Christmas Institutes and My Leadership Journey

Right before the Christmas vacation of 1993, my father, who was assigned as the Pastor of Roxas UMC at the North Central Philippines Annual Conference, told me to attend this gathering of church youth. I was 11 then, one year short of the official age of an official member of the UMYFer.

I didn’t know what the Christmas Institute was all about but right after Christmas day, I chose the nicest clothes from among the gifts I received that year. I watched as jeepneys and tricycles full of youth arrived at our church. I knew some of them—friends I met through cluster fellowship events of the church.

As the days progressed, Ates and Kuyas from Roxas UMC invited me to sit with them inside the church to participate in the activities of the CI. As a Pastor’s kid, I have had lots of practice sitting down inside the church, but the joy of the youth attending the event was so infectious that I found myself wanting to join in the fun.

For most youth in the United Methodist Church, the year is not complete without participating to the Christmas Institute. We learn more about our faith through the Bible studies, lectures, and group dynamics. We meet new friends through the small group interactions and the games we play. For young hearts, we even find childhood crushes and eventually, life partners.

a few friends from my district in Isabela (l-r Eufer, me, Kuya Fido, Pastor Randy).  This photo was taken in April 2008 in San Nicolas, Pangasinan during our National Youth Conference.

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David: Fighting Giants

Ang SuperEpic Stories ay isang bagong series dito sa aking blog. I will feature stories from characters from the Bible, from history, and in our present day that illustrates the ideas and concepts in the book: “May Powers Ka to Be #SuperEpic.”

Feel free to share, use this as part of your devotion or study at para na rin matulungan ka para maging mas mabuting leader.
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Napag-utusan lang…

Bata pa si David noon. Bunso, at medyo hilaw pa sa karanasan. At kung tutuusin, parang napag-utusan lang siyang bumili ng suka. Kasi naman, his father Jesse asked him to bring bread to his brothers, who were serving as soldiers under Israel’s first king, Saul.

One day Jesse said to David, “Take this basket of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread, and carry them quickly to your brothers. And give these ten cuts of cheese to their captain. See how your brothers are getting along, and bring back a report on how they are doing.” David’s brothers were with Saul and the Israelite army at the valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines. (1 Samuel 17:17-19, NLT)

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Jesus: SuperEpic Savior

Ang SuperEpic Stories ay isang bagong series dito sa aking blog. I will feature stories from characters from the Bible, from history, and in our present day that illustrates the ideas and concepts in the book: “May Powers Ka to Be #SuperEpic.”

Feel free to use this as part of your devotion or study at para na rin matulungan ka para maging mas mabuting leader. Share it with your friends, too.

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Noong panahong nabuhay siya sa mundo, controversial figure si Jesus, lalo na sa mga political at religious leaders sa bansang Israel. Galing siya sa humble beginnings. For one, ipinanganak siya sa Nazareth. Tanong nga ni Philip sa John 1:46 “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” At na-amaze sa kanya ang maraming mga religious leaders at teachers dahil kaya niyang makipagdebate sa kanila. Continue reading

Strangers, Foreigners, Offering Bread and Fish

Last August, my wife, son, and I moved to Nashville, Tennessee in the United States. We came from the Philippines, halfway around the world–from the land of delicious and sweet dried mangoes, of beautiful beaches, and hospitable people.

movingboxesIt’s hot, and the traffic is really bad, and although more than 20 typhoons pass by every year, it is still home. It is where I grew up and learn how to interact with my world.

Both of my parents are pastors in the United Methodist Church. That probably explains why they gave me the name Mighty. Since they are both pastors, I have lots and lots of memories of moving from one place to another: from the seminary in Cavite, which is about 40 kilometers away from Manila, we traveled for 9-10 hours at night to move to the Northern part of the Luzon island; packing boxes, helping my parents put books, clothes, and other things into containers. After several moves, I have several boxes that I just did not open: we just moved them from one place to another.

In all of those moving, church members helped us pack our things, they even went with us to the new church and parsonage. Some members gave us parting gifts and foods. And when we arrived at the new church and parsonage, the members were eager to welcome us, helping us unload and arrange our new home, and they all made us feel part of their community.

We probably moved to around 15-20 houses in the past 4 decades. So I know what it is like to not have our own house. I was 29 when my father brought and built our own family house. I no longer lived with them, but at least, I have place to store all those unopened boxes. I suppose that in the Philippines and in a lot of places around the world, having your own house is a big sign of stability.

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YPM Kapihan (Nov 2014): Christmas Institute Edition

In November 15, 2014, I got together with several youth leaders, and youth workers to talk about the Christmas Institute. It’s easily the biggest youth ministry event in the United Methodist Church in the Philippines. On average, about 250 young people gather from December 26-30 in more than 50 Districts. That would translate to around 12,500 United Methodist youth who gather around the Philippines for fellowship, worship, study, and preparation for ministry.

We had a fruitful discussion as we talked about our own Christmas Institute experiences and how it has shaped our journeys as United Methodist Christians.


On the whole, the Christmas Institute is still an important part of the journey of youth in the UMC, but we need to innovate and come up with creative ways to make the CI harvest more sustainable and effective.

Here are some of the thoughts and ideas that the group came up with.

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Poor but rich

Ni Joy Eva Bohol

Text: Mark 13:1-2

 to clean water. The community prohibited them to have electricity. The wife’s left leg is weak, making it hard for her to walk, much more to carry a pail-full of water for a long distance. The husband met an accident from his work, disabling him to earn money. The couple couldn’t afford to pay for hospitalization, instead they use Salonpas (a muscle reliever tape/bandage) to ease the pain from the wounds and cuts the husband got from the accident, which the company didn’t take responsibility of.

Yet amid their desperate situation, true hope is found in their lives. Joy overpowers the couple’s wrinkled tired faces during our visit at their humble home, and even offered us with bottled water, which is already a luxury for them. Having met the couple showed me the Living Temple in which Jesus is the foundation; a Living Temple that would not fall down or be destructed by the world.

God is a fair God. Sometimes I think how unfair the world is because of how it defines everything in it. But seeing the couple’s faith reminded me of a life after this earth. One hundred years on earth is nothing compared to eternity—and that’s the life we look forward to when we join Jesus Christ in heaven!

Like the couple Hannah has never faltered her trust in the Lord and kept praying for a son. Though not poor in wealth, Hannah’s inability to bear a child has made her a weak woman and a target of humiliation. The couple I met is an outcast in their own village and people seem to humiliate them in any way they can. The community would not help them because of their belief (non-Christian religion) that being poor is karma that may pass to people near them.  Continue reading

Walang wala

Ni Joy Eva Bohol

Hook na hook ang roommate ko sa TV series na Game of Thrones. Ang iba ko ding kaibigan ay ganun din. Dahil hit siya sa mga kakilala ko, sinubukan kong tignan ang series. Videography, characters, settings, conflict, and costumes ay malapelikula. Grabe ang pagkakagawa ng production! Ngunit, ang hindi ko masyadong na appreciate sa series ay ang brutality and boldness. I may not enjoy the killings and the low social status of women in the TV drama, but it taught me one thing—sacrifice.

In our Bible reading today, Ruth, a young widow sacrificed herself for her mother-in-law Naomi so they could be reinstated in the society as regular women, blessed with a family to take care of. Like Ruth, a character in Game of Thrones whose brother forced her to marry a barbarian leader to seek power and become king. She has no money and people to give to her brother to make him change his mind. She has nothing but her life.

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Gusto Mong Maging Leader? Be a Servant Muna!

Read Mark 10:35-45

Kampanyahan na!

Nagrehistro ka na ba bilang botante sa darating na May 2013 elections? Tama, eleksyon time na naman next year. Ibig sabihin, umpisa na naman ng pangangampanya, pagbili ng boto, at kung anu-ano pang mga bagay na nangyayari lang tuwing election time.

Ano na ang mga nakikita ninyong early evidence ng pangangampanya?
Bakit nga ba kailangang ilagay ang mukha at pangalan ng mga kandidato sa tarpaulin, poster, at kung saan saan?

Saan Ka Uupo: sa Kanan o sa Kaliwa ni Lord?

Kung maalala mo, nung time ni Jesus, meron siyang 12 disciples. Dalawa sa mga ito si James and John. Magkapatid sila. Based on Mark 10:35-45, meron silang special request kay Jesus.

throne room

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DiscipleSHIFT Presentation Notes

If you’ve attended my session on DiscipleSHIFT at any Revive Conference, here’s my Powerpoint Presentation. The videos are also included in the presentation.

Please take note, though, that this presentation doesn’t make sense by itself. So you need to listen to me as I deliver it. If we can record a video of my presentation, I’ll upload it here at a later time.

Contemplating Young People’s Discipleship in the UMC

These past few weeks, I’ve had talks with a number of youth and young adult leaders and some pastors, too. The result of talking with a number of youth, young adults and church workers. It was nothing formal.I simply asked them about their insights into the ins and outs of the Church, particularly the way that young people’s ministries are being conducted. Here are some of the insights from my talks with a number of Methodists, both young and old. Continue reading