Interview with Richard Rancap July 28, 2015 Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA Interviewer: Elizabeth Miller E=Elizabeth Miller R=Richard Rancap
E: Could you please begin with your name?
R: My name is Richard ??? Rancap and I come from Lumban Mennonite Church, a member of the Integrated Mennonite Churches of the Philippines.
E: Richard, you have a story that you would like to share with us today.
R: Yes, I have a story. Um, I was...I grew up in an Episcopal family. I grew up in the Episcopal village, and I was sent to Episcopal elementary school. And eventually I became a Christian in age 7. And I felt the Lord was calling me to get to know him in 1987. And I felt the Lord is also calling me to, to get to know him by studying his Word, and eventually I became a seminarian. And in 1990, I was appointed to be a pastor at the age of the 20 at one of the outreaches of Lumban Bible Church, at that time. [00:01:30;12]
For 5 years, serving in that small church, I felt that the joy of nourishing, giving people direction to the people I'm serving. And by the year 1995, the pastor of the main church had resigned, and the deacons had prayed for someone to take the position as resident pastor.
So year 1995 first Sunday of June, I was appointed to be the resident pastor. And then that time I had no idea I was going to be, challenges I was going to be facing. A few years later after I was assigned, I was informed of a conflict that, uh, I think that the conflict that I have never, I had not, I had no idea about. A conflict that, uh, was happened three decades ago. A conflict about leadership and the issue of land.[00:03:00;16]
At that time, the church realized that the land the church is built is owned by a person, owned by...it was named after a person, it was not named after the church. In which the church was thinking, long time ago, that the property of land is named after the church. But it wasn't. [00:03:31;09]
So one day I received a letter from an attorney, informing that, informing us as a church that the land we are in is not our property. And, uh, I was shocked. I was, uh, shocked because many of the others whom I'm serving, thought that the land was intended for the church. But the leader whose name of it passed away, in late 80s. And then I heard, in the past, there are others who heard that the leader is planning to transfer the name for the church. But after passing away, he didn't have that.
So the letter I received, uh, scares me, personally. Because I was included on the demand letter, that if you are not going to buy the lot, need to vacate and leave. But the building has a great story of God's blessing among his people. The building has a great story about spiritual journeys of the people. Many got engaged and had their weddings there, dedications of the children are held there. I was dedicated when I was a kid, in that particular church.
And then I was imagining--we're going to leave that. Because many of the members are not that rich, and they said that if you're not going to buy, we are to vacate for it. [00:05:45;03]
So one time I was riding a bicycle after receiving the letter. While riding the bicycle my mind is so, really...overwhelmed with the letter. I didn't know I was already passing the highway, because my mind is on the letter. I didn't know there was a 16-wheeler truck passing in front of me, but I thank God I turned my bicycle to the left, and I was, I avoided the, uh, possible accident, the 16-wheeler truck could run over me.
So what I did was just pray to God and just ask wisdom, what are we going to do with the letter? And then I, I immediately asked the board of deacons to discuss about it--how are we going to process and how are we going to respond to the authority of the family who is asking us. So after a period of praying, the Lord gave us wisdom. [00:07:16;03]
The first, talk to the attorney. And ask what can we do about it? And then some of the members of the deacons have decided to talk to the attorney, instead of bringing that to the court, which we don't embrace that idea. We follow what Jesus has taught us. That we are to, you know, to get reconciled with people who are, uh, asking us to vacate the property.
And finally we happened to talk to the attorney and he said there are two conditions that the family wanted you to do. First, you buy the land and you stay on the property. Second, if not, you vacate and there are people who is interested. So that if they going to be buying it, you're going to be a hindrance to make it happen.
So after that it's so clear that transferring the name of the leader to the, to the church will not be possible. So it's so clear that we need to buy it. Our church is composed of members whose jobs are farming, embroidery, and uh, some of them are fisherman. And many of them are students. And the price of the land is so, so big. It's equivalent to $27,000 (US), 1.2 million pesos. So much. And then...it's huge. [00:09:38;07]
But one thing as we processed that I felt the Lord is speaking to me personally and to our church, is not to fight against this system. Because it's very clear that we find out the name of the land was named after the leader's name. And we cannot do against that, because it's legal.
So we pray to God and then the Lord gave us ideas how we're going to do it. But we raised money. The Sunday School kids have piggy banks and said, "We are going to give our pennies, our coins for the church." The youth have also raised their funds. The members have raised their funds. And we also share these to our partners, to the US, to EMM [Eastern Mennonite Missions]. Because what we want is to, to have reconciliation. [00:10:53;19]
So eventually the Lord led us to talk to the eldest of the, the children. And we went to Manila and we talked about it. They have shared what the attorney also said. We are selling the land. We are selling the property, and you're the priority. And so they said that the price is $27,000 US dollars or 1.2 million.
So since then the Lord became gracious to us. And we have one member who said that, "Ok, we're going to give 500,000--about 250,000 pesos." That's a lot of money.
Another year, another 250. Until the full amount was covered. And finally the conflict, three, three decades, three decades of issues about the church property was solved. And we wholeheartedly, uh, give and pay what was ask of us. Because what I heard from the son who was the leader of the conflict was that conflicts can only be resolved in you're going, uh, respond to what we have asked of you. Either vacate the land or purchase our property. [00:12:59;09]
And the Lord, through the generosity of our brothers locally and abroad, uh...able to solve the conflict. And with that we have no more worries that there will come a time that there's a tractor that will smash the building, that the story will be erased. No more. Because God has been gracious.
And the thing that help us to process the conflict, something to with what our Lord Jesus Christ has said on his teaching: You have heard that you love your neighbor and hate your enemy. Now, as Jesus explained, love your neighbors and love your, your, your enemies. And pray for those who do cruelty on you. They are also brothers and sisters.
And it's something that we embrace. The teaching of Jesus Christ, that we are not to fight with one another, but to live in peace with another. So after that, whenever I saw them, I could look at their eyes. Though I was not a part of the conflict, I was born, I was so young at the time when the issues happened. But I am thankful that I became a part of, of that story, where Christ is glorified and then the church is developed and continually doing its mission. And as a church we continually fulfill its mission, that we as a church are called as a community of faith, called to be faithful in worship, in fellowship, and in service.[00:15:37;01]