By Rev. Cris Amorsolo V. Sian
Note: The following is a message delivered during the Testimonial Dinner in honor of Dr. Teodoro C. Robles on October 27, 2023.
Rev. Cris Amorsolo V. Sian delivered the message during the Testimonial Dinner in honor of Dr. Teodoro C. Robles.
“When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37 They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him.” Acts 20:36
This gathering is dubbed as a Thanksgiving Service, celebrating the 15 years of faithful and fruitful service of our beloved outgoing president, Dr. Ted Robles. There are institutions whose leaders are leaving and yet they do not feel like giving thanks because their leader failed them big time—there are so much ill feelings, bad blood, and discord that characterize his relationship with people.
But today, we are truly grateful to God for the life and legacy of the 17th President of CPU Dr. Teodoro C. Robles.
Our text in Acts 20, also talks about a leader saying goodbye to his people. Paul is leaving his beloved Ephesian church whom he nurtured for many years and is abdicating leadership in lieu of his younger protégé, Timothy. He will sail to his next destination, Jerusalem.
Their gathering resembles our assembly today. As Paul was surrounded by the people whom he ministered to/with, people who love him and consider him their own. They were sending him off with their well-wishes and prayers. As you can see, Dr. Robles is also surrounded by people from different units and departments who have grown to love appreciate his faithful service to CPU for 15 long years.
Our text tells what happened after Paul finished speaking. If we backtrack a bit, Paul’s speech actually resembles a response from all the beautiful things people said about him. But if we delve deeper Paul mentioned some of the things they can be grateful for, which I believe also speaks of Dr. Ted’s impact on us.
1. Paul was leaving them with his integrity intact!
In his address, he mentioned some of the things he did for/with them that show how he endeavored to become an upright and godly leader, for example:
He served God and His people faithfully amidst opposition and trials.
“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews…” (Acts 20:18-19). The mention of tears, trials, and plot against him gives us an idea that Paul encountered major setbacks, yet Paul was convinced that he served God well by serving the people.
He nurtured them in the faith so that they will not digress from God’s will — “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood … Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears” (Acts 20:28.31). In other words, Paul guarded his people’s spiritual well-being.
He lived honestly.
“I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:33-35). Instead of gaining something from his service, Paul used his expertise as a tentmaker to sustain the work of the Lord.
In the same way, I can say that DR. Robles served CPU faithfully, He ensured that CPU’s resources are managed and used well, and most of all—he is leaving with his integrity intact. Although his stint as president was tested by many trials—Typhoon Frank that incurred big losses for the University, the K-12 that was predicted to cause CPU more or less 300 million pesos for the next five years—which did not happen…praise God! And the recent COVID 19 Pandemic—something that we have suffered severely together.
I can say, however, without fear of contradiction that during Sir Ted’s watch, we have not only survived but really thrived! In short, he is leaving with a good track record and will be leaving the university in great shape. It was not a perfect leadership, coz for sure, there is none—but those were great 15 years! And we are grateful, Sir Ted!
2. Paul was leaving with a sense of mission.
Paul left Ephesus and sailed to Jerusalem. Although his ministry in Ephesus has culminated that he abdicated his position to a much younger Timothy—yet his eyes were set for Jerusalem coz according to the account he was directed by the spirit to go there…And true enough, Paul became a blessing in Jerusalem.
There was a crisis in Jerusalem (some were saying that it was famine) and Paul would spearhead 2 relief fund raising for Jerusalem and its narratives occupy considerable space in his epistles.
I am pretty sure that after CPU, DR. Ted and Mam Angel will continue to cause a tremendous, positive impact to where God is bringing them…probably that sense of mission also benefits CPU…and maybe he will keep on serving CPU in different capacities….we do not know! But knowing Dr. Robles and Mam Angel, as long as they are still able, they will not horde their gifts coz it is their nature to just give and serve.
Yesterday, we had a testimonial dinner in honor of Dr. Ted and Mam Angel Robles. Our passage in Acts Chapter 20 resembles a testimonial event. They have spoken their appreciation of Paul’s ministry and Paul made a response. Then they prayed together. As they bade their leader goodbye, there was a lot of embracing, kissing, and weeping. And then they accompanied him to the ship. They were devastated that Paul was leaving but they released him with a blessing knowing that God is bringing Paul to another place where his gifts can also be utilized.
And that’s what we want to do today, Sir Ted and Mam Angel. We are very grateful for your unselfish, exemplary, and stellar leadership. You’ve become precious to us. We are sad to see you go. But we also desire to bless you and your family as you go to the next phase of your journey. We want to send you off with a blessing and prayer. We are excited about what God is about to do through your lives. We pray that he will bless you and work through you just as he has here during your tenure as president. We love you sir! Thank you!