With the theme “Better Together” the first pastors and wives retreat for this year was held last January 23 – 25, 2019 at Jabez campsite.  A retreat intentionally designed for ministry couples to disengage from their demanding responsibilities and enter into an extended period of rest and recreation so as to be refreshed in the Lord.

 The primary sponsor of this retreat is Ms. Beth Mapa, who, together with his late husband, Pastor Ricky, started the first retreat in 2013. Their desire was help the pastor and wife prioritize and strengthen their marriage as they serve together in the ministry. This desire to help the husband and wife cultivate a strong marriage (resulting in a strong and meaningful ministry involvement), was born out of their personal experiences. Finding the right balance in marriage and ministry, and spending enough time with each other, they all the more enjoyed God’s calling. This discovery led them to help other couples who are involved in the ministry.

After fighting a terminal illness, Pastor Ricky passed away in 2016. But his passion and vision to help pastors and wives in the area of marriage relationship lives on. His wife, Beth and two daughters, Priscilla and Rachel took the responsibility to continue in reaching out and helping couples.  In partnership with CGM, several couples retreat had been conducted ever since.

In this retreat, 16 couples (including the staff and speakers) attended. They were housed at CGM guesthouses and former Home of Joy cottages. Most of them were excited to come as this is a first time experience to attend such a retreat, as well as spend longer time with their spouses.  Their expectations were not in vain – not only did they have precious moments together,  they also had good meals/snacks,  good sleeping accommodations, ample space to walk around,  and lots of time to be with each other. Additional source of joy and surprises were lots of freebies and giveaway (courtesy of our Singaporean friends).   And of course, messages from God’s word.

Two speakers took turns in sharing the messages. Pastor Willy Basilio (with his wife, Edna), is a regular speaker of the retreat.  He is a regular host of Family Matters  (program that deals mostly with the family, as well as counselling) at DZAS.  As such, he is an experienced and knowledgeable marriage counselor.

 Pastor Ronel Rubrica (with wife Lycel) is a first timer.  He was a former host of Hardin ng Panalangin, but later on served in a mission field in Dubai.

Expounding on the theme “Better Together”,  both  speakers emphasized the importance of marriage over ministry.

After each brief introduction, Pastor Ronel divided the group into two couples to discuss each topic. In one of the sessions, he asked the participants to rate their marriage (by using the scale nag-CCC (nagsisisi), nag-TTS (nagtitiis), and nag-PPS (nagpapasalamat). He asked everyone to be honest. The discussion that followed after each session revealed that problems do exists in the relationship. However, by identifying the problem and communicating with each other,  Pastor Ronel  pointed out God’s promises and ways in resolving the problem.

Emphasizing the importance of marriage, Pastor Willie said “nothing short of the BEST is what God wants for its children in all aspects of life, especially in the home. He proceeded by defining BEST in acronym – blessing, edifying, sharing and touching.  Then he shared how to enhance marital relationship based in Ephesians 5:21 and provided practical ways and applications to do so.

Before  the banquet night (last night of the retreat), the participants were treated to a free hair cut, manicure and pedicure. This will prepare them to look their best, as each was required to dress in semi/formal attire.

The last night of the retreat will always be a night to remember – as this is the night when the wife is once again served by the husband. For the evening meal, the wives remained seated while the husbands get their food. After dinner, they are serenaded by their husbands.  In introducing the song “I will be here”, Ernie Fornoles said that although this song is a secular song, it talks about commitment – of being together – and the husbands’ promise to be always around.  He further said, that as the husbands sing, they may lose their tempo and pitch, but one thing is sure, they will not lose their commitments to their wives. This gained a warm approval and applause! After the song, the husbands gave their wives a rose and chocolate, and they danced. The banquet night concluded with Pastor Willie’s message and signing of recommitment vow.

One highlight of this retreat is that two of the pastors attending were former inmates of the National Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa. While incarcerated, they both came to know the Lord, grew in their knowledge of Him through the bible studies/trainings conducted by CGM inside the jails. Both of them are now actively serving as pastors in their congregation outside the jail. Both are happily married (one of them just got married last year) and they expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to attend this retreat which they said will help them to be “better together” in their relationship and service in ministry.

 Couples enjoys their sumptuous and nutritious meal prepared by Campsite Kitchen Team