Horizon Weekly | 18 December 2020
By Eric Dizon
CALGARY, AB—MissionsPH is a non-profit Christian organization that we established in 2018 when we took our first mission trip to the Philippines. Our mission is to simply love God and love others through sending individuals or groups of people with the same desire on short-term missions. We serve and support ministries that exist in the Philippines through local partners together with other churches and mission organizations in the United States and Canada. Our partners in the Philippines provide medical and dental missions, disaster and relief support, youth camps, schooling for church planters, and food programs for children living on the streets. Throughout the year we fundraise for this purpose.
This year because of COVID-19, we were only able to do one fundraiser. My wife, Lovella, and I thought of creating a do-it-yourself kit for families to make a traditional Philippine Christmas lantern we call a parol. In this season when families need to remain home, it gives them a way to do something festive. A parol is a Christmas star-shaped Filipino ornament made of bamboo sticks representing the star of Bethlehem. A parol is also a reminder for us of the hope and peace that baby Jesus brings. This ornament dates back 400 years when Spain colonized the Philippines and introduced Christianity. In the 1900s a Filipino man, Francisco Estanislao, made the first parol (a Spanish word for lantern). He made a star lantern and hung it outside the house as a Christmas ornament, and it has become a Filipino tradition throughout the years.
This do-it-yourself parol-making kit is something that individuals and families can do together as an activity, remembering Christmas and preserving and sharing the Filipino culture and heritage. Doing this as a fundraiser was timely as two devastating super typhoons hit the Philippines back-to-back in the last two months. Houses were submerged in water and families suffered a lot, losing shelter and lacking food on top of dealing with the global pandemic.
This parol-making-kit fundraiser will support the ministries of our local partners in the Philippines that are doing disaster relief and rescue while sharing the Gospel. Our goal is not just to raise funds for families affected by the typhoon, but also to share the love of Jesus through the parol.
Bethlehem’s star guided the magi to Jesus, and our hope is that when people buy these kits from us, we can open up Gospel conversations and pray for them. As they make the Christmas parol, our prayer is that it will lead them to Jesus, our Saviour, who is the true meaning of why we are celebrating the Christmas season.
Eric and Lovella Dizon were interviewed on CBC Calgary News about their parol project. You can view the interview by clicking here. Eric is the Sr Pastor at Bridge International Church in Calgary, AB and Lovella is an Administrative Assistant at the Canadian National Baptist Convention.
By Lynda Blazina
“What does love require of us?”
This was the question our pastor asked our congregation as we started responding to a pandemic that none of us had ever walked through before. As ideologies and opinions began to clash and as restrictions started to last longer than any of us could have predicted.
There are no easy answers on either side of the debate. What seems like a loving and compassionate response to some, seem like barriers to abundant life and sharing hope and deep concern to others. What seems like living out and sharing faith in freedom and strength, seems reckless and lacking in concern for others. In the midst of all the debate, the uncertainty and confusion, we need to ask ourselves again and again, “What does love require of us?”
When considering an answer–not only in our churches but in our individual lives–we need to look to the incarnation of love, the One we are celebrating and remembering this season.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:9–16).
“You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you. And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:12–14).
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4–8).
These are only a few of the vast array of verses in the Bible that speak about love. Thousands of books have been written on the subject of God’s love, and in a way, every reference to God and every action of God has something to do with love because God describes Himself as love. Not just as loving, but as love itself.
So then, the question “What does love require of us” becomes one that needs to be considered deeply, meditated on and thoughtfully processed.
I know that in my own strength, my version of love is weak and self-centred. But in those moments when I am able to answer the call of truly loving as Jesus loved, my responses, my attitudes and my actions become more Christlike. I am able to more accurately show the hope, peace, joy and love to the world that Christ loved so deeply that He gave His one and only Son so that everyone who believes would not perish but have eternal life with Him.
So today, as you respond to the world that Christ loves, I encourage you to first contemplate the question “What does love require?”
Help us to show Your love and grace to our broken and confused world today. Help us to find meaningful ways to live out Your Gospel of hope, joy and peace for those You came to save because of Your great love. Thank You for expressing Your love by coming to this world as a baby, laying aside your rights of being the Creator to serve the created. ~ Amen
Do you have a story you would like to share? Please contact Lynda Blazina and let her know. We would love to share your stories with our CNBC family of churches.
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