The First Fiesta
Special events in camps usually create great impacts on students that would change their lives forever. Banquet Nights, for example, have helped campers seriously pray for their lifetime partners. Missions Nights have been students’ starting point on their decision to become staff workers or cross-cultural missionaries. For JM, Pista sa Nayon during his Kawayan Camp in 2009 gave birth to a desire. Amid the festive spirit, JM found himself the sole Estehanon (a native of Eastern Samar). And he wasn’t even representing his hometown because he was studying in Manila! Burdened, he started praying that “workers will also be sent to Eastern Samar.”
In 2018, God answered. He sent JM himself! Returning to his roots, JM saw that their church youth needed leadership. He then sent three highschoolers to IVCF’s Sibol Camp (an evangelistic camp). The camp made such an impact on them that they pioneered groups in their high schools. Two Bible study groups emerged. Sensing the need for further training, JM partnered with IVCF staff team to train their church youth.
A year later, another camp was available, this time for college students. “The church was encouraged to send another batch of young people,” JM recalled. After the camp, they started fellowships at Eastern Samar State University. By this time, one more high school Bible study group began. Slowly, JM saw the answer to his prayer.
The Second Fiesta
But that wasn’t the only prayer he was burdened to utter. For in yet another “fiesta,” he found himself staring at the event’s backdrop. During the Pista-themed Regional Assembly of Central and Eastern Visayas, the stage featured the map of the regional unit. Provinces with active IVCF chapters were colored while the rest were black and white. Of the six Eastern Visayas provinces, only two – Leyte and Eastern Samar – have active IVCF ministry. JM started praying for ministry opportunities in the other four.
God answered yet again and, you guessed it, JM was sent yet again! After two cancelled plans, when “[he] was no longer aggressive about the idea of pioneering campus work,” God opened the door. JM’s work at UNICEF brought him to Northern Samar. To the youth in Northern Samar, to be specific. One such youth (who was by the way not an attendee but a waiter during JM’s workshop) sought his help in completing his school project, who became his contact to this day. His contract ended in December, and that might have been the end, but God is only starting. This year, UNICEF renewed JM’s contract, which will bring him back until December!
“Dr. Isabelo Magalit’s dream of ‘a steady stream of students who love nothing more than they love Christ and hate nothing more than they hate sin’ is also my dream,” JM said. “And I pray that this same dream will be fulfilled across our region in Eastern Visayas.” God is slowly fulfilling that dream.
[Aside from being a GT, Jerome “JM” Montes also serves as IVCF Central and Eastern Visayas’ chairman of the Regional Advisory Council. He has turned down potentially lucrative job offers which would have taken him away from his commitment to God’s pioneering work in his region, stating, “I just completely trust in the Lord as far as my needs and resources are concerned.”]
Pray for JM in his work extension in Northern Samar. Pray for an excellent performance at work and continued passion for pioneering efforts in the province. Pray for his desire to invite CEV staff and GT volunteers to do a prayer walk in one of the universities there.
Pray for all the other volunteers as they balance work and ministry. They are a great help to us in the staff team, and their service is greatly expanding God’s work.
Pray for the Filipinos. Pray that we will take a proactive stance at educating ourselves in the choosing of our leaders. Pray that we will choose the right leaders come election time in May.