MY SHARING           (Tony Pana)

 

EWWJ First Anniversary held at UN Secretariat, Conference Room A on Sept. 26, 2002 at 1 pm.

 

In February 1999 Evelyn went to Thailand together with our daughter, to assume her new post in UNESCAP, Bangkok after passing the UN G to P Exam.  My two sons and I joined them 4 months later in June.  As you know, Thailand is a Buddhist country, with only about 5% comprised of Christians and Muslims.  At that time, my family missed our Charismatic Prayer Community in New Jersey.  We were spiritually thirsty and searching for a prayer community in Bangkok.  I tried to set-up a prayer group and invited some “Filipino ex-pats.” and other Thai acquaintances, but no one came on the day that Evelyn and I invited them.  So, I said to myself in GOD’s time we’ll be able to join a prayer community. 

 

About three months after arriving in Bangkok, I was blessed to get a short term job at UNESCAP and was hired as one of their local staff.  I’ve been longing for JESUS and HIS word and I’ve been praying and asking the Holy Spirit to guide us in our mission to set-up a prayer community in Bangkok.  One day, while in prayer, I received a calling to set up and coordinate a monthly First Friday Mass Devotion to the SACRED HEART of JESUS at UNESCAP.  Although I experienced a lot of problems, distractions and religious persecutions, I persevered.   The “very First Friday Mass” turnout was very small as what we expected, but we went on, and for the past three years the five of us, including the priest from our “very first Friday Mass” grew to more than 30 attendees from Catholic and other Christian denominations including the head of UNESCAP, Executive Secretary Mr, Kim HAK-SU (South Korea) who is Catholic.  The attendance is still growing.  You’ll be a amazed to see Christian Methodist, Episcopalians, Anglicans, Baptists and people from other Christian faith attending the monthly First Friday Mass, listening to the WORD OF GOD being officiated by a Redemptorist  Thai Priest. 

 

We had lived in Bangkok, Thailand for a little over two years in the summer of 2001.  We liked that country and its people and had already become very close to the members of Couples for Christ, Thailand .  We also started to get actively involved in the evangelization seminars they were holding and we were enjoying ourselves tremendously.   We thought that finally, everything was starting to work out not only for us but also for our kids. 

 

However, a few weeks later, my wife got a call from NY informing her that she was selected for a job that she applied for earlier in the year.  While we were very grateful for this very rare opportunity to go back to NY and with a promotion at that, we wondered whether it was God’ s will for us.  Why now, we asked God.  And why NY, when there was much more need for His workers in Thailand?

 

However, since we had prayed about this from the time Evelyn applied for it, we discerned that because she was selected, that it must be His will for us to go back to NY. 

 

We were scheduled to leave in November but because my older son Michael wanted to start the school year here, he and I flew back to NY on Sept. 3, 2001.  All of you know what happened 8 days later.  When tragedy struck on September 11, I spoke to my son and asked him to come back with me to Bangkok.  I felt that it was no longer safe for us to stay here.   I started to think that maybe we misread God’s message.  Maybe we were not meant to come back to NY after all.  However, my son was determined not to go back because being American, he felt that he needed to stay here

 

I left for Bangkok with great sadness in my heart.  Evelyn and I discussed about giving up the job in NY and convincing our son, Mike to come back to live with us in Bangkok.   When we called him to reconsider, he insisted that he wanted to stay in New Jersey.  Since it was never an option for us to be separated as a family, it was as if God was telling us that He had arranged for Mike to be in NJ because He knew that we might change our minds about coming back to NY.   We continued to pray about it and about two weeks before we were scheduled to leave for NY, we received another confirmation that it was indeed His will for us to come back, when I received a message from my former office in UNDP that there was a job waiting for me when I got back to NY.  God knew, that one of my concerns about coming back here was that I was going to be out of job again and He took care of it just like that.  He is really so good.

 

 I started working with UNDP on Nov. 08, 2001.  In early January this year, my wife asked me to attend the lunch meeting with Bible group of Tess Castaneda at DC1 Cafeteria on her behalf, so I served as her proxy without knowing that our Sister Tess will be passing the “baton of truth” to all of us in this Ministry.  Now we know why He wanted us to come back here.  I believe that it is His will for all of us to work for HIM in the evangelization and renewal of the whole United Nations and to try to unite all Christian faithful to HIM.

 

Brother and sisters, this sharing is but a small way of giving thanks to God for His goodness and generosity towards me and my family.  But I think that He has asked me to share this with you also, to let you know that no matter what happens in our lives, God is always in control.   We should always trust HIM , persevere in His love, and let Him rule in our lives because  He always, always knows better and  has a wonderful plan for each of us.

 

I would like to close by relating to you a wonderful story that happened just very recently. As part of our first anniversary celebration, we ordered 100 pieces of bookmarks from Kinkos, for which they were charging us almost $200.  When I went to pick them up two days ago, I had the money ready to give to the manager,  when she just took my hand, shook it and said that I should just  keep the money,  She was giving to us the bookmarks for free!  I couldn’t believe it.  In my more than 20 years here in America, I have never ever experienced anything like this and all I could manage to say was “Praise the Lord”!

 

Brothers and sisters, I believe, in my heart, that it is God’s way of assuring us that He is right here supporting us and that we should continue this work for Him.  Praise and honor be to Him.  HE IS TRULY AN AWESOME GOD!!!

 

THANK YOU.

    

Tony Pana

 

            ”Let go and let God rules!”

                             - -  T. Pana