I Wanna Be Like Mike: Always a Disciple, Always on Mission

St. Augustine’s famous line goes: Late have I known thee.

I can say the same when it comes to Mike Joseph, Jr.

I admit that I was just a messed up teen-ager patrolling the corridors of the University of the Philippines when Mike was at the peak of his missionary service in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal particularly in CYA. When I joined CYA in 1992, Mike just stepped down as National Director. When I joined the Servants of the Word, Mike just left to go on mission to China. While I served in CYA and went to law school, Mike was actively helping out other Charismatic groups.

By the time Mike returned to Ligaya ng Panginoon, our community, I was already starting my preaching ministry as head of Pathways, the evangelization ministry of Ligaya. During those times, Mike was just a legendary name to me who excited and inspired me as a preacher. He was, after all, the founder of Christ’s Youth in Action, the organization that changed my life.

It was a few years ago, when I hit a crossroads in my walk as a preacher and a community member when Mike walked into my life. I sought him out and he gladly obliged and made time for me. I can still remember Mike seated across the table at Starbucks at the ground floor of RCBC towers in Makati, with those compassionate eyes gazing back at me, as I poured my heart out to him. Like a seasoned pastor, he listened, counselled and comforted me. As we embraced each other after the meeting, I knew that I gained on that day, not only a mentor, but a real friend and brother in Christ.

This was the first of a series of meetings with me as the student and Mike as the teacher. He shared his life with me. His vision. His missionary dreams. His regrets (although very little). His plans. He emptied his mind and heart as he filled mine. I was getting schooled, as if undergoing a crash course, on what it means to be a disciple, a missionary and a preacher. There were moments when my eyes moistened listening to him because of the passion for God that emanated from him. In my heart I whispered that I wanted to be like him: passionate, inspiring, genuine and radical.

Yes, I want to be like Mike. But there will really be no one like him.

Mike inspired me in so many ways and gave me ideas I would never have had. He spoke of Pathways becoming a vibrant prayer group for all kinds of people to encounter God. He actually engineered for us a structure in Pathways that would be a springboard for exponential growth. He spoke of a future LNP school for evangelization which now has its beginnings in the Harvest Conference. He spoke of the revival of a healing ministry as an evangelization tool which led to the establishment of the Pathways Healing Ministry. He spoke of expansion and growth. He spoke of going across boundaries for mission and giving all for God.

Yes, I want to be like Mike. But there will really be no one like him.

His last service in Ligaya, I believe, was with Pathways in the recently concluded Harvest Conference where he gave a powerful plenary talk entitled “Timeless Principles on Mass and Strategic Evangelization” and led a track on “Organizing Quality Evangelistic Events”. During his plenary talk, Mike asked those who would want to go on mission to the ends of the earth to stand up. A handful of us did. He prayed over us and commissioned us to go where the Holy Spirit leads. And he said that he believes that it is his calling to equip missionaries to go to the ends of the earth. Hearing this from him, I said a prayer in my heart: “Lord” I said “let me be that missionary.”

Yes, I want to be like Mike. But there will really be no one like him.

In one of our last conversations at Resorts World hotel where he treated me for dinner, Mike said something to me that I will never forget.

“Bob”, Mike said “If God wants it, there is nothing you can do to stop it. If He doesn’t, there is nothing you can do to make it happen.”

If it was up to me, I would have wanted for Mike to stay a little longer. I was just getting to know him and I was just learning so much from him. But I guess God wants Mike home. And as Mike said, “If God wants it, there is nothing you can do to stop it.”

Mike, I am sure many would always want to be like you. But I am also sure that you will be quick to say, “Don’t be like Mike. Be like Jesus!”

As I leave today for Kuwait to speak at the Gulf Catholic Charismatic Faith Conference, I bring with me the spirit, passion, humor, wit, courage and boldness of Mike Joseph, Jr. May I make you proud, Mike.

You were always a disciple. And you were always on mission. Now, it’s time to rest.

Rest well, big brother. You deserve it big time!

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