Mission Moments: Philippines
A bend in the road
By Ace Concordia
I remember a trail named “the Road of Patience.” We would have to walk this trail on our way home from missions in Kibungan whenever we exited into the province of La Union. The trail was given that name because after being on mission it was the last long hike before getting a ride that would bring us all back home.
Everyone on the team would be running on fumes. We would be dragging our legs to finish this last part of the mission.
This trail was littered with rocks from landslides. It was constantly twisting and turning. At every turn we were all hoping we would see that Jeepney vehicle, meaning we could raise our hands in victory. But at every turn, we would only see another bend in the road.
At times you would think the mountain was playing tricks on you. But it was just fatigue, which led to impatience, which led to irritation, which eventually led to the loss of rationality. When will this road end? We have been walking for hours, and still every bend is a disappointment.
But we knew there was nothing we could do; it was the way home, the only way to finish the mission. So we had to be patient and keep moving forward. Eventually the road did reveal where our transportation was and we finished the mission.
When we looked back at the trail, we knew the Road of Patience taught us once more that strength doesn’t always get you the victory. Sometimes all you need is the ability to endure.
I haven’t climbed in a year. I have found myself more involved in church development than lacing up my boots to go on missions. The Lord asked me to take care of Base Camp, meaning our church, back in 2014 and my C4C mission climbs declined significantly. I pondered if my season with C4C was finished.
I was hoping at the turn of every year that I would get a “go” signal to jump back into missions. But I find myself still looking for that elusive sign. My patience ran thin at some point, frustrated that I was still wearing sneakers instead of climbing shoes. But I kept moving forward. If God wants me to walk this Road of Patience, He must have a good reason. Later, I realized He did.
Sometimes we are so eager for our circumstances to change that we neglect the fact that we have to change first. In the years of leading our church in Manila, I have learned so much more about church. I didn’t realize that God was equipping me for what He wanted to do next. I was so frustrated that I wasn’t doing missions that I didn’t understand I needed to learn a new role if I was to become part of the next level. He needed to change me from a Missionary to an Equipper - because that’s what he needed me to be for the plans for Kibungan to continue.
We could climb many more years back and forth into the villages of Kibungan, but unless we build local leaders who will spark revival and break through and bring empowerment through God’s Word and His Spirit, then that is all we may be doing. God’s plans are always progressive; there is always a next level. We only see it when we accept what is happening now may be good, but God has something better. God has something great.
I don’t know how long I will be walking this Road of Patience. I still can’t see what’s beyond every bend and turn. But I have come to realize many things: One is that although it may be lengthy and frustrating at times, I have been changed for the better by it. Second, I have realized my season with Climbing For Christ is not finished. The C4C missions to Kibungan will continue. I simply have to prepare for a new approach.
My last revelation is that there may not be an end to this road. So, as long as I see a trail before me, as long as the twists and turns continue, I will keep walking forward. I will gladly and patiently stay on this road, for it has made me realize this road was paved by my Saviour, prepared beforehand, so that we could have long walks together and He could teach me a thing or two along the way.
Ace Concordia joined Climbing For Christ and became the coordinator of C4C Philippines in 2007. He led 19 missions to Kibungan from 2008 to 2016. He is the pastor of Equippers Manila church.
Time to GO
C4C Philippines plans to start a chapter in Kibungan in March. The goal is to raise up leaders to grow ministry in the mountainous region of Kibungan. We know the local church is the hope of the world. “The local ministers and church workers of Kibungan would be more effective looking forward, long term, because they are immersed in their communities constantly, unlike the limited time given by C4C missions,” Ace Concordia noted. Ace proposed to build an “equipping program” alongside C4C mission climbs to the villages of Kibungan.