We Need Change!

Change! It should be a welcome thing for you and for me. For without it, there would have been no butterflies. All our sunsets and sunrises would have the same worn-out look all year-round. Clouds above us would be like flotsam floating and drifting toward ennui’s sea. Without change, mind you, every day for three hundred sixty-five and one-fourth days of our lives, the rains of heaven would wearisomely patter in the same old measured drops that could not initiate a reading on a rain gauge—-we like rains pounding and pouring in great gushes sometimes.

You may welcome that cherub face of a darling babe at birth, but at age thirty that cherub face of a darling babe is already a “Bondying,” a tiresome monstrosity, better retired. Oh, when will he ever grow up? you would say in much exasperation.

Because there is change, each day comes to us with a hope that the burden that in the past was too heavy would now be lighter. Since tears have already run dry on the pillow of last night’s weeping, the pain of today would be bearable, or otherwise banished. A smile now adorns that once mournful face.

Change is welcome. You suspect that aging is a terrible thing?  It crowns your calendar days with experiences too great and too noble. Maybe you still wanted to be the star on the football field, or the greatest marathoner the world had ever seen. But wait, do not arthritis and muscle pains too come with their own blessings?  Arthritis, that inflammation of body joints, and the pain that accompanies it are like a pair of wheels in a wheelchair to carry you and give you that much-needed respite from the labors of the day. Is not dementia a state of mind and the body needs to give it a welcome hug? It makes you forget even the pains and hurts of past struggles with men, with weather, with  worries. Think that that star you had been should now become an icon to be admired and memorialized. Know too that that greatest marathon runner  that was you should now be watching other runners pass before your eyes. You were the first and they are just making their own niche next to yours. Relax and retire now those athletic shoes and start savoring the joys of the man you had once been.

We need change to flavor our days, even to savor with renewed joys those days of our past joys. We need change to let that once bragging youth give way to the mature man, and make us better persons.

We need change badly. The man that we once were should now retire. We need to replace that anger with love. We need to throw away those words that make pain and create hurts in the hearts of other people, and substitute warmth in its stead.

Wonder why God chooses older men to be elders in the congregation? Because God wants change and older men are the change that could set the stage of a new world that He wants to create. Your gray hairs should be the crown of your wisdom. Because as you age, you undergo some mellowing and some diminishing. For one, your strength diminishes.  If you are not mellowed with age, you are disabled; you can’t fight back by still shouting at the top of your voice—-the young who will hear you do not believe that you can carry out your threats. Besides, an old man who pounds tables is all short fuses but no gunpowder. He is the last crack of lightning in the night-time sky. All pfft and no put.

The world that we are needs to grow old and die. But it has to grow old in grace and die in grace. And as we grow old, as we lay dying there, welcome the young on that stage which is the finality of our earthly struggles. We are at the center of it, they watch us leave. Like the ancients who grew old in grace, let us let that grace wrap itself around us as we leave the world of the living. Let our footsteps be for the young to trace, and our lives their examples to emulate.

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The Lord’s Church in Dasmariñas, Cavite

Sister Gloria Javier-Sico, with her daughter Simona Sico-Navales, during her visit in New York City.

Please click here to read the sermon I delivered Sunday morning, January 3, 2010 at Dasma Church of Christ, titled “What the Cross Means for You and Me”

A  hodgepodge of factors came into play in God’s purpose to establish a congregation of His people  in Dasmariñas, in the province of Cavite. Call it divine providence with God controlling events to achieve His design. Call it serendipity for the excitement it offers to its beholders.

Many factors. Mention for example the literature sent by the president of a Bible college in Baguio, which sparked religious curiosity. Mention a young OFW named Geminiano Mendoza whose contact with a restoration church in Guam and some A. G. Hobbs tracts he had brought home motivated the desire of the Javier-Sico clan, consisting of sister Resurreccion Javier-Hembrador, sister Gloria Javier-Sico and her husband Jacinto Sico, and the Silvas, the Guevaras, the De Mesas, the Mangubats and the Mendozas to find the ancient roots of the true faith, and their decision to break away from the Disciples of Christ, a faith which they for a while had held so dear, then their insistence for a thus-saith-the Lord as a reason for every doctrine and practice when their new found faith was questioned and challenged.   That’s providence of God that offered man the joys of discovering what’s true and what’s approved. But we are getting ahead of the story.

The story of the founding of the Lord’s church in Dasmariñas must begin with Corporal Luis Javier, ancestor of the Javier-Sico clan whose number predominates the membership of this congregation, one of whose descendants, Nepthalie Javier Sico, is now the minister of this church. For it was on his plot of  land in the village of San Jose, close to the city of Dasmariñas, that the present chapel of Dasmariñas church of Christ now stands.

Sister Resurreccion Javier-Hembrador and sister Gloria Javier-Sico, two of Luis Javier's children who became first members of Dasma church.

The Tagalog province of Cavite was the heartland of later Philippine revolution. Concerning that revolution, recall that Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo was its leader, and was also the first president of the short-lived republic that came after it. Recall that not too far away from Dasma is Kawit, the seat of this republic. In this forsaken land of a people who rebelled against mother Spain, God the Father of all mankind carved out a congregation of men and women who obeyed His will, the first church of Christ in all of Southern Tagalog region.

Luis Javier, whose corporal rank he got as a Katipunero while engaged in the 1898 Revolution, found employment as a blacksmith in the American Naval Base in Sangley Point,  a thankless job where he often clashed with his Yankee boss. But he embraced the Presbyterian faith the Americans brought to our shores.

That Presbyterian faith was not to remain forever. In those days, his fluency in Spanish and his flair for oratory made him a stage figure, haranguing the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act, introducing political candidates on stage, campaigning and crusading for a cause, speaking in Presbyterian meetings, but more especially defending the Presbyterian faith in debates. In one of his discussions he lost to a Disciples of  Christ debater. Debates in those days were much like wars of conquests: The defeated became the spoils of war. So Corporal Luis Javier left the Presbyterians and became a Disciples member; more so, he became a Disciples debater and proclaimer of their gospel. He loved his new found faith he supported it, defended it, and walked kilometers of distances from the barrio of Dasmariñas where he lived to surrounding villages of Malagasang and San Francisco de Malabon (now Gen. Trias) to plead its cause.  He was the principal mover and one of those who started the Malagasang Disciples church. In those days, Malagasang, like Dasma, was a barrio of Imus.

All three of Corporal Luis Javier’s children—Juan, Resurreccion and Gloria—became Disciples. Brother Nephtalie Sico, the present minister of Dasma church, remembers attending with his siblings the Sunday school taught by Malagasang Disciples lady teachers.

Juan, the only son of Corporal Luis Javier, migrated to Olongapo, started a family, and raised his sons and daughters as Disciples. In one instance, he attended a religious meeting in Bajac-Bajac and got into contact with a Church of Christ missionary. The missionary promised to send him a tract that perhaps was to change his life and his religion, if he provided them his address; instead he gave them the address of his sister Gloria Javier-Sico, now married to Jacinto Sico, who lived with another sister, Resurreccion, in Dasma. Months later, sister Gloria Javier-Sico received a New Testament Christianity magazine from Ralph Brashears, director of Philippine Bible College-Baguio City. That tract was to arouse their curiosity in religion.

Corporal Luis Javier remained a Disciples of Christ member until he died, and never saw the changes that were to happen in the Philippines religious landscape. The Malagasang Disciples church ceased to be because it was absorbed in the religious umbrella called the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. Juan Javier never left the Disciples.

A young Disciple named Geminiano Mendoza was to bring to fruition the seed that had been planted. Working in Guam, he gravitated to the Church of Christ group, became interested in their teachings and brought home some tracts of brother A. G. Hobbs. Two of those tracts, titled “The Origin of Denominations” and “Safe or Sorry,” helped to turn the Dasma Disciples, consisting of the Sicos, the Silvas, the Mangubats, the Mendozas, the De Mesas and the Guevaras around.  Joined by Isabelo Hayuhay and another Disciple minister, they cast their lot with the Church of Christ.

An interesting twist of history happened in the course of their journey. Isabelo Hayuhay later associated with the anti-Bible College, anti-benevolence segment of the Restoration Movement. The Dasmariñas disciples, now consisting of believers whom Jimmy Mendoza had helped to usher into the kingdom, came to be nurtured by the workers from the Pi y Margal branch of Philippine Bible College, most especially by brother Paulino Garlitos. American missionaries—Bob Buchanan, Ken Wilkey, Charles Smith, Ray Bryan, Douglas LeCroy, Bill Cunningham— came and helped edify the new church.

Neph J. Sico, grandson of Luis Javier, finished his degree at PBC-Baguio in 1974 and became the minister of Dasma church.  Other youths from Dasma followed him—Loida Sico, Willie Mendoza, Joel Sico, Olly Silva, Raquel Sico, Jeffrey Sico, and Ramir De Mesa.

Sister Gloria and the ladies.

Dasma church has now become the home of the Church Planting Institute (CPI). A new building of CPI, donated by brother Rolly Abaga, has risen beside the Dasma meeting hall. CPI has 9 students. Its teachers include Neph Sico, Jun Patricio, Rolly Abaga, Jonathan Pagarao, Jun Michael Pague, Gerry Superiano and Moises Gonzales.

Meeting place of the Dasma church with the Church Planting Institute building beside it.


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