Alumni Spotlight: Marifel Forones Fernandez

Alumni Corner 2“I am now a master teacher 1! This is unexpected. Praise God for this favor,” Ms. Marifel Forones Fernandez exclaimed with joy and thanksgiving after being promoted to that position at Ma-a National High School. She prayed for this but entertained doubts because she lacked some credentials but the Lord was gracious to her.

That is just one of her many major experiences of God’s favor. Flipping a few pages back in her biography are concrete expressions of His love and faithfulness in the midst of uncertainties and difficulties.

Her parents separated when she was a teenager. She and her two younger siblings had to live with relatives to survive, sometimes with their father and seldom with their mom. Marifel lived with her aunt in Cagayan De Oro. She came to know the Lord through her cousin, who was then involved with CDO Navigators. After a while, she had to transfer to a relative on her mother’s side in Davao City. A cousin with this aunt is a Navigator leader. Later, she worked for a Nav couple (Danny and Angie Narciso) while taking up BS Education major in Math. She got involved in the collegiate ministry and received training in discipleship.  After passing the licensure exam for teachers, she served the Lord as Youth Development Facilitator for a year.

MaricelShe is married to Roy Fernandez. They are blessed with two girls. In 2011, heavy rain and an unexplained huge volume of water fell on a mountain that overflowed to Pangi River in Davao City. This incident placed housing subdivisions, including theirs, underwater. It happened at night when Marifel was alone with the young girls. Struggling against the strong current in the dark (because of a brownout), she lost hold of her girls. She panicked and prayed. Suddenly, her daughters floated to her, with the younger holding tight to the foot of the older. They managed to grab a chair on which they stood, singing hymns together until they were rescued.

Alumni Corner 3Now on the current page: Marifel takes on these greater privileges and bigger responsibilities, relying on God for strength and capacity. Hundreds of students take her mathematics class every year. She wants to share the Gospel to these young people through the partnership with the high school ministry of the Navigators. Stakeholders were established. Partnering with her in this ministry are Mrs. Felicidad Natad, a fellow teacher; Engineer Jonathan Victolero and Dr. Joanna Victolero, Nav volunteers who tutor and lead Bible study; and Dr. Eurlyn Racaza, a Nav alumna funding the work.

When asked to share her testimony during the “Lugaw for a Cause in Davao” about how the Navs has helped her, she shared, “The Navs has served as my family, providing for my basic needs, watching over my soul and reparenting me in some areas of my life.”

Marifel and her family still live in the same house but now with a second floor for their safety in case another flood would come.

For all these favors, Marifel could only respond in gratitude and worship.

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The Call of Abraham

by Kevin Desabelle

Who knows how many have been called before
or since? After all, if you’re a settled city dweller,
it seems foolish to trust the voice of a deity that
you don’t have a sculpture of—when all other
deities have their own little specializations.
The only heaven you might know is having enough
number of children to preserve your bloodline—

which, if you’re past ninety, is not much. Just one.
So with the barren state of your octogenarian wife
and what infant mortality might look like four millennia
ago, you stepped out into what could only be called
by some as either credulity or wish fulfillment.
Or faith.

But the reward for believing, the Voice says, is descendants
whose numbers rival the best analogies for multitude:
more than hordes or herds or even the still-bushy
wild hair on your head seasoned by decades
of Middle Eastern sandstorms and sun,

starting with one named Laughter, then through him
twins, and twelve tribes, and two hundred nations,
some growing to hate one another to death, but finally
including one to be called Prince of Peace, whose life was
not to be spared, unlike Isaac’s.

And when this Prince talks about how “before Abraham
was born, I am,” you knew what he meant, as you sharply
remember thinking how it wouldn’t have mattered whether
you drove the knife through your son’s chest or yours.

 

2017 National Activities

 

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National Summer Training Program (June 1-6, 2017)

With the theme, “Abiding in Christ, Secret of Fruitfulness,” this six-day training program aimed to equip our young staff/volunteers and student leaders in reaching out and ministering to the youth. This NSTP is unique for the following reasons:

  1. This conference was held in Davao City when Mindanao is declared under Martial Law. Around 20 backed out for this reason. 60 braved it out and proved that the city was peaceful.
  2. Of the over 60 participants, 2 were Badjaos, 2 Tibolis, and 3 Filipino Australians.
  3. Bible study on Doctrinal Study on Salvation, which most participants studied for the first time and have learned a lot from.
  4. Work project in two high schools, where we have Navigator work
  5. An outreach program to a Badjao community and to underprivileged communities.

Campus Forum (July 6-10, 2017)

Six intern staff went with the National Director for the Campus Forum in Kuala Lumpur. Participants from Asia Pacific Navigators discussed issues and good practices in ministering among the youth in the campus. They also discussed 1 Thessalonians for their Bible input.

Staff Conference (August 23-25, 2017)

This annual general assembly approved some portion of the Financial Policy. The mornings were spent with the Haskells on the Enneagram, bringing to surface some wrong motivations in relating and leading and the needed transformation to become emotionally healthy leaders. The afternoons were reserved for the discussion of the revisions to the Nav Policy and the consequent approval of some portions. The evenings were spent in the ministry reports of the CHAI and the Navigators Major Thrusts (Ministry Expansion, Capacity-Building and Fund Generation) and the prayer for the new ND, Ronnie Saguit, starting January 2018.

Family Camp (August 26-28, 2017)

After a little over ten years, the Navigators gathered again as a big family at Pranjetto. The participants were divided according to age groups and discussed the Nav Core and listened/interacted on issues relevant to them. The plenary speaker, Kuya Philip Flores shared on “Fruitfulness through the Seasons” and “Lifetime Laboring.” To set the mood for these messages, Wency Dela Vina shared a devotional message on “God’s Faithfulness.” What’s very exciting was the active involvement of the young people in the major roles, from the program to the registration and logistics. All were entertained by the talent presentation of each region and the games reminiscing the Nav history.

One of the highlights of the family camp was the announcement of and prayer for the new national director, Ronnie Saguit. He and his family will be featured in the newsletter edition in January, after his installation.

 

Fruitfulness in the Ministry

The Lord has blessed us with fruitfulness in the ministry. Like a yeast in a dough, the ministry has been growing silently.

Shiela Orbe, Koronadal City

Shiela Orbe, principal of Kings College High School at Lake Sebu in South Cotabato has been reaching out to her students, majority of whom are Tibolis. They usually go to Koronadal City for their college education.  Efren and Bing Carido with six other alumni from different Nav ministry areas gather together and accommodate these young people for small group Bible study. Late last year, they invited Alvin Ibuyat, a young leader and was a YDF in Agoo, La Union, to colabor with them as intern staff. When he came, our alumni had prepared his bachelor’s pad with everything he needed from cooking utensils to bicycle to printer. There is wisdom with the decision of Navigators’ during the general assembly to expand only through our alumni.

When we launched the Nav ministry at Kings College – Koronadal, the retired directress who happened to be a Nav alumnus (Kuya Bien Llobrera’s) sister, said, “We have been waiting for the Navigators to come since the 70s.” Alvin has been doing evangelism and discipleship in the said. Two attended the recent National Summer Training Program.

 

Norelle Laorden, Singapore

She has moved to Singapore to work as med tech in a government hospital for over a year. She shared the gospel to her Filipino colleagues in the hospital and started Bible study with them. Norelle was in Joyce’s bible study when she was a student in Davao City. A gifted evangelist, she recruited her friends and classmates to the faith. Norelle, together with other two alumni in Mindanao, are now part of the 20s and 30s of Singapore Navs.

 

Junie and Rose (Iman) Samson, Australia

The couple resides in Melbourne, Australia. Rose, a Nav alumna from CIT, and Junie have two grownup children. During their break time, the couple meet with young men and women for one-on-one and small group Bible study. And on weekends, they meet with their relatives for the same purpose. They have grown tremendously and now meet as a church. They sent their three male leaders in the recent National Summer Training Program in Davao City. Two stayed longer to get exposure to Davao and Cebu Navigators.

 

High School Ministry

The goal of this ministry is to establish a team of stakeholders living around or working in a high school. As of now, there are 8 campuses with such stakeholders. They provide sustainable leadership and the funds needed for this ministry. All of them are non-full time.

 

Surubaya, Indonesia

A group of Filipino teachers in Surubaya share their faith to the locals. Some of them are Nav alumni from UPD and Davao but the majority are from Agoo. It is exciting to hear their stories on how they shared their faith to their high school students. Mon and Angie Manaot lead the group.

 

Bulacan State University (BULSU) in San Jose Del Monte

Just after the General Assembly in 2013, Omar asked me to allow him do ministry on his own. Kuya Romy affirmed this. With his maturity and experience, he started a community that has bloomed and expanded to BULSU. This community provides the human and financial resources. They are renting an apartment as student center. This is a model we are considering in terms of sustainable leadership and ministry expansion.

These are initiatives of our lay labourers. Their fruitfulness is a product of their abiding to the Vine and the pruning by the Father. To our lay laborers, thank you for the partnership. (To Nav alumni who would like to partner with us, please let us know.)

 

Kristine Maagad: Serving the Lord in Creative Ways

 

NavKid 1I first met Ate Kristine Maagad in the summer of 2009 during the Nav Kids Conference in Davao City. We are both Nav kids. She is the daughter of Tito Roy and Tita Paz. I was only a first year high school student then, and we were both from Cagayan de Oro so we ended up sharing the same room. I don’t really remember much about her probably because it was so long ago and we weren’t able to keep in touch so much after the conference. But once in a while we are able to see each other in Navigator events. What I will never doubt about Ate Kristine is that she is always approachable and she always treats me nicely.

 

Now, I am a third year college student, and Ate Kristine has already finished taking up BS Biology. I was told to ask her how she serves the Lord in creative ways, so for the first time in almost five years, the two of us talked again. We wanted to be able to talk about her ministry in person and also catch up on our personal lives, but she was in Camiguin with her family to celebrate the holiday season. So she wrote me a personal message through Facebook to share how she serves the Lord.

Here is her full message:

“I’m enjoying serving the Lord in many different ways. Here in Pandan, Camiguin province my ministry are kids and their parents. It all started when me and my parents put up a small ukay-ukay and school supplies store in front of our house in October 22, 2010. The children and their parents would come and visit the store. We took this opportunity to share the gospel especially when their parents pour out their problems to us. During the Christmas Eve in 2013 we organized a small celebration. The kids had their gifts and their parents brought fruits and crops likeNav Kids 2 camote and camoteng kahoy, saging nilung-ag, puto and biko since this is what they can afford. We told them that we don’t need expensive food to celebrate Noche Buena since the reason for the season to celebrate is Jesus Christ. I spent all my little income in buying gifts and foods for the party.

“This Christmas 2014, we were not able to have a program because of the weather condition but we were able to meet them and give gifts to the kids.

“In Cagayan de Oro, my ministry are working moms ages 40 and above. They are street vendors in Divisoria and a few of them are street kids.

NavKid 2“This 2015, my parents and I are working closely with Sister Tersa in Consolacion, Cagayan de Oro and we are praying by God’s grace that we can start our ministry in the rehabilitation center with drug addicts. We are praying that in our little ways we can help her and the people in Consolacion, especially those who are living near the river which we already visited last November.

“My parents and I are working closely with the less fortunate people and we are happy to serve them and most especially our Lord Jesus Christ.

“God touches my heart in this verse Isaiah 61:1-2. (The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.)”

(End of message)

I was really impressed by how Ate Kristine works wholeheartedly to reach out to many, especially the children and the less fortunate. Back in 2009, she also took care of me like a big sister, and I have no doubt that she treats the children she ministers to in the same way. I really admire how she and her family are willing to work with people we normally do not encounter every day, and more than that, they are happy to be doing it to serve the Lord. Indeed, she is someone I really look up to as a person and as a Christian.

Book Review: Will This Rock in Rio?

by Monique Garcia-Desabelle

“Throughout history, God has seemed to take pleasure in departing from patterns we expect of him. He often does something very different using unlikely people.” So begins the preface of this autobiography of sorts, which by no coincidence perfectly summarizes the story of Ken Lottis.

At the invitation of Jim Peterson, a fellow Navigator he met in college, Ken made the decision to uproot his family in the United States and bring them to Brazil, where he would join a team that would begin a pioneering Navigator ministry.

It is important to note the country’s political climate at this time: a recent armed revolution had set off a change from a civilian government to a military dictatorship, and rumors abound of a possible US intervention. A great mistrust of Americans pervaded. This was the atmosphere that Ken and his team were jumping into. Though specific circumstances may be different, it is similar to what many missionaries face in the countries they choose to serve in—seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Simply put, the entire book chronicles the experiences of Ken and his team and they endeavored to unlearn the “traditional” methods of ministering to students while allowing God to guide them as they discovered new means of reaching out to and connecting with the younger generation. In his words, it meant them “leaving the crowd behind” and “going to the Gentile side of the lake.”

It necessitated their full immersion into the Brazilian culture and everything it meant, including having a more personal and intimate relationship with the people they were ministering to. That inevitably led to really being involved in the everyday aspects of their lives, whether it was being a part of their graduation, helping them find jobs or the right partner, and even addressing concerns related to marriage.  They learned to be open to the questions being posed by the students—many of whom had abandoned their Catholic upbringing in favor of Marxist philosophies—and guide them toward the answers in the Bible. It meant forming friendships with people who weren’t part of their normal traffic patterns, those who rarely, if ever, show up in church or would be interested with what went on inside it. They learned the value of investing in the life of just one person at a time.

The book, which is also filled with hilarious anecdotal accounts of their various faux pas and cultural blunders, is a pretty easy read, but after flipping through all its pages, one thing that really hit home for me was that for these missionaries, sharing the Good News also meant sharing their own lives and being intentional in building relationships with the people they were reaching out to. In a journey filled with many firsts, one that required them to improvise and tailor-fit their methods to the local culture—basically starting from scratch—it is so inspiring to see how God’s Great Commission was fulfilled in Brazil. To quote a phrase in the book, “One way or another, He’ll get his church built.”

Finally, I am reminded of what it really means to trust in the Lord and His plans for us, no matter what road and paths it may lead to. Ken Lottis and his family were normal people—nothing special about them. But God used them to do extraordinary things, in the same way he can and will use us for His glory.

The God Behind the Gray-Haired Man

In almost every Nav assembly, you will see a gray-haired man who is either listening as a participant or giving message on the pulpit. His hair color does not only imply his graceful ageing; his hair is a symbol of God’s faithfulness to him and his family. His gray hair tells a story that God himself authored. This is Daniel Carigma’s story as crafted by God.

Staff Corner 1Kuya Dan, in the Nav circle, was born in a small town called Theresa, Rizal, which he fondly calls “Switzerland”. Youngest among six siblings, his mother introduced him to the Lord. Sadly, his mother died when he was five years old and was left under the care of his sisters. Two of his sisters named Maura and Noemi were both Sunday school teachers from whom he learned about all the stories in the Bible.   However, according to him he has not yet received Christ at that time in his heart. In fact, he remarked that he found Christianity boring because he thought it was just about listening to stories and being an active child that did not settle well to him.

In 1970, he attended a youth camp at the Theresa Baptist Church. Pastor Joseph Edora challenged the youth during the consecration night to serve the Lord. God spoke to his heart and so he stood up. Philippians 3:7 to 8 left a mark on him. He was asked to go the seminary because the mindset before is that one can only serve God by being a Pastor. He talked to the Lord and said, “Lord, I want to finish my course first. I believe that I can serve you even if I’m not a Pastor, but please show me how.” The Lord answered His prayer the following year.

While finishing his bachelor’s degree in Agriculture at Araneta University, he met Philip Flores, a former Navigators National Director. He got involved in Bible studies and willingly underwent an intensive training and was one of the first contacts in the said university. Upon graduation he helped in the farm managed by then Navigators National Director, Jean Tabor. Later on he taught in Rizal High School but was again called by the Lord to serve as full time in 1977. That year, Philip Flores went to Bible school and Romy Salvador, another campus ministry staff needed an assistant. He heeded to God’s calling and served for one year in the same university with Kuya Romy. God provided a group of men who has the heart for God; one of them is the current National Director, Eseng Victolero. He was encouraged, he said, with what the Lord had done. He went back to his teaching job after Philip Flores’ graduation at the seminary.

Staff Corner 2In 1979, God honored his heart’s desire to get married. He married Connie Carigma, a seminary graduate and a Sunday school teacher who was introduced by his sister Maura.

Together, they committed to serve the Lord through the Navigators Ministries. In 1981, he decided to go full time in the ministry for he felt the burden in his heart to serve the Lord in the campus ministry setting. His first assignments were in Rizal High School and Rizal Technological University.

God eventually called them to a pioneering campus ministry work in Cabanatuan City. When asked on how he met God in their ministry years in Cabanatuan, he said “We experienced God’s timely provision and protection. There were times we didn’t know where to get the money, especially the kids were always sick. But God provided in so many ways. Our safety was also threatened during martial law; the hospital where our eldest was confined is beside the Philippine Constabulary. Anytime, it could have been bombed by the opposing party. But God really protected us. He is faithful.”

In 1991, they moved to Baguio City due to the health of their children. He had strong emotions about their Baguio years. He narrated how God sustained him, as head of the family when his wife was diagnosed with cancer. When asked about what is the most important lesson about God he learned and experienced, he said “God is the sole source of strength. I could not really share to anyone what I was really going through, though I appreciate that other staff and friends extended their help and prayers. God thought me to fully depend on Him.”

Staff Corner 3After a decade, the Lord called them to move to Los Banos, Laguna, in which he had a shift of ministry focus; from Campus to Church Discipleship Ministry (CDM) and currently Community ministry. He really enjoys working in the community. Though, he said the issues are more complicated in Community ministry, but it has been amazing seeing how the Lord works in the lives of people, whether among the children/youth or parents and elders. God has put in his heart to raise leaders in communities.

At this point in his life, he concluded that man cannot boast about anything. “I cannot boast on what I have done in the ministry. Everything is only because of God’s goodness and grace that I’m able to fulfill His will.” As his hair color fades, God’s glory shines all the more in his life.