A Personal Testimony by Bro Willy Varona, BCBP Tacloban
My ambitions as a youth brought me to be a doctor of medicine, through the efforts of my mother, who was a single parent. This led me to occupy different assignments as a Rural Health Physician in the different towns of Leyte, and then later as a medical specialist, then as a division chief of the DOH Regional Health Office 8. These achievements confirmed my thoughts that I could do it alone. I didn’t need a father, nor a “padrino” or anybody in my life!
Despite my arrogance and self-sufficient attitude, God did not abandon me but gave me a multitude of blessings that I failed to reciprocate with thanks. I grew in my professional career. Opportunities came my way: academic studies in Manila as well as out-of-country study tours. My rank in the DOH Regional Office’s hierarchical echelon rapidly surged. At the same time, I was also getting positive acknowledgements from our local medical society who elected me as their President. I became “high and mighty” most especially when I got a post at the United Nations as Project Officer of UNICEF. I was so proud of myself then, not realizing that my achievements were leading me to commit sins, place my marriage in jeopardy, and lead me away from God. My church involvement consisted of just passively going to Sunday Masses, without even trying to understand my Catholic faith.
My wife, Naida, and I experienced a “turn of events” in our life after attending our first BCBP breakfast in June 1999. At first we were hesitant to attend because we thought we were “busy”; our hands then were tied up with our newly opened business on top of our teaching loads in the local medical schools. Our first breakfast fellowship was very touching and memorable. Outright, I felt that what I was looking for in life was being answered as our couple sharer related with candor, grace and humility, their sinfulness and their encounter with the Lord.
It took us sometime to attend the succeeding breakfast meetings because of other concerns. But soon we became regular breakfasters, attended the Christian Life Program and other formation programs of the Brotherhood like the Brotherhood’s Christian Marriage Retreat. We gained a lot of new insights, increased our awareness about Jesus Christ and his love for us, strengthened the bond of our struggling marriage relationship, and better understood our role as parents to our growing children. We are grateful to God and the BCBP community for exposing us to such awesome experiences.
Through the miracle healing of my suspected either TB or cancer of the larynx (my biopsy revealed a benign singer’s nodule) after I had expressed my total surrender and trust in the Lord and bombarded heaven with prayers together with the BCBP Tacloban community, I realized that if I loved God, I should also love my neighbor. Further, I realized that I belonged not only to my family but to a greater community of brothers and sisters like the BCBP, and that God was giving me a greater role to play. For me to function well and be part of that body, I needed to do something to straighten out my relationships within my own family. Thus, after many, many years of harboring anger and intense hatred against my father whom I had always refused to meet, I went with my wife and daughter who is also a physician to my father’s house where I met and reconciled with him, his wife, children and grandchildren. I felt as if a thorn had been removed from my heart.
Our growing belief in the power and strength of prayer led us to make it part of our daily business activities. In our medical clinic, we now begin and end our work day with prayers. We have learned to appreciate that worshipping God sets the right working mood, making all of us more patient and compassionate with the people whom we serve, especially those who are sick.
Managing a private business venture is not an easy task. The annual processing of administrative requirements to secure business permits for example is time consuming, provocative, and a test of our patience. Moreover, the competitive environment in our business is very steep, and most often, drains our energy. But our BCBP community involvement has helped us see these experiences as challenges from the Lord do persevere in His way and as a chance for us to do our best.
Pressures from some government officials to give them percentages of our daily proceeds from our small business venture in return for their referrals to our clinic is one of those “challenges”. What do we do? We simply refuse to succumb to their demands by asserting in a civil and friendly manner that as BCBP members we cannot just profess HONESTY in public and at the same time condone DISHONEST PRACTICES in private. Doing this requires a lot of prayers and we are thankful that God has provided us the courage and protection to be honest. Such is our Lord’s victory in the marketplace!
Clients come to us in spite of unfounded negative comments from our detractors. With God’s grace we are able to maintain the daily desirable load of clients. We learned that we should never be afraid to resist wrong doings or corrupt practices. We just have to be HONEST in our business dealings and God will provide us the protection if we remain righteous in our day-to-day business activities.
Another instance: occasionally, we meet clients who are in a hurry to get results, and who would pressure us to produce laboratory results without their undergoing actual examinations in exchange for payments 5 to 10 times bigger than the usual price. Of course this is tempting as it would mean added income and lesser expense for the reagents used in testing. But conscience says NO! And the BE HONEST posters we have placed in conspicuous areas serve to remind us and our clients that we do not do “short cuts” or take “grease money”.
Throughout my service in the BCBP as Breakfast Head, Action Group Leader, Unit Leader, Chapter Head and now as Regional Council Director for Northeast Leyte and Samar (positions that I never sought, but that the Lord blessed me with), I have tried to follow to the letter the covenant that we signed in our BCBP Commitment Card. I like to think of the BCBP Community as “God’s classroom for learning” how to be an active Christian, how to share with others our time, talents, and blessings that the Lord has so generously given us.
One of my favorite scripture passages is Ephesians 4:2-6: “Be humble, kind, patient, and bear with one another in love. Make every effort to keep among you the unity of Spirit through bonds of peace. Let there be one body and one spirit, for God, in calling you, gives the same Spirit to all …” No longer am I that proud, self-sufficient young professional who, although in public health, only worked and served myself. I am forever grateful to the Lord for calling Naida and myself to a life with Him through the BCBP Community where we continue to experience the truth of being connected and dependent on each other, as brothers and sisters in community, as active parts of His Body. What an awesome God! Christ has really won the victory for us in our family and in our marketplace. Truly, truly awesome!