MEANS Retreat 2010

Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

This was the theme of the 23rd annual MEANS Retreat. There were around 35 attendees at the retreat held in Buchanan, Michigan at the Life Action Family Camp. The guest speaker this year was Pastor Godfrey Serfino from Ebenezer Christian Reform Church in Bacolod City, Philippines. He spoke on the theme and challenged us to live according to Micah’s charge to the Israelites during a time of great sin. We were also challenged by a time of small group discussions as well as personal reflection after our sessions with Pastor Godfrey. After our last session there was a time to meditate on a personal declaration based on the retreat’s theme. When it came time to share, it was evident how the Holy Spirit impressed upon each individual’s heart on how to apply what we learned. It was a moving experience.

One of Pastor Godfrey’s friends was able to join the retreat and, being new to a MEANS event, had a few questions for the group during a business meeting. It was a good time for the volunteers to review MEANS’ background, purposes, and procedures among other things.

The board met with Jim de Mol, MEANS treasurer, based in Dili, East Timor via teleconference. They talked about strategic plans for 5 years and leadership succession.
We also got to know Bong Hontanosas a little better through a light-hearted game of trivia and an interview. Who would’ve thought that if it weren’t for his interest in Lea, he wouldn’t be volunteering at MEANS?

Faithful Service for 20 Years
We also got to recognize and appreciate our volunteers of the year, Ken and Christine Borromeo as well as their wonderful daughters, Katie and Anna. Ken and Christine have been faithfully volunteering with MEANS for over 20 years! Their work with MEANS is so integral! Thank you, Ken and Christine, Katie and Anna, for your dedication and hard work!

Fun and Fellowship
The retreat venue was new this year, and there was some free time to enjoy the surroundings and experience family togetherness in three generations—3 grandmas, parents, singles, the youth, and kids. Some went canoeing, kayaking, or paddle boating. There was a beachfront where the men and women gathered to fellowship. The children (and adults!) enjoyed playing carpet ball as well as the playground.

The hope is that all who attended were reenergized, refreshed, reinvigorated and recharged.

Flavor of the Month: Anne Benthien

This month we highlight Anne Benthien.  Anne joined the MEANS board in March of this year.

Anne comes from Victorias, Negros Occidental, Southern Philippines.  She received a B.S. in Accounting from West Negros College in Bacolod City and a Masters in Christian Education/Church Music at Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary in Baguio City, Philippines.  During her college days she was a member of her school’s Varsitarian Singers.  Anne came to know the Lord through this group as well as through the local Intervarsity—Philippines (IVCF—Philippines) chapter at her school.  She became active with IVCF—Philippines, taking varied responsibilities like Bible study, being a cell group leader, and serving as camp counselor at IVCF conferences.  She also served as an officer of the IVCF’s Bacolod Leadership Council.  Her leadership skills were honed while attending the month long IVCF training at Kawayan camp.

After graduation from college, Anne continued to serve with IVCF’s Graduate Christian Fellowship and Grad Team, doing pioneering evangelistic work in several universities in Bacolod.  She also taught Sunday school at her church and served as choir director in various churches in Bacolod, Baguio City and La Union, which is in  Northern Philippines.

She works and practices her accounting training part time in a small Real Estate/Property Management company, and in a Veterinary Clinic.  She serves as the Youth Community Coordinator at the Filipino American Association of Wisconsin (FAAWIS) in Milwaukee.  FAAWIS Youth Community Service help in serving meals to the poor, sort donated goods with Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee, visit nursing homes, and help raise funds and goods for the recent floods in Manila and Iloilo City.  Anne also serves part time as a music teacher in a Christian school and is involved in a home nursing ministry, and teaches private music lessons at home to 6 students.

Anne met her husband, Steve, when she was studying at PBTS where Steve was teaching in Ago-o La Union and Dagupan City.  Steve helped develop the curriculum for Lay Institute program at Ago-o Christian Fellowship and Dagupan City during his tenure with Conservative Baptist Mission.  They are blessed with three lovely children: Richard, 19; Danielle, 17; and Steven, 14.  Anne has three brothers and sisters, and all are Christ followers as well.  Her family got involved in sponsoring MEANS’ Read To Grow (RTG) literacy project.

In 2008, Anne had the opportunity to visit Bacolod, and thought of introducing the project to her Alma Mater.  What was the Don J A Araneta Elementary School, where Anne graduated, is now F. Gonzaga Elementary School.  Anne had the opportunity to meet with the current principal and over the course of their conversation, she discovered that the principal was a Christian and the teacher-coordinator for the school’s feeding program.  Through this meeting the new principal opened up an opportunity for The Lord’s Lampstand Christian Ministry, an outreach program of Lampstand Church—a local evangelical church, to minister at the school.  Thus, through partnership with MEANS, the “Salvador Oscianas Reading Center” was started in the Grade  IV class in memory of Anne’s late uncle.  MEANS and its donors partner with Lampstand to support the RTG program and members of Lampstand provide the “manpower.”  The RTG program has grown to support the school’s feeding program, as the school was unable to sustain it.  In addition, the opportunity to teach the Biblical values to every classroom was opened up.  Lampstand also has a desire to start a Bible study among the teachers.  God has truly blessed the development and growth of the ministry at F. Gonzaga Elementary School!  Anne continues to raise funds for this project through her voice studio class.

Anne requests that we continue to pray for Lampstand: that more people would be able to help minister at the school to teach; wisdom for Lampstand as they form a ministry team for the F. Gonzaga Elementary School outreach; and for 3 church members who attended ISCF high school training conference.

MEANS Retreat 2010

Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8

This was the theme of the 23rd annual MEANS Retreat.  There were around 35 attendees at the retreat held in Buchanan, Michigan at the Life Action Family Camp.  The guest speaker this year was Pastor Godfrey Serfino from Ebenezer Christian Reform Church in Bacolod City, Philippines.  He spoke on the theme and challenged us to live according to Micah’s charge to the Israelites during a time of great sin.  We were also challenged by a time of small group discussions as well as personal reflection after our sessions with Pastor Godfrey.  After our last session there was a time to meditate on a personal declaration based on the retreat’s theme.  When it came time to share, it was evident how the Holy Spirit impressed upon each individual’s heart on how to apply what we learned.  It was a moving experience.

One of Pastor Godfrey’s friends was able to join the retreat and, being new to a MEANS event, had a few questions for the group during a business meeting.  It was a good time for the volunteers to review MEANS’ background, purposes, and procedures among other things.

The board met with Jim de Mol, MEANS treasurer, based in Dili, East Timor via teleconference. They talked about strategic plans for 5 years and leadership succession.

We got to know Bong Hontanosas a little better through a light-hearted game of trivia and an interview.  Who would’ve thought that if it weren’t for his interest in Lea, he wouldn’t be volunteering at MEANS?

We also got to recognize and appreciate our volunteers of the year, Ken and Christine Borromeo as well as their wonderful daughters, Katie and Anna.  Ken and Christine have been faithfully volunteering with MEANS for over 20 years!  Their work with MEANS is so integral!  Thank you, Ken and Christine, Katie and Anna, for your dedication and hard work!

The retreat venue was new this year, and there was some free time to enjoy the surroundings and experience family togetherness in three generations—3 grandmas, parents, singles, the youth, and kids.  Some went canoeing, kayaking, or paddle boating.  There was a beachfront where the men and women gathered to fellowship.  The children (and adults!) enjoyed playing carpet ball as well as the playground.

The hope is that all who attended were re-energized, refreshed, reinvigorated and recharged.

2010 MEANS Retreat Group Photo

In August we asked for prayer for the MEANS retreat.  Reflections from several retreat attendees demonstrate how some of those prayers were answered. . .

The retreat experience made him think about God’s purpose for him and he encouraged his mom to “do more” for God through MEANS. – MEANS volunteer

I was really blessed by the retreat.  I have made some personal resolutions such as improving my participation in MEANS as a board member.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity and the privilege to serve Him thru MEANS.—Board Member

What a wonderful time we had the Filipino way.  I felt like an old “stick in the mud” as they were  so animated in everything they did, but I also felt so much like one of the group even though I was just there for a couple of days and they were friends for many years.  I have been teasing Pastor Godfrey about his sermons (3 on 1 verse, longest I have ever heard references to every verse in the Bible, etc) but he really is a very good preacher and does not interject his own opinions into it, but sticks with the gospel message.  I realized now that he is a pastor of quality that I have heard here, but he also a good friend and equal to me.—1st time retreat attendee

I came home with an overwhelming feeling of gratefulness—rejoicing in His greatness and sovereignty.  Once again God gave me/us this experience to see that His power is made perfect in my weakness.  The worn out keys on that piano will forever reminds me how God can work in my imperfection.—Board Member