By Bro Remy Gabuya, BCBP Davao
Bro Remy shares that despite his traumatic youth and suffering a debilitating stroke, the Lord never forgot him. This is his story of his faith journey with the Lord in the BCBP.
I would like to start my sharing with this scripture passage taken from the Gospel of Matthew 6:31-33:
“So do not start worrying: “Where will my food come from? Or my drink? Or my clothes? (These are the things the pagans are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things.”
I was born in November 2, 1948 in Tanjay Negros Oriental to Restituto Aba Gabuya and Generosa Academia Romano. Both my parents have already passed away, two of my older brothers died in their infancy, a third one died at the age of nine and so I became the eldest of the surviving siblings of two brothers and three sisters. Having lived in a remote barrio, I could not recall any regular spiritual life in our family except going to church during our town fiesta, on Christmas day and Good Friday.
My childhood years were happy, although we were poor. However it did not last long because when I was eleven years old, my father was imprisoned for bigamy. It was a consequence of having contracted a second marriage with a woman from Luzon while serving as a soldier in the Second World War. Our family experienced extreme hardship and I had to help my mother in providing for our family.
Nevertheless, God was there to guide me in a very special way through my growing up years. The stigma of being an ex-convict’s son prodded me to excel in high school; I worked my way through college at Silliman University until I passed the CPA Board Exams.
Unconsciously, my father’s indiscretion developed in me a very deep resentment towards him. I observed my peers loved their fathers, and a few feared them, but still they respected their fathers. For me it was different! I despised my father then for the humiliation and suffering we experienced. I had difficulty observing the 4th commandment of the Ten Commandments that God handed down to Moses in the book of Deuteronomy 5:16 to honor one’s father and mother.
While campaigning for the Presidency of PICPA Davao Chapter at the SGV-Davao office, I was drawn to a very lovely girl, an admin staffer. The SGV men staff kept their distance from her as they considered her a “terror”. Still it must have been God’s will for me that she be my life partner. We were married the following year and the union bore in succession five children, three girls in a row and two boys.
As a family, we kept religiously our Christian obligation to attend mass during Sundays and Holy Days of obligation but we had no parish service activity or community life to speak of. Despite the warning in Matthew 24:36 to keep watch “because you do not know on what day the Lord will come,” family prayer was confined to traditional prayers like the Holy Rosary, and during Lent, we would do the Way of the Cross and the “Bisita Iglesia”.
Suddenly one Sunday afternoon on April 14, 1991, I suffered a “stroke” which paralyzed the left side of my body. It dawned on me that my life was about to end, but I knew it was given for a purpose. While recovering, I was invited by an acquaintance to a weekend Catholic Life in the Spirit Seminar [CLSS] conducted by a Catholic Fellowship. It was at this time that I realized my sin of “PRIDE”. I also realized that as I had struggled to leave behind the economic deprivation suffered in my early youth, it was God’s 4th commandment that I had taken for granted.
LIFE WITH THE BCBP
BCBP launched its first breakfast in Davao City at Regine’s Restaurant on August 14, 1993, and we were one of those who attended. Our initial reaction to our first breakfast was hesitancy upon seeing prominent people in attendance. But our sponsor was persistent and determined for us to also attend the Christian Life Program No. 1 which we completed by the end of that year. What impressed us most about the BCBP were the joyfulness and vibrancy of the music ministry, the untiring perseverance and sacrifice of the BCLP service team, who came all the way from Cebu and Cagayan de Oro every week.
Our decision to join the brotherhood was indeed God’s plan for us. We experienced the fulfillment of being in a community thru its various activities- the breakfast fellowship, the monthly prayer assembly and teaching night and the bi-monthly action group meetings, all these have become a part of our lives.
But to live out our commitment to follow Christ is not always a bed of roses. Trials seem to be the norm and spiritual dryness is a phase we have experienced in some stages of our journey. Oftentimes, when we are in the midst of difficulty, whether financial, health wise or a relationship problem, the temptation to shy away from service to the Lord is very, very strong. We have found that it is in situations like this, that we need to persevere. The Book of Isaiah 40:31 reminds us: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
BCBP has been our way of life all these years. We put into practice the virtues of faithfulness and prayerfulness. We have learned to entrust to the Lord to provide for our needs. And He has showered us with many blessings and miracles after joining the BCBP.
One such blessing God gave us was when we had the opportunity to have our First Family Retreat at the Transfiguration Monastery in Bukidnon in December 1994. Our three days stay at the monastery made an impact on us all especially on our eldest son with whom we had difficulty in reaching out to. We requested my youngest son [our special child] to choose the reading and he chose the Gospel of Mark 10: 17, 21, 27, which says: “Good teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life? You need only one thing. Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me.”
My faith was tested a few weeks after our family retreat when my wife told me she wanted to retire early to be available to the children and for service to our community. I remembered that in one of the BCLP talks given to us, the speaker, Sis Lily Morales (BCBP Alabang) shared of God’s intervention for her to retire from her job even when it was not yet due. So we prayed for an opportunity to make her wish come true.
In 1995, SGV offered a redundancy program but only to non-supervisory staff; still, we believe that the offer was God’s answer to our prayers for true enough, the management approved her application for redundancy, and she got an early retirement. We have not regretted the decision as our Lord immediately blessed us through the following:
FINANCIAL: A few months after she retired, I was offered to handle the Senior Management Development Program of one of Mindanao’s largest companies then. It would have been very difficult for me to accept this offer without her to accompany me as I had not fully recovered from my stroke. Thus, the financial needs of our children’s education were taken care of especially the three girls who were already studying at Silliman University in Dumaguete City.
PROTECTION: When our eldest girl was about to graduate from her college studies, my wife had the opportunity to be with her and our youngest daughter during their birthdays that year. Her long stay with them was God sent because we were not aware then of the problem our eldest daughter was in. One of the solutions she was contemplating was to end her life by suicide. My wife’s timely stay for about two weeks with them changed my daughter’s mind as she realized our love for her was unconditional. Had my wife not retired from her job a year earlier, we would have lost our eldest daughter.
PROVISION: During my early years in the BCBP, while filing my income tax return, I realized I still had to pay an additional TWENTY TWO THOUSAND PESOS [P22,000.00] as income tax since the amount withheld was not enough. I was short of funds and I had the choice not to report my other source of income to be spared of the additional tax. But being in the BCBP, I knew I had to be honest so I paid the balance which was due two months after the filing of the return.
RECONCILIATION: I had a gap with my eldest son all these years and ironically, the caption he wrote in his graduation yearbook was “I AM LIKE MY FATHER”. True enough, history was repeating itself in our FATHER/SON relationship. It was during a BCBP Prayer Assembly that I was led to ask for my father’s forgiveness thru my mother (as my father already passed away) and I was able to find peace in my heart.
My recent participation in the BCBP STEWARD LEADERS TRAINING [SLT] in Tagaytay was God sent. It was instrumental in bridging the gap between my son and me. On the evening prior to my trip back to Davao, he approached me to ask me to PRAY OVER HIM for blessings and supplications. THE PEACE THAT I FELT IN MY HEART WAS JUST LIKE THE TIME WHEN I HAS ASKED FOR MY FATHER’S FORGIVENESS.
I am now a SENIOR CITIZEN, and as I look back at the more than six decades, hindsight tells me that I was able to go through life because of God’s guiding hand. A favorite verse of mine from Isaiah, Chapter 49:15-16 says: “Can a woman forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child of her womb? Though she may forget, I will not forget you. See, I have written your name upon the palm of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”
Truly the Lord never forgot me nor my family despite our shortcomings. I PRAISE AND THANK YOU, LORD!