Dann Pantoja is beginning to use his Tagalog indigenous name -- Lakan Sumulong. This is a statement that our indigenous identities can be a redeeming factor in healing our 'being' (that is, who we are as a people); help symbolize our determination to contribute what we ought to be 'doing' as a nation (that is--active, non-violent, radical transformation); and, determine how we will prioritize what we will be 'having' (that is, inclusive growth and national development based on justice and peace). Asked what fuels his positive outlook in life: “It’s the influence of Jesus, a first century Palestinian carpenter who was executed by the imperial power of his time. He said: ‘Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.’ Jesus defied the ultimate negative factor in our cosmos--death.”
Sep 30 2015
Every three years, Dann & Joji Pantoja, the lead peace and reconciliation missionaries at PeaceBuilders Community, are assigned to speak at various church organizations, inter-faith gatherings, peace advocacy groups, and academic institutions. The Pantojas arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia in the evening of 10 September. Joji will be back in Davao on the second week of November; Dann will be back at the end of November.
Their schedule includes the following activities (the list will be updated as links to actual posts):
10. Flight to Vancouver.
11. Say ‘Hello’ to our children and grand-children in Vancouver.
12. Flight to Winnipeg. Time with Gordon Zerbe and Wendy Kroeker.
13. Speak at Fort Garry Mennonite Church and at a Filipino Community in Winnipeg
13-15. Meetings at Mennonite Church Canada offices
16. Speak at Menno Simons College, University of Winnipeg
17. Meet with Mennonite Central Committee executives in Winnipeg
18. Flight to Toronto
19. Dinner Fellowship with Len Rempel & Family
20-22. Learning tour in various farms in Kitchener-Waterloo area
23. Speak at Waterloo North Mennonite Church
24-26. Rest days in Toronto
27. Speak at Toronto United Mennonite Church
28. Fellowship with a group of Filipino leaders in Toronto
29. Fellowship with Tom & Rebecca Yoder Neufeld
30. Speak at Conrad Grebel College, University of Waterloo
01. Peacebuilding strategic meetings at Grebel College, University of Waterloo
02. Travel to Leamington, ON
03. Learning tour and speak at the Mission Group of Leamington United Mennonite Church
04. Speak at the worship service of Leamington United Mennonite Church then afternoon tour
05. Flight to Washington, DC and meet with Rev. Luke SchrockHurst, MCC Virginia
06. Washington, DC appointments
:: 1000H EDT. Charissa Zehr, International Affairs, Mennonite Central Committee, Washington Office
:: 1100H EDT. Visit Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park
:: 1300H EDT. Dr. Murray Hiebert, Deputy Director & Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Sumitro Chair for Southeast Asia
:: 1500H EDT. Dan Charles, Food and Agriculture Correspondent, National Public Radio
:: 1800H EDT. Dr. Al Fuertes, Associate Professor, Trauma Healing and Conflict Transformation, George Mason University
:: Drive from DC to Harrisonburg, VA from 2030H to 2230H EDT.
07. Meetings with executives of Virginia Mennonite Mission and Eastern Mennonite University (EMU)
08. Speak at EMU Seminary and meeting with EMU Center for InterFaith Engagement
09. Meet with Dr. Daryl Byler, Executive Director, Centre for Justice and Peacebuilding; then, visit Virginia Mennonite Communities with LukeSchrockHurst
10. Flight to Vancouver, BC via Los Angeles, CA
11. Canadian Thanksgiving Family Dinner
12. Fellowship with Lisa Alexander – friend, sister, family lawyer, ministry partner
13. Family Day in Downtown Vancouver
14. Lunch fellowship with Rev. Tim & Sandra Kuepfer; Dinner fellowship with Gerd & Regina Bartel
15. Speak at Columbia Bible College and visit MCC British Columbia Centre
16. Traditional Family Trip to Victoria, BC
18. Speak at Peace Mennonite Church in Richmond, BC
19. Canada Election Day
20. Family Day
21-24. Joji Travels to New York, NY to receive UNDP award for Coffee For Peace
25. Speak at Yarrow United Mennonite Church, Yarrow, BC
26. Meet with Garry Janzen, Executive Minister, Mennonite Church British Columbia
27-28. Establish Coffee For Peace Canada, Ltd.
29. Joji flies back to Manila
30-31. Review status of Friends of PeaceBuilders Canada
01. Speak at Sherbrooke Mennonite Church, Vancouver, BC
02-20. Family Time – FutureTalks
21. Dann flies back to Manila
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2015/09/30/dann-joji-are-on-north-american-ministry-2015/
Sep 10 2015
Being. Applied to my own journey in life, ‘being’ is an exaggeration. I have not attained ‘being’ yet. I’m ‘still becoming.’ Becoming a servant of God. Becoming a servant to the people. Becoming a husband. Becoming a father. Becoming a grandfather.
This last becoming — becoming a grandfather — excites me the most. The more I get to know my grandchildren, the more I am motivated to seek further enhancement as a faith-based peacebuilding worker. It’s for their future that I want to contribute for the betterment of this world we live in. This is consistent with my ultimate commitment to God and the DivineReign: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
Opa is a German term for grandfather.
I’m grateful for Kiana, Elia, Kaya, and EveBear.
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2015/09/10/being-an-opa-to-kiana-elia-kaya-and-eve/
Aug 16 2015
17-21 August 2015. Joji is in Zamboanga City this week to teach the students of the Master of Ministry program at Ebenezer Bible College and Seminary (EBCS) for a week. Her modular course is entitled: Inclusive Development as a Christian Ministry of Transformation.
The objectives of the course are:
1. To identify our role as Christian leaders to be God’s stewards of all the resources entrusted to us;
2. To discover our creative skills as spiritual leaders to find avenues where we can do spiritual ministries and at the same time help our respective communities become economically sustainable;
3. To be able to conceptualize approaches, based on sincere listening to the people on the ground, that would address social issues in your community, and how we can journey with them in developing approaches towards inclusive development with five bottom lines for effectiveness — people, peace, prosperity, partnership, planet.
The leadership of EBCS started the partnership with PeaceBuilders Community when we journeyed with the churches in their area during the 2013 Zamboanga Crisis. The Christian leaders there invited us to conduct a Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Seminar among them. One significant result of that seminar was the decision of the leaders there to start PAR training among the bible school and seminary students in the area for a long-term preparation and equipping of Christian leaders for biblical peacemaking.
Since 2014, EBCS has integrated PAR courses in their curriculum. PeaceBuilders Community’s leaders have been invited to teach modular courses. Joji’s course is the third of those courses.
Master of Ministry in Transformational Leadership.
This graduate course is designed for Christian work practitioners who desire (1) to enrich their knowledge about how to read the Scripture and the “signs of the times” (that is, where and how the Spirit is working in the world today); (2) to improve their ministry skills to meet the holistic needs of people in the church as well as in the world; and, (3) to develop a healthy Christ-like character befitting the children and servants of God.
There are 13 module courses in this program. To earn the M. Min. degree, a student must apply to be admitted to the program; enroll in the program; and, complete and fulfill all requirements for each course. Courses will be offered in cycles of two years. This is a non-thesis program but a comprehensive examination will be given at the end of the course.
A module course runs for six (6) days, Monday through Saturday, 8 AM to 12 NN and 1 to 5 PM. Professors set their own class agenda and grade the students according to their own standards. Course syllabi will be made available to students ahead of time.
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2015/08/16/joji-teaches-inclusive-development-at-ebenezer-seminary/
Aug 07 2015
05-07 August 2015. The Municipality of Banisilan in the Province of North Cotabato invited PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) to conduct a seminar on Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) among the religious leaders in their town.
For the past three decades, Banisilan and the surrounding areas have been going through chronic armed conflicts due to land disputes and historical injustices. 30 people — Christian Pastors and Priest, Muslim Imam and Ustadz, and Indigenous Peoples’ Spiritual Leaders — were invited to form the Banisilan Religious Affairs Society.
PAR is PEACE AND RECONCILIATION.
PAR is the heart of our ministry. PEACE. The concept of peace — from the Hebrew term shalom and the Arabic term salaam — is understood here as:
- Harmony with the Creator (spiritual transformation)
- Harmony with our Being (psycho-social transformation)
- Harmony with Others (socio-political transformation); and,
- Harmony with the Creation (economic-ecological transformation).
RECONCILIATION. This is focused on building relationships between antagonists. The primary goal is to seek innovative ways to create a time and a place
- to address,
- to integrate, and
- to embrace
the painful past and the necessary shared future as a means of dealing with the present.
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2015/08/07/banisilan-leaders-invited-us-to-conduct-par-training/
Jul 30 2015
Joji accepted her new responsibility as chair of the Peace Commission of the Mennonite World Conference during its 2015 Global Assembly in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA.
The Peace Commission offers MWC member churches a wide array of support: enabling talk about the peace issues facing individual churches, countries and continents; providing a conversation forum in which churches can consider together peace-related questions and issues that they would otherwise face alone; strengthening the common peace identity through mutual reinforcement and discussion; and further enabling cooperative efforts on select peace initiatives.
As soon as she arrived, she shared with me this video report of the 2015 MWC Assembly.
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2015/07/30/joji-now-serves-as-chair-of-mwc-peace-commission/
Jul 10 2015
PAR Kalinga: Harmony with the Creator, with our being, with others, and with the creation
What’s happening within and around the Kalinga Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Community has been a long time harmonization of the various aspirations and works of individuals, clans, and tribes who are faithful to pursue their struggle for liberation based on justice and peace.
We, at PeaceBuilders Community and Coffee For Peace, are simply walking with these faithful advocates and leaders. We will listen, and listen, and listen until we are able to have a glimpse of what the Creator has been doing in and among them as a people, of what the Creator is presently doing to liberate them as a people, and of what the Creator will be doing to transform them according the Creator’s will and design for the Kalinga land and people.
We are grateful for the permission the Kalinga people are giving us to journey with them.
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2015/07/10/par-kalinga-has-a-life-of-its-own-and-its-growing/
Jul 03 2015
Statement of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform
OUR CONTINUING CRY AND HOPE FOR PEACE
“But those who hope for the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)
We are the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), the largest ecumenical formation of church leaders in the country today. As peace advocates, compelled by the gospel mandate, we see it within the ambit of our mission to accompany the peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
We held our 4th Church Leaders’ Summit in Cebu City this June 29 to July 1, 2015 with sixty-three (63) participants representing the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP-men and women), Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum (EBF), National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) coming from all over the country to express our support for the resumption of the peace talks between the parties. As we journey with the GPH-NDFP peace process, we resolved to amplify the call to both parties to resume the formal peace talks on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) that has been in an impasse since February 2011.
The former Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chair, Atty. Christian Monsod and former National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Chief, Dr. Cielito Habito briefed us on the challenges of social justice and the need for fundamental socio-economic reforms that will address the issues of poverty and inequity – the roots of the armed conflict. We heard the explanations of former GPH Peace Panel member, Atty. Rene Sarmiento on how the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) was crafted through an arduous process of negotiations including the contentious issue of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), which underwent a total of 17 drafts.
We were likewise moved by the testimonies of a health worker, a farmer and a LUMAD about their experiences of injustice and the violation of their fundamental rights in their communities. We also engaged in profound conversations on how we as church leaders and our flock, can contribute to the peace negotiations in order to attain the peace our people cry for. This sharing of insights and experiences by our resource persons and our own conversations has inspired us to remain committed and steadfast in our accompaniment work with the GPH-NDFP Peace Process.
Recent developments have also strengthened our resolve. We are enthused by the recent pronouncements of the GPH and NDFP that they are open to the possibility of going back to the negotiating table. We are similarly encouraged by the perseverance and ready involvement of the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) in its role as third party facilitator with the appointment of a new special envoy in the person of Ms. Elisabeth Slattum, as we also call for a more proactive facilitation.
We call on the GPH and NDFP to immediately resume the formal peace talks in order to address the roots of the armed conflict. Along with this call is our appeal to both parties to make themselves more visible and accessible to the public, especially to the organizations accompanying this process.
As an expression of our commitment, we will help spread the good news of peace through the creative education of our people on the GPH-NDFP process. We will do innovative approaches to peace in our churches like popularizing peace sports, songs, dances and other art forms in support of the peace process. We will encourage our young people to be involved in different fora. We will likewise make our church leaders more visible in the public media expressing their full support to the talks. We will use the time and space during the election months to consolidate our ranks, strengthen our collective strategies, dialogue with different stakeholders to sustain the peace process and be more pro-active when an opportunity opens up for the resumption of the talks.
We affirm that all signed agreements that were painstakingly negotiated by both parties in the past are signs of hope and should be honored to serve as building blocks for future agreements.
We will journey with the parties and our people until the day we see the dawning of peace.
We enjoin all peace-loving Filipinos to continually pray and tirelessly work for peace.
Issued and signed this day, July 1, 2015,
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2015/07/03/christian-leaders-held-a-summit-meeting-for-peace/
Jun 30 2015
The Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Commission of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) had their strategic planning last June 23-26, 2015, at the Center for Christian Development, Tagaytay City.
As a result of this four-day workshop, we came up with a Peace and Reconciliation Vision for 2020, stated in the present tense:
- Peace Revolution. Peace revolutionaries throughout the country are exponentially growing and reproducing peacebuilders engaged in their local, national, and international contexts.
- PAR Beyond. PAR is integrated in various existing conflict transformation strategies and processes (traditional and institutional) across 81 provinces in the Philippines.
- Church Transformation. The Body of Christ has become fully engaged in just peace processes in the Philippines. Churches across the country are applying transformative, radical, and redemptive strategies in responding to local, national, and international concerns.
- Organic Peace Movements. An organic and dynamic peace movement effectively engaging local, national, and international stakeholders towards a society where truth, mercy, justice, and peace reign.
- ‘Earthnicity.’ Earth. Art. Ethnic. City. Earthnicity summarizes the prayer, “Your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.” It magnifies the importance of valuing ethnicity, culture, and the arts of local contexts, whether they are from rural or urban origin. The Body of Christ is faithfully living out the Shalom of Christ by recognizing and embracing the diverse historical, social, and cultural realities of all people groups, especially among IPs and Muslim communities in the Philippines.
In our hearts and minds, these are present realities. They govern our actions as members of the PCEC PAR Commission.
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2015/06/30/pcec-peace-and-reconciliation-commission-is-re-organized/
May 25 2015
BBL is Bangsamoro Basic Law. It is a product of the final peace deal between the Philippine government and the the Moro Islamic Liberation Front; it seeks to address decades-old grievances by creating a new regional government with greater fiscal and political powers than the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
In the past 25 days, I chose 25 of my fellow leaders who have expressed either their explicit disagreement against the Bangsamoro Basic Law (NO TO BBL!) or their implicit fear or doubt about it on their respective Facebook pages.
- When asked if they have read the BBL, 23 said ‘No’ and 2 said ‘Yes’. Later, during the actual discussions, the 2 persons admitted they simply heard what’s in it from TV.
- When asked to identify at least an item in the BBL they disagree with, 12 said they do not trust the Moros/Muslims; 8 said they don’t want the Muslims/Moros to take control of Mindanao; 5 said Muslims/Moros are terrorists/violent/rebels/outlaw.
- When sent an information link about the subject being discussed, 21 ignored them and replied immediately; 4 of them said they’ll read it and later replied with more rational approach, even in their continuing disagreement.
- When asked about their idea of alternative path for peace, 12 said that the Moros have to surrender their arms first then have peace talks; 5 said that the Moros must submit to the government because it’s what the Bible says; 6 said use force to stop their terrorism; 2 did not bother to answer.
I and my peacebuilding colleagues still have a lot of work to do in educating our fellow Christian leaders here about peace and reconciliation in the context of our land.
God, have mercy on our people and our land.
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2015/05/25/dealing-with-fellow-christian-leaders-opposing-the-bb/
May 10 2015
Power. Everyone wants it. In the Philippines, the more power one has, the more wealth one amasses. Among many Christian churches, power is often identified with ‘ministry success’ — defined by the number of people attending the church services and programs who, in turn, give money to the church. It’s akin to clientle and sales.
In a story in the first chapter of the Book of Acts, the apostles asked Jesus, now that he had resurrected from the dead, if He would restore the kingdom — meaning the past political glory of Israel under David and Solomon — which was characterized by wealth and power.
Jesus answered them and addressed this issue of power briefly: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
The power of the Holy Spirit causes a person to be a ‘witness’ for Christ. This understanding of ‘witness’ is derived from a New Testament term, ‘martyría’—that is, a follower of Jesus is a martyr-witness. Being a martyr-witness marks the true followers of Jesus in the past 2000+ years. This is the kind of discipleship we need in our beautiful, but conflicted, land!
What does this mean to us as PeaceBuilders Community and as peace and reconciliation advocates?
This is not about having a messianic- or martyr-complex. This is not about mere adventurism in a place of danger. This is not a search for an extreme religious experience.
Being martyr-witnesses, first of all, means that we will love all people unconditionally and we will practice selfless love to the point of offering our lives to the people with whom we are called to live and to serve. This is exemplified in the humble life of Jesus of Nazareth whom we follow in response to His sacrificial love.
Secondly, it means that, by God’s grace, we will not lie. As witnesses to the truth we have experienced in Jesus Christ, we will initiate transparent and honest interaction with all the people concerned as we relate with them and as we formulate and implement our personal and organizational policies.
Thirdly, being martyr-witnesses affirm that Justice is an attribute of God. Therefore, our tasks will be implemented in accordance with what is just and equitable among all people concerned. Authentic justice is the only path to genuine peace.
Fourthly, it means practicing genuine forgiveness. Using the energies available to us through the power of the Holy Spirit, we will absorb the violence committed against us so that our lives may be used as servants to stop the cycle of violence within us and around us. We will offer our lives moment-by-moment in the altar of God’s truth, mercy, justice, and peace.
Finally, it means incarnating God’s peace in our lives. We will seek harmony and reconciliation with the Creator, with our Being, with Others, and with the Creation. We believe in solving problems through non-violence. By God’s grace and mercy, we will not use weapons to hurt or to kill people as a means to accomplish our dreams, mission, and objectives.
May the power of the Holy Spirit energize our respective lives, our families and loved-ones, our works of service, and our aspirations.
Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2015/05/10/the-power-of-the-holy-spirit-and-our-witness-life/