August 30, 2019
“Change the Campus. Change the World.”
I’ve heard this mantra since I became part of Every Nation Campus as a freshman in college. I don’t know about you, but every time I hear that I am a world-changer, I always felt that I should be doing big and radical things for God, like heading a committee for the United Nations or running for presidency.
So when I started working as a teacher, I could not imagine how the daily lesson plan and the checking of quizzes and assignments contributed to world transformation.
The question remains, “What does changing the world look like? And why do my leaders firmly believe I am a world-changer when I could just end up doing mundane things?”
We interviewed three graduates of BS Biology—three students who were reached through our campus ministry and are now making an impact in their respective fields.
Prof. Faith Maranan is an assistant professor under the Environmental Biology Division of the Institute of Biological Sciences at U.P. Los Baños. She received both her undergraduate degree in Biology (as a Genetics major) and her Master’s degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from U.P. Los Baños.
Dr. Alsun Cabarles is both a nephrologist and a professor. He received his undergraduate degree in Biology from U.P. Manila and his medical degree from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.
Dr. Debbie Liao had a two-year stint in the Doctors to the Barrio (DTTB) program before she signed on as the municipal health officer of Gamay, Samar. She serves some of the most remote barrios in the nation. She received her undergraduate degree in Biology from U.P. Los Baños and her medical degree from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.
Given what these three world-changers have shared about their journey, we can come to these conclusions:
1 Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.” Whenever God sets us on a different direction than we’ve planned, we can rest on His love and His sovereignty. His plans may not be as glamorous as we imagined, but we know we will certainly accomplish His purpose.
Why did you take your course?
FM: I took those courses because I am really fascinated in understanding concepts pertaining to “how” and “why” things are, most especially questions that deal with biological systems.
AC: I took Biology because it is one of my interests. I like nature, the diversity of plants, animals and their ecosystems, microbiology, genetics, biotechnology, and their applications. In short, I love things about life!
DL: I took Biology because I was interested in the sciences. It was one of my favorite subjects during high school.
What was your original dream? Is it close to what you do now?
FM: Originally, I wanted to pursue medicine and become a doctor. But along the way, I discovered that I really enjoy teaching. Some of my close friends even affirmed that I have a gift. While doing volunteer work for the university, I found engaging with students very fulfilling. I delight in making complex information simpler for others and seeing “wow” moments every time I tutor a classmate or a friend.
AC: I really wanted to become a genetic engineer and find ways to understand diseases, create medicine, and find solutions to medical problems, focusing more on the molecular level. It’s like finding the root cause of a problem.
If you think about it, being a medical doctor is not that far from being a genetic engineer because of their common goal to improve life and to find cures for diseases. Doctors are just in the forefront interacting with the patients, while genetic engineers are the ones working behind the scenes.
DL: I didn’t really plan on becoming a doctor. I’ve always thought I’d get into research.
What do you love most about your current job? What are your challenges?
FM: I really love learning with my students. Although I have been doing this for 14 years, every semester is really different. I get a new set of students with different interests, learning styles, temperaments, and even personal concerns. I feel energized finding creative ways of teaching and making the lessons fun, relevant, and easy to comprehend. Sometimes, I also get the opportunity to connect with my students on a more personal level. Some even come to me for advice even with their nonacademic concerns. I usually take advantage of those moments to share my own journey, with the hopes of inspiring and encouraging them to faith.
In the university, we are mandated not just to teach, but also to conduct our own research, serve on committees, and serve the nation through extension activities. One of my challenges is juggling those responsibilities while making sure that I still have time to rest, grow in my relationship with God, spend quality time with my family, and serve in my local church.
AC: I love interacting with my patients and serve them and their families. Whenever I talk to them I learn from their stories, their backgrounds, and how they see life as a whole. I get to understand how God works in each of us, both individually and as a community.
The main challenge of being a doctor is having so much work to be done in a limited time each day. That’s why doctors are perceived as busy people and always on the go. There are so many patients to see, many medical conferences, activities, and events to attend, and even more paperwork to accomplish. It is important for a doctor to know how to manage time wisely and according to priority and make time for work, the self, family, friends, community, and more importantly, for God.
DL: I get to meet people and serve the underserved. Insufficient resources in the rural areas are one of the challenges I have encountered, but I think the biggest one is the existing system that leads to health inequity.
You don’t have to be the president of the nation or the CEO of a company in order to change the world. We are not called to accomplish great things single-handedly. This is the power of the church community. A single grain of salt and a lone ray of light will not make much of an impact. But putting grains of salt and rays of light together in unity radically changes their surroundings for the better. For what is food without salt and a dark corner without light?
How has campus ministry helped you prepare for what you do now?
FM: Campus ministry has a huge impact in preparing me for what I do today. I was raised in a Christian home, but it was only in 2001, through discipleship, that I truly understood the implications of what Christ has done for me and how the gospel affects every aspect of my life. It was through campus ministry that I realized my identity, security, and purpose in Christ. As one working in the academe, I am constantly reminded not to anchor my identity on my achievements, accolades, connections, failures, and disappointments. But my involvement in campus ministry, then and now, has instilled in me the importance of loving and serving the next generation. This can be as simple as praying for the office, lending my ear to a troubled student or colleague.
I used to be a student that campus ministry sought and reached out to, and I am truly grateful. Now, I have this privilege to love and serve the next generation, in many ways, using the platform that God has entrusted to me.
AC: Campus ministry helped me in a lot of ways. First, it brought me closer to God and helped me cultivate a growing relationship with Him. By putting my whole faith in Him, I understood His plans for me, which are far beyond my own preferences and circumstances. For me, being a doctor is not just a preference or a source of income; it is a calling to serve others through what God has bestowed upon me.
Second, changing the campus and changing the world does not end when one steps out of the university. It’s about applying everything one has learned as a student and as a follower of Jesus. The venue and avenue might have changed—like in the setting of my patients and their families who are sick; my students who are facing difficulties in their studies; or a random medical personnel in the hospital who needs a break from all the toxicity of their duty—yet God’s heart to reach the lost never changes, and we need to preach the gospel to them.
Third, it brought me to a community of believers who serve as my family. I know very well that I am not alone in this good fight of faith, and God has given me companions to walk this journey called life
DL: It placed a desire in my heart to serve because it is my way of honoring God. The ministry helped me find my purpose—to honor God and serve His people.
We have a tendency to look at a person’s life and just see the accomplishments. But we don’t see the discipline of sticking to a routine that builds up to an excellent lifestyle. As Colin Powell puts it, “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”
What are routine things that you do that are not necessarily exciting but are crucial to your being excellent?
FM: I run three times a week for physical wellness and to optimize my energy levels. I try as much as possible to get at least six hours of sleep every night and to observe proper diet. I also make an inventory of my involvements to make sure I’m spending my time and energy wisely and that I still have enough margin for rest. I’m an advocate of proper personal nutrition. How will I fulfill God’s assignment for me if I’m always sick?
Since my undergrad years, I’ve been taught by my leaders to build spiritual disciplines. Discipleship really made a huge impact in my life. Thank you Lord! So, I don’t go to work without spending time with God (personal worship time, prayer, and Bible reading or study). This is the time when the Lord purifies my motives, instructs me, and gives me encouragement and joy at work. I also love receiving impartation from people, so I see to it that I am covered by my leaders in all areas of my life (finances, relationships, career, time management, etc). I’m also the contemplative type, so I ask the Lord for new dreams or areas for growth. Sometimes I do this quarterly; at times I do it twice a year. I read books, find mentors, or attend conferences related to those areas that the Lord had pointed out.
God has revealed all these ideas to me as I spend time with Him and as I get discipled and planted in His church.
AC: I make time for what matters to me the most. Whenever I rest, that’s when I get to study God’s Word in-depth at least once a week. This is more than the usual quiet time I do every day. I study a passage of the Bible, know its deeper and original meaning, and know its application in my life. I would also listen to preachings (either podcast or vidcast), read books, consult with pastors, and write them down as notes. It helps me focus on what God wants me to see, pray for, and do.
I also schedule mentoring. Even a person who has a PhD or MD affixed to his or her name doesn’t know everything. There’s more to life than meets the eye. It helps me process my insights and even gives clarity to certain decisions I have to make. It helps me to be aligned to God’s Word and know its practical application in my situation.
So brace yourself, world-changer! God’s not done with you yet. Keep the faith and keep being faithful with the things God asks you to do daily. Someday, you will look back and see how God was using your life, even through the ordinary moments, to create deep, lasting impact in the world.
Photo credits: Ramon Kagie