(By: Rosanne N. Huan)
It was just September of 2010, when we heard the fleeting statement by our country couple coordinators, Jun and Emma Caramat, that next year we can have a national conference and they will invite the Servant General and his wife to Taiwan to grace the occasion. The thought of it excited us all but dismissed it as just wishful thinking. After all, we are relatively new as a community and had only few members then.
And so we just got on with the service at hand. As days, weeks and months passed, we were able to conduct two Christian Life Seminars within the year. To our amazement, the Lord blessed us with an abundant harvest in both seminars. By the end of the second CLS, we have become about hundred in number. Not bad at all for a community that is less than 5 years old and in a country where less than 2% of the population are Christians.
Our speedy growth in number in itself was an affirmation that God wanted us to experience a national conference where all of the members are to be united and gathered into one big family glorifying our Lord God.
Sometime in May 2011, we got news from our area couple coordinator, Pancho and Marilyn Lopez-Tan that our Servant General and his wife agreed to come to Taiwan to grace our first national conference. That totally struck us all like a bolt of lightning! Our initial reaction was to ask each other…Are they serious? How can we do this? We are all so inexperienced in all aspects of community life and service. We have never even attended a single CFC-FFL conference! We are all baby CFC-FFL members! The temptation to give in to negative thoughts was great, but deep in all our hearts we felt so loved by our Lord. We knew we were privileged because despite of all our inadequacies, the Lord still wanted us to experience an actual CFC-FFL conference in Taiwan. What a beautiful and loving God!
Looking back, I realize now how the Lord equipped us by way of our spiritual directors Fr. Joy, Fr. Gary and Fr. Nilo who all made matters easier for the community. All our concerns were answered through the help of our three spiritual directors. Everything just fell into place. What an awesome God!
About six weeks before the actual “Strength in God” Conference in Taiwan, Maricar Gatchalian Urgino, while in Manila, artistically laid down the program. Then final planning took place three weeks later. The Core/service Team, the Caramats were attended and Bambi Urgino facilitated. Team members together with the country couple coordinator brainstormed. Everyone went home with assignments for the conference.
As the actual preparation was underway, the challenges presented themselves. The service/core team continued to pray for each other and sought for God’s help to overcome. We prayed that love, understanding, patience and compassion be in the hearts of all the community members towards one another as we strived to accomplish our individual assignments that are parts of the whole project. The affirmation of their love towards one another kept us going. We felt the very presence of our Lord in one another.
The first day of the conference was a day set for the couples only. It was surprisingly a beautiful sunny day, which is unusual for moon festival weekends. In the previous years, it was mostly rainy or drizzly. The venue was beautifully decorated and very much showed the effort our brothers and sisters had put in. The ambience was so inspiring and festive! We all started with a vibrant worship led by Excel Regidor. Mike Ramos was the emcee for the whole day’s event. It was, by the way, his first time to emcee. It was a weekend of many “firsts”. Another “first”, was Jimmy Sun leading the afternoon worship. Even some of the first time speakers and sharers claimed to be so nervous. By God’s grace we were able to pull through our designated assignment. The Spirit of the Lord was evident and this was where we gained all our power from!
The second day became even more interesting. We were joined in by our singles, handmaids and servants from both Taichung and Taipei. It was a delight to see how big our community has become! Some were wearing blue pro-life T-shits, others had red “nothing is impossible with God” T-shirts and a few had other colors but all wore smiles and warm hearts. Love and joy filled the air all around. We deeply felt how amazing, how generous, how loving our God is!
This day all the speakers, worship leaders, emcees, sharers were extra inspired and fully charged with the Holy Spirit. Boy, did the worship become ever so vibrant! Brothers and sisters jumped, shouted and danced glorifying the Lord in all abandon. Recalling that momentous day still gives me the goose bumps. We were truly filled with the Holy Spirit that nothing else mattered but glorifying and praising our STRONG GOD!
During our fellowship, we sampled an array of different specialties personally cooked by members of each household. While enjoying the food, there was a showcase of the different talents the Lord has endowed our brothers and sisters by way of the “Talentadong Kristiyano” segment emceed by the Marlon Arceo and Linda Caringall. It was yet another amazing discovery! Truly our Lord is so generous with the gifts that He gives each of us. Our brothers and sisters just came out of their shells and boldly shared their talents for the sake of creating the atmosphere of fun, sharing and appreciation. The fun was spiced up by the impromptu dance participation of our beloved couples Frank and Gerry, Pancho and Marilyn to the music of Abba-Dancing Queen and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, sang in duet by Sol Retaga and myself accompanied by the music ministry with Rudy Retaga on the keyboards. The members became emboldened, went for it and dance with them!
The more serious stuff happened in the afternoon, as we broke up in two groups- the sisters’ forum lead by sisters Gerry and Marilyn and brothers’ forum led by bothers Jun and Pancho. After which, the Servant General gave the final talk reminding us of how God raised CFC in 1981 to use us as His instruments of renewal, how He restores us when we veer away and how He will use us to reach the ends of the earth spreading the gospel of salvation. The mission for us, mere humans, is great but we look to God for our strength.
Just like what we experienced preparing and participating in the first CFC-FFL Taiwan National Conference, God has used us, inexperienced members/servants of the community, to bring God’s message in a most amazing way to all who came that memorable weekend.
A praise fest closed the event with the final song, THANK YOU LORD. A very fitting song…we sang the lyrics… “For all you’ve done in my life, You took my darkness and gave me your light…Thank you Lord” from our hearts. Never had I personally felt the lyrics of this song to be so meaningful that it touched the very core of my being. I cried like a baby!
Thank you Lord, for making what we initially thought of as an impossibility became a reality!
May God be praised!