One surprising incident and a revealing one marked our preparations for Passover at ECOTEC in Lahug, Cebu City. Our brethren from various islands in the Visayas checked in at the ECOTEC men’s dormitory mid morning of April 2, 2015. A pleasant surprise greeted the men in the room a bit later when a senior member of the PCG entered the room with his baggage, looking for a bed he may occupy. He is Mr. Samuel Balatero, perhaps the oldest among the seniors in the PCG this time. He travelled by boat or fast craft from his place in Naval, Biliran to Cebu. Our brethren initially had the impression that he has finally decided to join our fold and for a while they were filled with joy in seeing him take a bedspace in their dormitoty. But impression can be deceiving.
Mr. Balatero was expecting to see PCG members inside that room because he came to ECOTEC in Cebu to attend the Passover service in the evening to be led by a PCG Deacon at least. When he saw our men, he wasn’t a bit troubled because he thought they were all to attend the same Passover service. Our men were very pleasant and accommodating towards him. Little did he know that all the men in the room have come out of the PCG and have joined the group of people who fear the Lord and speak often to one another and for whom the book of remembrance was written (Mal 3:16). It didn’t take long before Mr. Balatero found out that he got mixed up with the group in which he doesn’t belong.
Mr. Balatero definitely doesn’t belong to this group (yet) because he is one who still hopes that things will get better in the PCG despite his admission that he is against the NO CONTACT POLICY. It has actually divided his family. It separated him from his daughter Fel, son-in-law Danny and 3 grown up grand children Hector, Beverly and Dexter. It has made life miserable for them. Add to that the fact that they have no more congregation in Tacloban as it has been effectively dissolved by attrition. On top of those woes, they don’t even get visited by a minister.
After a while, Mr. Balatero understood later in the conversation that he and the men in the room don’t belong to the same flock anymore. He suddenly found himself at a lost. He wondered what’s happening. Where have all the PCG members who are supposed to keep the Passover in Cebu gone? He had no other recourse but call up his local elder, Benedict Marquez to find out. He got his minister on the phone and to his dismay and disappointment, found out from him that the scheduled Passover service in Cebu had been cancelled. He realized then that he had wasted all his time, effort and hard earned money in striving with all his might in taking a boat ride to Cebu while a super typhoon threatens the area, just to find out that the Passover service had been cancelled! Now he had to rush back to the front office to advise the desk clerk that he made a big mistake of checking in at the dorm because the event he came to attend had been cancelled. He had to back out to avoid getting charged for his stay and to be able to catch the first boat trip to Naval, Biliran. What a pity. This old man never gets visited by his shepherd and was not even informed about the cancellation of the Passover service in Cebu. What a shame!
Beyond this failure due to negligence, Mr. Balatero was advised by B. Marquez to just wait for the 2nd Passover after a month! He gave Mr. Balatero the false impression that he is qualified to partake of the Passover. What? Doesn’t he know that there are requirements to be met to qualify for the 2nd Passover? Mr. Balatero could have partaken of the Passover on his own, in his home had he been informed well in advance by his minister about the cancellation. The fact is he was forgotten and this is the real reason why he can no longer partake the Passover at the right time and place. The mess up created by his minister doesn’t qualify him to partake of the 2nd Passover as indicated in Num 9:9-12:
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto the LORD. The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it.”
Mr.Balatero’s trip to Cebu was absolutely unnecessary. Likewise, his long trip home from Cebu which extends to the time of the Passover was absolutely unnecessary! He missed the Passover because of his minister’s lack of care for the scattered brethren’s welfare and his negligence in keeping the brethren informed of the changes in the Passover service schedule. His predicament doesn’t qualify him to take the 2nd Passover. The unnecessary long trip which prevented him from keeping Passover is an illegitimate reason to use in availing of the 2nd Passover. He may keep it but someone will surely bear the responsibility for the error. So what will happen now to Mr. Balatero or Ben Marquez? Here’s what God’s word says in Num 9:13:
“But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the LORD in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.”
The above is the category wherein Mr. Balatero falls. He should not have been in a journey. His journey to Cebu and back to Biliran which prevented him from keeping the Passover was absolutely unnecessary. Obviously, Mr. Balatero was not responsible for the mess up and God can easily forgive him. Who do you think will bear the retribution for the sin?
Mr. Balatero’s unexpected appearance right inside the dormitory room of our group in ECOTEC Cebu is indeed a very revealing incident. It further exposes what we have seen in many cases that the poor scattered people of God in various places in the south are being neglected and oppressed by their own shepherd. Mr. Balatero’s shepherd appears like a graven image of JOHN MACDONALD who fits exactly the image of the shepherd described in Zec 11:16-17:
“For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces. Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened. “
It’s not surprising if Benedict Marquez is following the steps of John Macdonald. It was him who molded Benedict Marquez to be the kind of shepherd he is today. Benedict Marquez is a very good student who assimilated a lot of what his mentor taught him and that goes to his credit. It is his mentor and idol who taught him how to oppress the poor, the widow, the fatherless, the disabled and the elderly and to forget about them when they are finally cast out from the fold.
The incident with Mr. Balatero’s going astray into our fold in ECOTEC Cebu before Passover brought into our attention the unpleasant revelation that keeps surfacing about the foolish shepherds in the PCG.
Surely, God has a hand it bringing this to our attention. We will be failing in our responsibility to our brethren and to God if we do not bring this out in the open for every PCG member to know.