Love, sex and relationships. These three grabs the Pinoys interest. You don’t believe me? Well check out tons of Mexican and Korean telenovelas out there. Or your neighborhood sari-sari store pocketbooks for rent. Or try to tune in the radio to hear Joe D’ Mangos wannabes. Filipinos love talking about these topics.
Delighting Grace recently got a hold with Kuya Kevin Sanders, a campus minister, author and host of the radio show “Basta Love Life” and asked some questions about his blog, books, radio and campus ministry.
Delighting Grace: How did all this things happen? Did you plan all this? When did you start being a kuya?
Kuya Kevin: I became a Christian when I was very young. A few years later (my teenage years) I felt that God was calling me to serve Him. It didn’t make much sense to me at the time because I’m more of an introvert (shy type). But God has continued to confirm this decision.
To make a long story short, I got interested in missions when I was in college. I told God I would be willing to go if He would make a way. He eventually did, and I ended up here. One of the reasons I chose Manila is I really wanted to work with college students. There are hundreds of thousands of them here, so I have plenty of work to do. This is my dream job!
Delighting Grace: There are lots of people especially in the media that has this love advice segments or columns. Dr. Love copycats are like mushroom here. So tell us what makes your advice different from those gazillions out there who wants to take a stab on someone’s relationship problem?
Kuya Kevin: The show was started in part as a response to some of the shallow, worldly advice that seems so prevalent on some shows. Erwin (my co-host) got the idea while on a late-night bus ride. He heard this radio “counselor” telling a caller that same-sex relationships are OK as long as you are in love (definitely not what the Bible teaches). We started talking about doing our own show–a show based on biblical principles.
I think what sets us apart is the biblical approach. We stick to the Word and try to make it very practical and relevant.
We are also careful to avoid legalism. The Bible gives us some clear guidelines (such as saving sex for marriage), but I’m afraid some Christian teachers and authors go a little overboard. It makes me think of Paul’s words: “Do not go beyond what is written” (1st Corinthians 6:4).
Delighting Grace: One question that rises is: you are American, so how can you give advice to Pinoy considering the culture background?
Kuya Kevin: Well, part of the answer is this: many of the issues I deal with are common among youth/singles all around the world. Sometimes I find myself personally relating to questions I’m asked–things I’ve experienced myself when I was a student in the States.
But culture does play a role. I had already lived in the Philippines for a few years before I started doing purity seminars–I didn’t start this as soon as I stepped off the plane. In other words, I had a pretty decent understanding of Filipino culture by the time this aspect of ministry developed.
Delighting Grace: Wow. So what can you say about Pinoys and how they handle their love life?
Kuya Kevin: I think Filipinos tend to take courtship very seriously. The process is a little more formal than what we do in the States. We Westerners, for example, only use the term “propose” to refer to a marriage proposal. We don’t make a formal proposal for courtship.
I hate to admit this, but the Filipinos’ biggest problem is they are starting to act like Americans–having premarital sex, having children outside of wedlock, cohabitation (living together outside of marriage), etc. The traditional Filipino values more closely match the biblical teaching on love, sex, and marriage.
Delighting Grace: What do you think makes good advice?
Kuya Kevin: First and foremost, good advice is based on the Bible. Beyond that I think keeping things as simple and as practical as possible is the way to go.
Delighting Grace: In your experience as a campus minister, what are the challenges you face daily as you minister to students? Do you have an unforgettable story you can share with us?
Kuya Kevin: The ministry I do is kind of unique in that I spend a great deal of time outside the church. Most of my ministry happens in schools, with students that may not have any spiritual background. The greatest challenge is reaching out and being patient with the students’ responses–even those who are not interested in the gospel.
I’m not sure that I have one favorite story–there are so many. Celebrating victories is important, so I make sure to reflect on every life I see changed by the power of the gospel.
Delighting Grace: I’m also a campus minister and I learned a lot from listening to students when they pour their hearts out. It’s not just to connect to their generation but to share what I experienced. How about you? What is the most important lesson you have learned while these college kids express how they feel?
Kuya Kevin: The most important thing I learn is whatever is going on in that particular student’s life. It is a great honor to have someone share his or her life with you. I’ve learned that just being willing to listen goes a long way in doing ministry.
Delighting Grace: Who do you seek for encouragement and advice?
Kuya Kevin: My parents have been a source of support and encouragement for me. They’ve always told me to do whatever it is God is calling me to do.
I have some great friends, and each of them encourage me in different ways. Some of them may just hang out with me for coffee and a movie. I have a friend in the States who has known me since college. He’s the one I usually email to talk about issues in my personal life–I can pretty much tell him anything.
I’ve also been blessed with some great mentors over the years. I still keep in touch with most of them.
Delighting Grace: Let’s get to your books, you wrote two of them. Can you tell us about the books? How did you get the idea to put out a book?
Kuya Kevin: It all started with the blog (KuyaKevin.com). I was looking for a way to connect with students I met in seminars–a way to keep sharing my thoughts with them once the seminar was over and they go back home. I started blogging as a way to share advice.
Students were responding to my blog articles, so I kept writing. I contacted Church Strengthening Ministry (CSM, my publisher) after a year or so of writing–it seemed publishing was the next logical step.
That’s how Basta LoveLife came into being.
I’ll give you a little more background on Basta LoveLife. I noticed two things when looking at relationship books in the Philippines: 1. Most of the books here were simply imported from the States. 2. It seemed many of the locally authored books were written by women. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I figured it was time for something written from the masculine perspective.
This first book is basically a collection of my thoughts about love, sex and relationships–from a biblical perspective, of course.
The second book, Learning the Hard Way, also started on my blog. I was seeing a lot of sad stories in my email inbox–testimonies of those who were making terrible mistakes and paying the price. “What if stories like these were used to warn others?” I asked myself.
I started a “Learning the Hard Way” section on my blog, and it was a big hit. It seemed like it would make
a good book, so I approached my publisher (CSM) about it. The end result was book number 2. Erwin designed the cover and artwork for it.
Delighting Grace: Those are things that a Christian Pinoy looks for. You know Kevin “Basta Love Life” book is very Pinoy. What are some reaction of people who read that book?
Kuya Kevin: It’s funny you mention that. One of the greatest honors I’ve received is hearing Filipinos tell me they can relate to what I’ve written. It puts a smile on my face because I know I somehow managed to reach my target audience.
Delighting Grace: Your radio show/podcast is great. You and Kuya Erwin make a good tandem. So tell us how do you prepare for the radio show? Have you already made your response to the questions that you received? How do you pick the questions you will discuss in the show?
Kuya Kevin: Thanks–I’m glad you like the show. Erwin and I jokingly call ourselves the Philippines’ most unprofessional broadcasters. Don’t get me wrong–we are very concerned with quality. But neither of us really come from a broadcasting background, and both of us have full-time ministries off the air.
Here’s how we usually arrange the show: I choose the topics and questions, and Erwin is responsible for the music and production. You’ve heard the show, so you know he also gives his own insights during counseling segments section. This arrangement works well because Erwin is the musician/artist.
Or different cultural backgrounds are also a big asset. Erwin is a Filipino. He grew up in Manila, moved to the States as a teenager, and moved back to the Philippines a few years back. I’m an American who moved here about eight years ago. I think it gives us a pretty good balance in terms of cultural perspectives.
Delighting Grace: You have a blog, books, radio podcast and you minister to students. I think many are curious; do you still have time for your own love life?
Kuya Kevin: Well, it can be challenging to balance full-time ministry and a social life. But the biggest challenge for me has been finding the right person, not finding the time. I can always make time for the right person.
I’ll add something here–something I find a little amusing. People have asked me how I can write a book on love when I’m not married. Here’s my answer: my books are not about married life.
I think it is great to hear from those who marry young and had relatively few romantic troubles. But what about the rest of us? I think we need to hear from those who, like me, have experienced rejection, breakups, blind dates, and all the other trials of single life. Basta LoveLife, for example, has a chapter or two on breakups. I included this because I noticed this kind of thing was mysteriously absent in some Christian books–as if Christians never experience broken hearts. Believers need to know God is with them in the midst of their most trying moments.
Delighting Grace: In closing, please give a message to those who follow you in Twitter, Facebook, read your blog and books and listen to your podcast. Most of them really benefited with your advices for sure.
Kuya Kevin: I would probably refer back to the “two commandments”: be pure and be wise. Keep yourself sexually pure and use biblical wisdom in your relationship choices. Do this and you’ll avoid most of the disasters.
Delighting Grace: Bro Kevin thanks for giving your time for this interview and God bless as you minister to students.