By Jayvee Dela Fuente, BCBP Bangkok
Breakfast Sharing during NAC37
Good morning brothers and sisters! I am very happy to be here. My wife, Cheye, and I are first timers in the NAC and it is a great honor and blessing to be here in front of all of you, to be a living witness of God’s work. I believe that sharing my testimony is the best way to give all glory back to our Lord.
First, before I begin, I would like to give special thanks to the people who are the reasons my wife and I are with the Brotherhood: to my parents, Serge and Paching de la Fuente, who have modeled the word Christian not only as parents and spouses, but also as business leaders; and to Clifford and Bambi Serrano, who made a stand for us to join the BCLP 12 years ago and who continue to shepherd and pray for us. Thank you!
Now let me begin. Life is indeed a journey, and mine has been a very long and colorful one so far. Since our early years, we’ve had more than our fair share of life-changing experiences. To start, I was an unwed father at the age of 21, and Cheye, my wife, was only 19. We went through the struggles of raising a family at a very early age, trying to make do with the little we had as our careers had just begun. We also went through financial problems, especially having to raise 5 children; and at one point, our once-profitable business in Manila started losing money, forcing us to sell for little in return. Health-wise, Cheye used to be sickly, and about 12 years ago, she was diagnosed with deep-vein thrombosis, a serious medical condition which led to a life and death situation.
So why am I sharing all this? Brothers and sisters, I have gone through a lot of trials in life, in the same way that I’m sure you have. But through all of these trials, God has always been there for me, faithful to His promise of love, mercy and compassion. With His grace and the help of our family, friends and the BCBP community, I was able to strengthen my faith and overcome these hurdles.
This is what I would like to focus on this morning: God’s call for GREATER TRANSFORMATION. Hopefully you will also see that it is the same call for you as well. In my own experience, valleys have always led to mountain peaks. But these peaks would eventually lead me again to valleys, which are most of the time deeper ones. The good thing is, God would always lift me up to peaks higher than I ever imagined. In other words, God has continued to bless me with trials for one simple reason: to bring me to GREATER TRANSFORMATION – so that I may grow more in FAITH, LOVE and SERVICE.
In James Chapter 1, Verses 2-4, ‘Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.’
Let me share a recent story.
16 months ago, I resigned from my job in Bangkok, a company where I worked for 15 years. That company is into retail marketing services, which range from media, loyalty programs, sampling and promotions in supermarkets. Having exclusive contracts, we were practically a monopoly. So for a long time, the company enjoyed huge success, growing no less than 15% every year. That was until about 2010 when strong competitors entered our industry. Our Thailand business lost at least 60% of its media business by 2011. So with the serious threat to our largest business at that time, I was asked to move back to Bangkok with my family in 2012, with the task of saving and turning around a crippled business.
Boy, was I in for a challenge! 2012 to 2015 proved to be the most stressful years in my career, so much so that I would many times wake up in the morning, questioning myself why I even considered this assignment. The worst part of all, I witnessed my boss, the owner of the company, transform into a different person altogether. In good times, he was the jolliest, most generous, forward-thinking and supportive businessman I had seen. But when things turned south, his judgment and principles were compromised. He started to blame everyone but himself for bad results. In his clouded mind, he ventured into many new businesses in the hopes of compensating for our declining core business. This meant our limited cash could not be used to defend our core, and worse, funds were siphoned off to capitalize the new ventures, which sadly failed as well. It came to a point that our coffers were bone-dry, that employees were paid late, payments to suppliers and retail partners were also delayed, and bank meetings happened almost every day in order to secure additional financing. I was right in the middle of it being the country CEO for Thailand.
This happened for 3 long years. Eventually I ran out of excuses for all the late payments to employees, suppliers and partners. I lost faith in the business and a boss whose principles I no longer shared. Prioritizing new ideas and investments over salaries was simply not right.
I am sure most of you have experienced crossroads in your life. My last 3 years in Bangkok led me to my most difficult one. As an expat, yes, I was paid well. We also enjoyed the perks that came with it – a beautiful house, schooling for the kids, etc., for which I am truly thankful. But the trade off was too much to ignore. The daily grind took its toll on me, as I was being consumed by the moral struggle and the thought that we were not doing good business. The dilemma was: do I turn my back on a comfortable life for the family, and leave behind the staff under my care? Or do I continue to accept a life that chewed on me wherein my principles were endlessly challenged and compromised?
So in those deep, troubled times, when I had tried everything I could to lead a business without compromise, I did the only thing that was left to do. I went to God and prayed. In Jeremiah 29:13, ’You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.’
I was spiritually dry at that time. There was no BCBP in Bangkok back then. Although I would still be in touch with our original action group through viber, I really missed the support of the community. Our action group would offer prayers for guidance and strength, but I felt distant from the community and from the Lord.
But as with all the trials in the past, God eventually opened my eyes and He opened new doors. There was a lesson that God wanted me to realize. That He wanted me to see beyond my own little world of problems and open my eyes to a bigger world outside.
The Lord did not answer my prayers directly. He never does. He has always works through people and in ways I could never imagine. He responded in His own perfect way by sending very kind and generous people into my life as instruments for change.
First, at the end of 2014, a dear friend who is also based in Thailand opened a new business opportunity for Cheye and myself. The business allowed us to build a network organization here in the Philippines, even while we were based overseas. With God’s grace and the commitment of family and friends, the business eventually blossomed and allowed me to resign from my job within one year.
Then shortly after we started that business, the Lord sent me another angel, Alvic Yap, who was the Mission head of BCBP Bangkok at that time. He asked if I could help start the breakfast in Bangkok. I readily agreed, and by January 2015, we held our first Men’s breakfast. A few months later, we conducted our first BCLP, and the BCBP Bangkok family was born. The community I missed returned to my life. My spirit was instantly renewed and the BCBP once again rekindled the old fire. I am forever grateful to Alvic for being the Lord’s instrument for a renewed life.
By mid-2015, another long-time friend contacted me and offered to partner in a new venture in Manila, this one to provide services and livelihood opportunities for seafarers and OFWs. It was a perfect match and came at a perfect time, as I had thought of being involved in community work or some type of social enterprise.
So in a span of 7-8 months, God led me to a new life that I did not even ask for. Had it not been for that painful episode in my life, I probably would have settled comfortably as an expat, living within our small circle of family and friends. God made me realize that there was so much more to life than working for ourselves and our small circle. He wanted me to expand my world and to touch more lives through meaningful work and community life.
The prayer of Jabez comes to mind, from the 1st book of Chronicles 4:10: “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!”
And so I have a new life. God has entrusted me now with a much bigger responsibility, and with it, He also empowered me with stronger faith and support from the community. In work, from an expat CEO managing 300 regular employees and 2000 part-time staff, with God’s guidance, I now concern myself with the success of more than 10,000 people in our network business, and the welfare of more than 30,000 seafarers in our startup venture. With the BCBP on the other hand, from being a quiet, passive member whose only concern was my own spiritual well-being, I was first called to be the Breakfast Head and eventually Course Director for BCLP2 in Bangkok. Suddenly, I am now blessed with a wonderful BCBP Bangkok family of 20 regular members, which we aim to grow to 40 by the end of the year.
In Mark Chapter 10 verses 29-30, ‘Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.’
According to Jim Collins, the author of the best-selling books ‘Good to Great’ and ‘Built to Last’, he says GOOD IS THE ENEMY OF GREAT. Roger Federer also once said, STAYING THE SAME MEANS GOING BACKWARDS. I thank God for not allowing me to settle for just‘good’, and for allowing trials in my life in order to change me and pursue the ‘great’.
So I enjoin everyone here today. I am sure that God has also planned for your greatness. Let us not settle. Each of us, in our own little ways, can make a difference in life and business. As difficult as it might be, let us embrace trials as God calls all of us for greater transformation — to be better today than yesterday, to be better this year than last year. We can all live a life of greater significance and contribution.
Let me end with a quote from the 2nd book of Peter, Chapter 1, Verses 5 to 8: ‘Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence; in your faith supply moral excellence; and in your moral excellence, knowledge;and in your knowledge, self-control; and in your self-control, perseverance; and in your perseverance, godliness;and in your godliness, brotherly kindness; and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.’
So, thank you and good morning!