By Sis. Monette Beley
Our community has lost a pillar in the person of Bro. Ed Lising, Cebu Chapter’s former Mission Director extraordinaire and NSC for Mission during past President Louie Morales’s term. There are few words adequate enough to pay homage to one of the most passionate men ever to undertake the evangelization efforts of the BCBP. Perhaps it is best to view Tatang Ed through the eyes of those who served with him and listen to his story as told in his own words.
It all started with a simple change in Ed’s golf schedule. “I was invited to join a renewal. I was playing golf at the time. Noong panahon na yan, ako ang hari ng golf course. I said, ‘What renewal? I don’t want to be born again. I was born already.’ So I didn’t attend the first Breakfast. Anyway, they started CLP 1. I said, ‘Hindi puwede ako.’ The schedule (Saturday afternoons) conflicted with my golf hours. But that time, I really don’t know why, I played in the morning. Siguro, talagang pag-Panginoon, marunong. I scheduled for the morning tee-off.”
“So afterward, umakyat ako (to the CLP venue) at pasilip-silip ako. Alam ko naman mga gago rin ang nandoon!” he impishly said. “Sabi naman nila sa akin, ‘Halika!’ So out of curiosity, umupo ako. Pag-upo ko, ayan, nagumpisa na. Nagustuhan ko naman because I liked the speakers. That was it. I never absented myself. I even invited my wife Ester and she said, ‘Ano na namang racket yang pinasukan mo?’ Because alam ng asawa ko na hindi naman tayo mabait at the time. After the commitment, nagdadasal na ako palagi. Sabi ng wife ko, ‘Aba, iba na namang gimmick mo!’ But that was my very first encounter with the Lord.”
After a very short stint with the chapter Music Ministry, Ed found his true calling. He would go on to lead the Cebu missions in the Visayas and Mindanao.
“Lakas loob yan kasi mga misyonaryo kami. Mga San Pedro kami. Ang sabi ni Larry (past President Larry Veloso) sa amin, ‘You are fishers of men.’”
Dr. Romy Du was Tatang Ed’s first AGL. He was instrumental in the decision to appoint Ed the mission team leader to Cagayan de Oro.
“During our leaders’ prayer meeting to discern for our Cagayan de Oro BCBP mission team, attended by Bro. Rene Almendras, Chapter Head Sadi Sauisag, Bro. Nap Polotan and me, we prayed for a team leader. In that deep meditated prayer, I got a clear message from the Lord. The name “Lazarus” clearly came like neon lights. Among the four of us, I shared ‘The closest name amongst us to Lazarus is Lising.’ So Bro. Sadi and all 4 of us assigned Bro Ed Lising as team leader.”
When former Cebu South Chapter Head and current BOT member Boy Villanueva joined the mission team to Calbayog, it proved something of a nerve-wracking eye-opener. “It was the first time I experienced how the mission team operates. The Breakfast was on Saturday. The team would already be there Friday. The sharer would usually come on the morning boat. Madalas the boat would come in late. Kung minsan, the Breakfast would already start, pero ang sharer hindi pa dumadating. So what Tatang Lising would do is, ‘O, ikaw, Boy, share five minutes. Ikaw, Tang, five minutes. Ikaw, five minutes rin.’ So what we used to pray was, ‘Lord, dumating na sana yung barko! Andiyan yung dictator, eh.’”
Occasionally, there were team members who came to regard the trips as fun adventures. This was especially true of newcomers whose initial experiences of service in mission were as part of a convivial group. Ed would remind them that mission work was not always enjoyable or a group effort.
“The test of mission is not when you travel with a group. It is when you travel alone,” he would say.
Tatang Ed waxed enthusiastic about his membership in the BCBP. Not so his appointment as Cebu Chapter’s first Mission Director by then Chapter Head Sadi Saguisag. Kapampangan by birth, Ed was worried about his less than proficient English and a tendency to eat his words. But he agreed to think about it. His answer came in a dream.
“Nanaginip ako. Sabi ng Panginoon, ‘Nyayon kita tinatawag, bakit ayaw mo?’”
Ed saw a song sheet in his dream. Upon reading the name of the song, he was moved to tears. The song was Here I Am, Lord. The words of this quintessential hymn about service in mission are based on Isaiah 6:8 and Samuel 3. Its well-known refrain reads as follows:
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if You lead me.
I will hold Your people in my heart.
The following day, Ed told Sadi, “Okay, I accept.”
Cebu Chapter spearheaded an aggressive evangelization drive in the south, setting up breakfasts and outreaches even in far-flung areas of the Visayas and Mindanao. The chapter carried out the BCBP mission with the same zeal as its mother chapter BCBP Alabang. It is no coincidence that Cebu Chapter became one of the fastest growing chapters nationwide not only in membership, but also in faith and spiritual maturity.
Ed Lising said it best: “You will only grow when you serve.”