By Bro. Pancho Jamlig, BCBP Camanava
It was way back in 1987 that a good friend, Rene Perez, invited me to a “strange” breakfast in Caloocan City. That business breakfast invitation came at a time when I really needed a ‘wake-up’ nudge from God. But I’m getting ahead of my story … back to the beginning.
I am the eldest of 4 siblings. My parents were both artist illustrators working with the Dept of Education. Though we were reared as Catholics, my earliest recollection of practicing my faith was merely fulfilling religious obligations that my mother enforced. As a result although I was obedient, I felt so restricted and caged in. Later on in life I realized I had my mother to thank for her disciplinarian methodology that worked. However, my early impression of the Lord as an exacting God and judge may have been borne out of my experiences with my parents.
I took up Medical Technology with the intention to proceed to medicine … although this was a dream since I knew so well there was no way financially I could take this course. My parents’ combined income could hardly buy us our basic needs.
I thank God that I finished Med Tech at UST, University of Sto Tomas. Then I took an exam for medicine proper still hoping for a miracle that someone would sponsor me. I passed the exams but failed the interview due to being unable to satisfy the doctor in her query on how I could pay for the tuition. I was disappointed but I had expected that and just took up a review class for the Med Tech board exams. Here is where I met my future wife and mother of my two kids, and my inspiration, Nenita Chua who hails from Mindoro.
I tried to work in a hospital as a med tech extern but resigned after contracting typhoid fever and being confined for some time in the hospital. Later I was accepted as a medical representative but after training was assigned to Bacolod. I was sad to be away from my parents, siblings, and most of all, Nette who was then my girlfriend. But at the same time it seemed exciting to work in a new environment and be on my own. This independence and excitement brought me a new enthusiasm to work very hard and accomplish a lot of things – achieving my quotas and brand targets, reaping awards, traveling around the Philippines and making many new friends.
It was the worldliness that excited me, too. I frequented massage parlors, bars, began to smoke and drink. I still went to mass but my priorities were my work and personal indulgences. I had little remorse and even if I went to confession, within the week I was back enjoying my vices again.
When Nette and I were married in 1979, I had to bring her to Bacolod, thinking I would change for the better spiritually because of my marriage. But after a few months, I began going to those places again, unfaithful to God, Nette my wife and my future children.
After 6 years in Bacolod, most of which were successful professionally and financially, I hit rock bottom due to the insurgency crisis the province was experiencing. My manager was contemplating on firing me. This was perhaps the first time I really prayed hard. I pleaded with my boss and he granted me a transfer to Bulacan. I really thanked God for this answered prayer.
After two years in Bulacan I was promoted to a specialist position in Metro Manila but had to undergo training. It was in this training that I met Rene Perez who invited me to a “strange” breakfast in Caloocan City. I was about to decline his offer of a free breakfast suspecting it was a Born Again religious group fronting as a breakfast business meeting. But he said it was Catholic. Nevertheless I resisted since I felt I knew the consequences – bidding goodbye to my drinking sessions with colleagues and no more visiting the parlors. Rene assured me he would not force me to continue after the 1st breakfast if I did not feel comfortable. So I said OK since the venue was just 2 blocks away from where we live and that Saturday we did not have work … besides it was free.
So it was that on the first Saturday of January, 1987, I found myself at Jack’s Restaurant in Caloocan with other first timers and the whole team of the BCBP from the North Sector. The music was moving and the people there were genuinely friendly. It was a good set, I thought. What next?
Then a sharer was introduced. He was in his 30’s, belonged to a rich, quite familiar family with a conglomerate of businesses. He enjoyed his worldly life and was blest with a beautiful family. Only thing was that he was heavy into the major vices of smoking, drinking, womanizing and drugs. Aside from drugs his pattern of life was very similar to mine.
His businesses fell one after the other until his family was on the brink of collapse and he was in a state of depression. Then he found Jesus Christ through the BCBP. He was, at the time of his sharing, an active evangelizer as a renewed Christian together with his family. Some of his businesses were returned by the Lord. I was so touched by his sharing, even shedding a tear or two. I knew that I would be returning every Saturday for these “strange” breakfasts to receive inspiration and encouragement through all the sharers. Later I even invited my astonished wife to a Brotherhood Christian Life Program in the summer of that year.
My life gradually changed. I regularly prayed – with the Bible, during meals, before sales presentations, over my children when they were sick or preparing for exams. I learned to avoid immoral jokes or people who would initiate them. I still fell into sin at times but always felt so ashamed and remorseful, immediately asking the Lord for forgiveness, an act that I had never done before BCBP. When I prayed for deliverance from strong temptations, the Lord would answer just in time.
The Lord blessed me more in my work as I was again promoted and asked to relocate to an area in Davao to replace a supervisor recently kidnapped by an unknown group, never solved until now. I requested my Action Group Leader and the BCBP Greenhills members to pray over me and Nette for this difficult decision. Unknown to Nette and my AG, I had been recently seeing more and more of my ex GF. After the prayer session my AGL told me to take the assignment in Davao. The Lord was doing what was best for me, taking me far away from this potential mortal sin.
This is just one example of the many times the Lord has protected me and my family. He allowed me to be humbled when I was put on a freezer position due to office politics for more than a year, although I had been with the company for more than 14 years. My BCBP brothers’ advice was to trust the Lord and forgive those responsible. The result? I had time to actively serve in the BCBP QC chapter while in the freezer position. After that I was even promoted 3 levels higher than what I had expected with a significant boost in my salary.
I was supposed to be retrenched in 2002. I was ready since I had stayed with that company for 24 years and wanted to put up my own business. But God had other better plans for me. I was promoted to regional manager and stayed for another 2 years bagging a loyalty award of a trip to Hongkong with a dollar allowance that was enough to bring my whole family with me. God is so good!
My early retirement package in 2004 gave me enough to pay all my debts, put up a small business, and invest in a passive business. My children were able to graduate with good courses and now have good paying jobs. Both my parents received the grace of Forgiveness and Communion before they passed on in 1987 and 2009. Currently, I’m back in employment as a property manager using all the experiences and trainings that the Lord allowed me to undergo to help me with this job. These are but some of God’s bountiful blessings and graces.
But the most significant of all His blessings is my personal transformation, the emotional healings within my family. We attended the BCBP Family Retreat and Nette and I remain very active in the BCBP while our children are active members/leaders in the renewal community, Lingkod ng Panginoon. I cherish my very close and personal relationship with Nette which is so much a blessing for me as she has become, and still is, despite our former rocky times, my counselor, advisor and very best friend.
As Nette and I continually serve in the BCBP we can only look back with heartfelt gratitude for His guiding hand, His goodness, generosity and protection, His fatherly discipline and unconditional love. I thank the Lord for leading me to that :strange” BCBP breakfast through a friend last 1987. I now see God no longer just the righteous judge but as my personal Savior and true Father.
Thus my response is to serve Him unconditionally through the BCBP community. When I find difficulty, I remember this verse in Philippians 4:6-7: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Reposted from October 25, 2013, KAPATIRAN.