The History of Semilya Sa Kinabuhi
When Dodong Cacanando and his family moved from Manila to Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon in 1998, one of first things he did was to look for a local pastor who would do the Bible studies in their farm in Lico-an, Sumilao. In answer to this desire, God sent Roger Mancawan, a Fundamental Baptist pastor, to become both driver and Bible teacher in Moriah Farms and start a work place ministry. After many months of doing so, came a burden to extend the Bible studies to a nearby barangay in Sumilao. This new project though would require the translation of the materials they used from CCF (Christ’s Commission Fellowship), the church the Cacanandos attended in Manila, from English to the Visayan dialect. This time in response to this need, God sent Nell Binayao, then a Director of the Translator’s Association of the Philippines (TAP) in Bukinon, to join the group.
Thus the concept of people from different churches ministering toward one goal began in this part of Manolo Fortich and Sumilao. A group of 9 people started to train in the residence of the Cacanando’s to prepare to reach out to the communities they were in. Like most ministries, they worked to share the gospel by inviting people to Bible studies. But the group found the ministry so frustrating because people would repeatedly reject their invitations. They were also persecuted because they were from different churches and the existing churches around them insisted they should choose to represent only one church. Because of the rejection and the persecution, the group just decided to focus on their personal growth – on their Quiet Time, in regularly reading the Bible from cover to cover every year and living according to God’s design. Then something special happened. As they focused on their internal growth, people started to come, inquiring and asking to join their Bible studies. All of a sudden, the work became easy. This time they did not have to invite people to join them, instead they were getting invited to minister to others.
While this was happening, another ministry started to develop, one that was based on the workplace. The Cacanandos by then decided to integrate the Bible into every part of their farm operations. Every employee was required to attend Bible studies which taught them work values. They also participated in regular accountability sessions and eventually gave tithes to their respective churches. Soon after, John Perrine decided to do the same in his farm house in Sangkanan, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon. From these two farms, the concept of “No Word, No Work” was conceived. People who wanted to work for these two farms were required to participate in activities that brought the whole organization closer to God. But church membership and conversion were not discussed; instead complete obedience to what the Bible commands, regardless of church affiliation or religion, was emphasized. Because of this, value formation Bible studies were slowly being developed by the group.
Because of the many things happening in their ministry and in the businesses they represented, a vision was developed. In one of his Quiet Time, Dodong Cacanando asked God why all these was happening. He believed that it was God who took him out of Manila and transferred his family to a simple town in Bukidnon. Though not fully understanding why God brought him there and why the ministry had been growing steadily, that morning he made a special request – he asked God if he would be allowed to see Mindanao come to Christ, in his lifetime! Shortly after, he shared this vision to the group. Thus, the Semilya vision was formed even before Semilya was born: that is to win MINDANAO FOR CHRIST! As they prayed for this vision, a number of things became evident and obvious. One of these was the fact that no single organization or church could fulfill this vision by itself. Instead, churches and other Christian organizations must work together in order to see this desire become a reality. Unfortunately, a lot of factions and divisions exist amongst Christian churches because it seems more emphasis is given on growing the membership of these organizations.
As this was happening, John Perrine took notice and acknowledged the results of the informal value formation program in his home farm. He highlighted how a group of people who were fanatical about their religion would now teach the Bible to others without forcing their own religion on them. He saw how people belonging to different religions inside his farm would come together and act as one. It was Pastor Nell Binayao who implemented the program and these results came out after two years. Because of this, John asked the group in Manolo Fortich to train teachers for the farms of Unifrutti in Talakag and Lorugan in Bukidnon.
In 2004, the group started to train some pastors and laymen on how to approach the workplace without inviting debates and causing divisions with workers of Unifrutti farm because of religion. They further enhanced their Value Formation Program to address the lack of moral standards amongst the workers. A need to train more teachers and a need to develop a formal training program became evident to the group towards the end of 2003. Then one morning, as the group was having their Dawn Watch, they all agreed that it would be good to have a training center, and thus prayed for this need. That very same morning, they checked out a ½ hectare land which was then for sale near the center of Manolo Fortich. Dodong Cacanando and Pastor Nell Binayao, along with their wives, went to the place, prayed for the land and claimed a training center for the ministry God had started around them.
In January 2004, Dick Ang came to Cagayan de Oro to attend the burial of a friend’s son. During that event, he asked Dodong about some of the things he heard about Moriah Farms, and how prayer and obedience had influenced the success of its business. Dodong shared the program in Moriah Farms and how John Perrine has started the same programs in the farms that he was managing. After talking a few more times, Dick asked Dodong what he was planning to do next. So Dodong shared a design of a training center where they would take people from different churches and train them on the new approach to workplace ministry. After seeing the plan, Dick offered to finance the training center. What was amazing about this event was the fact that Dick and Dodong were not even close friends before that; they just knew each other from their church back in Manila. Thus, Dick Ang practically came from nowhere to join God in forming a center to train people in a new approach to ministry.
Because of this, Semilya Sa Kinabuhi, Inc. was born. It is a foundation that aims to bring the Bible and the church to where people work — in their businesses and in their farms. It is a place where people from different churches can gather together in order to see one vision fulfilled around them – to win Mindanao for Christ, hopefully in their lifetime. The working members of Semilya decided to give up their church affiliation so that it will not hinder people from other churches to come and work with them.
Today, as we see more people coming together to work as one, we may not only see Mindanao come to Christ but the whole country as well.
The founding members of Semilya Sa Kinabuhi, Inc. are the following:
Jose Feron E. Cacanando
John Paul PerrineNicodemus Ang