Message of His Excellency, Jose P. Laurel, President of the Republic of the Philippines, on the consecration of the Head-elect of the Evangelical Church, April 30, 1944:
I wish to assure you how grateful I am for the privilege to greet the leaders and members of the Evangelical Church in the Philippines, and to express my deep gratification over the consummation of what I know to be a very old dream of the different Evangelical communions in the country. I presume that it is in response to the inescapable exigencies of these times that you have decided to consecrate your efforts under one standard and under one organized leadership pledged to the service of our people. It is with the sincerest joy that I received the report of your momentous decision, realizing that, as an important group of our citizens, you have joined the rest of us in taking a step which means the pooling together of all our resources to the end that we may integrate our objectives and pursue them with that invincible faith and singleness of purpose which come alone of union and solidarity.
It has taken no less than a war, a war that has no parallel in the annals of mankind, to move the different Protestant communions in the Philippines to unite so that they could think together and carry out together those activities that constitute their very reason for being, which is the service of the people under times without precedent in point of spiritual distress and moral disorder.
The war has not been of our own making. But this fact does not exempt us from any of those urgent responsibilities that devolve upon any organized human association in the interest of survival. The war has brought in its train the usual horrors, and this time on a much grander scale, which are due to cause us endless difficulties and sufferings. At the same time we must realize that the war in allots grim aspects has brought forth and is bringing a good many of our unused virtues into active exercise, challenging the best there is in our manhood and in our Christian faith. Indeed, if there is any time to show to better advantage the greatness of our Christian faith and the strength of character we have developed under that faith, this is the day to give it emphatic expression. During less disturbed times, it is, I imagine, a much simpler business to appear Christian. Today we are called upon by the nature of our beliefs to demonstrate the true character of our Christianity in its loftiest and purest form if we are to vindicate the beauty and power of our Christian heritage.
We who are preoccupied with the problem of creating a new order of justice from the prevailing chaos certainly find it most welcome that the Evangelical Christians of the Philippines for their own part have decided to set aside their minor differences and work together as a united body dedicated to the service of the people. In your own example, you have demonstrated a line of action which the rest of our fellow countrymen will do well to note and appreciate. For certainly these are times when we should spare no pains to bring the intransigent brother into the fold of a common aspiration and a common effort and thereby strengthen the power of us all who would promote the cause of security and self-respect for these troubled times. I take it, therefore, that in the consummation of the movement for unification of all Philippine Evangelical churches, you as a considerable body of patriotic Filipinos have recognized that you have a signal service to render to the people and that you are fully aware of your duty to the Republic, pursuing those objectives that are conducive to the promotion of its stability and its power to secure for all Filipinos a common destiny of freedom and self-respect.
If there is anything I would wish to enjoin the leaders and members of the Evangelical Church in the Philippines, it is that the church should fortify our people with a new and increasing courage, endow them with a fresh vision of their destiny, inspire them with unfailing faith in their genius and future, strengthen their sense of reality in the face of all perplexing difficulties.
A little retrospect will remind us all that the Christian faith came of an age filled with oppression and exploitation. Thus it was that the message of Jesus received its first eager welcome among the disinherited. The message of Jesus was essentially a message of liberation, of elevation for human dignity, of opportunity for the fulfillment of man’s creative spirit. The champions of the early Christian faith went through fire and sword to spread the happy tidings to the poor, and out of their sacrifice has developed the culture which constitute a part of our priceless heritage.
I believe that mankind for all the many setbacks suffered time and again, is essentially on the march to greater things. This war, in the perspective of history, will constitute one of those tremendous milestones the human race has to pass in order to enter a nobler and brighter inheritance. We of this period, whether we like it or not, are part of mankind marching to that inheritance. We should consider it our great privilege to be called upon to help bridge this trying transition by the consecration of all our resources—physical, moral and spiritual. To the Evangelical Church in the Philippines this is its greatest opportunity and challenge. I trust that the record will testify to the service and sacrifice of the church in the progress of the Filipino people towards that brighter inheritance.
What should be the message to the people of the Evangelical Church in the Philippines today? As I have already intimated, that message should be one of courage—courage to meet the problems of this era, courage to overcome any sense of desperation and fear engendered by the sudden withdrawal of creature comforts and consolations commonly enjoyed in the days before this upheaval The church would fail in its duty to the people should it neglect or fail to instill a firm determination in them to meet all their difficulties manfully and find a way out that is in keeping with the dignity of their faith and the nobility of their heritage.
The message of the church should likewise endow the people with a fresh vision of their destiny. This destiny should be an integral part of that age-old aspiration concerning mankind as a whole, which is the establishment of God’s kingdom upon this earth. The establishment of God’s kingdom upon this earth, which, of course, would mean the enthronement of neighborliness in every human heart, should certainly include the Filipinos as a people desirous of fulfilling their creative spirit in a manner expressive of their highest gifts and conducive to the establishment of a world order of moral justice. We should be the better Christian because we are good and true Filipinos proud of our racial heritage. I do not see how we can contribute to a world order based on peace and justice unless we be true Filipinos first, loyal to those traditions by which God himself in His infinite wisdom has seen fit to mould us, distinct from any other people on earth. Being good and true Filipinos should make us the better and more helpful and more proud citizens of that world order.
The message of the church should inspire our people with an enduring faith in their capacity to contribute to the creation of this world order, that is, to the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. Our difficulties of today far from being the measure of our limitations as a people should be the appropriate goad to the fulfillment of our unexercised talents. In this light, we should be grateful that we have such difficulties to challenge our hidden resources into fuller expression compatible with our determined progress to a higher destiny. We do not, indeed, realize the extent of our strength and our resources extent and until we find ourselves face to face with seemingly insuperable difficulties. It should therefore, be the function of your birch to generate an overmastering faith in our capacity to contribute our just share in the march of mankind forward to the kingdom f God Today, of all times, it should be our Latest opportunity and privilege to repeat and live the words of the prophet:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Finally, the message of the Evangelical Church in the Philippines to our people should deepen our people’s sense of reality in the face of today’s perplexities, and increase and broaden our people’s understanding of them. Our prayer should be not that we might be spared these perplexities but that we should have the intelligence to understand them and the will to create from them our own opportunities for service. Our perplexities and difficulties today are not to be construed as castigations by an enraged Almighty Power. Rather they should be viewed as a challenge to our capacities to give the just measure of our souls.
And so, fellow citizens and brothers in the Evangelical Church in the Philippines, I would ask that you fortify our people with courage, give them a fresh vision of their destiny, inspire them with faith in their genius and strengthen their understanding and their sense of reality to the end that our nation may the better acquit itself in the present struggle for the building of a new order that would be worthy of our highest dream as Filipinos and as Christians. I would recall, for this solemn occasion, the words of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians:
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Our long line of heroes and martyrs who gave their lives freely so that we might live and that our children might continue to great work which it was our fathers’ great privilege to begin could not have entrusted to us a higher responsibility that is both our joy and deliverance.
Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library