It’s been five days. Am still reeling from the aftermath of the four-day Discipleship Congress (GDC) jointly sponsored by CCF and Pastor Edmund Chan’s Global Alliance of Intentional Disciple making Churches. The days seemed to pass by so swiftly, but boy, I sure wished the congress hadn’t come to an end.

 

 

Around 8,000 followers of the Lord Jesus ( including the volunteers) with over a thousand coming from 61 countries around the world gathered to fellowship, worship and learn from internationally renowned speakers who had pledged undying allegiance to the King of kings and Lord of lords. I think I had a sweet glimpse of heaven as I found myself amongst peoples of different color and tongue bound together by the love that perpetually emanates from the Great Weaver, all reaffirming the mandate and mission bursting from Matt 28:18-20 to “go and make disciples of all nations…”
The plenary speakers (images below were extracted from the web) were men of godly wisdom – all brilliant yet humble, all articulate, all gifted with the ability to turn lofty and complex ideas to such that my finite understanding could embrace, all acknowledging the grace that overflows from their imperfect lives, all living out the purposes for which they were called. Seeing such men of intellectual stature yet of tender hearts and childlike faith , and  of singularity of purpose to fulfill their calling was indeed an awe-inspiring experience. Amazing…
Dr. Ravi Zacharias.  He is “The great apologist of our time,” according to Chuck Colson. His brain must have been created with unlimited capacity to comprehend, hold, formulate and weave complex ideas and bring them down to be pondered and ruminated on by ordinary, hungry minds (mine included). He has a built-in inexhaustible spring of brilliant ideas beautifully woven out of the absolute truth of God’s Word (which he must have devoured since his conversion) that leaves his listeners craving for more.  His spontaneity and eloquence with which he posits the harmonious confluence of the mind and heart, of the absolute truths that transcend both logical and existential realms, will leave any thinking mammal astounded and shaken (hmmmm…this is an effect of listening to him. Am now talking beyond the limits of normal vocabulary)
This man is special.  Browsing the net, I learned he has a radio program aptly titled “Let My People Think.” And he delivers —words of wisdom– those luscious apples of gold in settings of sparkling silver.
Since hearing him speak, I have not stopped watching and listening to him on you tube especially his numerous guesting at Ivy-League schools/universities in America which were always jam packed with eager audience. When you see him onstage, you wouldn’t think his life before was marked by failure after failure. Little did he know what was in store for him after he surrendered his life to his creator. Truly Christ transforms lives.
His stint in Manila during the congress created a stir. It was obvious the audience adored him with their reaction every time his name was mentioned. What a gifted speaker.
Specifically, he emphasized that the foundation for discipleship is intimacy with God. He explained that Satan’s three temptations were those of materialism (yielding to intellect), utilitarianism (yielding to the will or using God’s word to suit one’s end) and hedonism (yielding to the devil to enjoy the path of pleasure without the cross). In his second plenary message, he emphasized that the platform of discipleship is worship and that our ultimate goal in life is to worship the Lord and serve him only. He defined sacrilege as giving to God that which means nothing to us. If we offer him something that we do not value at all, we are guilty of sacrilege. As his children, we ought to give Him the BEST of our time, our intellect, our gifts and our efforts.
Dr. Edmund Chan exhorted us to go back to the ancient, timeless paths – to the Scriptures that depict the redemptive story of a redemptive messiah. He reminded us that the great commission is a life to live.  He cautioned believers to (1) beware of busyness without stillness – to stop doing so we can start doing; (2) beware of knowledge without wisdom – wisdom that can only be found in the living word, the timeless revelation for every contingency that man faces and will ever face; and (3) beware of thought without action – that truth does not change lives, but truth APPLIED does. He challenged every follower of Christ to surrender every single area of their lives to the lordship of Christ – because if Christ is not Lord of all, he is not Lord at all.
Dr. Peter Tan-chi expounded on discipleship as the key to church health – that the end product of discipleship is nothing but Christlikeness. He also stressed the importance of modeling – of having the family as priority and that discipleship begins at home. His charming wife Deonna and son Paul shared personal testimonies  on the examples set by Dr. Tan-Chi as husband and father and how, despite the demands of both business and ministry, Dr. Tan-chi stood pat on his commitment to prioritize the family before anything else. Dr. Tan-chi also shared how CCF has grown over the years from an assembly of a few couples inside a garage to a vast congregation that spans the entire archipelago.

 

 

Dr. Luis Bush tackled discipling the next generation. In his presentation, he mentioned that the kids nowadays are wired differently, and that they are already being discipled by the world, instead of the Word.  A recent survey in the US showed that on the average, kids spend about 71/2 hours daily online. With the plethora of temptations that compete for the youth’s attention, truly the battle is on to win their hearts and minds.
Dr. Coleman talked about conforming our life to kingdom priorities. Among others, he reminded us to put to death the mind of the flesh and bring our life under the discipline of the spirit, to learn obedience through suffering, rejoice in the son-ship of the King, rest in the inseparable love of Christ and join the unceasing praise of God around the throne of heaven.
Dr. Bill Lawrence expounded on discipling leaders from the inside out. In his presentation, he cited the vast difference between cultural leadership and Biblical leadership. Cultural leadership exalts leaders; the latter exalts the followers.  It protects leaders, while biblical leadership sacrifices leaders. Cultural leadership talks, while biblical leadership walks. According to him, we will never be able to disciple from the inside out if we remain cultural leaders. Instead of aiming for the crown, we need to  say yes to the cross. Tough call indeed, but worth it.
Dr. Randy Pope stressed the importance of laboring in the lives of a few as God’s master plan for making mature and equipped followers of Christ. He explained that without life-on-life discipleship, we run the risk of producing immature believers, at best and disillusioned learners at worst.
 
Pnoy’s Candid Talk
President Noynoy came in as a surprise guest a day before the congress closed (that explained why we saw bomb-sniffing dogs inside the conference venue and the instant security check and body whisks of Barong-clad men and women who were never in sight during the first two days of the conference.)
We got a taste of Filipino brand of cultural leadership when we waited for more than an hour (which resulted in the delay of the plenary sessions and the eventual extension of the workshops) for the President to arrive. The waiting though was worth it, as he was as candid as he could be. He discarded his prepared speech and did away with the teleprompter. He thanked the pastors around, particularly Pastor Tan-Chi for their prayerful support as he acknowledged these same people standing behind him, yet never asking for anything in return. He candidly shared the weight and sacrifices that come with his office (e.g. the skipped meals). He shared an anecdote about “kutsinta” a Filipino delicacy made of rice cake, which he said he was deprived of while their family was on exile in Boston during the Marcos regime. He said that every time he is served with Kutsinta these says, he feels compelled to eat the same because of his deprivation of it when he was in the States. He also shared their family’s travails at the height of Martial law when the former strongman persecuted those who worked in the Aquino household (even the family of P-Noy’s nanny or personal nurse)—and how some of his parents’ friends, fearing for their own safety, began to dissociate from them and avoid them.
At the end of his speech, P-noy was prayed for by the entire congregation led by Dr. Peter Tanchi.
Lady CJ
The Chief Justice, a believer, had also delivered a short message before the President came. CJ Sereno exhorted all government employees present in the audience to stand firm as Christians and not to allow themselves to be tainted by corrupt practices in the bureaucracy. She said that Christians should let their light shine, that they are sent as sheep among wolves and that their primary duty is to honor Christ in whatever role they perform as public servants.
All in all, the congress echoed a resounding call to the challenge of discipleship in these last days when the Lord’s return draws closer and closer and harvest time is nigh at hand.  The congress theme song sums up the chief end of it all…
  
SHOW US THE ANCIENT PATHS
Lord we confess
That we have wandered
Far from Your purpose and plan
And willingly walked
In the wrong direction
We’ve disobeyed Your commands
Father forgive us
Spirit come lead us
Back to the way
Back to the truth
Back to the foot of the cross
Show us the ancient paths
Lead us along eternal highways
We want to walk
In the ways of Jesus
We want to enter Your rest
Show us the ancient paths
Lead us along eternal highways
We want to follow
The footsteps of Jesus
We want to enter Your rest
Lord it’s Your mercy
And good intention
That constantly calls us to You
Your infinite patience
And kind correction
Your covenant love coming through
You are our hope and our salvation
You promise joy
You give us grace
And courage to carry the cross
(Repeat chorus)
We want to leave
A clear set of footprints
For those who will follow behind
Signposts in our lives
That point to Jesus
A pathway they’ll easily find
We want to fill up
The sufferings of Jesus’
As we obey
Our lives display
The glorious way of the cross
(Repeat chorus)
Lead us along, We want to follow
We want to enter Your rest
Show us the ancient paths
Lead as along eternal highways
We want to follow │
The footsteps of Jesus │ 3X
We want to enter Your rest
What a joy being with God’s people. What a privilege being a part of God’s family.