This talk was delivered by Nancy R. Catan, BCBP Manila, during the Ladies Breakout Forum at the NAC Davao, April 24, 2010. It is posted in this website due to the requests of many BCBP sisters, both those who attended and those who were unable to attend.
Sisters in Christ, women of the BCBP, let us celebrate today! This activity, this forum for ladies only, on BCBP Ladies’ Concerns, is a FIRST in the history of our community. Truly it is a milestone and we are all so blessed to be here today as participants in the making of Brotherhood history. We look forward to and we pray that this is the first of many more such meetings among BCBP ladies.
Our overall main topic this morning is “Meeting the Challenge of Being A BCBP Woman”. Our sisters, Hedy Coruna – BCBP CDO, Linda Tuason – BCBP Cebu North, and Beng Pelaez – BCBP CDO, here will speak on the importance of knowing ourselves and living authentically, of the importance of preparing a place for His Presence in our hearts, our homes and our service, and of dealing with workplace situations. My task this morning is to provide a foundation for these important subjects and widen our horizons by picturing for you what it means to be a BCBP woman in terms of the ministry of our womanhood, our roles and responsibilities in the BCBP community, and our relationships with each other and with those in authority over us.
As Christian women we are given a unique ministry, the ministry of being a woman, a woman after God’s own heart. What does this mean? The woman after God’s own heart is one who knows who God is intimately and trustingly, who knows without doubt that He loves her. Hers is a heart enriched by joy in, and with, the Lord.
She thirsts after and pursues spiritual growth, is teachable and willing to learn what God wants to teach her. Her heart is committed to prayer and rooted in God’s Word because she understands the importance of spiritual gardening, that one’s life will only bear good fruit if one’s root system is strong and healthy.
This woman has a heart not only for God but also for His people; hers is a heart that cares, that loves, that forgives, that shares. Like Mama Mary, she is present when needed, she serves with a smile and a helping hand, she encourages others with her generosity of soul. She values herself as a woman and goes out of her way to be in right relationships with others.
This Ministry of Womanhood is expressed in our everyday lives in everything we are and in everything we do. Each one of us lives out our ministry in different ways: being a wife and mother, in having a career or profession, through our hospitality and our stewardship, in community, in service and mission activities, by our joy and contentment in the roles God has blessed us with.
In the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals, we women have a very special role to live out. Not only are we to live out our ministry as Christian women, but we are also tasked with the important and key responsibility of providing the necessary anchor of love in positively contributing to upbuilding a vibrant and caring BCBP community. I repeat … we, the BCBP women, are tasked with the important and key responsibility of providing the necessary anchor of love in positively contributing to upbuilding a vibrant and caring BCBP community.
Let’s review for a moment how this role has come about. The first activity for Brotherhood women began sometime in the early 80’s several years after the men got themselves organized. The wives of BCBP brothers came together during lunch time to get to know each other better, and for fellowship. The gathering was not for evangelization of the women, which was, and is until today, the focus of the Men’s Breakfasts. However, over the years the Ladies Luncheons/Breakfasts began to follow the format of the Men’s Breakfasts, with life sharings and other evangelistic activities. The aspect of fellowship and doing things together, of building sisterly relationships, and of growing as BCBP women was sidelined somewhere along the way.
Last year 2009 during the National Leaders Retreat, this concern about the focus of BCBP ladies’ breakfasts was brought out into the open and it was decided that a return to the roots, to the beginnings, of the ladies’ activities was needed. What was said during the National Leaders Retreat was that the purpose of the Ladies’ Breakfast was never meant to be for evangelization, but more for fellowship and personal growth among the ladies. Unfortunately there has been a lot of misinterpretation about this statement that needs to be clarified.
It is not true that the BCBP Ladies activities, particularly the Ladies Breakfasts, have been cancelled. The breakfast is now optional. If your chapter wants to continue the breakfast, ok; if not, that’s ok too. But this does not mean that we ladies have become second class citizens of the BCBP. Just the opposite is true! This actually frees us, sisters, ladies, to design our activities in a way that will cater to our womanly interests and needs, not necessarily in the form of a breakfast. Our activities can be directed to addressing women’s issues, to strengthening ourselves as Christian women, wives and mothers, to being in right relationships with others and with God, and in doing our share in providing support and a strong anchor of loving relationships and service for our BCBP community.
So, how exactly do we live out our role as women of the BCBP? BCBP ladies support, encourage, enable and complement our BCBP brothers. We honor, respect, trust and pray for our community leaders; whether we like them or not, we must remember that God has placed them in authority over us. We actively work to guard and upbuild unity and harmonious relationships in our action groups and in the larger community. We continuously work at building loving working relationships with our brothers and sisters in community, always remembering Jesus’ commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” We should have a servant’s heart. As BCBP sisters, we must strive to live peacefully with and among our brothers and sisters, remembering that we can agree to disagree without being disagreeable.
We are tasked with creating and maintaining a spirit-filled environment in BCBP gatherings; as our sister Linda will explain, this means that in every activity we must prepare a place for His presence. For instance, the venue should be welcoming, inspirational, and conducive to the BCBP activity. Whether on the service team or not, we should mix with everyone in the spirit of fellowship with a “welcome, happy to see you here” smile.
Each one of us has some leadership abilities, or we would not be here today. However, this does not mean that we boss everyone else, or that we always insist on having things our own way “because I know better than you”. As BCBP women, we must learn to be flexible, to know our limits, and try not to outshine our husbands or those in authority over us. Granted, this is a hard lesson and sometimes difficult to learn, but once learned, you will enjoy freedom from the responsibility of the hard decisions, and so be free-er to be a “woman”. And I speak from experience, since from birth I had been taught to be independent and think for myself. It has taken me these 47 years of marriage and 25 years in the Brotherhood to learn that submission as a Christian woman and wife is what God wants to teach me…and I am still discovering how wonderful are God’s ways. I am certainly much happier and more fulfilled as a woman, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and a servant of God in the BCBP now that I have internalized more or less (I am still a work in process) these values of humility, submission, and spirit of service.
One of my favorite verses on this subject of womanly behavior is 1 Peter 3:1 that says: “Wives should be subordinate to your husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct.” If we apply this to us BCBP ladies, we might paraphrase it this way: “Sisters, we should be humble and subordinate to those leaders in authority over us so that, even if some disobey the Word of God or the BCBP Commitment Card, they may be won over without a word by our conduct as Christian women.” The Scripture passage in 1 Peter 3 continues in verse 4 by describing the character of the Christian woman: she should be clothed with “…the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God.”
You may be commenting at this time, this is all very well and good in principle, but what specifically are some activities that we BCBP women may now engage in. Let me cite some actual examples. In our original action group, under AGL Vic and Rita Cuna, we ladies decided to declare one day a month as our “ladies day out”. Sometimes we would meet for lunch and then explore a new shopping mall, just window-shopping, not buying. For several years we spent our “ladies day out” meeting for lunch in one of our homes and discussing Women of the Bible, what these women had to teach us. Several years ago our Manila chapter held a very successful, inspiring and empowering out-of-town weekend retreat for Manila ladies called “The Feminine Face of God” facilitated by Sis Annie Salvador and myself.
This year in our Manila Chapter, we ladies under the leadership of CH wife Mila Cabayu decided to keep our 2nd Friday breakfast date but focus on a different topic each month. The year’s schedule includes livelihood sessions on Flower Arrangement, The Art of Beading (rosary bracelets, etc.), Food Preservation, one or two life sharings, a teaching on Mama Mary, with several months being set aside for mini-sharings on Women of the Bible. Early in the year we each drew a name of a Woman of the Bible with the instructions to research about that woman, draw insights from her life, and then during the designated breakfast, give a 5 minute mini-sharing on how we had put those insights into practice in our own life. Needless to say, all of us in Manila are really looking forward to the year’s activities!
So the bottom line is that we ladies are now free to plan our activities, teachings, bible studies, etc. focusing on ladies’ concerns, according to our felt needs. This, however, does not mean that we can operate independent of the chapter governance; the ladies’ programs and activities should be approved by the chapter. But as long as the planned activities meet the basic requirements of addressing women’s issues, of strengthening the chapter’s women as Christian women, wives and mothers, of nourishing right relationships with others and with God, and of enabling the chapter women to provide support and a strong anchor of loving relationships and service for the BCBP community, I am sure that the chapter will wholeheartedly approve and support such activities.
It was during the “Feminine Face of God” weekend retreat for ladies that we learned from Sis Annie the qualities of the BCBP — BMW Woman. Who and what is a BCBP BMW woman? The BCBP BMW woman has a BEAUTY that does not fade, she has a BEAUTY that is both internal and external, natural and loving. The BCBP BMW woman is clothed in MYSTERY that allows the invisible GOD to be visible through her. The BCBP BMW woman exudes WISDOM, wisdom anchored on Jesus and His Word, and the leadings of the Holy Spirit.
When this woman walks into a room, or into a gathering, others see her internal BEAUTY reflected in her face and in the way she walks, they are intrigued by her MYSTERY, and are awed by her WISDOM. In other words, the BCBP BMW woman reflects the love, peace and spirit of God in herself, her thoughts, her words, and her actions. She shares Christ Jesus with all she meets just be being a BCBP woman after God’s own heart.
Sisters in the BCBP, women with a heart for God, let us all strive to be BCBP BMW women, women of Beauty, Mystery and Wisdom, women who delight in being women, women who accept the responsibility of our unique God-given Ministry of Womanhood, women who find freedom and peace and spiritual nourishment in the BCBP, women who are not afraid to accept the responsibility of and the role of being a BCBP woman.
Let us praise and thank God that we are His BCBP women, imbued with Beauty, Mystery and Wisdom! Alleluia!