Brother For All Seasons

JBPZ-016As a young Christian around the year 2001 I really had no idea what our ministry leaders meant whenever they mention “Man of God.” Until I met Julios Escoderos. On the onset, one would quickly recognize that he has a special knack for stand-up comedy. And powering that humor is a lot of wit, a keen eye, great comedic timing, and an exceptional punch-line delivery. He is as cool and as appealing as a comic strip. If there is such a thing as a living cartoon, it’ll probably be him. But that’s not all he is about…

In 2004 I had an extraordinary chance to have a closer look at the heart of this man. He brought me with him to Iloilo, his hometown. We took a long hike up under the heat of the sun, to what seemed to me like a never-ending hilltop. We were intent on getting to a particular house somewhere in the remote area of Sta. Barbara. A lot of walking was coupled with a lot of talking. And because I knew him mostly as just being funny, his wisdom surprised me. I guess it was also because I did not expect a lot of depth from someone my own age.

He spoke about the differentiation of having needs and being in need; and emphasized on the great distinction between merely helping ease a burden and in actually facilitating long-term change. It became clearer to me what he was talking about when we finally reached our destination – a tiny village with no electricity, no running water, no other mode of transportation other than going on foot – a lot of the townspeople were barefoot too. He met with the family of the child whose education he intended to sponsor. I don’t know if he was, at that time, exceedingly financially blessed. All I know was what he had he shared. He is a keeper of an enormously generous heart in a small package.

I admired it too that when we flew back to our comfort in Dubai, I never once heard him talk about it, not even to our closest circle of friends. It was probably one of those things that he just kept between him and God. I finally understood where all the spark in his service was coming from. I used to think he was one of those overrated brothers in the ministry that we see in just about every avenue of service, even the ones he was not really good at (LOL!).

He has played just about every possible service role in the ministry. He had been a team leader, speaker, events-in-charge, transportation volunteer, prayer warrior, choir member, tech-guy, set-up guy, pastoral formation guy – all of which he did exceedingly well. But when he served as sports fest captain and dancer in a creative presentation, I thought for sure he didn’t have the fitting athleticism for those roles. To my surprise, he didn’t need to have to, he did it all with just his heart. Even if we wanted to tease him about his athletics and dancing we always just ended up having to abandon the idea because he was always the first to laugh at himself anyway…

He was like an all-year-round low pressure area geared up to rain down on us at any time. They say it’s the low pressure area that gives us the good rain. That’s probably why God stationed him in the desert. And I would say that he played his God-ordained role very well; he rained down his own brand of blessing on all of us.

It was a real privilege to serve with him, aside from the fun, it was empowering too. He was the first from our ministry who went beyond the borders of UAE to deliver a talk in Qatar. At that time that was unheard of. He was always on the look-out for things to do to answer the call to being a missionary. One of his most remarkable passions was to ‘bring old members back’. He would make time to locate inactive members and encourage them to come back in the fold. He was a leader by example. When he talked about being 100% pure, he made sure he was too. When he encouraged members to be present at activities, you can be assured he was there too. Still, many of his apostolate work went beyond the margins of our little ministry. Through his efforts, a number of maltreated Filipino laborers and stranded Filipinos in Kish were assisted in their time of great need.

Once, by the creek-side in one of our fishing escapades, he spoke to me about growing in faith – stronger but simpler; about allowing God to work on his own timeline; about the importance of laughing at my own mistakes and on not being too hard on myself . He was one of those who helped me reset my expectations of myself into achievable proportions faith-wise.

As I’m writing this, from across the miles, I realized I haven’t spoken to him in about a decade! I didn’t get to witness him become the family man he is now. But I consider it a blessing to have shared a season of service life with a brother like him. I will remember him for all that… and also for his amusing ability to cram ‘kapatid’ and ‘pambihira’ in the same sentence every single time.

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