Katherine “Kata” Inocencio is very likeable and easily loveable. She is lively and fun. Her FB photos and posts often make me smile or chuckle. What strikes me about her is her childlike (not childish!) quality. Later, I would find out that she is so aptly named because Katherine Inocencio means “Pure and Innocent”. And so she is in Jesus Christ! She has candid simplicity, contagious joy, passion for God, godly wisdom, and humility— a beautiful blend of seasoned spiritual maturity. She remains unaffected in spite of her God-given competence and stature as CBN Asia’s Vice-President of Programming and Executive Producer of the 700 Club Asia. “It’s all grace!” she declares.
I loved interviewing her because as I wanted to get the most content from her but did not want to impose a probe into her innards, her “TV hostness” instincts allowed her story —- God’s story— to flow out, with my mental questions coming out of her mouth followed by her answers to those questions.
With her permission, I share this lunch conversation with you hoping that you will be as blessed by her testimony as much as I am. Get yourself your own snack, sit back, and hear the mystery of her life unraveled as she speaks of her God unrivalled.
BUTTERFLYINTHESPRING (BITS): Can you talk about your journey of getting closer to God? How did that come about?
Kata Inocencio (KI):
JESUS CHRIST AS SAVIOR
I went with some friends to a Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) convergence activity in Quezon. This was March 1986… With the U.P Concert Chorus, we would sing (worship songs) in different churches…when this CCC retreat came, I went with some of my friends. That’s where I prayed to receive Jesus (as Savior). Part of that is submitting yourself to a discipleship situation, you study the Word—Bible study. But those are regulated. The Word of God is alive. It does something to your spirit, especially when the Word of God answers your questions, you start searching, asking, and receiving answers. Doon na sya nag develop (That’s where it developed).
CONTINUED IN SIN DESPITE BEING SAVED
In spite of the fact that I was supposedly “born again”, I continued a sinful lifestyle. Why? Because I was enjoying it. At this time, I worked in ABS-CBN in 1986 as a Production Assistant, became a reporter, a Malacanang Correspondent, News Desk Editor, Producer and Host of Bantay Bata, Head of our Training Unit in the News and Current Affairs. I hired and trained people, I did newscasts for TV Patrol, I would replace Mel Tiangco, I would do weekend news, etc.—–the works. But I continued a sinful lifestyle; I was living in with a married man. We produced a son.
On my second pregnancy, I miscarried. At that time I felt so sinful that God put death in my body and took life away from me. Why did I think that way? Because at that time I was already reading the word of God. I knew there was a penalty for sin and that was death. The wages of sin is death. But the gift of God is eternal life. One classic example was David and Bathsheba. They were in adultery and they lost their son. That sort of played like a warning for me. And then it happened to me. That’s when I realized oh my God, I offended God. I did something so bad that He had to punish me this way.
HELP FROM GODLY MENTOR AND ENCOURAGER
My sister [in Christ], Coney Reyes, reminded me of Jeremiah 29:11, that God knows the plans that He has for me, plans for my welfare and my good future and not plans to harm me. And yet at that situation I felt I was in a wrong place.
I DON’T DESERVE TO BE A MISTRESS
I was a mistress even if I don’t deserve to be a mistress. I thought I was a good enough person to be married. I was a beautiful enough person to be desired to be married. I studied naman in U.P. May pinag-aralan naman ako. Nasa ABS-CBN nga ako e. (I am educated and was in fact in ABS-CBN)—every young broadcaster’s desire. So why am I a second class citizen? Why am I Number Two? Why am I not official? Why am I illegal? I didn’t have peace. Until nangyari na (it happened that) I miscarried and I felt God’s punishment.
WAY OUT OF SIN : JESUS CHRIST AS LORD, NOT JUST SAVIOR
I realized, I don’t want this anymore. And the way out is 1. to repent of course of this sin; and 2. To finally surrender to Jesus…because until that point even though I already received Jesus as Savior in 1986, I was still the lord and master of my life. I made somebody here on earth my master. My world revolved around this person until I let go of that person and decided si Jesus na (Jesus will be my Lord) because Jesus has a good promise for me. And Jesus, I realized, really loved me. I separated from this man that I had lived with. And I decided, ayoko na ng (I don’t want anymore the) double life. I was claiming to be a Christian but I was continuing in my sin. Ayoko na (I don’t want anymore). I want to be true to myself na (already). I want to be righteous. And of course I had the fear of God, which, praise God, is the beginning of wisdom. So suddenly I had wisdom. In a few weeks I discovered I was pregnant… again. But God assured me that His grace was sufficient for me. I didn’t have to go back to the father of my children and God will take care of us.
When Kata surrendered her life to Jesus and made Him not just Savior but Lord, she chose to undergo public discipline at her church at that time, GCF. [Public discipline consists of the person’s public confession of her sin. The pastor then explains that with her confession comes God’s forgiveness and this sin will no longer be held against her. In effect, she gains the righteousness of Christ (declared pure and innocent in Jesus Christ, so to speak). The sin is publicly dealt with and therefore should no longer be discussed. The person submits herself for counselling after which she is eligible to serve in a ministry.]
HONEYMOON WITH GOD
That one year was a honeymoon stage for me and my God. Everything I asked for, He gave … I asked for a white car, He gave me a white Mercedes Benz. I asked for a promotion, He promoted me from Desk Editor to Senior Desk Editor which is of managerial rank. I was pregnant (my second full term). I asked for a daughter. Because earlier on, may nanghula sa akin (a fortune-teller told me) that I will have two sons. I already have a son, diba (right)? “Lord, give me a daughter.” And the Lord gave me a daughter… disproved the hula (the fortune-teller’s prophecy).
BITS: How many sons do you have now?
KI: I have one son and two daughters.
BITS: That disproves the hula (fortune-teller’s prophecy).
KI: There were many other little things in between that were happening. Nagpakitang gilas si God sa akin na pinili ko sya (God showed off His skills since I chose Him) biglang (suddenly) wow, okay pala ito (this is great after all)…Fiesta Package! Pinakita ni Lord na totoo pala Sya. (God showed that He was real). I made the right decision. Totoo Sya (He is real!)
After that (one year). I went thru the process of cleansing yung mga mali ko (of my wrongs). At that time nagmumura pa ako, alam mo naman sa industry, (I used to still curse, you know that’s the way it is in my industry). I’d get in trouble when I do wrong things, my attention is called. It was part of the discipline process. The Lord started purifying me. I was Senior Desk Editor. My boss, Dong Puno, called me and told me he was creating a Training Department that he wanted me to head. Sabi ko, promotion ba yon? Sabi ko e head na ako ng (I said, “Is that a promotion? I was already Head of) ABS-CBN News— Central. News. Gathering.—during that season 24 hours and he was taking me out of that and putting me in Training!… Training?! Nasa front door ako sa sala, main event, suddenly ilalagay ako sa kusina (I was in the living room and he was putting me in the kitchen). Is that a promotion? I sat in my chair I was crying ‘cause I knew it was a demotion.
FAILURE IN HUMAN EYES BUT VICTORY IN GOD’S EYES
BUT God reminded me about His own Son. Remember, Jesus… wasn’t He a total failure in the eyes of man. Imagine that: Born of a virgin mother, born in a manger, Herod wanted to kill him, they had to hide in Egypt, grew up as a carpenter’s son, no proper education, not a scholar, friend of sinners, claims to be king but was put to death on the cross. What a failure! If you were gonna report about Jesus today, how would you report His story. He’s such a failure. But 2000 years hence, people get saved because of Him, people worship Him. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Lord said, you see Anak (Child), what might be total failure in the eyes of man is ultimate victory for Me. So this shift that’s happening to you is not failure, it’s victory. I trusted God with that.
NEW PERSPECTIVE, NEW DIRECTION
I started loving what I was doing. I then realized that God was changing my mindset from just running after the headlines and being Number One News Network to looking after people, taking care of them, thinking of their good, promoting, helping, nurturing them. From news headlines to people because until then, I didn’t care about them. I was very competitive. Why was I head of that? Because I make sure we’re Number One.
Eventually our co-workers came to me not just for professional help but also for personal counseling. By that time I was a “Christian already”— I surrendered already. I had the Word everywhere. Sometimes people would come to my office just to (Sigh!) feel good because there’s a Word of God here… and here…. [gesturing left and right]. That was the start of my mindset change that what’s important is not the headlines but what’s more important are people. If Peter was fishing after fish and now he has to fish men, for me, this time “Don’t go after the headlines. Go after people with heads. Totoong tao ang hahabulin mo na ngayon. (Chase real people now). Is it failure or victory? In the eyes of God, it was utmost victory.
Five years into that, I had Bantay Bata for three years. Even that, the Lord shifted me to advocacy journalism, thinking of the children, not just headline, headline, nation, event but what’s really happening to real people. Until now I have the 4/14 advocacy. I find myself in advocacy work, my TV programs Diyos at Bayan (God and Nation) and 700 club, we advocate the Word of God, the truth, even though we tell the stories of ordinary people, we advocate the goodness of God in their lives, the transformation that happens in people’s lives through the work of God.
MISSIONARY TO ISRAEL
In 2001, I resigned from ABS-CBN after a fifteen-year career so I could help start a ministry to Israel. It was a craaazy idea. My friend, Korina, said, “Kata, everyone wants to enter ABS-CBN; you have a nice office; you have a nice job. And then you want to leeeave. Sabi ko (I said) God called me out. What can I do? He picked me to help start this ministry to be a blessing to Israel. When I decided that, just like Abraham when he was called out of his home to go to a city whose architect and builder is God and he didn’t even know where he was going, he obeyed, believing that God is true to his Word and that He will fulfill his promise. I was in that situation and left Ur (his homeland) for the Promised Land. Literally.
To Be Continued
Part 2: God’s Word as Guide
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I salute you Mam Kata Innocencio…