Interviewing Bro. Elijah Abanto is such a blessing. His passion to start a paper ministry that can impact the body of Christ is something to follow and support. We got hold of Bro. Elijah and chat with him about Baptist Devotion and Journal/CYPA and also the topic of family devotions.
Delighting Grace: As of now, what has BDJ/CYPA Paper Ministry accomplished in terms of its reach & impact to the body of Christ?
Elijah Abanto: If Christians today will consider prophet Jeremiah’s ministry during his time, many will deem it a failure. Most of the people did not believe his message, and according to tradition he was killed by his own countrymen. But did he really fail? I think accomplishment of a Christian ministry lies on the basis of “Is it doing what God says it should do?” And based on that measure, I can say that CYPA Paper Ministries has accomplished just that. It continues for nearly five years, and all it does is say what God wants us to say, no matter if people will believe and do it or not.
On any other basis, I can’t really say how much it accomplished. I can give you some details though. Every week, we are giving out more or less 50 copies of printed BDJ and BDJ Devotions to church attenders as of today. We are also giving out copies to students and teachers at Bible Baptist Seminary of the Philippines in Mandaluyong. We are sending online copies of the same to about 75 (and counting) people in Facebook every week (many of them, Filipinos from various parts of the country and of the world). Our Facebook account’s “Notes” has a potential readership of over 200 people. Aside from that, our other publications which are geared toward children (Children’s Scripture Story, Children’s Sunday School, Children Bible Truth) have reached many children (I do not count them).
Many pastors and missionaries of Baptist churches within the BBF of the Philippines know about CYPA Paper Ministries and have occasionally received our papers and said they were blessed by them. One time a copy was carried by my grandmother to Bible Baptist Church in Proj. 8, Quezon City (where Pastor Mar Arias leads) and she showed to the members and told my parents that they were blessed. Most of the Baptists who hear of CYPA Paper Ministries are saying: “We are challenged by your ministry. There are many churches bigger in number than yours that still don’t have a publishing ministry as your church has.” Some have told me that they have started a printing ministry because of CYPA.
Delighting Grace: Can you tell us how BDJ came about? I could guess it started as a church bulletin, am I right?
Elijah Abanto: Well, something like that. This ministry began when I was just 16, a 1st year student in Bible School. I’ve been reading many English Christian publications such as In Touch magazine among others. The articles written there inspired me in my Christian life and challenged me also. However, as I read, I thought, do Filipino Christians have their own? Publications aside from the Bible that they could take with them for the week that they can understand? As I go through serving the Lord I realized that there are many people who can’t understand English. That’s how God gave the “CYPA Idea” to me. I told my parents (Pastor Felizardo and Mrs. Olivia Abanto) about my burden and they supported me, and then went to Dr. Dennis and Mrs. Gloria Ebert and other Baptists to ask for financial and printing assistance, which they graciously supplied.
The first BDJ issue (November 2007) was actually The Baptist Metropolis at first, and it was meant to be a monthly publication. I just print the original in the BBS and then photocopied it. I remember, it was the worst copy of BDJ ever. The distributed copies (which were photocopied) were barely readable. Later on, finances dropped and publishing stopped for a while and rethought. It went back in January 2008, now becoming a weekly publication. Over the course of its ministry, page numbers went from four to eight and took on the name Baptist’s Digest, now running 12-16 pages weekly, with brethren from foreign countries giving financial support. Because of these supporters, we began our online ministry, through Yahoo Mail and Blogger (bdjontheweb.blogspot.com).
Later on those non-member and overseas supporters stopped, and our church’s members began supporting the ministry (they were not, at first). We then bought our own computer and two printers and broadband Internet connection (at first I was doing it in the Seminary computers, then in local computer shops, and printing them there). It then came to be named Baptist Digest & Journal and was standardized to 8 pages (regular issues) and 12 pages (special editions) every week. The name then finalized to BDJ with a slogan “Read. Meditate. Change.” We still continued to publish online, but now through Facebook, as it have now become more widely used. CYPA has now published more than 200 issues of BDJ over the course of nearly five years.
Delighting Grace: Wow! Now let’s go to family devotion. What is family devotion & why is it important?
Elijah Abanto: It is a time where a family comes together to read the Word, meditate and reflect upon it, talk about many wholesome things, and then ends with a prayer.
Nobody can ever underestimate the importance of family devotions. I’ll sum up its manifold importance in these words: It can keep you close to God and at the same time with your family which in turn will enable you to be strong to face the world’s challenges and evils. The whole family will know God’s will every time we read the Bible; the whole family will grow in their bond toward each other resulting from the conversations it brings up; and because of these two we will have the needed strength to face the world.
I deem it very important that CYPA decided to make BDJ Devotions last year to help Christians do just that. It continues until now. It is different with devotionals like Our Daily Bread.
Delighting Grace: How can a church initiate a family devotion project?
Elijah Abanto: I think it begins with the pastor. He must begin doing family devotions first before he can lead the church families to do it. Then when it is established with the pastor’s family, he can then motivate the men of the families.
Delighting Grace: What should a family consider if they will engage in family devotion?
Elijah Abanto: I think it’s just a matter of faith and will. Of course, the fathers should be the one who must initiate it. He must set aside his work outside and think about God and the welfare of his family. If he truly thinks that, he will schedule a time when they can get together and have devotions and trust God about it.
Delighting Grace: Does the absence of a father, a single parent or a broken family consider being hindrance for having a family devotion?
Elijah Abanto: Again, I say, it’s just a matter of faith and will. Most of the families of our church (broken or not) can’t do family devotions because they can’t trust God to do so and have a strong will to execute it. So it’s no, it should not be. In the father’s absence, the mother should be able (or the children) to lead the devotions. They must not let school or house work or anything else to hinder it. They must put it first. If there is school, they must decide to do it early. They must have a schedule.
Delighting Grace: In your case how does your family do family devotion?
Elijah Abanto: We are doing it 6:45 in the morning after all of us have woken up. We read the Scripture scheduled by the BDJ Devotions. Each person reads one to three verses each. After that we reflect upon by answering the questions prepared by the BDJ Devotions. After that we talk about many things and then end in prayer.
Delighting Grace: BDJ is truly helpful. It’s short but insightful. You have this “Hard Copy Project” for BDJ. What’s it all about and how can we believers get involved?
Elijah Abanto: “Hard Copy Project” has been a longing desire of CYPA. We can only give printed copies of BDJ and BDJ Devotions to our church (Capitol Bible Baptist Church) attenders and members. Only a few have been privileged to go online regularly and receive our publications. Hard Copy Project aims to publish printed copies of BDJ (“hard copies”) right to the addresses of those who desire to receive them. It’s just that, God has not provided finances for this ministry yet. You know, this kind of project needs thoroughly working printers and money to be able to send them to various addresses.
Believers can help us make this come true by sending enough support to us. You can send financial support through any money delivery service company to this address:
CYPA Paper Ministries
The Publishing Division ofCapitolBibleBaptistChurch
c/o Pastor Felizardo D. Abanto
Blk. 29, Sec. 1, Lot1&2, Belvedere Towne Subdivision II,
Filinvest West, Brgy. Paradahan I, Tanza,Cavite4108
Please notify us if this is for Hard Copy Project, so we can save it and when enough finances has come, we will be able to begin executing it.
Delighting Grace: Any parting words to those who already benefiting with your publication and also extend an invitation to our readers to check BDJ out.
Elijah Abanto: To all who are already receiving BDJ, may God continue to bless you with this ministry. We can publish your articles if you’ll just send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To all who haven’t experienced BDJ, please take time with us and go to http://www.facebook.com/cypapaper. You can also receive an online, weekly copy of BDJ and other CYPA Paper Ministries by just letting us know through our e-mail address above. Thank you very much.
Delighting Grace: God bless you Bro Elijah and more power to your ministry!