February 07, 2008“
…follow me…” (Luke 9:23)
Rogel Plata, the legendary firepowered preacher during the early days of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement in the Philippines, was my mentor and leader. He passed away at the age of 35 in February 1996 because of lymphoma.
Today, twelve years later, as I turn thirty-five years old this month of February, I have made the significant decision to resign from my job to pursue my ministry as a full time Catholic lay preacher and evangelist.
No wonder another friend of mine said what he said:“Bobby, talagang idol mo si Rogel. I am sure he is proud of you. Sigurado akong susundan mo siya…” (Bobby, your really look up to Rogel. I am sure he is proud of you. I am also sure that you will follow him…)I gave a nervous laugh. (I love Rogel. But I don’t want to die just yet.)
Rogel taught me many valuable lessons. I remember one he taught me during the last few days leading to his death.
During Rogel’s confinement in the hospital in 1996, there was a day when he really wanted to check out and go home against doctor’s orders. We tried to talk him out of it but he was insistent. As we prepared the check-out papers and settled our bill, Rogel suddenly changed his mind and decided to stay in the hospital. He told us that Jesus spoke to him in his prayers saying, “Rogel, if you want to go home, go ahead. But you won’t find me in your house. I am staying here at the hospital.” Because of this Rogel said, “I would rather be miserable in the hospital with Jesus, than at home without Him.” Then he looked at us, “Brothers,” he began “Always go where Jesus is.”
I remembered those words when I decided to go into full time ministry work.
I remembered those words when I tendered my resignation from the institution I have worked for the past four years.
I remember those words as I choose to no longer practice my hard-earned profession as a lawyer.
I remember those words as I give up my career and be a full time Catholic lay preacher.
Many may not understand. Some will raise their eyebrows. Others will criticize.
“What is he doing throwing away a very good public service career?”
“He’s crazy. He has a family to feed.”
“It’s all idealism I tell you. He will regret his decision.”
These comments will come, I am sure. But I will be ready when they do. For I know where I stand. I know where my convictions are, and where my faith rests. I take my cue from the Gospel today when Jesus said:
“…follow me…” (Luke 9:23)
And as I recall the words of Rogel, I make my decision to do so. To go where Jesus goes. To be where He is. To follow where He leads.
Because for one like me who has been so loved by God, I think that is the only way to go.
Please keep me in your prayers!
I remain, your friend in Christ,
P.S. Don’t worry. My wife and my family are behind me a 100%. I have pushed the figures and I think we will survive financially, with a little financial studying… and a lot of divine help.