A Personal Testimony of Bro Ciso Cayabyab, BCBP Paranaque
Graduating from UP Los Banos with a BS in Animal Science, joining the corporate life in the veterinary drug industry, first in the Philippines, then 9 years in Indonesia, followed by 7 years in Princeton, New Jersey, at corporate headquarters managing international marketing and training, I thought was experience enough to assure me of entrepreneurial success. I was wrong!
When my corporate life of 24 years ended, I decided to put up several business ventures. Using my own money for the first time led to a series of failure, misadventures, frustrations and disappointments. All of a sudden I realized that I had lost the feel to grow a business. My timing was off. I was literally confused! I was not in a state of grace.
It was during this time that I was first invited to a BCBP breakfast in Las Pinas, Metro Manila. The sharing that morning gave me the feeling that my problems were nothing compared to those of the sharer. I felt like a long-lost brother every time I attended a breakfast. My wife and I joined the Christian Life Program of the Brotherhood in 1998; the program enhanced our personal relationships and led us to experience fullness of life through Christ our Lord. We strengthened our prayer life, too.
But being renewed didn’t mean being free of trials. My business after several years of downward slide hit “ground zero”, financially and for me, physically and emotionally! My creditors even haunted me like ghosts in my dreams. The company that I had established as a joint venture with the Dutch was gasping for liquidity. Since it was the Jubilee year, 2000, I had high hopes that finally I would be restored in fulfillment of God’s promise (Leviticus 25). By mid 2000, business continued to be lackluster but I persevered in my prayer time.
It was then that I realized that a business strategy is worthless without a spiritual strategy. I reflected on the prayer of King Hezekiah after he met the prophet Isaiah (2 Kings 20:2-3). This inspired me … I prayed … and wept … and beseeched the Lord to have mercy on me. It was a time of total surrender to Him and I immediately felt an inner peace. Although my strength was gone, I realized that zero is a great place to be. After all, God’s strength is perfected in my weakness!
By December, the end of the Jubilee Year, God answered my prayers — but not in the way I had expected, for He had better plans for me. I was offered a position by a British multinational as Director for Operations, to be responsible for building their probiotics line of business for Asia. I was truly restored in the Year of the Jubilee! And God’s plans for me didn’t end there. In 2003, after prayers and discernment, I left the UK company to start my own marketing company and was appointed that company’s licensee for their full line of Probiotics for human, animals and aquaculture.
Being an entrepreneur again meant that I would have to raise capital. During one of my frequent prayer times I was reminded to exercise my pension plan from my former US employer rather than taking out a loan from a bank. So I immediately applied; the process led to retroactive initial payment of seven months pension in US dollars. To my surprise, this payment was repeated monthly for three months, or equivalent to 21 months pension payments. Then I received notice from the US that there had been an overpayment on their part. Anxiety set in as I had already spent part of the 14-months overpayment.
I decided to pursue the path of the BCBP’s “Be Honest” advocacy. I admitted that I had received and spent the money, asking that it be treated as an advance payment. After another month of waiting and praying, the US Pension Fund manager replied that it was refreshing to receive an honest response from my end, despite their error, and agreed that the overpayment would just be treated as advance payment. He also confirmed that we would continue to receive monthly payments as long as we lived.
God is truly good! He has confirmed to me many times in many ways that one’s business strategy is useless without a spiritual strategy, without one being willing to follow His plan. My company is now well established in the region and has grown from a sales staff of three in 2003 to my present staff of 30 people. What is my strategy? I pray that every plan and strategy I have in mind is aligned with God’s plan. I now rely more on developing a vigorous spiritual strategy than on devising my own business strategy, following the advice in Proverbs 16:9,3: “In his mind a man plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps. Entrust your works to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.”