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Emil grew up in a squatter’s area in Pasay city called Tripa de Galina. Because he grew up poor, he believed that he will die poor. All that changed when he met Dustin.

Dustin met him in the University of the Philippines. Because he wanted to reach out to Emil, he did something quite brilliant. He asked Emil if they could register together for the next semester. That being the case, he registered for the same classes and had the same breaks so that he could take advantage of those moments to share Christ with Emil. It actually worked!screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-8-44-20-am

“One thing that Dustin said that really hit me was when he said, ‘Emil, you have a great destiny in God.'”
“Who me? A poor squatter kid from Pasay?”

As Emil embraced the gospel of Christ, his life started to change. He realized how loved and accepted he was by his Father in heaven. That through Jesus Christ, he indeed had a great hope and future.

Today, he teaches urban poor kids about the love of Jesus and they too have a ‘great destiny in God.’ After finishing his mechanical engineering course from UP, he had a lot of offer to work in the country and abroad. But because of his extreme gratitude for God’s salvation project in his life, he chose to do kingdom work and is now a children’s pastor in Victory Katipunan.

Truly, when we have received mercy, we too can extend mercy. When we have received grace, we too can dispense grace. That’s the power by which we can do good.

Luke 10 tells us the story of the Good Samaritan. A man got mugged, robbed and left for dead. It wasn’t the Levite nor the priest that helped but the Samaritan, their lifelong enemy. Because of the racial divide, the Samaritan owed the man nothing but hostility and hate. But that wasn’t what he did. He helped the man, bandaged him, used his donkey and sent him to an inn to be nursed back to full health.

I realize that when we read this story, we point to ourselves and motivate ourselves through guilt. We need to be like the Good Samaritan. But we can’t be like the Good Samaritan until we meet the Great Samaritan. Until we meet the True Neighbor, we can’t be the neighbor we need to be for others. Jesus is the Great Samaritan who came down to our road of despair, picked us up from our destitution and nursed us back into newness of life.

May God give us the grace to always remember that what we have received, we can give away for that alone is the way to truly be a neighbor to others.

LORD, thank You for saving me. I was downtrodden and on the road towards destruction and yet you picked me up and rescued me. I have nothing to boast about for there was no way out of my destitution and sin. But You came. Your rescued. You gave me a new life. As a result, I can extend kindness to others for I have been shown kindness. This is my prayer, in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

I’m really not a runner.

I wish I was, but it’s not my thing, I guess.  But the only thing that makes me do it is Race For Life, the fund raising event for Race for Life.

Real LIFE Foundation is a Christian non-profit, NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) that was incorporated in 2007 with the vision of seeing thousands of marginalized Filipino youth educated, gainfully employed and uplifting their communities.

Real Life is passionate about providing a better future for underprivileged Filipinos by giving them access to a good education and transforming their communities through community service.

A few of the testimonies of the students can be found here.

Below is the recently concluded Race for Life.
Thanks for all who supported this cause.

 

This was an original post by Brix Briones.

It’s quite a long one but deserving because of the man behind this story.  Tito Delfin, Mang Delfin, Lolo Delfin … however you might call him, he is well loved because of how thoughtful and caring he is.

Whenever we bump into each other before the 6pm service, where I usually attend, he runs after me to give me a hug, WITHOUT FAIL. Then the words would follow just like a script he’s memorized yet always as in ALWAYS would come from the heart – “Thank you pastor. Great to see you pastor. I love you pastor.”

 

Here’s the post by Brix Briones.

God commanded us to love one another, just as he loved us (John13:34).

In fact according to him, this is how people will know that we are His disciples, the love that we have for each other will be a clear testament that we are His followers.

This point is easy enough to understand, but the execution is another thing. Love for your fellow man (true and genuine love that is), especially in todays market-driven economy and Facebook oriented society, is a rare commodity.

You see I seldom feel Godly love, specially among men. Until I met this guy, he is an usher in our church, and he showed me that it is possible to give a generous portion of Godly love every week, something that I craved for. A genuine love that even my wife could notice, she would even ask me why she could not have something similar. It was a love that I thought would always be there, and that all I had to do was come back for more If I needed it.

But that was not the case, because that love came packaged in human flesh, and as with everything human, that love too was only temporary. Unfortunately I was only able to recognize that it was that when it was just about to go back to its source. A love coming from a total stranger, a love simply expressed by humility and a smile. The genuine love coming from an usher, my favorite usher, and now it seems that it will not last for long.

You see my favorite usher is dying. As I write this he is in the hospital battling it out with pancreatic cancer. When I heard the news yesterday, I wanted to see him so badly, I wanted to get a hug, I wanted to see his smile, I wanted to hear his voice.

But how could I? I barely know the man.

I desperately tried to get information and details so I could see him, but nobody could give me answers. And how could they give me details, I was not related to him, I was not part of his group, I was not an usher, I was not a friend, heck I don’t even really know his complete name. All that we had were little minutes during Sunday afternoons, smiles and hugs, and quick chats in rare instances when it was possible.

To him I was just supposed to be someone attending the service, and to me he is just supposed to be an usher named Delfin. But the reality was very different, I felt Gods presence and love in those short moments he engaged me. He showed me that it was indeed possible for us to obey Jesus and genuinely love one another.

And the strange part is, he did it to me without even trying. He did it by just being himself.

Our story began the Sunday that my wife and I decided to move back to VCF Fort about three years ago, just a few weeks after we got married. Weve been growing in our Ortigas Church, but decided to move back to the Fort for proximity, it was a lot closer to where we lived, and since we wanted to have more family time together, it was an easy choice to make.

Our schedule was crazy, so we were attending different services, whatever was convenient for us. Then one fine Sunday afternoon, we came a little bit early for the 2pm service. As we were heading towards our favorite chair, this old man approached us, he was one of the ushers.

He came to us like a breath of fresh air, sharply wearing his Sunday best, together with the most wonderful smile I’ve seen from a man his age. He extended his hand, so I politely extended mine as well and tried my best to smile back and not be the usual grouchy me.

To my surprise, he grabbed me by the shoulder with his other hand after reaching for the handshake, and gave me a hug. It was the warmest hug I’ve had from a man all these years.

“Welcome to Victory bro! Kamusta ka na!”

Was he somebody I knew but could not remember? Was he a friend, someone that I failed to recognize? Who was this guy?

“Ok naman po, kayo po kamusta?”

Whew! Sure glad I quickly pulled that fast one out, why would I want to embarrass him and myself, surely I’ll remember who this guy is in few seconds…

“Ok lang ako!… cge, dito muna ako ha, enjoy the service.”

Then he smiled again, Then that was that.

After the free hug and the smile, he was out of my reach. Doing similar gestures to all the other people he was able to come across with. As I was observing him doing his rounds, the hug was still lingering and I felt something strange, I still had the smile he left me with, he was that contagious.

My wife was smiling at me when I looked at her, and was asking me who Grandpa was, and I told her that I didn’t know him. She didn’t believe me, and said that I probably just didn’t remember who he was. So I tried my best to google search him in my brain but couldn’t realy find him (and it really doesnt work quite as fast). And besides, I had to pay attention to the preaching of doc jun, so that was that for the usher and me, our very first encounter.

I told my wife the following Sunday that I wanted to do the 2pm service again because I wanted to get the continuation of the series of doc jun. So we were there again, same chair, same time, and of course, the same usher again.

“Hello bro, welcome!!!” was his greeting, but it was done in such a passionate exuberance as if I was attending a once year special revival service.

The hug was there again, the smile was there again, but this time I caught a glimpse of something special.

Believe it or not, I saw the Holy Spirit reflected in the twinkle of his eyes. So I knew right then and there, that this was no ordinary man. He may have been just an usher to everyone else, but to me he was a messenger from God, giving out generous portions of love, neatly packed in a smile, delivered door-to-door (face-to-face even) together with a hug, so one can get it with a dose of the warmth of Gods love.

So it went on and on, every Sunday it would be like that, it became sort of a ritual that I would be looking forward to. We would be attending the service to hear the word of God, and then I would get the added bonus of special smile and hug from this nice usher.

The experience came to me in perfect timing, as I was going through tough and difficult times, and it was very comforting to know that I could reach out for a dose of Gods presence and love if I needed it. I got so comfortable about it that I didn’t even bother to get the name of this usher, nor did I even try to make an effort to get to know him.

Then one Sunday came, it was volunteer weekend. The church was asking for volunteers in the various ministries, the ushering ministry included. Mister nice usher came to me and asked me if I would consider joining the ushering team. I told him I will think about it, and he said he would pray for me and hope that I would indeed consider joining them.

To be frank about it, the ushering ministry is not something I find attractive. You clean up the mess other people make after the service, you arrange the chairs that people mess up on purpose as they leave, you try to be all smiles and be very nice, and yet people don’t even try to notice you’re there. People ignore you when you ask them politely, people don’t greet back, people don’t smile back, and most of the time people are just nasty (just like me), who will not even bother to get to know you, no matter how nice you are to them. And I really didn’t want to be at the receiving end of that predicament, so I’m not really so sure if I want to be an usher just yet.

And as we were heading out, another friend greeted us. He is also a member of the ushering team, but this guy was totally different. He wanted me to join the group also, but his methods were totally different. He actually signed me up himself, he gave me a name pin, and told me that my schedule to help out the following week as already confirmed. No more training, no more briefing, all I needed to do was just to smile. Yeah Right…

Im sure he meant it in a nice way, and im sure that all he wanted was for me to help out. But doing things like that just don’t cut it like they used to. So I never came the following Sunday. In fact we attended the morning service from then on because I wanted to make sure that I will get no pressure to join any group. Never mind the free hug and the smile from my favorite usher, I will just visit back from time to time in case i wanted to see him.

Weeks passed, it turned into months. Hadn’t realized that it was more than a year already since I last saw my favorite usher, and by this time I actually got to know that his name was Delfin; and this was because yesterday, pastor joey mentioned him in his preaching. That he visited one of the leaders of the ushering team at the hospital, and he was dying of cancer.

All pastor joey had to say to confirm that it was indeed him, was that you will surely know this man when you meet him because he wears the best smile on a Sunday. That surely was my favorite usher.

My heart was crying when I learned that it was indeed him. Had trouble sleeping, had trouble eating, had a hard time focusing on the things I was supposed to do.

There were so many “ifs” in my mind: If only I joined when he asked me to, if only I gave him more of my time and attention, if only I was a little bit more nice to him…

I honestly don’t know what to do to make up…

To all the ushers, in my church and in others, I encourage you to continue what you are doing. It may seem trivial, the work may seem mundane; but I’m very sure that my experience with Delfin will be as true and genuine to others, as it was true and genuine to me.

The smile, the handshake, the hug, the attention, the simple act of kindness to a total stranger, all of that has a tremendous and profound impact in the life of someone like me. People may not be able to repay you, nor will they recognize your efforts and honor you for it, but I’m sure that our Father in heaven sees you, and your every little act of kindness and generosity does not escape his attention, and ultimately God will be your reward.

To you Lolo Delfin, (if you will permit me with the honor to address you that way, because you seem to be that to me, a lolo that i never had…) I want to thank you, with all my heart. My wife and I want you and your family to know that we appreciate you so very much. It was both an honor and a privilege to have you in our life, even for just a few moments. We will never forget you, your smile, your hug, your love.

If I can have even just half as much of the kind of humility and grace that you were able to exhibit in your life, I know I will be a better man.

Be assured that we will be with you in faith and prayer, we will ask all of our friends to be with you in prayer and faith as well. We serve an Almighty God and nothing is impossible for him, and we will continue to believe for your healing and recovery.

Talking about the most important thing in your life can also be the most difficult thing.

I’m referring to our relationship with Christ.

Sharing what God has done and how you have come to faith in Him, particularly to your family, relatives and friends can be tricky, not to mention difficult.

I spoke to a friend who is also one of our Victory Small group leaders yesterday. He has found a simple way to share his faith to friends and family… PODCAST.

He said that he would pray and ask God for direction. Then he would sent the link of the particular podcast he thinks will speak and minister to their needs at the time.

That way, they can either choose to listen to it right away, or later, or never.  But he said, it has been an effective door opener to talk about Jesus when they would see those he sent the podcast links to.

As a matter of fact, he already has a friend who started coming to church as a result. He would come late because he’s still feeling his way through the “praise and worship” part, but enjoys the message immensely.

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For Victory Fort Podcasts, CLICK HERE.
For messages from various Victory Pastors metrowide, CLICK HERE.

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I received a Facebook message asking how to talk to a person who is living in with her boyfriend.

“During the small group discussion, they found out that this new girl was living in with her boyfriend. The new girl had questions with regards to relationships.

…being in that situation, what would be the best thing to say and do? Open the Bible and direct her to the verses that apply to her? Oh, to make things a little more complicated, the newbie’s boyfriend told her that if she leaves him because of her religion/faith, it’s like she’s condemning him.

I know that the choice of words matter a lot if I wanted the right message to be conveyed.”

This was my reply to her…

First of all, let me establish biblical principles and standards.

Fornication is sin. Sexual immorality is against the design of God. (1 Thes. 4:7)
Sex is something God created and it is beautiful … within the boundaries of marriage and marriage ALONE.

Now, in terms of confronting a person in your small group, it is important to consider the relationship.
If you have a good relationship, the Bible says that open rebuke is better than hidden love. Therefore, i will ask God for the perfect opportunity to talk to my friend about the ‘live in’ relationship. Obviously not in front of anyone so that he/she won’t be put on the spot.

If there’s no relationship, I will do my best to connect with this person so that i can earn the right to be heard so that i can come and approach with love, compassion and much of the grace of God.

The gospel is not just for those who don’t know Christ. It is equally for those who know Jesus and yet living in sin.

When Jesus said, it is finished, He meant, it is paid for – both for the Christian and those who don’t follow Christ.

Hope this helps.