This morning, I have read from GCF South Metro Resident Pastor Lito Villoria’s Facebook post that GCF Ortigas will have a first death anniversary memorial for the late GCF Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Luis L. Pantoja, Jr. I do remember that a week from now, it will be a year since I heard the haughty news from a fellow GCFer: “Pastor Luis passed away this afternoon, 6pm in Kota Kinabalu at a retreat of International Pastors. Pastors present tried to resuscitate him but he already went home to the Lord.” That time, I was Glorietta with my parents for a purpose I have already forgotten but that very news struck me and my family by surprise. For a minute, we cannot move where we are standing, apparently shocked with what happened. For us, our Sunday is never complete without hearing Pastor Luis’ sermon or greeting him as he shakes hands with everyone that passed by the lobby. The last sermon of his that I remember so well is that sermon about the endtimes of how even before The Endtimes will happen, we will meet our own individual end time in mortal death. Probably, that was the most memorable sermon everyone from GCF would ever remember at his passing. While we are so pre-occupied at what may happen in the endtimes, we forget that our very own endtime is imminent.
Pastor Luis is probably one of the most influential figures in the history of Philippine Evangelical Christianity whose impact goes beyond the borders of the country. He’s one of the few globe trotting Filipino pastors I know, ministering to the Filipino diaspora at large. His pastoral thesis on modern worship, the role of Globalization in Christian missions and the importance of ministry among the Filipino diaspora are a few of his contributions to the body of pastoral knowledge. Pastor Luis advocacy is to equip every Filipino pastor in spiritual fervor, ministry and pastoral knowledge that he spearheaded several offshore masteral and doctoral programs not just among GCF pastors but also other Filipino pastors cutting across several denominations. He spearheaded PETRA or the Philippine Evangelical and Theological Research Association, Inc. to facilitate research and study of the Philippine Evangelical Movement. In his will, he made it possible for his remaining loved ones to organize the Luis Pantoja Foundation, Inc. in order to facilitate scholarships for masteral and doctoral programs therefore continuing in his advocacy he left. Not only did he want to equip pastors but he also wanted to take care of the poor people’s welfare in his plan to put up a retirement community behind GCF South Metro and Southern Luzon which unfortunately did not push through (for now) because of his untimely death.
Even as Pastor Luis has left us, we know full well that in the Grace and Mercy of God, he is know in the very presence of God enjoying the fellowship of saints passed in heaven. I remember full well the memorial card I wrote for him…
In memory of God’s faithful servant who served valiantly and courageously. Rev. Dr. Luis L. Pantoja, Jr., Senior Pastor and Servant of God at Greenhills Christian Fellowship, living in the presence of the Lord and will be resurrected at the end of age.
This was the same words of memorial that was posted outside the doors of Greenhills Christian Fellowship. For the fellowship of saints left on earth, we must carry on the spiritual zeal he ignited in his years of ministry here on earth. I think that in his death anniversary, we should not remember it as the day we lost a hero of faith but his passing from this present life to the next. We now face the job of faithfully running the race faithfully. May the life of Pastor Luis served as an inspiration of a grace-filled ministry and faithfulness to the word of God.