By Bro Bert Masiclat, RCD So. Tagalog II
After being married for 27 years and after 13 years in the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals, I have a lot of things to share about the goodness of God in my life. But I would like to focus in this testimony on my service to God through the BCBP community, how God’s plans and decisions have molded my wife and I into what we are today. One of my favorite verses is Ephesians 1:11: “All things are done according to God’s plan and decision; and God chose us to be his own people in union with Christ because of His own purpose, based on what he had decided from the very beginning.”
I was born to simple barrio folks from La Paz, Tarlac, the youngest in the brood of 9. My father was a farmer and my mother owned a small sari-sari store. I belong to a family of varied religious denominations – parang United Nations ang dating – one of my sisters was an Iglesia ni Cristo, one was a Rizalista, another a Born Again Christian, one was an avid follower of Ang Dating Daan. My father, who himself got converted to Iglesia ni Cristo, and my mother, were good, hard working, and responsible parents but they failed in shepherding us their children in the matters of faith. Nobody took us to church on Sundays and other holidays. When we were kids, we would just go and visit the church on Christmas Day but leave hurriedly to go to visit our ninongs and ninangs.
Farming is a decent job, but I knew, that it was not for me. And so I made a vow that I would go to college whatever it takes. The sacrifices of my mother, who was a frugal person, and my perseverance paid off when I graduated in Engineering in a Manila university. After working for a year or so, I learned that the Philippine Air Force, PAF, was in need of Aviation Cadets for the PAF Flying School and so I applied.
The next 22 months we were subjected to rigorous training, both physically and mentally that I endured for I thought that it would be the key to a successful life. I was assigned to Fernando Air Base after graduation and became an instructor pilot. To show my love and appreciation to my parents for their sacrifices, I planned to build them a house in Tarlac. And just in time, I learned that there was a new architect in the Engineering Squadron. When I saw Loids, I knew she was the girl for me.
As I got to know her, I learned that she was prayerful and it was a must that I go to mass on Sundays, but how can I complain when I was able to go to church with her? We got married on May 21, 1983 – a memorable military wedding made more meaningful with the presence of my whole family who for the first time attended mass together on our wedding day.
We were blessed with a healthy baby boy after a year. Loids put her career on hold so she could take care of our bundle of joy. Aside from my job with the PAF, I also taught math at the PAF College of Aeronautics at night. Because she was left alone with the baby all during day until late at night, Loids found it hard to adjust to her totally new kind of environment and busy husband, even while she enjoyed being a new mom. One day, she took a big bag, put her things and the baby’s things in it and called her parents to come and get her.
After about 15 minutes her parents arrived, and without saying anything, held Loid’s hands and mine, sat us down on our bed, and prayed for us. Loid’s Dad, a Protestant, and my mother-in-law, a Catholic, prayed to the Lord to bless our marriage. Dad prayed for enlightenment, strength and courage to face the trials that would be coming our way. He prayed to make our marriage work, to give us the ability to adjust to each other completely, that love and peace would always reign over our home and our lives. I don’t know about Loids, but that experience moved me. It awakened something in me, something during that time I couldn’t explain.
Things began to lighten up after that as Loids gradually adjusted to the life inside the base. Two years later she gave birth to a baby girl. Loids made sure that the family attended mass on Sundays, and on Wednesdays, she attended the Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. I continued my promising career in the Air Force and was able to attend Military Schooling in Texas, USA, where Loids joined me.
When I learned that Philippine Air Lines was opening its doors to new pilots, I applied and was hired as a B747 Systems Engineer. We began to plan our future and build our dreams. But I noticed that Loids seemed to be constantly in pain all over, and more often than not, our times together would end in her being in the hospital. Doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with her.
Months turned into years and despite her continuous, unexplained health problems, Loids never got tired of praying and reading the Bible. She says that she seemed to hear a whisper at the back of her mind urging her to “Serve”.
One day her cousin and his wife invited Loids and me to the Christian Life Program of the BCBP Lipa Outreach. She told me, “Bert, this is the Lord answering my prayers, He will heal me through this community.” I can’t quite understand how I was able to finish the CLP, considering I always had a tight flight schedule. But I was moved by the talks and made sure that I would always be present as much as possible. I had found the way to know more about my God and I knew my thirst for Him would at last be quenched. We both completed the BCLP and have been active in the Brotherhood since then.
Loids’ health gradually improved. I was promoted in preparation to captaincy, and I became more and more inspired to serve in my new-found community. But on June of 1998 the Airlines Association of the Phils , ALPAP, staged a strike and I was out of work for 6 months. For the first time in m life I experienced fear – fear for our future and the future of our children. I feared how we would be able to get along once our savings in the bank had been depleted. I feared not being able to fulfill all the dreams that Loids and I had drawn together. The fear of not being able to fly is synonymous to not being able to express myself, because that’s the kind of work that I love best doing.
We were thankful that we were already in the BCBP when the strike came. Knowing God was watching over us gave me the strength and courage to endure. The strike gave me the opportunity to serve fulltime in the BCBP as the Formation Director of the Lipa Outreach. Despite our financial difficulties, we didn’t skip nor lessen the giving of tithes, and we attended all of the activities for that is where we drew our strength.
Each night before sleeping, Loids and I would hold hands and pray for the Lord’s guidance, for enlightenment and courage. We laid my situation before the Lord. Should I swallow my pride and return to PAL, did I have the courage to turn m back on ALPAP and my former classmates and kumpares who were sticking it out with their principles? Should I just apply in other airlines outside of the country like some of the other pilots? Should Loids and I try our luck in the USA?
But we knew that we never wanted to leave family or BCBP that had become our strength and support. This community was where I had come to know my Lord and Savior. Serving Him had given me the opportunity to quench my thirst for Him. Through the BCBP my wife was healed and we’d never been as happy as when we were together serving God. I simply could not turn my back on Him.
I turned to the Bible, searching for answers. It was also during those trying times when I really got to know my wife. She didn’t push me, she was not materialistic, she supported my decisions, and her faith and trust in me gave me strength. And then I bargained with God: “Lord, if you want me to continue my service to You, then please, find me a job where I can also be with my family.” I claimed the Lord’s promise in 2 Samuel 22:7: “In my trouble I called to the Lord; I called to my God for help. In His temple He heard my voice; He listened to my cry for help.”
Loids suggested that we make a novena to the Mother of Perpetual Help to ask for her intercession and guidance. Loids even boasted that the Blessed Mother had never let her down yet. That, I said to myself, I have to see for myself. The 9th Wednesday of our novena coincided with our BCBP Action Group Meeting. The group prayed over me for guidance and discernment. I slept peacefully that night, the first peaceful sleep I had had in a long long time. I woke up early decided to return to PAL. They welcomed me back.
Those long six months of ordeal taught me a lot of things. I learned to value and appreciate my job better, I learned about the power of prayers, the importance of having a support group like the BCBP where the members tirelessly pray for and intercede for each other’s concerns and be there to celebrate and thank the Lord when each prayer is answered. I learned that we live only by God’s Mercy and Grace. You might have all the money, success and power in this world, but in just one snap of a finger, you may lose it all. And so, what is more important that all that is to hve a personal relationship with the Lord, to have faith and trust that He will always be there whenever we call on Him. And, yes, Loids is right – Mama Mary hasn’t ever let her down!
As we grew deeper and deeper in our relationship with the Lord, our faith, love and loyalty to Him became stronger. I performed the tasks given to me diligently. And then God tested my sincerity in my bargain with him. Despite our being new in the BCBP, and with several other qualified brothers, I was selected to be BCBP Lipa’s Outreach Head. With the 100% support of the members, Lipa soon became a vibrant and strong community…and were elevated to chapterhood.
Regarding my career as a commercial pilot, I entertained thoughts of resigning from PAL to move to other airlines to earn more. I also was thinking that my task as a Chapter Head would be over soon. Loids and I again prayed for discernment. And, lo and behold!, I was promoted to Group 1 – B747 Captain and at the same time received a generous raise. Truly our God hears and answers prayers.
In May 2010 my term as Chapter Head ended and immediately I was given the position of Regional Council Director for Southern Tagalog 2. I knew I would have to accept this new service, for how could I say no when God clearly wanted us to serve Him. When I opened my Bible, the Lord spoke to me in 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Keep busy always in your work for the Lord, since you know that nothing you do in the Lord’s service is ever useless.”
God calls us to service in many different ways. For s, He used Loid’s health. He used two extremely opposite people to make their lives blissful and joyful, while serving Him. God rules over our home and our lives. We searched for Him, we found Him; He called us, thankfully and willingly we obliged. The Lord is the one to thank for all of our blessings in life. “As for me, how wonderful to be near God, to find protection with the Sovereign Lord and to proclaim all that he has done” (Psalm 73:28).
Brothers and sisters, let’s joyfully serve the Lord the BCBP way. It’s the best way. It’s in our breath and in our blood. It’s our life. Praise God!