“Daddy Hermie (Bauza)” and “Mommy Ofel” are popularly known as the “Daddy at Mommy ng Bayan’ of Living Waters Philippines. And rightly so, as it was this powerfully meek couple that were the pillars that planted the seed of LWP 20 years ago. And for the next two decades after that, they toiled, contended and knelt in prayer for what would now be a forerunning inner healing ministry in the country.
It was originally a marriage problem, that thrust Hermie and Ofel into the ministry. Twenty nine (29) years into their marriage, Hermie’s struggle with sexual addiction and Ofel’s emotional dependency on him put such a strain on their relationship. Ofel wanted a divorce. Providentially, Hermie’s job saw him and his family set out for an expatriate assignment to Australia. This gave them the opportunity to attend an LW program in Sydney in 2000. It truly was orchestrated by God. It was His response to their individual obedience to Him – Hermie in his desire to repent and to save his marriage; Ofel in saying “Yes” to God’s word for her to “Stay” in the marriage.
As they finished the program, two scriptures spoke strongly to Hermie. Firstly in Malachi 4:5-6 — a warning that unless there is healing of the family, Earth won’t survive; secondly in 2 Cor 1:3-4 – that they themselves, as a couple one with God, may minister healing to others in the same way they received their healing. The following year, Hermie took his whole family to a LW Leadership Training (LWLT) in Canada to soak in more about this newfound healing stream. Here he was released as Coordinator.
By 2003, the couple stepped into the road God had called them to for the Philippines. Hermie coordinated the country’s very first LW program at the Church of God in Makati. This proved to be a formidable challenge to Hermie and his family (aside from his wife Ofel, it now also involved his daughters Hazel and Janel). Each had to wear multiple hats to run the program – as coordinator, teacher, small group leader, worship leader, administrative staff, all in one. It was a struggle building up that initial team – facing spiritual opposition, dealing with their personal issues and conflicts within the team and then managing all the logistical requirements. But God was faithful. He sustained them, giving them strength to say “Yes” each step of the way. After that pilot program, Hermie then coordinated the first LWLT where a bigger leadership team emerged for 2004. That year, Benjie Cruz formally took his anointed place as LWP National Director. And as they say, the rest is history.
In recent years, Daddy Hermie and Mommy Ofel are seeing that healing from sexual and relational brokenness that the ministry offers is but a small part of something grand God is accomplishing. It is their hope and prayer that LWP would broaden its ministry to come under the current move of God to restore Jesus’ original “Build my Ekklesia” commission for His followers – because it is through the Ekklesia, that the Father’s eternal purpose for His Son is accomplished and His glory fully revealed.
LWP at 20, is indeed a testament to this inspiring couple’s obedience to God to plant a seed for healing for this land. And they feel such great satisfaction and thankfulness to God for the privilege of being LWP pioneers.
Once on the verge of a bitter divorce more than twenty years ago, they remain together and have grown more united as “one”, more than ever. The more they cry for the Lord’s mercy together, the more they become more “one”.
This year (2021), Daddy Hermie and Mommy Ofel celebrated their glorious 51st wedding anniversary.
My infant son was still in diapers and I was five months shy of becoming a pastor’s widow when the Living Waters ministry was introduced to me. Eleven months later, having just lost my husband, I found myself in a desk in a borrowed 6ft x 6ft office cubicle, with one box of office files, a laptop, a list of a handful of donors, and a title: newest full-time staff member of Living Waters. Aside from the LWP Director and Deputy Director, this was the office team.
It was an unknown path to me being with this new ministry. Only a known God who knows the way, knew what lay ahead. There was no financial promise, only a God who promised to provide. Personally, there was no home of our own, only a God who declared He would be my shelter. From one dwelling to another, from a rented or rent-free room, God saw to it that my son and I had somewhere to go home to at the end of each day. Through lack, sickness, flooding, trauma, and grief, God sustained us both through it all.
Living Waters through its early years, was much like I journeyed as a widowed single mom for many years. Raising my son amidst seemingly endless trials was much like raising up the ministry from the ground up. We had to look to God to see us through. LWP had very limited resources and yet faithful partners would come alongside us to be a vessel of giving. We held our programs in borrowed facilities, jumping from one accommodating church to another. The ministry had no paid employees, but there were always passionate & committed volunteers who showed up to do the hard work at hand. And along with the volunteers came other challenges. Complex personalities. Different temperaments. Diverse backgrounds and issues. So when someone was triggered, it was not uncommon for friction to arise. Even an inner healing ministry was not immune from interpersonal conflicts. It was like dealing with a young boy and his tantraums or a teen and his dark angst.
Through all these, the leadership always pointed the way to unity through open conversation, deep prayer and listening to God. It helped mold the team and the leadership.
As the years passed, different giftings and callings led others in the team to pursue divergent paths apart from Living Waters. The God of diversity opened other platforms to fulfill their own unique missions. Even so, these episodes too were occasion to bless them, albeit with some pain from separation, as they were led to celebrate where God pointed them to.
Certainly there were crossroads for the ministry that seemed like daunting make or break situations. These were battles waged in the Spirit, calling out unto God with fear and trembling. The team would always choose to discern God’s direction in listening prayer, seeking Him and waiting for Him to speak to each one. And God never failed to come through. Always. Having been with the Donor Care Team at one time, I have never seen the ministry experience lack in anything. Every need was provided for.
20 years and counting – so worthy of celebrating. The team has now grown considerably. From a staff of 3, now there’s ten. The ministry has gone from one borrowed room to having an office space complete with a 100-seater worship hall. Not even the pandemic lockdown could stop its face to face gatherings. Healing programs persisted online and on-site in step with the changing times. The ministry challenged the restrictive norms and let its voice be heard. And even government authorities made a way to honor God’s favor for His healing work to carry on where others chose to temporarily stop.
As I write this from Iowa, USA, 7,900 miles across the Pacific I cannot help but feel grateful for the journey I started with Living Waters in 2008. My son was 3 then, and now he’s 17. I have remarried and am once again a pastor’s happy wife. God has brought me further and met me deeper beyond all my haunting fears.
The God who has called Living Waters 20 years ago is still the God who is with us now. Through the ebbs and flows of changing cultures and beliefs, through the pioneers, old-timers, newcomers, and those who have left us in this life or across the seas, through zoom or face to face meetings, Living Waters Philippines will continue to grow and flourish as Christ’s brave healing team for the country. Because the one who called is ever Faithful to complete His work through His wounded healers.