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August 22, 2012

Refuel: Interview with Pastor and Author Ru Dela Torre

One of the most thriving youth ministry today in the Philippines is happening in Pampanga City. I was given a chance to interview Pastor Ru, youth pastor of His Life City Church Pampanga on his third book Refuel. He shares some wonderful and powerful insights about the gospel, pastoring and refueling with God’s grace.

1. What made you write your 3rd book REFUEL?

Well uhm, Refuel is actually my third book with OMF Literature. The first installment is Road Trip, Your Guide to life’s best adventure. It is zoomed in on encouraging readers to let go and let God be the driver of their lives.

One year after the launch of Road Trip, Back on Track– Shifting Back to Grace– came out. It’s a book about the beautiful message of grace, and how God, in His loving kindness, dispenses second chances to us who’ve experience making wrong turns in life. 🙂

And then came Refuel. 🙂 The blurb at the back cover says it all about this book. And I quote, “ First, you went on a road trip. Along the way, you got lost and had to steer your life back on track. Now your tank is running low on gas. You need a fresh infusion of wisdom and inspiration.

Here’s a mix of personal reflections and devotional entries—to energize you while you’re spending quiet times with God. Go back to God’s Word and connect with Him again through prayer. IT’S TIME TO REFUEL.”

Similar to the first two books, my writing is an overflow of the love I receive from God everyday. I just want to share that love via all means possible. 😉

2. How is this different from your first and second book?

Well uhm, out of the experience of writing the book, we were actually able to coin a new word. 😉 REFLECTIO-DEVOS. It was actually an answer to the question asked by my editor when he asked me what the entries were. I told him, “the 52 chapters were not just devotional entries–they were also personal reflections.” Reflections plus devotional write-ups equal reflectio-devos. J

The chapters in this book are shorter. Refuel is suppose to be a one-year (once a week) devotional—fifty-two chapters in 52 weeks. A lot of readers however, just go at it and finish it in shorter periods of time.

This book is also a good mix of instruction and inspiration. It is written in a very conversational manner. Easy to read and encouraging, the pages are packed with real-life stories paired side-by-side with insight based on the Word.

3. How has the gospel changed your relationship with Christ and others?

Well uhm, I used to believe that Christ was a distant deity (who lived in heaven and was far from being concerned with my everyday life)—working like a strict librarian who was always on the look out–ready to punish me when I make mistakes.

I went to church every Sunday, prayed a lot of memorized prayers… but never really had a personal relationship with Him. When I encountered God in a retreat, I saw what He did for me on the cross. When I saw his love…when I understood fully what He gave up for me… when I encountered the cross, I realized how bad I was and how good He was. That’s when I decided to get really serious with my relationship with Him.

I broke up with my girlfriend that time and decided not to get into a relationship for a year. (I even signed a contract stating that I’ll abstain from a relationship for one-full year—this eventually became what we now know as the Manifesto Movement, a finalist in the NYC’s ten accomplished youth organigzations or TAYO Awards in 2007)

I was just so determined to get serious with knowing Him and putting Him first. 😉  My life made a 180 degree turn. Priorities changed. Perspective shifted from self-centered to God-centered. I decided to leave the corporate world and give up my personal dreams and ambitions. I left Makati and went back to Pampanga to serve Him at our local church, His Life City Church. I just gave Him the steering wheel of my life.

When I encountered grace, I experienced a heart change. 😉 You know what they say…vertical—horizontal.  One of the most real manifestations of a genuine encounter with God is when we get the courage to fix relationships with others. 😉

Crazy, but I actually called a lot of my ex-girlfriends after the encounter God week-end. I apologized and asked for forgiveness. Also, my relationship with my parents shifted from bad to best in no time. I guess that was the ultimate factor that made my mom believe that I really encountered God. 😉

I believe that an understanding of the love of God makes us want to love Him more….and makes it easier for us to love others as well. 😉

 5. As a youth pastor of a thriving church, how do you manage your time and ministry?

Uhm passion. When you love what you’re doing…and when you know that you’re there at the center of the will of God…everything becomes an adventure.

I serve by grace. I always consider myself blessed to be serving God in ways that I never imagined. It’s a privilege to be used by Him. And again… it’s just by grace. I know I’m not the most qualified…I know I’m not the most talented…. I’m just serving by His grace. 😉

This is probably the reason why I try my best to go all-out in serving Him. Whether it be in pastoring, preaching or writing books… I just cling on to the truth that it’s a privilege to be used by Him.

How do I manage my time?

Hmmmm… I enjoy preaching and writing. When I preach, I’m feeling God’s pleasure. When I write, I’m feeling His rest.  When I’m ministering to the youth, I feel His purpose for my life. So most of the time…I’m on fun mode.  I heard somebody said… our vocation out to be our vacation. Yey. This is so true.

 6. Any message to the youth pastors of churches today?

Wow. 😉 Youth pastoring…. Best job in the whole world. I always believed in the youth. Whenever I look at a face of a young person, I catch a glimpse of what we (as a people) can become in the future. Whenever I see them surrender their lives to God, lead worship, preach the gospel… it just fires me up to try to win more young people to Christ. They are a “bomb” of potential waiting to explode.

So my advice is this: Put passion in winning and discipling them— Go all out. Don’t stop. Believe in them. Love them.

They that invest their lives in the lives of the young people are co-owners of the great future that’s about to happen. 😉 So let’s not get tired of pastoring the future. 😉

Ru serves as the director of Wildfire, the youth ministry of His Life City Church in San Fernando Pampanga. He founded the Manifesto Movement, a finalist in the 2007 nationwide search for the Ten Accomplished Youth Organization. He is a teen life coach and an author of the books; A date with the One, Road Trip, Back on Track, and Refuel. He is also the host of the Christian Youth TV Show; RoadTriptv.  He describes himself as a happy, smiling, favored man who loves God, makes disciples, and impacts this world. When he’s not telling young people that God is crazy about them, he’s either reading his Bible, praying, writing, playing basketball, or strolling in the mall– trying on all the cool shirts he can find. 🙂

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