BARTIMAEUS AND ME

by BCBP Editor

The Personal Testimony of Bro Henry Tupas, BCBP Molo, as shared during the Grand Breakfast, 31st NAC, Dumaguete, May 7, 2011 (We first posted Bro Henry’s sharing on May 15, 2011, and we repost it for those of you who have not yet read or heard our brother’s powerful and insightful sharing. –Editor
henry-tupaz-molobcbp

I am Henry Tupas, married to Ma. Lora Cabrera of Davao City. I am the eldest and only son in the brood of four children of the late Marcial Tupas and Lourdes Pedregosa of Iloilo. I spent the early years of my life in Iloilo. However, due to the demands of my mother’s work, we had to transfer from place to place. As a result, I have lived in Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte, in Kalibo, Aklan, and finally back in Iloilo.

It is in Iloilo City where I finished Grade 6, followed by high school and college at the University of the Philippines in the Visayas. In 1983, I moved to Manila for my medical education and orthopedic training at UP College of Medicine and at the Philippine General Hospital, respectively. In 1993, I came back to Iloilo to start my private practice as an orthopedic surgeon. I have since lived in Iloilo for the last 17 years except for a year in United States where I had further orthopedic training.

While I may not be physically blind like Bartimaeus in Mark’s gospel, spiritually I was blind— blind to the presence of God in my life and of His infinite wisdom and unfailing love for us. But God is indeed good and merciful and I believe that he loves each one of us very much. In Lamentations 3: 22-23, it says… the Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise… And because of this unfailing love and mercy, He continued to shower me with blessings despite of my spiritual shortcomings.

He blessed me with a very supportive and understanding family. Without them, most especially my parents, I might not be a doctor today. He blessed me with a challenging but rewarding profession as a doctor. Looking back, I can see His divine intervention and guidance in every major decision I made in my career path leading to my profession as an orthopedic surgeon. But most importantly, He blessed me with a family of my own. He gave me Lulay, a very charming and loving wife and blessed our marriage with 3 adorable sons.

Lulay was God-sent to lead me to BCBP. After we got married, we live separately for 7 long years. Lulay stayed in Manila for her training as an OB-Gyne later specializing in Cancer surgery while I stayed in Iloilo busy earning a living for my growing family. Despite this long separation, broken only by a few days of monthly visits, we managed to have three sons, the reason why our friends jokingly called my trips to Manila as fertility visits. When Lulay and the kids came home from Manila for good, I was filled with joy and contentment. At last, our family was finally complete.

With all the blessings I received, I thought that it was only fitting and appropriate to look to God and thank Him for all these things. So, when Brod Baby Soriano, our current chapter head, invited me to join the BCBP, it was not very difficult for me to say yes, especially, with the prodding of Lulay who was more spiritually oriented than me. We decided to join BCBP as our way of thanking God for the many blessings that he had showered on us.

Let me continue for you the story of Bartimaeus, “He threw aside his garment, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately, he received his sight and followed Him on the way.”

Like Bartimaeus, I answered the call of Jesus and chose to follow Him. My years of living and growing in the BCBP community have made me realize 5 things.

My 1st realization is that my perception and attitude towards life have changed. Through the brotherhood, I was cured of my spiritual blindness. I became aware of God’s love and presence in my life leading me to become more faithful, worshipful and thankful to Him. Between making rounds on my patients, I visit the hospital chapel for my daily prayer and communion with God. All the meetings that I preside over in the businesses I manage, medical societies I lead and the different hospital units I head, always start with a prayer. I exercise more patience and understanding in my dealings with my children, Lulay and everybody as much as possible.

My 2nd realization is that following Him by changing and improving my own spiritual life is not enough. In Matthew 4: 19-20, “He said to them, Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men. At once they left their nets and followed Him”. Eventually I realized that what is important is what we do after following Him, after joining the BCBP. Now I understand that the life lessons I’ve learned from the BCBP should not be confined to myself; instead, they should be made known to others as well.

God brought me to the BCBP to become a fisher of men. After all, BCBP is about all of us becoming fishers of men. And to fulfill this realization, Lulay and I never decline any invitation for us to share during breakfast meetings whether alone or as a couple. As BCBP members, we consider it our primary duty to testify for the Lord and share the goodness that He has done in our lives. In addition, we accept every service opportunity given to us by BCBP in support of its mission. Since the start of Molo Outreach in Nov. 2003, we have assumed many roles in the community – Music Ministry member, Breakfast Head to Mission Director, Course Director of BCLP, BCMR, MEP and BCBR, Unit Leader, PSD Director, and presently as Chapter Head.

Aside from the various responsibilities we have been given in our years in the BCBP, Lulay and I are active members of the BCBP Speakers’ Bureau for Panay. The writer Richard Bach once said, “You teach best what you most need to learn.” And nothing can be truer in the Speakers Bureau. Preparing for our talks for the monthly teachings, BCLP, BCMR, and BCBR, all were eye-openers on the richness of Christ’s teachings on the different aspects of our Christian life. Our preparations were also periods for reviewing our life experiences and that of our BCBP brothers and sisters as we searched for examples to use in our talks. In the process, we were able to see our past shortcomings and the positive changes we have made in our own lives since joining the brotherhood. And these are also great opportunities for us to impart the life lessons we’ve learned from the BCBP, to others as well.

My 3rd realization is the importance of the bible not just as a doctrinal source but something more. Before BCBP, I considered the Bible as just a book, an object that contained God’s story and words. My experiences with the Brotherhood have shown me that the Bible is indeed the LIVING WORD OF GOD. While preparing for our first BCLP, I was blessed with the experience of hearing God speak to me through the Bible. In January 30, 2005, during the workshop for the BCLP I service team, Bro Noel Amane talked about spiritual warfare, telling us that the devil will try to sabotage our work and would specially target the service team and that we must be prepared to fight him.

I was the next speaker and I had prepared a very nice LCD presentation of my talk. Before we started, I checked the LCD and it was alright but when it was my time to talk ayaw nang gumana ang LCD! I was so disappointed and felt bad but worst of all, I begun to feel scared remembering the talk warning us about what the devil would do. As the Course Director, I began to doubt if I could handle the responsibility and the harassment.

The next day, Jan 31, the gospel was Mark 5:1-20. It describes about how Jesus fights the evil spirits and delivers the people from them. After reading it, I felt hope, encouragement that maybe God will indeed frighten the devil. The next day Feb 1, Lulay and I had our long delayed confession prior to the mass of empowerment, and the reading from Hebrews 12:1 said, “Let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us.” At that moment, I believed God was indeed talking to me, instructing me on what to do, encouraging me to proceed, to cast aside my doubt and have more faith in doing His work. And when Thursday came, the day of our empowerment, the gospel was from Mark 6:7-13, the commissioning of the disciples. In our case, the empowerment of the service team. What more can I ask, for God had spoken to me in very clear words. The rest is history. With superb teamwork and the cooperation of everybody we successfully accomplished what God wanted us to do, becoming fishers of men through BCLP 1.

My 4th realization is that God is indeed good and true to His many promises to us if we only have faith and follow Him. During our sharing in Passi City Outreach of the BCBP Iloilo Chapter a few years ago, Lulay and I related our bad experience with the BIR wherein we felt we were unfairly assessed with almost half a million pesos in back taxes and penalties. The BIR examiners kept telling us to come for a private meeting so we could talk about it and maybe come to an arrangement. Some colleagues in the medical community also told us that such meetings would allow us to make areglo and lower our tax liabilities, if we agree with their terms and conditions. We felt anxious and worried about paying such a big amount that would almost wipe out our hard earned savings! Despite this, we stood firm in our commitment to the BCBP’s Be Honest campaign. Refusing the BIR examiner’s invitations for a private meeting, we opted to pay what we owed the government through the bank.

Toward the end of our sharing, Lulay spontaneously added that despite the loss of our savings intended for the renovation of our house to the BIR, God blessed us generously such that we were able to save up and complete our dream house as scheduled. It was at that moment that I realized that God made us share in Passi City Outreach that day not just to testify to the breakfasters there, but mainly to speak His message of affirmation and encouragement to us. In Matthew 6:33, He said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” As Bro Mayong Rodriguez, our current AMD in Visayas said in his tithing talk to our chapter that year, God’s financial blessings come as we obey his principles or his divine will. I rejoiced when I realized God was testing us and, by His grace, and by faith in Him, Lulay and I had passed the test, one of many I’m sure are still to come in the narrow path we have chosen to take.

At the start of my sharing, I have narrated the story of Bartimaeus from Mark’s gospel. And even after seven years of sharing, this story still resonates in my heart and mind – how a blind man, in faith and with the encouraging words from everyone, was healed by Jesus and chose to follow the Lord on the way. But, the Bible stopped there, keeping us wondering about what eventually became of Bartimaeus. Brothers and sisters, lastly, I have come to realize, Bartimaeus is still alive today, for he is within us. We are Bartimaeus, once blind but now can see, following Jesus on His way.

Thank you for listening and God bless us everyone!

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