Sowing and reaping was part of the divine design in the Garden of Eden. God has placed man to cultivate the ground and guard it. (Gen 2:15) For the ground would reap a harvest when sown with seeds. So would our souls be. When tilled and toiled with God’s Word, we would reap pioneering spirits that can change the world!
Change came in four batches for Philippine Bible Society (PBS). The very first batch last May 2018 consisted of PBS Board of Trustees members and a few PBS Management Committee staff. They travelled to Canaan Farms School in South Korea to further strengthen the organization’s Board Development & Retreat Program. This was followed by another batch trained in August 2018 composed of PBS managers and supervisors.
According to Sis. Ney (Canaan trainer), the most exciting and noisy participants — and the most active so far — were this year’s participants who had an engaging “work, service, sacrifice” learning experience last May 2019.
Elder Kwan Soo Lee, the President of CFTFC Philippines, led the team of trainers for 2019 with 40 participants for each batch.
Beyond its name being Biblical in origin, the history of Canaan School goes way, way back. Canaan School was founded by Elder Yong Ki Kim (1908-1988) in Gwangju, Gyeonggi in 1962. The school is grounded on Biblical principles, continuing to promote proper land stewardship to make people’s lives flourish and progress. It is a beautiful garden of ideas for concepts such as national responsibility, internal transformation, mindset shifts, self-reliance, and community collaboration.
In 1966, Elder Yong Ki Kim was chosen to be the recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award – an award given to honor individuals who exhibit and promote “greatness of spirit and transformative leadership.”
South Korea was one of the poorest countries in Asia during the 1950s. However, it was the “pioneering spirit,” initiated and popularized by Canaan School, that helped rebuild this nation. The pioneering spirit is based on three key concepts: work, service, and sacrifice – elementary ideas that have the potential to change an entire population.
We thank the Lord for allowing this same dynamic attitude to be alive and well in the hearts of our PBS staff today.
“Canaan Farms is the ground where you transform your behavior. This training may be short – it’s only three days – but it can lead to the turning point of your life, especially if you participate with your whole heart,” said Elder Kwan Soo Lee during his introductory lecture’s opening remarks.
It’s amazing how the training center in Pampanga used to be covered with ash and dust. The Mt. Pinatubo eruption really hit that area hard. But praise God because life eventually flourished. Looking at the lush fields and well-kept gardens today, it would be difficult for any person not to fall in love with the land at Canaan Farms.
PBS Accountant Mordecai Morales noted, “It was teeming with life, full, and abundant. They didn't just let the land replenish and rejuvenate itself, they cultivated it and they made sure it produced. They helped the land.” Without a doubt, the land Canaan Farms is on has come a long way since the Mt. Pinatubo disaster.
This sobering thought – the fact that the center itself was built on ash-filled grounds – adds an extra layer of meaningfulness to the entire training experience.
The participants stayed in a modest, clean, and beautiful residential structure that was conducive for learning the “basics” once more. “The Canaan Training was a reminder to get back to the basics of ‘good moral and right conduct.’ We were again made aware of the practical things that we already know [of] but forget to practice in our daily lives,” said PBS HR Officer Myrene Gadiane.
Each batch of participants had their own “batch leader,” the one who would be accountable for the group’s timeliness and attendance in lectures, morning exercise, clean-up, and more. They would formally present the readiness of the participants during discussions by giving a salute to Elder Lee. “Gae-cheok!” They would exclaim this loudly and firmly before each classroom session.
|Batch 1 Leader:||JB Paguirigan (MIS)||Batch 2 Leader:||Isagani Banzuelo (Sales and Distribution)|
These two were recognized and awarded during the official graduation ceremonies of their corresponding batch. Alongside these men who rose to the challenge of being “batch leaders,” there were other awards given during both ceremonies. Certificates were given to people with the best written evaluation, those with the most meaningful group sharing, the ones who truly exhibited the Pioneering Spirit, and more.
|Batch 1 Best in Evaluation:||Arsy Honorio (Sales and Distribution) and Ainna Vargas (Office of the General Secretary)||Batch 2 Best in Evaluation:||Ryan Caspe (Sales and Distribution) and Francine Tan (Resource Development)|
Throughout their time at the training center, the participants sat through long and meaty lectures that were jam-packed with information. They woke up at the crack of dawn to listen and to read God’s Word. They exercised out on the field, jogged through the dirt tracks, and climbed the farm’s prayer mountain. They cultivated soil, planted vegetables, and pulled out weeds to clear a field for farming.
Being able to receive training like this is such an incredible blessing from the Lord. For many, it was a life-changing experience. For others, it was a call to go back to simpler times and remember the lessons taught during the early days of pre-school.
The participants cleaned up after themselves, made sure to scrape off every last grain of rice on their plates, kept their quarters tidy and organized, and savored the silence of having no cellphones for the majority of the day. It was a significant shift from regular city life. But it has made all the difference.
PBS Accounts Receivable Assistant Ashley Novero said, “Being in [the] Canaan Farmer’s Training Center is a time of refreshment and self-reevaluation. In a short period of time, I have learned three words that will definitely make an impact for the rest of my life: work, service, sacrifice.”
Now that all the batches have finished their Canaan Training, there appears to be a more optimistic and hopeful mood that’s filling the already joyful and inspired PBS staff. It is only by God’s grace that we were able to grab a hold of this opportunity. What a remarkable privilege it is to have been taught by the wise CFTFC President Elder Kwan Soo Lee and to be trained by the knowledgeable CFTFC Assistant Director “Sis Ney” Neribeth Ignacio.
May the Lord continue to guide us at PBS as we faithfully work towards making the Bible known. Up to this day and for however long it takes, we will strive to make our vision of a transformed Filipino people through God’s Word a reality.
We look to the Lord to give us the strength and endurance we need to run this race and finish it well for His Kingdom.
To God be all the glory!