Thursday, April 4, 2013

Big Brother Jhun – A Lifestyle of Putting Others First!

It seemed to take forever to get a response. Before the days of email, Facebook messaging and the wonderful variety of electronic communication we now enjoy, there was only “snail mail” which as the only correspondence of its kind at the time, was simply known as “the mail.” I had written a letter to Luz’s oldest brother, Jhun, asking for his blessing in marrying her, and it just took time for the process to run its course. Eventually, the letter did arrive. I was nervous and opened the letter with a significant level of apprehension. As I began to read the letter, the warm tone of the letter gave away the positive, encouraging finale which served as an answer to all I had been waiting for: “Brother Sam, welcome to the family!”

Kuya Felipe “Jhun” Bautista is a the top of my list of men I admire, respect and hold in the highest regard– “Kuya” (pronounced KOO-yah) is a term of respect used to address male family members and friends who are older or in a position of responsibility that calls for deference and respect; “Ate’ (pronounced AH-tay) is used for females. “Jhun” (pronounced JUNE) is short for Junior. Kuya Jhun’s adult life has been lived entirely for the benefit and blessing of others. I have never seen an individual so consistently put his own desires and dreams on hold so that those around him could pursue greatness for themselves. An aspiring architect at the time of his father’s death, Kuya Jhun assumed responsibility for a grief-stricken mother, a severely mentally handicapped brother, and a family that was in upheaval after the shock of successive family tragedies and set backs. As the family reeled, Kuya Jhun took the lead, encouraging his younger siblings to complete their educations, and to seek promising leads to employment and a better life abroad as he managed the day to day care of the family members back home. It couldn’t have been easy to watch the other family members thrive while he dutifully cared for those who remained behind – but he never complained.

Perhaps his most gracious moment came when his troubled sister Luz returned to the family after a few years of waywardness seeking his forgiveness. Initially skeptical, Kuya Jhun saw the undeniable evidence of a transformed woman before his very eyes and wondered who or what could have made such a difference? As Luz shared about her new walk with God and the changes Jesus had made in her life, Kuya Jhun knew he was looking for the same peace and joy in his own. He then and there committed his life to the Lord and found in his relationship with Jesus the peace and the power to continue to place the needs of others before his own. There is a saying among Christ followers that “If you take care of God’s business, He’ll take care of yours.” During one of her visits home from her service as a YWAM missionary, Luz brought a very beautiful, kind and single YWAM classmate named Rose home with her to spend the weekend. Rose observed Kuya Jhun’s love and dedication to the family just as he observed Rose's attentiveness to the family members who needed care. Before long, love was in the air and Luz had gained a Sister-in-law, our dear Rose, and Kuya Juhn had gained a loving and faithful soul mate for life.

As the years have marched on, Kuya Jhun and Manang Rose have continued to grow in love and grace. After Mom's passing, they continue to care for handicapped Brother Delio and they now have two beautiful children – our nephew Felipe and niece Roliza – who exhibit the same traits of gentleness, kindness and love of others their parents have modeled over the years. Kuya Jhun is a well respected figure in the community and is sought for wisdom and input in countless situations. He leads many community activities such as a the basketball league and is a go to person for church and community action. Manang Rose continues to serve the Lord and is Luz’s right hand in planning and executing the missions ministries in the Philippines in which we have been involved over the last few years. Her quiet wisdom and tireless service have made each trip a success and blessed all those who have had the privilege to get to know her. I cannot now imagine my own life without the blessing of their love, friendship and help.

It is critically important to note that this beautiful story didn't just happen.  It's not just a happy tale with a happy ending testifying that "nice" things happen to "good" people. It is the tale of a gracious God who calls faithful people to deliver incredible news to all the whole world. The testimony I have shared might have been painfully different had not two people answered the call of God to strike out into mission service. The obedient service of people like Robin Merrill and Elliot Henderson resulted in Luz’s exposure to the new and living way of following Jesus Christ. Loving discipleship by people like George and Tracy Rankin, Lynn Anisworth, Andrew Reid and Esther Sebalt were vital in shaping Luz's new life as well.  The changes in her life were just the beginning and led to changes that touched the lives of her whole family, beginning with her oldest brother and ending with every single immediate family member being changed by the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The faithful obedience of 2 people to God’s call on their lives and the others who contributed to Luz’s spiritual growth have born fruit that now is being harvested into the next generation. For this reason, we continue to share the message of hope, love and restoration that is found through Jesus Christ. It compels us to share at home. It propels us to share in distant locals as well. We have heard the joyful sound that Jesus Saves and we have seen the transformed lives that continue to witness to the truth of the Message and the Power of the Savior who sends us out to share. My Big Brother and his family are yet another testimony of this truth. For those of you who follow Christ, don’t give up on sharing the good news – it is the Power of God for salvation! For those of you who are looking on, reading and wondering, there is hope - Jesus Christ transforms lives for the glory of God.  When the message goes out, someone’s life will be touched!  It could be your own!  Until next time…

Sam J.

Kuya Jhun and Sam

Manang Rose and Niece Roliza

Manang Rose caring for a child at YWAM Balut Base

Kuya Jhun, Nephew Felipe, Luz and Sam

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