Panel Presentation: Witness in our Lives
Jaime Tabingois the national director for Evangelical Friends Missions in the Philippines, and General Superintendent of Philippine Yearly Meeting. He also teaches in the Manila Theological College, preparing students from all over Asia to return to their home countries as pastors and missionaries.
To be a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ is not an easy task. You must have personally experienced the power of the Holy Spirit before you can be an effective witness for Him. I think we should clarify first about the responsibility of a witness. He should be qualified, otherwise he would not be effective. Let’s remember that before Jesus Christ gave this statement to the disciples, they had been with Him for three years. And then they were instructed to go to Jerusalem to devote themselves for ten days in prayer in an upper room. After that, the Holy Spirit descended and filled each one of them. On that same day (Day of Pentecost), they stood before the people and began to share the Word of God. That was the beginning of their effective witnessing.
From my own experience, I would like to share with you how I started to be a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ in this changing world.
First, I began witnessing for Jesus in 1963, when the true Light enlightened me. Before that, I didn’t have that personal relationship with Him, although I grew up in a Christian family. I thought I was a child of God because I was attending Sunday school and going to church regularly. At home, my parents taught me how to read the Bible and pray. But deep down in my heart, I was struggling within myself about my personal relationship with God. Then finally one night, as I was listening to the preaching from the Word of God, He spoke to me very vividly. I was convicted of my sinful condition. I learned that Jesus Christ died for me on the cross to take away all my sins. That night in December, I humbled myself before God and accepted Jesus Christ as my own personal Lord and Savior. That night, too, I experienced that wonderful peace and joy that only Jesus Christ can give. I can say for certain now that if something happens to me, I am sure of entering His Kingdom because I have the Light of God. And that Light is Jesus.
Second, I have continued my witnessing for Jesus by taking heed of His call for me to surrender my life for a full time pastoral ministry. In 1964, I definitely was sure that the Lord was calling me to serve Him full time. Before that, I had my own secular ambitions. I was planning to take up courses in medicine when I would go to college. Although I came from a poor family, I was determined to pursue my ambition. But the more I served God in our local church, the more it was impressing in my mind and heart the desire of going into a full time pastoral ministry. Whenever I involved myself in teaching the children and young people the Word of God, they responded enthusiastically about what I was imparting and sharing with them. And whenever I retired during the night, I sensed that sweet peace and joy of Jesus saturating my whole self.
Third, my full-time ministry led me to engage in church planting and the training of young leaders for the ministry. I have been engaged in this kind of ministry for the last thirty-eight (38) years of my life. Twenty-six of those thirty-eight years were spent with the Evangelical Friends. The Lord called me when I was nineteen years old. I began preaching, teaching and training young people to do the same kind of ministry that I am doing up to the present. At the Manila Theological College where I teach and preach, my students come from several Asian countries, like China, Myanmar, Korea, and the Philippines. What a joy to see them graduate and go back to their respective countries, towns and provinces, reaching out to their own people with the message of the Lord Jesus Christ. Although I may not go to all these places where my students come from, they are the ones that become missionaries to their own people. And because I had a part in their lives and in their training, it is as if I had already gone to these places. That’s the beauty of training others through your head and heart knowledge.
Last, my ministry with the Evangelical Friends helps me widen my vision, not only to plant Friends churches in the Philippines, but also throughout Asia. Just recently, I had a stint of ministering to a church in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. I have convinced them to adopt the teachings and doctrines of the Evangelical Friends. I ministered to them for four months. I left with sixty of their leaders trained how to share and preach the Word of God. Last month, I had a week of training and preaching in our new missionary field in Myanmar. Mr. Tual Khan Pau, the National Director of our Friends’ work, came to the Philippines several years ago and was trained in the ministry. He joined our Friends church in Pasig City, Metro-Manila. Learning our Evangelical Friends teachings and doctrines in our church, he went back to his home country and started the Friends work. Now, we have a thriving Friends work in Yangon, the capital city of Myanmar. Hopefully next year as the Lord leads and guides us, we will start an Evangelical Friends church in Hong Kong.
Conclusion: After all the efforts and the years I have spent in serving the Lord, I can only say that I have done it due to the love of the Lord Jesus Christ that He has placed in my heart. That love has compelled me to follow Him and obey His will in my life. I can only say with the Apostle Paul, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service” (I Timothy 1:12).