Archive for the ‘The prodigal in all of us’ Category

What’s your excuse?

For the first time in a long time, I decided to obey the makati number coding scheme which does not provide for a window period for banned cars.  I guess I woke up fearing the eagle eyes of the MAPSA.  So I took a cab to the office, anticipating that I would be able to rest – perhaps even sleep – through the traffic.  But it was not meant to be.


The cab driver was a chatty one.  I used to not mind talkative drivers, especially when they give me a lecture on how to take care of the car.  I just don’t like the ones who rant and whine about the Philippines and the government while disobeying each and every known traffic law.  But today was different.  It’s the first time I encountered a driver who was also a “missionary’s pastor” who was turned away by the head of a Bible college because, as he said, he already knew all there is to learn about the Bible.  That’s a big claim right there, so I was compelled to listen.


During the 40-minute drive, he recounted the details of his previous ministries, complete with picturesque descriptions of the prayer meetings he conducted under a mango tree in Tarlac, with men, women, and children coming in droves to listen to him.  His reminiscing was punctuated only by my occasional “opo”, “oho”, and “ok” – just to let him know that oh yes, I’m still listening, just talk on manong.


Manong was a former Catholic – he said he was trained under Bishop Bacani.  I don’t know how he became a taxi driver, but he said that one day, his passenger told him that he saw him preaching under the mango tree in Tarlac and that he was pleased with what he saw.  He then introduced himself as a bishop – a Christian bishop trained in the United States, who is also the head of a Bible college in the Philippines.  Church of the Good Shepherd Christian Ministry School or something.  The passenger gave manong his card and told him to go see him at the school. 


So manong went to the college, saw the pastor, listened to some of the teachers’ lectures, and critiqued their lessons.  After a few meetings, the head of the school offered to let him study there for free.  I don’t know how he transitioned from being Catholic to being a born again Christian, but somewhere along the way it happened, and he accepted the school’s offer.  When he spoke with the school head, however, the latter told him that he no longer needs to go through school because there is nothing more the school can teach him.  The school head and 11 other elders then interviewed him, asked about his statement of faith, and right then and there declared him a “missionary’s pastor”.  (I’m not quite sure if he meant “missionary pastor”; I’m just quoting what he told me.)


So he did the rounds of the churches affiliated with the school, preaching and teaching them on the Bible.  He said during those days, he would receive love gifts in unmarked envelopes – an evidence that it’s the people who gave the money.  Going rate was P800 to P1,400.


After a while, the school head went back to the US for further studies, and when he returned home, he said that the church should no longer be a unified ministry – he basically abrogated their former credo of “one church, one body”.  The affiliated churches should be independent churches, to allow them to grow and expand on their own, without relying on support from their mother church.  Manong said some of the pastors challenged the decision, but he studied the Bible again and he realized that that is indeed how the church should be.  The apostles did not set up one mother church, with their own ministries being under the mother church’s umbrella.  So he supported the move.


Manong, along with three other pastors, merged their churches together.  Manong became head pastor.  However, he had to relinquish the position to his brother because the church did not want to follow his lead, and he did not have any support from foreigners.


At this point, I got confused.  So I asked, “akala ko po ba gusto niyo na nga maging independent, huwag na umasa sa foreign support?”


“Masyadong mahirap ng walang suporta.  Tsaka hindi lang naman yun ang dahilan kaya ko ibinigay sa kapatid ko.  Hindi rin kasi ako sinusunod nong ibang tao e.”


We were already in Buendia, and I surprised myself by actually wishing that traffic would grow longer just so I can listen to this part of manong’s story.  I got my wish.


Apparently, manong was miffed when some of the people from the congregations that were merged with his did not kneel during prayer.  He questioned the pastors of said congregations, and he said he gave them three months to search for a Bible verse that would show that praying while standing up is allowed.  They came up with none.  I guess the people still did not want to obey his order that all but the crippled and those with casts on their feet should kneel when praying, so he stepped down and resumed his career as a cab driver.


I asked him why he gave up his ministry for such an issue.


“E kung hindi din lang naman nila ko susundin, e di wag na lang.”


So the issue of kneeling when praying was so important to him?


“E kung hindi mo rin lang susundin ang Bible, e bakit ka pa sasamba, di ba?”


Does the Bible prohibit praying while standing up?


“Labinglimang beses ipinakita sa New Testament na dapat nakaluhod pag nananalangin.  Yung mga apostol, kahit sa aplaya, lumuhod para manalangin.”


King David danced while praying.


“Iba naman yun, pagsamba naman yun.  Papuri yun.”


Isn’t praying a form of worship?


“Pag nananalangin ka, dapat naninikluhod ka sa Panginoon, humihingi ka ng awa.  Iba kapag nagpupuri ka.  Itanong mo sa pastor mo.  Di ba iba-iba yung portion ng service?  Una, pagpupuri, tapos sa dulo yung pananalangin.”


I don’t think there’s a fixed structure for a worship service.


“Meron.  Itanong mo nga sa pastor mo.”


The Bible teaches the fixed structure for Sunday service?




Jesus did not have a formal church, did not hold formal Sunday services?




And oh yeah, there was one time when Jesus was surrounded by a huge crowd and he needed a place to pray, so he got on a boat, sailed away into the lake, and prayed.  The Bible didn’t say that he knelt inside the boat while praying.




I got to the PAL office and stepped off the cab thinking, this manong gave up his ministry on the excuse that his congregation wasn’t following the Biblical way of worship anyway.  What a waste. 


Then I thought, what about me?  What’s my excuse?



* photo from Shutterstock 



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