Guest blog post by Rev. Efren Burgos.
I would always remember Rev. Malvar Castillon as one of the most “stormy” fiscalizers among Baptist pastors, but God used him as an instrument to have part of the fulfillment of my pastoral dreams.
In the early 1980s, when Pastor Rowe Legada, who lives in Tambaliza, one of Concepcion’s island villages, invited me to be one of his wedding’s principal sponsors, I was deeply fascinated and challenged by the possibility of pastoral ministry in Concepcion. That was a dream, a visionary dream.
There are times in our life when we have to dream of our ministry visions. I was so touched to see a small church and listened to brethren expressing their need for a pastor.
I fell in love with the scenic seascape of Concepcion, crowned by many beautiful islets. Most of all, I love seafood! “If I would be invited to be a pastor in this place,” I dreamt in my heart during that time, “I will never refuse the invitation.”
Little did I know that dream and vision would be realized after two decades after. Manoy Malvar, as I fondly called him with respect as my elder colleague in the pastoral ministry, introduced me to Concepcion Baptist Church. The church invited me to serve the church as its pastor in 2003.
And little did I know that would be the Lord’s leading to spare me from the stigma of politics when I was contemplating to run as Punong Barangay of Brgy Dungon A, Jaro, Iloilo City.
I served as barangay secretary, then elected as a member of the Sangguniang Pambarangay, appointed as chairman of the Peace and Order Committee handling the barangay tanods, and then as chairman of the Lupong Tagapamayapa (Pacification Committee), a barangay justice system.
I was at a crossroads because politics was the very thing that caused me to resign as provincial public information officer of then Gov. Enrique Zaldivar of Antique and work at Central Philippine University.
The answer was beautifully shown to me by the Lord thru Manoy Malvar – pastoral ministry! And this was a realization of the vision that I had dreamt of before.
To many, Manoy Malvar was a hard-hitting fiscalizer. His unwavering brand of advocacy for righteousness. Not many could see the good points in him, nor in his methods of drawing the best in one’s person.
But there was something that I could not help but notice. I see the virtues of his strong aura of pastoral spirituality.
He and Manay Nits were both appreciative of good preaching and pastoral ministry. They made me feel at home while I was temporarily staying with them or even when I was already staying in the parsonage because their house is next to Concepcion Baptist Church.
I also observed his dedicated early morning Bible reading, probably a discipline he developed in his vibrant pastoral experiences in many local churches under the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches.
These include Romblon and Mindoro, where he was remembered to have “launched diligently and industriously the intensive program of evangelism and extensions” in about 11 areas; as former chaplain and educator at Filamer Christian College (now a university); a political tactician and consultant in the municipal politics of Ajuy and Concepcion.
He was the golden jubilee president of the Convention Baptist Ministers Association. He is remembered for his strong sentiment of “uplifting the socio-economic status of Baptist pastors as a step towards independence in thinking and action and not being recipients of the programs set by foreigners who are sending funds.”
“We have the desire to become financially stable,” he said, “We are just beginning and struggling for total independence when it comes to money matters and maturity in leadership.”
Through the ministry of Manoy Malvar, I was able to work and see the beautiful substance of my pastoral dream in Concepcion. Concepcion Baptist Church is one of the flocks of God where I am always be lovingly welcomed as part of their family anytime.
God allowed me to revive its pre-school ministry through him, which I am now working to name as Children’s Home for Integrated Learning and Development (CHILD).
Through his invitation, I saw the local churches planted in several islets of Concepcion, by the evangelist pastors of the Convention like Rev. Apolonio Francia Rev. Elias Laprades, among many others but are struggling for survival.
Sadly, some no longer have worship services for months! An alarming reality that almost broke my heart.
Eventually, it challenged me to set up the Northern Iloilo Island Church Ministry (NIICM), a program that supports these local churches’ pastoral ministries.
Through such invitation and with the help of The Believers’ Fellowship, we were also able to plant and support the Hillside Gospel Church in a place between Concepcion and San Dionisio.
My dream for a retirement place for pastors and workers in Northern Iloilo is being realized. Through such invitation, the Lord enabled me to acquire 2.5 hectares of property in Puntalis, just next to Puntalis Baptist Church. I have already subdivided the lot for its future dwellers. I dreamed that part of it would be a campsite for young people and church conferences.
I would always remember Manoy Malvar as an instrument for me to look toward the future. To dare to dream with God, to be so in love with the Lord.
ABOUT OUR GUEST WRITER
Rev. Efren Burgos ministered to Rev. Castillon and his family in his well, bed-ridden years and his dying moment.
Rev. Burgos held devotionals, said prayers, and sang hymns on the night Rev. Castillon died. These happened in a room at New Testament Baptist Church building, Mandurriao, Iloilo City, on January 24, 2004. The following morning, he was also there to pray for the family a few moments after Rev. Castillon finally returned to the Lord.
Rev. Castillon suffered a stroke on November 16, 2002, at 70. After 57 days at Iloilo Mission Hospital, he survived, but his mobility never returned. He remained bed-ridden for a year until his passing.
On Rev. Malvar Castillon’s death anniversary, I requested Rev. Efren Burgos write this blog post. Thank you, Pastor Efren.
I am always grateful for all the overwhelming support that our family received during those trying years. Truly the bond of love that we have in Jesus Christ makes heavy burdens light. May the Lord’s blessing be upon you!