Ramon Gantang, Jr. Wakes Up at 5:00 AM to Prepare Jesus Christ Majesty “Chapel”

Ramon Gantang, Jr.:  Wakes Up at 5:00AM

To Prepare Jesus Christ Majesty “Chapel”

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

It was a Sunday, almost seven in the morning and I just arrived in Sta. Cruz, struggling with a box full of notebooks, books, pre-used copies of Bible and pens for the Jesus Christ Majesty “chapel” along F. Torres. I was hoping against hope that it would be open that early. The service was yet to start at 10:30AM, but I expect the venue to be ready because of the musical instruments that had to be set up. I was downhearted when I found the folding gate closed though the chairs which were stacked up were obviously ready for their usual arrangement, but the musical instruments were already set up.

 

Luckily, when I tried calling, a smiling guy peeped from the far end of the corridor. He approached the closed gate and after I introduced myself, he opened it and invited me in. Still smiling, he introduced himself as “Jay R”. Excusing himself, he went out in haste and after several minutes, was back with two styro cups of coffee. I was glad that he was told beforehand by Sister Mayette about my plan to drop by, preferably on a Sunday, in time for their worship.

 

I looked around and could not help myself from getting amazed at how Jay R could singlehandedly transform the big room, from its “carenderia” setting into a “chapel”, with all the musical instruments such as, keyboard, drum set, and the stacks of chairs. He confirmed my assumption that he wakes up as early as 5AM.

 

Jay R’s story is about a journey from another denomination towards the flock of Pastor Allan and Sister Mayette Guerrero at the Jesus Christ Majestry Ministry. It all started two years ago when he found about the humble New Christian ministry in the midst of a busy section between Ongpin and Sta. Cruz. That was the time when he got employed at the Philippine Ports Authority with the help of the couple, who are also with the same government agency. Just like other spiritually restless souls, the Divine Providence guided him towards the humble house of worship.

 

Pastor Allan and Sister Mayette, further helped him by offering the office which doubles as a “Sunday School” for children, for his lodging. The office also serves as a repository for their scant reading materials, as well as, the musical instruments. This arrangement eventually, proved to be convenient for Jay R who used to commute from his job at the port area to Quezon City. At 49 today, he serves as the ministry’s in-house overall Coordinator, Secretary, and on worship days, as a “Worship Leader”.

 

The twinkle in Jay R’s eyes shows that he enjoys what he does on the day that he was supposed to be resting or just killing time around the city, after the tedious job of receiving and transferring calls.

 

 

 

The Evangelizing Family of Pastor Allan and Sister Mayette Guerrero

The Evangelizing Family of Pastor Allan

and Sister Mayette Guerrero

by Apolinario Villalobos

 

The first time I took notice of the Christian church in an unpretentious ground floor room of an old wooden building, and that could have seen better days as a commercial stall along F. Torres St. was when I heard the song that the congregation was singing with the officiating pastor. I retraced my steps to take a look at the name of the congregation – “Jesus Christ Majesty Ministry” simply printed on a tarpaulin and attached to the wall above the elevated area that served as the pulpit. And, from where I stood in the middle of the street, I discerned the minister to be boyish, so I thought the congregation was akin to what volunteer young evangelists organize for a weekend, as it was a Sunday. I was expecting that after the service, the organizers would pack up and go to another place.

 

The following weekend, another Sunday, when I passed by the same building I was surprised the worship hall prepared for a service, though still empty of members. I was tempted to linger and gawk at the musical equipment in front of eclectic rows of plastic chairs. Just then, I heard somebody greet me and was surprised to learn that he was the minister I saw the weekend before. He was changing into a proper attire befitting a pastor. He introduced himself as Pastor Allan Guerrero and the lady who approached us, he introduced as his wife, Sister Mayette who was in-charge of the Sunday school which again caught me by surprise as I could not discern any trace of such, until I was told that it was situated just behind the worship hall.

 

The couple led me through a short corridor until we came out into a small “patio” surrounded with doors, one of which was that of the school’s. They showed me the well-kept school, very neat, with linoleum-covered floor, and walls pasted with patiently- cut teaching aids. Three layers of shelves served as the “library” stacked with a few books. The tough effort to make the small room become an effective breeding venue for Christian learning was very obvious. Sister Mayette told me that some of those who attend the Sunday school are children of sidewalk and pushcart-dwelling families around the area….real people who need the graceful touch of the Guerrero family.

 

The Sunday school has been in operation for twelve years and six months and depended solely on donations – books, school materials and trickles of cash for the rent which is five thousand pesos per month. A little more than two years ago, when the big room facing the street and through which Sister Mayette and the children wormed  their way to the school was vacated, Pastor Allan immediately did all possible to have it for his congregation’s use. From then, on every Sunday even the couples’ children:  Aillene Marie, who finished Music Technology; Katleen Mae, who finished Journalism; Heaven Leigh who finished BS-HRM; and Dan Joshua who is in Grade 10, join them in their spiritual crusade.  The whole family has to wake up early as they live in Meycauayan, Bulacan and must muster the traffic on their way to the church on F. Torres St. in Sta. Cruz district of Manila.

 

Pastor Allan and Sister Mayette confided that they started with a simple keyboard to provide accompaniment to their songs until friends who refused to be named started donating musical equipment. Donors also send Bibles, books and materials for the Sunday school. They glow with gladness as they related to me how their congregation that they continuously propagate with dedication, patience and hard work has grown.

 

The evangelizing Guerrero family showed that sharing the Words of God does not always need a grandiose edifice or impressive structure with heavenward pinnacles. All one needs is dedication tempered with unconditional love for fellowmen to become an effective mouthpiece of God on earth. In other words, all that such dedication needs is a big heart that throbs with LOVE.

 

I did not tie the couple up with a lengthy conversation as they had yet, to prepare the church for the ten o’clock worship…but I told myself that it won’t be the last of my visit.

 

The Essence of Faith: Love

The Essence of Faith: Love

By Apolinario Villalobos

A viewer of my blogs for a long time, and who I met personally upon his request, asked me if I was a “minister” because of my shares about God, religion, faith, etc. I told him that my heart was open to any religion, but not a minister. He was surprised and before he could ever mention something that would trigger a never ending discussion on religion, I just asked him to believe in God…period. However, to help him understand how it could be possible, I told him to appreciate what the ministers of the different religions were doing, as long as they preach nothing else but love of God and others. Also, to just open his mind to all that they preach, and absorb in his heart what he thought he could practice with sincerity, still, based on love.

I told the guy that, the essence of Faith is love. It is only by acting out this essence that we can show our Faith. If we believe that God exists, then, we can act out what He wants us to do…love others. I added that sacrifice is sacrificing for others – literally. These could be sharing our money, food, clothing, etc. with others; giving up of our seat to an elderly, a person with disability, a pregnant woman; giving up of our place in a queue. And, since I am not bound to become a saint, I told him that I do not do sacrifices that can hurt me, most especially, fasting because I might develop ulcer, and if I have emaciated myself, how can I serve others? We have to be mentally and physically fit so that we can be strong enough to “carry” others, I added.

I found out that the guy who asked to meet me confided that he and his wife were planning to go on separate ways and thought of seeking my advice. He must have thought that I was an authority on this matter. They have four children. While he was 37 years old, his wife was 33. When I asked if it is okay for me to meet his wife, he acceded. He asked if we could meet again the next Saturday during which he would bring me to his home for lunch.

The following Saturday, the guy picked me at the restaurant as agreed and brought me to their home in Bel-Air, Makati. I was introduced to the wife who was strikingly pretty, but only their two kids were around. Over coffee after lunch, I opened up the subject of separation, as I expected the wife to have already known the reason of my coming. Emotions were controlled during our talk. I found out that no human third party was involved. The culprit was the conversion of the wife to a Christian sect! The husband remained a staunch Catholic. The decision to split came from the wife who obviously became a fanatic practitioner of her new-found faith.

I asked the wife if her pastor knew about her plan of breaking up with her husband, and she answered in the negative. She admitted that her decision came about as dictated by her “feeling” and conscience as a new Christian. When I asked, if they and their children go to Mass regularly before the wife became a new Christian, both looked at each other first before answering in the negative. Hearing that, I told them that they have no problem, as they can go their own way according to their faith, and let the children choose who among them (parents) to accompany during the day of worship. Most importantly, they should not impose on each other what one believes based on the earthly teachings that they learn. Both remained silent for a long time.

I told the couple that they should not make their respective faith as reason in breaking their family up. Turning to the wife, I told her that I am sure, her Christian pastor will not agree to her decision of separating from her husband. I told her that she is worshipping the same God as her husband as a Catholic. There could be “innovations” on the part of the new Christian sects, I told her, but they have the same faith. I told them that it is senseless for them to break up a home after having four children just because she became a new Christian.

Before I left them, I told the story of a couple who decided to split due to the involvement of a third party, but which I was able to prevent. I told them that they should be thankful that this kind of a “third party” interference did not happen to their marital relationship, for it could have been worse.

The episode happened in the middle of 2014, I think, during the month of May. Two weeks after I had a heart to heart talk with the couple, I received a call from the husband who invited me to join his family for lunch at a restaurant in Greenbelt, Makati on a Sunday. At the restaurant, I found out that they attended the Mass that morning – this time, the whole family, with the couple’s four children. They told me that they decided not to break up anymore, and that their family would attend both Catholic and Christian worships, as there was no conflict in schedule, anyway. On that day, very obvious was the presence of love in the way they touched and talked to each other. Praise the Lord!