Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I Shall Return – The Power of Commitment

One of the first quotations I remember learning as a child was General Douglas MacArthur’s defiant proclamation “I shall return!” MacArthur uttered the timeless declaration in the face of the stunning Japanese takeover of the Philippines, promising that in spite of having to leave at the onset of the Japanese occupation to avoid capture, he and other U.S. forces would return again to the Philippines to liberate our staunch ally and unrelenting friend. MacArthur kept his promise, returning to Leyte Gulf in dramatic fashion, along with Philippine Leaders, including President Manuel Quezon. As the U.S. and Philippines faced the remainder of the War together and continued to walk together in the post war years as friends who found themselves occasionally at odds, MacArthur’s words took on a life of their own, symbolizing an unyielding commitment to friendship, in even the toughest times. Nevertheless, time wears down memories and in the face of changing eras and leadership, words often lose the power they once held to rally and inspire…or so we might think. Philippine news sources reported that when a contingent of U.S. Military personnel arrived in Leyte this week with relief supplies in hand, children who are too young to remember even more recent U.S. Military heroes like General Norman Schwarzkopf or General Colin Powell, began chanting repeatedly words that even many Americans no longer remember, “I shall return! I shall return!” I lost a breath upon hearing that report! Who could believe that words uttered almost 70 years ago, would rise up in the voices of children much too young to remember who spoke the words or for what reason? Who would think that MacArthur’s voice would once again serve as a symbolic rallying point to remind those who had come to help of the bond of friendship and the years of mutual sacrifice that demanded a helpful response in this most terrible time in Philippine History! Yet his words rose up, and the power of the friendship formed many years ago continues to gain strength in the midst of unimaginable hardship! These types of deep, caring, and longstanding friendships can build powerful foundations for standing against the storms of life. Followers of Jesus Christ are called to a life of building such friendships and to strengthening them through service – the type of service that is characterized by consistently responding to all manner of life situations with purpose, courage and selflessness. The historic words and actions of General Douglas MacArthur served as proof of this level of commitment and friendship – commitment proved to such a degree that more than 50 years after his death, his legacy survives to benefit those who come in service, wearing the same uniform! I have now spent over a quarter of a century falling in love with and being committed to the Republic of the Philippines. I am married to a woman who represents everything that makes the Philippines the great nation that it is. Over the years, I have forged a growing number of friendships that have evolved into brotherly and sisterly relationships and have cemented my commitment to stand with the Philippines in good times and in times of trouble. More than that, as a Christ follower, there is a call on my life to do good to all people and to touch those in need. This call and my love for the Philippines pushes me into action now more than ever! As the world knows, the Philippines is faced with one of its greatest tests in history. For those of you who are my friends, I call on you to walk with Luz and me in prayer and encouragement as we identify the ways we can most effectively reach out to those to whom we’ve been called to minister during this time of testing. Our representatives on the ground, Youth With A Mission missionaries Ramon and Nene Bautista, have presented us with a daunting and challenging report of the situation. Every aspect of life in the region hit by the earthquake and storms has been affected and the level of loss is epic in scope! Nevertheless, our missionaries – along with many others - are courageously engaged in the effort to comfort, support and strengthen those who are in need and they will not rest until the task is done. I have witnessed this commitment first hand. The love and steadfastness of Ramon and Nene touches me in the deepest way. But they cannot do their work alone. I have walked with Luz during our entire marriage and seen her undying commitment to the people of the Philippines in every circumstance as well. I have also stood with her in support of Ramon, Nene and the YWAM Philippines Team and have had the pleasure of walking alongside them literally as they carry out the ministry entrusted to them. In the face of these tragic times, by God’s mercy and grace, I will not merely support the work of rebuilding in the Philippines, but I SHALL RETURN to work alongside my brothers, sisters and friends to do what the Lord requires! And you, my friends around the globe, please pray for the Philippines and consider how you might help at this important time! Check out our website at for more info on how you can help towards the healing of a nation! Until next time… Sam

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