Nathan, Anna, Ariel, Chloe, John John and I have been officially on the road since Feb 27th (we conducted the first rallies in NorCal from the base of Max and Glo Ochangco’s house in San Jose). So far we’ve conducted 22 Rallies including two which were arranged at the last minute – Tucson, Arizona and Midland, Texas and driven more than 5200 miles (as much as LA to Tokyo).
As we go around I’m more and more amazed at how St Paul and the early Christians could have built up the early church! It’s not just the stamina they must have had to do all that travelling by donkey or on foot, but even more so the organizational ability to build up and sustain churches that remained faithful to the gospel in each place. The only explanation I can come up with is that they must have had a huge army to help them. Although we’re very familiar with the names of St Paul and a few others, there must have been countless others, whose names we will never know, that were equally important in the building up of the early church. They must have found extremely dedicated people in each location, ‘trained’ them very effectively in the gospel message and then provided some sort of continuing oversight and pastoring to each and every city, town and village, despite massive difficulties in terms of communication and travel. And those people in each place must have taken on the spreading of the gospel as their life’s work, making it their number one priority because it just couldn’t have survived and thrived otherwise.
Being part of building up this movement here in the USA and seeing all the struggles we have in ANCOP USA, despite our modern tools such as minivans, cell phones and email, I am just completely in awe of what must have taken place 2000 years ago. I can only thank God for putting those systems in place that kept the gospel intact for us and I can only now fall at His feet and beg Him to do the same for us here and now to sustain His work of GK. We’ve had so many exciting experiences in just two weeks but without the army to sustain things, all this potential may not bear fruit. Nathan and I are praying so hard day after day that God will bring people to take responsibility for GK in every city, town and village that we pass through and formally establish each place as a branch, just as He did with His early Christian communities all those years ago.
The great news is that in each place we’ve been to, there are people willing to do a lot of work for GK. Like the group in Bakersfield, CA. Somehow due to a miscommunication they didn’t realize that a GK rally was being held in their town and so when I called them for directions to the venue at 3pm on the day of the rally they were completely shocked to hear that Nathan and I were coming! No venue, no invitations, nothing. But Nathan told tito Nonoy Lopez, “Tito even if it’s just you who’s there to listen, we’ll still come!” and amazingly, just 3hrs later tito Nonoy had gathered 25 people to hear us. They were bursting with excitement to start their own branch and said they’d been trying for two years to hold a GK presentation but had no idea what to do! Now they will become a fully fledged and empowered branch.
Then there’s the Cursillo group in east LA who put on a Paraiso movie showing last year, gathering about 200 people. After the 1MB Rally that they hosted in east LA on Feb 27, they poured out one idea after another to us over supper about how to grow GK there. They had been afraid to do too much because they are not CFC and were worried that we might not appreciate their overwhelming zeal! Quite the opposite, we rejoiced that they are willing to take responsibility for east LA and bring GK to the parishes, businesses and all Filipinos and even new cities there.
The San Diego team arranged for us to speak in a public high school at just a day or two’s notice, then we heard from Hecky Villanueva, who is writing his PhD at the University of Arizona on GK. He noticed that we were going to be in Phoenix, Arizona at lunchtime on March 4 to present GK to Charles Schwab and so with only a few days to go he called to ask if we could come to Tucson, Arizona in the evening after our presentation in Phoenix. We immediately said YES, desperate to bring GK to the wild west!! He is now setting up two GK branches in Tucson, one on campus at the University of Arizona which will service students and 2nd gen Fil-Ams and one for the rest of the Fil-Am population off campus. I can’t wait to see a GK village with every beneficiary wearing a cowboy hat and spurs…
After a punishing 900 mile drive to Wichita (we arrived after 4.30am), Tito Boy Abay, our head of Gawad Kalusugan brought together about 70 doctors and other professionals to commit to the first Wichita GK village. But the highlight for me was the sharing of his wife, Tita Emy, who spontaneously took the microphone and shared that she had always resisted GK, believing that as a wife and mother her family had to come first. But now she had fallen in love with GK too and couldn’t fight it any more and in fact all her children were involved in putting the Rally together. Almost the whole crowd was in tears listening to her (me included). We’ll try to upload her sharing on YouTube soon…
There are so many other stories from NorCal, SoCal and South Central that it would take all day to share them with you so I’ll just end with this one – Midland, Texas. I received a phone call from Tita Bessie in San Antonio at 11pm on Monday March 10 saying that she wanted to try to set up a meeting in Midland. So we arrived in Midland at 4pm the very next day to find an enthusiastic crowd of 15 people, many of whom were doctors, who had all been called that morning. After just one presentation, the group led by Tita Arceli Morales already committed to a Midland-Odessa village and will bring GK to their neighboring city of Odessa.
And it’s amazing that most of these exciting turns of events happened at a moment’s notice – proving that this is definitely God’s planning, not our own, but it is able to happen because people instantly made themselves available when they saw an opportunity to do something important for GK.
The opportunity that we have to grasp now is that although all these people are excited, they mostly do not know what to do. Most areas have had minimal or zero training and some do not even know who to contact in their regional offices. The people have just been zapped by the GK bug, hit with a double dose of the Holy Spirit and know that their lives can never be the same again. It’s down to all of us now to not let this chance pass but to firmly commit ourselves to supporting these branches and nurturing a GK community in each of them.
Right now we have 72 cities on our Highway of Hope calendar. If we can establish each of them as GK-ANCOP USA branches, train them, put in place their monthly assembly to nourish and sustain them, plus empower them to be mission teams to other cities close to them, that will set the foundation for the next phase of GK777 and a huge amount of growth. We are serious about bringing GK to all four million Filipinos in the USA and many non-Filipinos but it will not happen if there is no follow through after the Rallies.
Nathan and I simply have to beg those of you who are capable of training others, those who are skilled in presenting GK, those who are capable of helping others to learn how to make their GK community work, to please do so. Don’t wait to be asked! Please, if you are reading this and you can go out to just one of the cities where we have been and help teach them anything at all about GK, please just put your name forward to your regional team. There will always be a good reason NOT to do God’s work. There will always be other priorities and there will always be inconveniences but we need you to respond now because the work is urgent and the potential is there today. Each day we delay, we lose more chances.
We know that doing this means more work for you in the short term as all of you take on this responsibility and begin to shepherd those towns and communities. But long term it will bear so much fruit. Your name may never be known by future generations in the Philippines but God knows your name and He knows what you have done. He will be the One to reward you for it 🙂
Please pass this on to anyone who you think may be willing to help 🙂 God bless you all,