“…Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”
The truth of John 12:24 rang clearly among tributes during memorial services in three REACH ministry areas for REACH founder, Gene Tabor, who died February 13, 2012 of Parkinson’s Disease.
Services were held in Muñoz City, Davao City and Metro Manila in February and March. Representatives from REACH, Reach Ministries International, The Navigators, Lakas Angkan and other ministries shared memories of Gene and Helen, expressed condolences and thankfulness to the Tabor family, and challenged one another to continue with the Great Commission.
Helen and son, Joe, represented the Tabor family at the service in Manila on March 25.
Former Chairman of the REACH Board of Trustees, Ed Jimenez, opened the service in Manila saying many were saddened to hear of Gene’s passing away, but “lets be focused that it is God who has given, it is God who has called, and at the same time it is God who needs to be glorified.”
Dr. Sim Pasicolan from Los Baños gave the opening prayer. “We pray, Father, that all of us in this room will continue to respond to the Great Commission just as Gene responded to that mandate. May we all be inspired to go on despite various challenges as we participate in Kingdom building, all for your honor and glory.”
A eulogy written by the Tabor family was read by Joe. It told how Gene’s life was centered in Christ while serving in high school Bible clubs and college fellowships, sharing Christ in the Navy to soldiers and Filipinos, in his courtship of Helen and in their marriage, bringing his family to the Philippines in the 60s, thinking contextually in the evolving ministry of The Navigators and REACH-Lakas Angkan, and in the more than 20 years of trips back to the Philippines to shepherd the flock once the Tabor family returned to the U.S. in 1978.
Joe said, “We were proud of our father. Proud to be one of his children. He seemed like such a giant of a man. And it was always certainly interesting — from discussing theology to feeding a methane digester in our backyard or folding and mailing newsletters time and time and time again. We can tell you that having to share Dad with a lot of people was sometimes hard. But we knew he was trying his best to serve the Lord — the best he could.”
Rex Cruz, present Chairman of the REACH Board, thanked Helen and Joe, “On behalf of the entire REACH Philippines family, I’d like to convey our sincere gratitude and our appreciation for giving us Gene. Indeed, it was unselfish of you to share Gene with us.”
Impact on Others
Philip Flores of The Navigators said Gene was “ahead of his time.” He quoted Proverbs 10:7 and said, “The memory of the righteous is a blessing… (ESV). That’s what we are doing now, recalling the life that was well lived, fruitful, fully for the Lord.”
Boni Arzadon of Lakas Angkan said, “Today we have a ministry that is the fruit of Gene’s work in my life.…The grace of God flows through people’s lives and nothing will ever take away from…the grace of God that flowed through Gene’s life to mine, and to Luming’s, and to our ministry.”
Romy Salvador, an early Nav contact, told a story of Gene “paying the price” that impacted his life. He recalled Gene and the family were already packed and in their car for a vacation to Baguio when they took Romy to Makati for an 8 a.m. dental appointment made by Gene. They waited throughout the two-hour appointment before proceeding to Baguio.
“Those are small steps Gene and Helen have done for us and we would not be here…unless Gene and Helen and the whole family had paid the price.”
Romy said men and women around the globe are living a life that is pleasing to the Lord today because Gene cared and passed on the heart of Christ and disciplemaking to others who continue in his tradition. “God really honored him.”
“I’m going to challenge all of you, if you haven’t paid the price, start paying the price because it’s worth it,” said Romy.
During the various memorial services around the country, special musical numbers were prepared by the Davao team and delegates from Nueva Vizcaya and Los Baños. Slide shows in CLSU and Metro Manila of Gene and the family revealed a life richly lived and fully dedicated to God.
Mar Movillon from Los Baños summarized Gene’s legacy with an acronym:
G — od’s gift to us Filipinos.
E — xample of the exemplary life that he has taught us.
N — o nonsense preaching, teaching and sharing.
E — quipping that enriched our lives.
REACH National Discipleship Team Leader, Dr. Paul Pasicolan concluded the service with the challenge, “How about us? What legacy are we leaving behind to the next generation? What memories are we building for our children’s children?”
Earlier, Joe summed up Gene’s impact on the Tabor children, “He introduced us to the one perfect man who walked the face of the earth, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Directly or indirectly, Gene did the same for thousands of people across the globe by being the kernel of wheat that died to self and produced many seeds.