Dear members of Sabang Church of Christ Disciples UCCP,
Although we’ve been back in the U.S. for a few weeks
, our hearts are still in the Philippines. Thank you so much for the warm hospitality extended to our family, especially on Easter Sunday when you went all out for us with wonderful dances and singing. We would especially like to thank our dear friends
, Efren and Louie Frani, for hosting us while we were in Cavite. Kuya Efren and Ate Louie
, we are so grateful for the opportunity to see the Philippines in ways that most visitors don’t get to experience. We will never forget this priceless gift.
Pastor Leng asked me to reflect on my observations from our stay. We were blessed to meet so many UCCP ministers and church workers in Mindanao, Cavite, Cebu, and Dumaguete through my Reiki healing touch teaching ministry. I see one major theme running throughout our travels: a rich and vibrant expression of our shared faith
, a living faith that is not just the “faith on Sunday” kind of religion that I so often see in the United States. From the bamboo church with a dirt floor in a remote village in Bukidnon to the big UCCP church in Cagayan de Oro, I saw engaged and spirited participation in all aspects of church life---thoughtful and well delivered sermons and wonderful music during worship services
, meaningful Sunday school programs for children and adults, mission and outreach activities that are really making a difference in the lives of the people they serve
, and lively fellowship through women’s and men’s prayer groups, and Bible study. I also met modern day prophets---UCCP ministers who were not afraid to take a stand on difficult social justice issues that so many of the other denominations in the Philippines avoid facing
, even when it meant living with the threat of extrajudicial killings hanging over them. Witnessing their courageous actions gives new meaning to Jesus’ command to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul
, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37.) and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). I fervently pray that God will keep these brave men and women out of harms’ way.
A special blessing for me was to see how open UCCP conference ministers
, ministers, and church workers were to my Reiki healing touch teaching ministry. They had a much greater appreciation of the healing value that comes from the prayerful laying-on of hands than do most of the Americans I teach, and they enthusiastically embraced Reiki as a tool for supporting their healing ministry efforts. Last year
, Pastor Leng asked me to write an article about Reiki for your newsletter, since I use it to raise money for mission projects at your church and for other UCCP projects (see www.christianreiki.org for information about Reiki from a Christian perspective). At the end of that article I wrote
, “It is my dream that some day I will be able to visit your church and share this beautiful practice with you!” My dream was realized: it was a great honor to leave behind 127 newly trained Reiki practitioners, 14 of whom are from your church.
My family and I will never forget the wonderful people we met. We are balikbayans now---in fact
, when we arrived, as we went through immigration
, my husband’s passport was accidentally stamped “balikbayan”----and we hope to return again and again to your beautiful country. A heartfelt “salamat” to all of you.
Debbie Shields and family
Lectionary and Schedule of Preachers for the Month of May