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Lakaw is a journey is a step is a move. I love to travel around the world and this is my travel and travel gadget site. Welcome and Enjoy!

0 comments | Tuesday, February 06, 2007

If you are a fisherman, how would you fish? I tell you, it is not easy if you don't know anything. One must know the basics of fishing to assure a good catch.

When I was invited to attend a First Baptist Church service last Sunday, I was hesitant. I am a Catholic who has a good foundation of my faith, being an active believer. If I am not mistaken, I wrote a number of articles that circled the topic of Catholic faith and religion. These articles were published in magazines locally in the Philippines. I believe in the Holy Trinity, in the power of making the sign of the cross, in the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the miracles saying the rosary may bring.

Adam is the fisherman. He might not be the best fisherman around, (he failed to convince other colleagues) but he knows how to fish. When he cast the rod by handing me the invitation card, I didn't immediately take the bait. As I said, I was hesitant. Then I bombarded him with questions: Will there be singing? Will there be lots of praising? Will you be kneeling? There were a lot more. He said YES to a few questions and NO to most.

After some thought, his fishing brought him a fish home. I said yes.

Pause: To my Filipino friends who are reading this and are beginning to worry what I am ranting about, worry not. I have not changed my beliefs.

I said yes for the fact that I want to listen to songs of praise. I wanted to know what Adam is trying to convince me about. More so, the invitation card carries lines too catchy for my curiosity. It says "SPRING: a season of rebirth".

I took the bait that Sunday morning, walking to Church amidst the negative 20-something temperature that froze my cheeks. As I said to Adam, it is sacrifice. God rewards every sacrifice of love and time and patience.

Two gentlemen outside the entrance door met me. They introduced their names. But because I was feeling so chilly after a 15-minute walk, my memory and even my mouth have frozen all together. I smiled shyly at them. Off I went inside.

Two ladies met me at the next door leading to the hall. They said something I didn't even hear clearly. Remember, my mind was frozen minutes ago and was still beginning to defroze. Inside the hall, are people, or should I call them Baptists, about a dozen of them - shaking hands, chatting happily like they haven't met for eons. Adam? Well, he never came early and left his fish swimming in a water of exhaustion for almost half an hour. HAHAHA. You should have seen my eyes rolled left and right, top to bottom, in total sheepishness of being the only guy in the room with no one to talk to.

Five minutes later, a guy in a formal attire who certainly had sensed my solitude and uneasiness, came towards me in decent strides. Extending his hand for a shake, he introduced himself as Pastor Gavin. It was a quick interview with the usual exchange of hellos and smiles. Before he left me alone (again), he said "I'll talk to you after the service", which, by the way, didn't happen.

At this juncture, all I pondered on was to be released back into the water. The hook seemed to amputate my heart, diminishing its capacity to be at least cordial and leaving this fish the thought of being the unwanted fish in a net full of fish catch. I thought of leaving.

After some more minutes, two other people came to me and tried to start a conversation. "I am ______." "Hi." "I am ______." "Cool" "Are you from SDSU?" "Yes, I am." "Cool." "Which department?" "GIS". Pause. Their eyes suggested I shouldn't have used the acronym. "I mean Geographic Information System." "Oh, cool". The guy just loved the word "cool". I say something, he says "cool".

More minutes and Adam arrived - just in time for the service. Let me tell you how it went.

The service was like the "General Prayer Meetings" I had back home. There were entrance songs, though, these were more solemn, unlike home that we start it with lively and fast songs to welcome people. There was the greeting or blessing of one another. That was "cool". Then there was the cleansing. This is the part when you get to wash yourself from all your iniquities and acknowledge your transgressions.

The offertory part was somewhat surprising. It was done even before Pastor Gavin Retzer gave his pastoral message. I am not sure if Baptists also follow the 10% tithing as Catholics do.

Pastor Gavin was very inspiring in his speech. He mentioned how the church was about to close for the lack of "fishes". There was not enough fish to catch in the sea. Or maybe there was. Fishermen were not just devoted to catching them. Or maybe they were fishing in a section of the sea devoid of any.

Pastor Gavin never lost hope and initiated a "replanting", or more appropriately "re-fishing". That explains the tagline "Spring: a season of rebirth". The church has to be born again and let a new breed of fish start it anew. Let the free-swimming young light the torch for a new season and a new hope.

Everything what the Pastor said about faith, loving, glorifying and serving God is thought-provoking and persuasive except the portion when he tried to compare the First Baptist church to churches of other religious sects. I dislike the part when he said that "their church is different and that there is no other church like it." In my own opinion, this is not the correct way to "fish". Mormons say that. Many other religions claim that too. Honestly, I am tired of those words.

To convince the new school of fish is not to compare what the First Baptist church has that other sects have been deprived of or blessed with. I think the best way to make the "fish" stay or make them jump to the fish basket themselves, is to tell the wonders of being with God. Share something about the advantages of being a bible-believing Christian. Tell them about the direct access to the great and wonderful God who created the universe and all life on earth - the God who can answer any prayer, and who offers eternal life! These are things I want to hear.

I always believe that Pastors or Priests are just mediums used by God. Whatever they say must come from God. Therefore, there is no need for them to worry about other churches. When they fish and they start to convey the message of God, the new "school of fish", I am sure, will listen to them, because it is not them speaking in the first place. It is God through them by the power of the Holy Spirit. Once the Spirit works, the Spirit works wonders. It will be manifested when those little fishes you released from the net will come back and jump into your boat in your next adventure to the sea, even if you do not have to cast your bait out to fish them.

I want to end this post by mentioning this: while I was there I felt a sense of belongingness. Why? After the service, everyone was just eager to introduce himself or herself to me. Adam did a good job of going through the process of mentioning my name and then my school and then my hobbies and then my age......all over again, each time a new person comes along.

Will I attend the next service? You will know once I post another article about it here. Maybe by that time, I will feature other fishes.

One last thing, the choir needs a second voice. Blending is the key :-)

Keep posted everyone.

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