As it says in His Word, “It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” 1 Cor. 3:7 (NLT) Dr. Teody and Bing Pajaron, founders of FamilyLife Philippines, had no idea just how God would grow the seeds He planted in them. He turned the vision they had for their family into a vision for families all over the country and beyond. In humble submission to God’s calling, they continue to dedicate their lives to seeing God’s glory revealed.
I (BING) KNOW THE IMPACT OF A broken home. Growing up without a dad living with us affected me a lot. Although he visited us almost every day before old age and sickness caught up with him and provided well for us, there was no guidance for my 5 brothers and there was a hole in my heart for not having him around for me. Our own experience with our children, the difficulties of raising eased by support groups of couples with same age children, and the joy and challenges of parenting our kids are unmatched in many ways. This influenced the way that we considered what would happen down the road. “Lord, what is it that you want us to do that we will do the rest of our lives, not just because we are assigned to this or that ministry?” That was our prayer when Teody was pursuing his Doctorate in Missions at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon after stepping down as Philippine Campus Crusade for Christ’s National Coordinator in 1990. I had served in UE and UP campus ministries and as a trainer of incoming and existing PCCC staff in Quezon City and in Korea, while Teody directed regional ministries in Iloilo and Davao, and had fruitful campus and church ministries in places where he worked.
Conviction God planted in our hearts
We did not know which one to focus on, but with two young children, God was building the conviction in our hearts regarding the importance of the family. I (Teody) came from large clan and saw the value of large families coming together under Christ’s lordship. The impact could easily be multiplied to thousands. Before we left the US to return to the Philippines in 1992, a friend sponsored us to a Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference. After returning to Manila, we helped out with International School Of Theology - Asia (now the International Graduate School of Leadership) for two years, but we still did not feel it was where we fit at that time. In 1994, the first FamilyLife International Speakers’ Conference was held in New Orleans, and we were invited together with fellow PCCC staff members Fred and Erlyn Castro. Upon our return, we started to teach with them the Weekend to Remember amongst PCCC staff couples, pastors, and churches who invited us.
Collaboration with people God raised
The ministry started to take off in 1996 and we established the Church and Family Resource Center, a year after we moved our family to Davao. All we had to offer then were passion, a burden for families, and the Weekend to Remember seminar. We had to do everything—promoting, preparing, speaking, and mimeographing handouts. We also had to raise funds for the ministry in order to make the conferences more affordable for the participants. And God faithfully provided abundantly through the years! After some time of building relationships with key leaders through the Pastors’ wives ministry that opened up a weekly radio program at DXFE (Woman to Woman, Manhood 101, then combined as FamilyLife), we initiated a HomeBuilders (HB) group among key denominational leaders and friends in Davao. The friendships established among ourselves and our children, the openness and the similar stages in life and ministry, the vision to strengthen families as we have been strengthened through HB made it easy for several of these couples to join us in another Speakers’ Training in Australia. They eventually became the founding board members of FamilyLife Philippines Inc. as well as speakers and facilitators with us in succeeding conferences. God used the extensive relationships Teody had in Mindanao and the Visayas as well as his former disciples in Baguio, to bring the conference to key cities and provinces in the regions. We also began equipping local speakers and facilitators in these areas and a core of partner “champion couples” took it upon themselves to be responsible for their areas (Bacolod, Iloilo, Leyte, Samar, Marbel, General Santos, Laoag, Baguio). God also began to raise up couples amongst the staff of Philippine Campus Crusade for Christ to join us, so that FL ministry bases were established in Davao, Cebu, Manila, Ilocos, and eventually Baguio. The Lord also raised a couple, Ed and Luanne Shackelford, missionaries of Christar, to contextualize the HomeBuilders materials for us, as we saw the HB as the means for lasting transformation to take place, not just the seminars. It was good to be surrounded by people and families who kept us grounded. The ministry made us work on our marriage and family life to make sure we walked our talk. It also made us aware of the spiritual battle that Satan was waging against our family as we sought to minister to others—and we did go through some painful experiences with our children that made us empathize with others. Now, more than ever, we can say that God is always on our side as He turns pain into something good in the end. We witnessed God’s work in reviving dying and “status quo” marriages, strengthening couples and families. We appreciated further equipping through Global FamilyLife conferences in Netherlands and Switzerland that enabled us to wrestle with other leaders seeking to impact their countries the same way we were wrestling with ours on how to grow a movement that would impact and transform families in our society. The Movement Makers’ Summit in Davao, Cebu, and Manila in 2002-2003 sought to share the burden and the vision with others. With God’s provision, we were able to partner and minister to denominational leaders of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches of the Philippines (CAMACOP), Conservative Baptists Association of the Philippines (CBAP), Christ Jesus Our Life (CJOL) Church, Philippine Missionary Fellowship (PMF), LIFE, New Tribes Mission of the Philippines Inc, RESTORE Ministries International, individual churches, businesses, and government agencies.
After 10 years of growing the ministry based in Davao, the Lord brought us back to Manila to become part of the Southeast Asia Office (ASEO) for 5 years. It gave us the opportunity to also bring FamilyLife and facilitate seminars aside from leadership development to other Asian countries (Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar). Representatives from some of these countries came to Davao for our FamilyLife Speaker’s Training so that our contextualized HBs, conference and training materials got translated into other languages. With our children grown and eventually married, we stayed on in Manila to be part of IGSL, teaching Christian Parenting to local and international students. The impact of God’s truths and principles in marriage and parenting in the lives of the students continue to amaze and humble us.
Continuing what God has started in us
Indeed we are thankful to God who has called us into this ministry and has led and called and continue to call others to work in ways beyond we can imagine. We have just laid the initial groundwork and there is still much to be done. We are more than happy that what God has begun in us continues on with younger leaders and champion couples who will impact the generations today and tomorrow! We continue to claim God’s promise of love to a thousand generations of those who love him—and see its evidence in our family—to show others that God’s design and ways work! As our son-in-law put it, “We will continue the legacy you have started.” In those twenty years, we can only say that God alone deserves all the glory for all He has done. For us, we have enjoyed the journey and the friendships and the families we have met and labored with through all these years! God is faithful!
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