Allow me to share with you a brief personal reflection on my decision to respond to the invitation I received 10 years ago to go to the Philippines. It was in 2005 that Raymond Vaillancourt approached me about going to the new Eudist mission in the Philippines. (I arrived in May 2006.) I must confess that I had great personal hesitation to accepting this invitation. I found it hard to think of going to a distant land that I did not know. I was concerned about leaving family and friends. I also wondered what would happen to the projects in which I was already involved in the United States. It is always difficult to move into the unknown, but this meant moving 8,000 miles! Like Jeremiah and the other prophets, I looked for every possible reason to say “why me?”
Ten years later, I can say without any doubt that it was the grace of God that enabled me to say “yes.” My own fears and hesitations were met by that biblical refrain: “Do not be afraid.” By trusting in the direction that God would set, I have found joy and satisfaction in this challenging and very Eudist work. I have been able to use the gifts God has given me to engage in new areas of formation and evangelization that I never anticipated. My previous experiences in ministry provided a solid foundation for ministry in this new context. My new experiences in the Philippines have helped me to grow and challenged me to discover new gifts and to trust in the Lord all the more.
One of my observations as I look back on my discernment 10 years ago is that it is often necessary to let go of things we cling to if we are going to move forward. It is like the trapeze artist in the circus. He has to let go of one bar even as he reaches out to grab the other bar. He has to let go of the familiar in order to discover something new. I see now that my hesitations 10 years ago might have prevented me from experiencing a rich new ministry among this faithful and joyous people. By God’s grace, like Abraham, I picked up my tent and allowed the Lord to lead me to a new land. Throughout these years I have felt the guidance of the Lord. As the plaque in my room says, “I may not know what the future holds but I know who holds the future.”
Duc in alto. I am glad I heeded the Lord’s call to move into uncharted deep waters. I have found peace and satisfaction planting seeds of a new Eudist foundation in Asia. I encourage anyone who might be reading this to also trust in the Lord’s guidance. Do not be afraid to pick up your tent and move. My experience is that the Lord who called me to this ministry in the Philippines has never left my side. I am confident that it would be your experience too.
Ron Bagley, CJM