Prepared To Serve

By CARL FONTANILLA

I CAN very well say God kindly prepared me for the mission He has called me. I went to good schools– at the Malate Catholic School for my elementary and high school education, and for college, to the University of the Philippines Diliman.

I learned the rudiments of managing an organization – so important in leading my ministry groups—at the Rock Energy International Corporation where I  served as managing director.

And I continue learning about Life, as God has gifted me with a beautiful wife, Melanie ‘Lanie’ Gillera, and He blessed us with three children: Carmela, now 34 years old; Carol Anne, 33; and Charize Mae, 25.

Lanie and I first encountered the Light of Jesus Family in 1992.

An officemate, Ferdie Reyes, invited us to attend a Living in the Light Seminar held at the Brookside Village chapel in Cainta, Rizal. Ferdie and his wife Fides were members of the Cainta Chapter of the Homes for Christ (HFC), the ministry of LOJ for married couples.

When I learned that the LSS would actually take 13 Saturday sessions, I almost backed out. But Ferdie was a good friend who helped me in many ways, so I agreed to attend. My simple knowledge about the Charismatic movement was a group of people singing and raising hands which I felt awkward even thinking about. Sure enough it was what I expected.

Lanie and I completed the 13 sessions with 2 absences, and I thought that was it. I didn’t realize that the Lord was bringing me to an experience which was
lacking in my life. I was born and raised by only one person– my mother. By the nature of our situation, the only times I was in a group was at school. Even there, I wasn’t a joiner. I had few selected friends even when I was already working. I seldom
hang out and join any group.

Our joining the faith community was then a struggle for me. I felt uncomfortable all the time. I didn’t want to speak and share before the audience. But God is patient, isn’t he?

Through the leaders like from my first Caring Group (CG) head, Bro. Dante Alignay to Bro. Rudy Mallari, I discovered how patient God is.

Here, our “baby” CG, from left: Me, Lanie, Eng Si, Nimfa Si, Rudy Mallari, Zeny Mallari, Maya Tan and Buddy Tan.

I felt I was a burden to my Caring Group members. To this day, I don’t recall attending a CG meeting where Lanie and I were on time—we were always late, or I had dozens of excuses not being able to attend. Until God threw me to the fire.

Despite being uncommitted and even with my apathetic behavior, I was asked to serve and become a leader, first as a CG head and then later as a Chapter head. I accepted the call not for an opportunity to serve, but it triggered my pride.

In the corporate world, I was already a leader and a successful one. What could be difficult in leading a bunch of people singing and raising their hands?
But it was my first taste of God’s fire. Because I felt I was not getting the attention of the people I was leading.

As a Chapter head, I did the opening prayer, leading Worship, and delivering the talk. Most of the time I had to be early to prepare the place for our gathering and go home last to clean up the place. The new Homes for Christ Chapter which was my first leadership assignment eventually closed and I know,
for sure, it was because of me.

Today I am the head of the Provincial Region, one of the three regions of the Light of Jesus Family. And I so feel blessed serving with these Builders of The Feast, now our faith gathering nationwide, standing, from left: Alvin Barcelona, Feast Bay Area; Bimbo Leonard, Quezon City; Boggs Burbos, North Luzon District; Aben Garlan, Cagayan de Oro; Ervine Pangwi, Quezon City; Rex Robillos, Imus Cavite; one of our mentors, Dean Pax Lapid; James Nicholas, Alabang; Randel Serrano, Navotas; Angel Licup, Bataan); and Bryan Aguilar, Laguna; and that’s me sitting at extreme right with Rudy Mallari, member of Provincial Region Executive Committee; and, in between us, Jing Sto Domingo, Mindanao District.

Building The Feasts is a great and difficult task. Especially during this Coronavirus Pandemic, everyone fears being infected by the deadly virus. We keep healthy and hang on in fervent prayer for God’s protection. Still we beat the crisis by engaging through phone calls and meeting online.

Here we are meeting online: top row, from left: Karl Zafra, Builder for Feast Light; me; and Elwin and Ana Sebuco, Feast Light Coordinators for Provincial Region; second row, from left: Carlwin and Ellen Mozar, Feast Light Council member; Judd/Paz Balayan, Feast Light Coordinators for International Region; Ronald and Ana Rellera, Feast Light Coordinator for Mega Manila Region.

Looking back, I realize that all the failures and mistakes I made were my biggest blessings as leader and servant of God. They humbled me and made me hear clearly the words of Jesus to His disciples, “…whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant, whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.” (Matthew 20: 26-27).

I can say that the most fulfilling time of my leadership is not when I’m leading, but it’s when I am serving, when I’m caring, when I’m ministering, and when I am able to make a difference in the life of every person God has entrusted to my care. To me this is the greatest privilege of being a servant of God.

#LOJat40

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