungarian priest completed all the CLP talks. 

How should the word be proclaimed? Paul tells us that it should be pro-claimed by convincing, reprimanding and encouraging; teaching people patiently, putting up with all hardships.When I was working at the United Nations in Bangkok some years ago, we went on mission to Vientiane to conduct the very first CLP in Laos. Because it is a communist-ruled state, preaching is prohibited outside the church premises. With the consent of the Philippine ambassador in Vien-tiane, we held the first CLP at the Philippine Embassy. From Bangkok, we flew to Udon Thani, a city in northern Thailand. From there we drove to Vientiane, crossing the Mekong River. To avoid possible arrest and confiscation of the CLP materials and bibles that we were bringing in, we placed them in UN bags and boxes. For several weekends, we followed the sameroutine – waking up early on Saturday morning to fly to Udon Thani, driving to Vientiane, hiding Christian materials in diplomatic packages, preparing the venue, teaching CFC songs, deliver-ing the talks, leading the discussions, and then returning to Bangkok late Sunday evening to be ready again for work on Monday morning. 


The missions were full of hardships. They were dangerous and financially costly, but the joy in our hearts and the feeling of consolation that comes only from the Holy Spirit were beyond description. We experienced a little bit of heaven in knowing that somehow, with God’s grace, we had followed the admonition to “fulfill your ministry”. 

Added on Wednesday, November 29, 2017


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