PHILIPPINE MISSION MARCH/APRIL 2007
DAY ONE & TWO -- MARCH 29 TO 31
As I sit down to begin writing this trip’s diary, it is 7 minutes to 10:00 P.M. in these islands (7 min. to 9:00 A.M. at home); something over 50 hours has passed since I awoke the day the trip began, and so the first two days has come and gone.
Woke up at 5:00 A.M. on Thursday, 3-29; and a few minutes after began putting the finishing touches on getting ready for the trip -- as usual, things went right down to the wire -- indeed, I needed a haircut, but didn’t have time! Needed to get the oil changed in the van before I left, so we planned the trip to the airport so as to get this done. After getting this done, Dorothy and I stopped for a bite to eat; and then I wrote out a few more instructions on how to pay some of the bills while I was gone.
My flight was scheduled to take off at 9:05 P.M.; and after eating, and writing out the instructions, we went straight to the airport terminal. After saying our goodbyes, I went into the terminal to check in. I had already printed out my boarding pass, so all I had to do was check my bags. This took about 15 minutes to check the bags, and get to the departing gate, so I read until time to get on the plane. Boarding time was at 8:30 P.M. -- from which point things went down hill! Just sat on the plane wondering why we did not take off for 20 minutes after the scheduled departure time. Finally the captain came over the intercom to announce that there had been a mix up with the baggage between several flights, so it would take a while to get this sorted out. About 9:40 we actually moved away from the loading gate, and thought we were on our way. Not to be! We got out on the tarmac where we would wait again. Again the captain came over the intercom to inform us that we were 10th or 12th in line to take off, but that all flights heading west were being delayed due to some strong storms heading south from the Dallas area.
After another several minutes he came back on to inform us that our flight had been rerouted to the south, and that we would be leaving shortly. At 10:45 P.M. we were airborne -- an hour and forty minutes late; and a waiting period of 2 hours and 15 minutes on the plane!
By this time there was no doubt we would be late arriving at Los Angeles, where I would have to change planes. So now the question is whether I will make my connection; and if so, how tight will it be? I only had 2 hours between flights originally, and at Los Angeles sometimes that is just not enough! We arrived at Los Angeles with about 45 minutes to catch the China Airlines flight. The stewardess assured me a representative from China Airline would be waiting to guide me, and others making this connection, to the check-in counter, walking us through. Either they did not know, or lied, because there was no representative! I hurriedly asked a Continental employee, and they told me I would need to get to China Airlines terminal ASAP, giving me directions, saying that I could take the shuttle, but that it would be faster to walk.
So finding my way out of the terminal, and determining the direction to take, I walk as fast as I can the mile or so; and by the goodness of God there is hardly anybody at the check-in counter. Took only a couple of minutes to check in; then about 15 minutes to get through the security points, and get to the loading gate. Actually arrived about 10 minutes before the loading call.
Having loaded on the China Airlines plane, we were also about 30 minutes delayed; but after take off, the 13 hour 30 minute flight went well -- even having the opportunity to witness to the man and his son sitting next to me. My legs bothered me considerably from Houston to Los Angeles, but had no trouble at all from Los Angeles to Taiwan. However, it was during this flight that it suddenly dawned on me that I had a 7 hour layover in Taiwan!
Time went by fairly rapidly, though; and the two hour flight on to Manila was on time, and without incident. Arriving at Manila, Bro. Monceller and Bro. Obien met me, and we got to my hotel at a few minutes before 6:00 P.M. on March 31. After checking in at the hotel, we went to get me the haircut I didn’t have time for at home (about $1.90 for a haircut!); get a phone card so I could call home; exchange some US dollars for Pesos; and then eat a bite of supper. We then returned to the hotel, where Bro. Monceller sorted through the suitcase full of books and tracts I brought with me, while we talked about tomorrow. After Bro. Monceller left, Bro. Obien and I discussed a few things; I took a shower; and now I am finishing writing the diary at 10:50 P.M. -- very tired, and so sleepy I can hardly hold my eyes open, finding myself falling to sleep in the middle of a word! I had some misgivings the way the trip began; but my Dad had an old saying that “a bad start makes a good ending”! I don’t know what the reasoning of that was, but I trust my Lord will make it so! I’ll let you know!
“Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
PHILIPPINE MISSION MARCH/APRIL 2007
DAY THREE -- SUNDAY APRIL 1
After a cold shower last night, and writing the diary, got to bed at 11:00 P.M.; and to sleep shortly. Woke up once at 2:00 A.M., but went back to sleep until just before 6:00. Bro. Rey Monceller (hereafter referred to as “Bro. Rey”) is to be here at 8:00, so I get up to get ready. Bro. Adel Obien (hereafter referred to as “Bro. Adel”)is staying with me in the room, so while he is still asleep, I will get through in the bath room; and then meditate on my message while he is getting ready. Had to wake him after I was through.
Bro. Rey actually arrives about 7:40 in a taxi; and as soon as Bro. Adel is ready, we leave the hotel on the way to the meeting place. Bro. Rey has rented a large conference type room for the day; and they are going to move their meeting place here, only in a smaller portion of the facility. I am surprised to find the place is some kind of Catholic school during the week, called “Mother Of God Learning Center”. I think it is ironic that God should supply such a place for a Sovereign Grace Baptist church to meet and worship!
Services begin at 9:30 (Because traffic is light early Sunday, it takes about 30 minutes to get there from the hotel.) with singing and prayer. The Sunday School children from the church sing and recite verses; and the children from the Outreach the church has started do the same. There are six congregational songs; then two sisters from the church which is hosting the conference day after tomorrow (Bethel Baptist) sing; and then a group of about twenty from several different church groups sing two songs.
After this, Bro. Rey calls on me to preach. My text is 1.Peter 1:10-25, the theme of the message being that though we firmly believe and cherish the doctrine of Sovereign Grace, yet the foundation of all doctrine is the sufficiency of the blood of Christ. I trust my Lord was glorified! Although the congregation was encouraged to ask questions after the message, (The entire gathering consisted of about 140 people from several different groups), none were forth coming. I did talk to one brother for quite awhile afterward on the question of which comes first, faith or repentance.
After closing songs and prayer, a meal is served; and then many stayed until around 3:00 to fellowship. Actually I had been told we would be going in the afternoon to another location for evening services, but it was decided to combine the two. So about 3:00 we catch a bus back to the hotel, arriving about 4:15. Besides the bus being necessarily slower than a taxi, also by now the traffic is back to it’s normal congested mess!
Our day is now officially over (except to prepare for tomorrow’s conference), but during the bus ride to the hotel, as usual I observed literally hundreds of individual street vendors selling multitudes of varying items, plus many, many tiny shops. My thoughts turn to comparing how God deals with these people, as to how He deals with the animal kingdom. For instance we are told that He feeds the sparrows -- but how? They do not sow, neither do they reap! In other words, they are totally dependent on what God sends their way! So also these poor people have nothing to do but depend on someone chancing by to buy their goods! Then I think about how many in this world are in this place -- many of which are the brothers and sisters God has put us with! Is there a lesson here for me? If so, what? Do I really seek the kingdom of God first, leaving the things of tomorrow to themselves? Lord I believe; help thou my unbelief!
As I finish this it is 7:00 P.M.; and after taking a shower I will finish the day with meditation and prayer. Bro. Adel and I have already eaten our supper. It will be an early start tomorrow, leaving the hotel at 5:00 A.M. for about a two and a half hour drive to our meeting place in Bulacan, north of Manila.
“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” John 21:15-17.
PHILIPPINE MISSION MARCH/APRIL 2007
DAY FOUR -- APRIL 2
By the time I get yesterday’s diary written, I am very tired and sleepy; and by 9:00 P.M. Bro. Adel and I turn out the lights, and go to bed. Didn’t take long to go to sleep, but woke up at almost exactly midnight; went back to sleep to wake up again at 1:30. This time there is no going back to sleep. Instead I think my Lord knew I needed the time to meditate; pray; and confess once again that the work belongs to God; and that it is He, not me, upon who all good results depend! Had a blessed time!
At 4:00 A.M. I get up; get ready; and at 4:40 go downstairs. Bro. Rey comes with the van he has rented at 5:00, but we need to go back up to the room to take with us the books, pamphlets, and tracts I have brought . About 5:10 we are away. It takes right at two and a half hours (after waiting for about a half hour for one of the riders) to get to the meeting place. On the way God gives me the opportunity to “preach” to my companions the better part of an hour. Blessed! After arriving, breakfast is served in the house of the host pastor. After breakfast; and a few minutes of visiting; we walk across the street to the church house where the meeting will take place (The name of the church is “Jezus Leeft”, a Dutch name meaning “Jesus Lives”), which I find to be quite nice as Filipino churches go.
Services were scheduled to begin at 8:00 A.M., but it is after 9:00 when we actually get started with songs and prayer. At this time there are about 60 people present. (They are expecting about 100, and as the day progresses, the number increases to 80 or so.) After the opening, Bro. Rey opens the preaching with a message on The Sovereignty of God. (Once again, most here are not acquainted with these truths, or perhaps just slightly so.) After Bro. Rey, and another song, Bro. Raul Mendoza has a short message on Depravity. Although Bro. Rey’s message was sufficient in content, yet it was lacking in spirit; and I was quite disappointed in Bro. Raul Mendoza, as I believe it is imperative for the doctrine of Depravity to be understood if an understanding and appreciation of the other doctrines dealing with Sovereign Grace are to be obtained!
After Bro. Raul Mendoza, a break is taken. Then another song, and prayer, before I am to preach. My subject is Unconditional Election. Although I felt much liberty, yet it seemed there was little evidence of the Spirit among the people. After my sermon, there is a short question and answer session, and then lunch is served. At this time, I am very much concerned that this is going to be a day of great disappointment. However, I stay in a state of prayer and meditation all though lunch, and amazingly things begin to take a turn when services resume!
After lunch Bro. Rolando Mendoza (no relation to Raul) preaches first on Limited Atonement. I had worked with him last year in May, and was blessed; and this time I am also blessed, as were the people. Another song, and Bro. Rolando preaches again on Irresistible Grace. Once again everyone seems blessed, including me!
After Bro. Rolando, and another song, I am to close out the preaching with a message on Preservation of the Saints. By this time the subject has been very well set forth in relation to the other subjects, so I just preach on the glory and power of God’s sovereign grace, incorporating into the message thoughts on eternal security; and closing with some answers to questions which have been asked concerning man’s “free will”, and the righteousness of God in choosing some, but not others.
I have seldom felt more liberty than now; and the people really get into the message with many responses -- once with every voice present letting out simultaneously with a shout of “Hallelujah”! For sure this is no dry doctrine! And this one shout would have been worth the entire day!!! It is so wonderful to see the power of our God at work in the hearts of these people -- and makes me long so much to see the same back home!!!
After this message, a few questions were taken, with evidence of this same spirit prevailing throughout. God is so good to supply answers! By the time the services are ended, it is quite evident this day is no disappointment! People are happy; excited; and ready for us to return! They are asking us back over and over! Praise God!
After visiting awhile, we finally make our way to the van, and start home. This morning there was hardly any traffic, but now it is stop and go; and coupled with the rough roads, it takes about three hours back to the hotel, without any stops. Upon returning, Bro. Adel and I go down for a light supper. Returning to the room, I shower; and as I finish this it is 11:00 P.M., and I am very tired and sleepy again, and looking forward to some much needed rest! By this time I have been awake twenty-one and a half hours; preached the equivalent of four sermons; and endured five and a half hours of rough travel! But the blessings far out weight anything else!
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2.Cor. 10:3-5.
PHILIPPINE MISSION MARCH/APRIL 2007
DAY FIVE -- APRIL 3
After getting to bed last night at 11:00 P.M., my usual sleep pattern (as it has been since my first trip in March of 1999) continues: I sleep soundly until around 2:00 A.M.; and after once awake, there is no more sleep. We are to leave the hotel at 7:30, so although my alarm is set for 6:15, I get up at 5:15; and by 5:45 I am ready for the day. Bro. Adel wakes up; and he, too, is ready shortly. So we go downstairs for their complimentary breakfast; eat; and return to the room. A few minutes later Bro. Rey arrives, along with Bro. Rolando Mendoza (hereafter referred to as Bro. Rolando), who is to join us again today in the responsibility of preaching. We are to take a taxi to our meeting place; but before we do, the two brothers eat a quick breakfast at one of the fast food places nearby.
Immediately after, we hail a taxi; and about thirty minutes later we are near to where today’s meeting is to take place. Bro. Rey does not know exactly where it is, only that it is near a certain hotel. The taxi driver drives around the area a few minutes without locating the place, so it is decided we will get out, and look for it on foot. This we do; and after walking for some distance, we arrive at our destination. (Of course, as usual I haven’t the faintest idea where we are, or how we might find our way. I am often amazed at how the brothers are able to find some of these people and/or places! It is though they have a sixth sense! As for me, I just follow where they take me!)
After finding the place; and after many greetings; the services officially begin at 9:00 with songs; introductions; and prayers. The first to preach is Bro. Rey, presenting once again the subject of God’s sovereignty. I am much more blessed by his message today than I was yesterday, as he preached with much more heart and fervency! Today he left me with the impression he really believes what he is preaching. Not that I had any doubts yesterday, as Bro. Rey has been with me in the work since August of 1999. (At that time he was trying to begin a new church in Panabo City, on the island of Mindanao; but after embracing the doctrines of grace, he was literally run out of town by some of his former pastor “friends”! He then moved for a time to Digos City, about 40 miles south, where he ministered as assistant with Bro. Pedro Paler (now dead); and where he came in contact with Bro. Dexter Malud (hereafter referred to as Bro. Dexter); who now, along with Bro. Rey, Bro. Adel, and Bro. Joshua Gubal (hereafter referred to as Bro. Joshua; who, by the way, was one of those who ran Bro. Rey out of Panabo!) are the main ones who minister with me; and who are with me everywhere I go; and who carry on the work in my absence. However, Bro. Rey felt this was not the place for him permanently, and was earnestly praying about moving to Manila, on the northern island of Luzon. He talked this over with me, telling me he knew a woman there who was asking him to come. (This woman is Sis. Edna Jinon, who has proven to be one of my dearest sisters in Christ!) I agreed to help him move, and to support him as much as possible. We moved his family, helping them with moving expenses, and house rent; and in the spring of 2001 he and his family began meeting with Sis. Edna and her daughters in their house. On my next trip, we held a meeting in the party room of the Jolly Bee, a fast food restaurant on the order of McDonald’s. This was the beginning of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church of Taytay. Bro. Rey pastors the church, and also has taught theology courses at a Presbyterian Seminary for the past three years.)
After Bro. Rey, I am called to preach, Bro. Rey assigning me the subject today of Total Depravity. I first, though, give a brief exhortation about what faith is, since some questions had been raised about this before the service began; then get into the subject of Depravity. My Saviour is faithful to once more give wonderful liberty; and it is once again evident the people are receptive to the word -- but the best is yet to come!
My message lasts for about an hour, after which a break is taken, and we fellowship while enjoying a cold drink (This is the hottest time of year!), and some kind of bread roll. All during the break (as well as during lunch, and during the afternoon break) I am being bombarded with questions. These times are very much like preaching another sermon! And I enjoy them immensely! One man in particular; name of Sergio; confides in me that he is very much troubled, plying me with many questions concerning how God works with His people. Before he leaves in the afternoon, he also confides that he has been greatly helped, and is giving thanks to God! As for me, I cannot myself thank God enough for the blessing of being used of Him!
After lunch, Bro. Rolando preaches on Unconditional Election; and once more not only am I blessed, but so are the people! This is the second year I have had the blessing of sharing the preaching responsibilities with this brother while in Manila; and I cannot thank God enough for bringing us together: my heart has been knit to his! He has on his heart the desire to move to the island of Palawan to begin a church there, as he says he knows of no church there preaching sovereign grace. By God’s grace, when he decides the time is right, I will certainly be in line to help him as much a possible!
After Bro. Rolando’s message, we break for lunch. After beginning again with song and prayer, Bro. Rolando preaches again on Limited Atonement. The message is not only good, but is received very well. During his message, Bro. Rey advises me that I am to finish the day by preaching on both subjects of Irresistible Grace, and Preservation of the Saints. Bro. Rey also asks me to answer the question of which comes first, faith or regeneration. So after Bro. Rolando, I begin with this answer; then preach on Irresistible Grace out of The Song Of Solomon; then finishing with several scriptures pertaining to the perseverance of the saints.
After this final message, an opportunity is given for questions, which lasts for about in hour -- only an hour because the host pastor cuts it off! Nevertheless, by this time it is evident that the people are blessed! The evidence has been building all day; and by the end, there is so much joy! It is really indescribable! Any one who may think that preaching on the same doctrine day after day would get old, and dry, just has never been here! There are so many scriptures; and God is able to put them together in so many ways; that “His mercies are new every morning”! One man asked me for my outline; but I seldom preach from an outline, greatly preferring to follow the Spirit. He does so much better than I can! And when the people will hardly let you go; and only then with warm handshakes and hugs; and pleading for your return; how can I have any doubt that my God has blessed His loved ones -- and how can I fail to bow in thanks and worship before Him for blessing me in such a way!
There are so many individual incidents I could relate, but this is getting long; so suffice it to say that we finally leave at 6:00; and by 6:35 we are back to the hotel, very tired again, but also extremely happy!!!
“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38.
PHILIPPINE MISSION MARCH/APRIL 2007
DAY SIX -- APRIL 4
Not much to report today. Originally we were supposed to go to Bulacan for the beginning of two and a half days of meetings with the pastors fellowshipping with Bro. Pedro Albiso; but yesterday Bro. Adel informed me that today the pastors would only be in the process of arriving, so we would have nothing to do. As it turns out, then, today is supposed to be a day of rest -- and probably a good thing, as I have felt the gall bladder trying to act up. Hoped some relaxation would settle it down. At the time of this writing I can still feel it somewhat, but seems to be better.
Sleep pattern the same last night -- about four hours before I wake up. Did lie in bed meditating and praying until about 6:00 when I got up. By the time I am dressed and ready, Bro. Adel was up. Took him just a few minutes to get ready, and then we went to the nearby fast food restaurant where he ate breakfast, while we talked about various things, and observed the movements of people, concluding that the movements of people are not much different than that of ants!
Afterward we went back to the hotel where I wrote up yesterday’s diary. I did not write it up last night because I was so very tired, plus I knew I would have plenty of time to do so today. Then after finishing the diary, we went to the mall where I took this opportunity to write a couple of e-mail messages. (This will probably be the only time during this trip that I will have time and/or opportunity to send e-mails.)
By the time I did this, it was noon; so we found a place to get a light lunch. (Because of the gall bladder trouble I am trying to watch not only what I eat, but how much.) While eating, Bro. Adel informs me he had withdrawn some money from the ATM account I have set up for the members of the Sovereign Grace Finance and Projects Committee, but that the balance shows the account to be almost depleted. There should be around P80,000.00 in the account, so this news initiates a process of trying to determine what has happened, and how to correct it. So the rest of the day is spent calling and e-mailing my wife to give her instructions how to check the bank accounts, and get corrections made. (Of course it is day where I am, so it is night where my wife is, until late in the evening where I am; so this caused my wife loss of sleep, as well as complications in getting things done, and communicating! I really should let my wife tell you her side of this story, as I am sure it was more stressful on her, than on me!)
As I write this, I am hoping the problem is now solved: I will know in the morning. This about ruined my restful day, what with all the stress; but it is now 9:15 P.M., and I am ready for bed. It is problems like this that some times really puts me to the test as to whether actually “all things” work together to the good of those who love God, who are the called according to His purpose!
PHILIPPINE MISSION MARCH/APRIL 2007
DAY SEVEN -- APRIL 5
Shortly after finishing yesterday’s diary, went to bed; woke up at midnight; went back to sleep to wake up at 3:30. Stayed in bed until 4:30, then got up and got ready for the day. Bro. Adel and I agreed last night we should leave no later than 6:30. By the time we are both ready, it is only a few minutes after 5:00, so we decide to go downstairs where he will eat. However, downstairs we are told they do not serve the complimentary breakfast until 6:00, so Bro. Adel decides we should just go. We then go back to the room for our things, and depart. Today we are returning to Bulacan, north of Manila; but to a different part than Monday; and with a completely different group.
We find it difficult to get a taxi at this time of morning, but finally one stops. We go by taxi to the bus terminal, and then enter a bus. We ride the bus for about an hour; get off; and then take a tricycle for a distance to Bro. Albiso’s house (and little bakery that supplies his living), where we visit for perhaps 30 minutes, and are provided with some delicious rolls -- and coffee for Bro. Adel.
After this, we load into Bro. Albiso’s old beat up vehicle, and it takes perhaps 30 minutes (It is really difficult to judge time or distance of travel because of the conditions -- because the traffic is so bad, and the roads or so rough, that often even a short distance seems long!), to get to the camp ground where the meeting is being held. (Bro. Albiso is the coordinator of this group of pastors; and the meeting is referred to as their “convention”. Lat May I preached to the church he pastors, along with a few other pastors; and he specifically asked me to return at this time to preach to these pastors. The camp consists of a covered concrete slab of perhaps 25 feet wide, and 60 feet long, with several makeshift shelters where the people are staying.)
When we arrive, they are already singing; and after a short time, one of the preachers present gets up, and preaches. I do not know what he preached, as I do not know the language. He preached until shortly before 9:00 A.M.; and while he is preaching, Bro. Albiso informs me that I am to preach right after him. The order will be me preaching for one hour, then a chance will be given for anyone who heeds to, to go to the restroom (Called a C.R., for Comfort Room); but unlike the way we do it, the services do not stop. Instead, Bro. Albiso will preach for about 30 minutes; and after him I will finish out up until the noon break.
So after the brother finishes, Bro. Albiso introduces me, and I take the pulpit. I have been asked to cover the full spectrum of the doctrines of grace, so I begin with the doctrine of God’s Sovereignty, and almighty power. I then go into depravity, and show in this the absolute hopelessness of man’s condition under sin, and begin to tie in the absolute necessity of the sovereign power of God for salvation in the doctrine of unconditional election. I preach until 10:00; and as usual it is evident the people are somewhat reserved, not knowing what to expect. By the time we break at 10:00, though, they are beginning to warm to the word.
As stated before, during the “break” Bro. Albiso preaches, using Mal. 3:1-11 as his text; and I can understand enough (As he uses quite a bit of English.) to know that for the most part, I am much blessed! When he is finished, he immediately turns the pulpit back to me, and I take up where I left off, proceeding to cover the last three of the doctrines, again showing their progression in the plan and purpose of God; their relationship to one another, and to the sovereign power of God.
As the message progresses, so does the warmth of the people; and a considerable time before I am finished, the people are really connecting with the message -- that is except for the man who preached the first message of the day: I really got the feeling he was not happy! But I have come to expect this, as no matter how much the vast majority may rejoice in the truth, there seems to be one or two who just cannot seem to get it -- or wont get it! For the most part, though, there is much joy; and to prove it, Bro. Albiso insists that I come back in October to preach to another gathering of pastors on Mindanao. Besides this, one of the pastors present takes it on himself to insist that an offering be taken for me, to help spread this gospel! I am later presented with P1,021.25 -- a huge amount considering the financial state of these people! The love of most of these people toward God; and their dedication; constantly overwhelms me, and is a constant source of comfort, joy, and encouragement to me!
We take some pictures while visiting with the people; and about 1:00 P.M. Bro. Albiso and his wife drive Bro. Adel and me back into town where we can catch another bus. Before we do, though, Bro. Albiso insists on stopping at a Jolly Bee to get us lunch. While we eat, we continue our fellowship; and Bro. Albiso mentions my return in October several times, and tells me he is sending out the schedule of services in May, with my name as their preacher. What can I do but promise to be there as our Lord wills!
After lunch, Bro. Adel and I catch a bus, then transfer to a taxi, making it back to the hotel around 4:00. As I finish writing up today’s diary it is 6:00 P.M., and now I can shower; eat a bite of supper; and relax. Will have time to pack in the morning before we leave for the airport on the way to Tagbilaran City, on the island of Bohol.
“In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” Zeph. 3:16-17.
PHILIPPINES MISSIONS MARCH/APRIL 2007
DAY 8 -- APRIL 6
After finishing writing the diary for yesterday, we went downstairs to eat. We usually don’t eat in the hotel dining room because it is about twice what it costs at the nearby mall; but this is “Holy Week” here -- a very big season; and yesterday was “Maunday Thursday”. It really was a strange feeling! The mall was completely closed down; not a person around! On the way from Bulacan we passed some other malls which seemed strangely quiet, but it didn’t register what was going on until we went to the near by mall, and found it locked!
After eating, we went back to the room, and I read for a time. Then just after 9:00 I intended to go to bed; but Bro. Adel had turned on the T.V., (Something there is seldom time for!), and since there was an interesting program on, I decided to watch it seeing as we would have plenty of time in the morning to “sleep in”. So a few minutes after 11:00 we turned out the lights -- but sleep late? Not to be! Slept until about 3:00, waking up once; but from then to the time I got up just before 6:00, did not sleep at all! Could have stayed in bed, but decided I may as well use the time to study. Still needed a message for tonight after we get to Tagbilaran, Bohol.
So I get up, and get ready; and just as I finished, Bro. Adel awakes. As soon as he was dressed, we went down to breakfast -- he eating the complimentary breakfast, and I a glass of milk. Finishing that, we went back to the room, and packed. I had begun to study on Isa. 32:9-20 while Bro. Adel dressed, and continued after breakfast. This seems to be what God is leading me to preach -- don’t know why, but I have a measure of peace, and nothing else seems right.
At 11:00 A.M. Bro. Rey comes, and we load our things into a taxi, and go to the airport. Once again it is very strange, as normally at this time of day it would take an hour or more to fight through the traffic, but today there is hardly a car on the road other than a few taxis -- practically no autos otherwise; no trucks; no busses; no Jeepneys! Nearly every business is closed for “Black Friday”.
We reach the airport in record time, and have no trouble getting checked in. (Just as we start to walk into the terminal, we realize there is some sort of commotion. There is an American man shouting at some security people about someone picking his pocket, taking about $500.00. Last year when Bro. Adel was getting boat tickets for us from Cagayan de Oro to Cebu, a Canadian man was the victim of a pick pocket, losing all money as well as identity! Thankfully I have bee protected in this area, too!) We have plenty of time now before our flight, so I decide to go to the ticket office here, and purchase tickets for a flight back to Manila when we are through on Mindanao, and the time for me to return home. This takes about an hour, so we still have about an hour or so before time to board. We eat a light lunch -- not much to choose from inside the terminal. When the time comes, we board; and in about an hour and a half we are at Tagbilaran.
As soon as we collect our bags, we go out of the terminal where several are waiting with a van to take us to where we will stay. We usually stay at the Chrisenville Pension House, but today they are full -- which I was afraid of because of the “Holy Week” travelers. So we go on to Villa Alzhune (I stayed here a couple of times before.), and they do have vacancies. Then as soon as we secure rooms, and change clothes, we go to the place of Sis. Aurelia Dabatos, where the services will be held tonight.
When we get there about 5:00 P.M., a few people have arrived, including some I have never seen before, and some I have not seen in a couple of years. We visit with people until the services begin just after 6:00 with singing and prayer. We are meeting in the open yard in front of Sis. Aurelia’s little house; and by the time singing is over, it is getting dark. So just as I get up to preach, they turn on some makeshift lights. This serves well until it begins to attract hordes of bugs, mostly little tiny ones. I am preaching out of Isaiah. And although I had some thoughts earlier of trying to change, I am thankful I didn’t as I am enjoying considerable liberty as my Saviour and Lord leads step by step.
It isn’t long, though, until the bugs are all over my Bible; the pulpit; my arms; my face and neck; and my hair is matted with them! I am preaching while constantly trying to wipe the bugs away, and remarkably God helps me keep my concentration! It finally gets so bad, though, that I step out in front of the pulpit away from the light until the conclusion of the message. A couple of times I thought about cutting the message short, but dared not do it! In spite of the bugs, God did bless and edify the people for a little over an hour. There was a new pastor to me present, and after the message he asked if I could preach at his church. When he found out my time is full, he then insists on my coming to his church my next visit.
After preaching, and close of service, supper of rice, noodles, and a couple of very small pieces of meat is served. We then have an enjoyable time of fellowship with the people until about 8:00 when we start back to the hotel. As I finish this diary it is 10:30; and in spite of only having to preach once today, I am very tired!
“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.” Psalm 91:4-7.
PHILIPPINE MISSION MARCH/APRIL 2007
DAY NINE -- APRIL 7
To bed last night at 11:00, after taking a cold shower. Did not sleep well at all, waking every hour or so until I get up at 5:00. Bro. Gubal and Bro. Tacatani were to be here with a van to take us to the meeting place at Buenavista. They actually arrive at 5:30; and shortly thereafter we are on our way. Buenavista proves to be an hour and a half drive from Tagbilaran what with light traffic this early in the morning.
We first go to the house of pastor Ronnie Tacatani (The brother of Epefinio Tacatani, our companion.), where we meet some others; and where breakfast is served. We visit while breakfast is being prepared, and while eating. As soon as breakfast is over, we load back into the van, and drive a short distance to the church building where we will meet. By Filipino standards it is a very nice, and spacious, building! People are beginning to arrive, but I find out later that they are having difficulty because the busses, and other transit vehicles that these people can afford, are mostly idle for the “Holy Week” celebrations. Some that were expected never made it. The Gubals and Epefinio Tacatanis coming from Mindanao on Thursday stood in line for three hours before getting on a boat! All the boat and bus terminals have been packed for days!) Nevertheless, I would estimate there were at least 40 adults present; and some of them from other islands.
Services begin at 8:30 with the usual singing and prayers; and immediately after, Bro. Monceller is introduced to preach the first two messages on God’s Sovereignty, and man’s Depravity. I am blessed today even more than day before yesterday with his preaching, as he really is putting his heart in the message! He preaches until 10:30, with the congregation being somewhat reserved, as usual. Up until now I have not been told either when I will preach, or on what. But as soon as Bro. Rey is through, they call on me; so I assume correctly that they intend for me to preach on unconditional election. I begin, though, with Noah’s prophecy concerning his three sons, out of Genesis 9. The people give evidence of being blessed with this, and now begin to get more into the message. I finish my message at exactly noon, when we break for lunch.
After a refreshing lunch, we have another few minutes of singing; a prayer; and then Bro. Gubal preaches on Limited Atonement. He tries to be brief, as it is originally planned to leave at 2:00 P.M.; but does an adequate job. It is during this topic (Which again is fairly typical) that there is some evidence of uncertainty by some, but they are asked to wait before asking any questions.
As soon as he is through, Bro. Epefinio Tacatani preaches on Irresistible Grace. He uses hardly and English; so I cannot tell for sure what he is saying, but the people are pleased with what they hear. When he finishes, a young lady sings a song, and I am called on to preach the last message on the Preservation of the Saints. I briefly review the day’s subjects; then go into the actual subject; then finish up by showing the practical side of the doctrines, namely the rest and quietness, and confidence they bring to the mind and soul.
By the time I am finished, it is 2:15; and I think we are closing the meeting. However, the host pastor (By the name of Rejoy) asks if anyone has anything to say. This opens the door; and for the next few minutes Bro. Gubal answers questions; and then for the better part of an hour, I find myself answering questions, mostly from two young couples -- and then mostly from one of the wives. God is good, though, and gives grace so that although I didn’t think they were fully satisfied, (especially the one wife), yet they cannot contend with the answers -- and the rest of the congregation is blessed with more understanding, seeing as some subjects were touched during the question session that were not touched upon during the preaching.
Now the meeting officially closes; but it is difficult to get away for the joy of the people -- and indeed we cannot get away without several of the pastors asking when I will return, and requesting a visit to their place. All I can do is tell them it will be as soon as God gives the time and means. The day ends with as much joy, as it began with reserve -- which, once again, is rather usual!
“But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” Mat. 10:19-20.
PHILIPPINE MISSIONS MARCH/APRIL 2007
DAY TEN -- APRIL 8
Had the best night of rest so far -- slept almost 7 hours, only waking up once! Talked to my beloved wife by phone, and she convinced me to take one of the Tylenol I brought along. Woke up, though, just before 6:00 with a dull pain in the abdomen, and right side. Thought I was going to be nauseated, but after a bit it went away. Got ready for the day, and then got my Bible to study awhile. While reading scripture on the way to Buenavista yesterday, I thought I had decided what my sermon would be for today; but as I was going over the scriptures this morning, 1.Peter 4:1-9 captured my attention; and as I thought on these verses, a clear picture developed as how they would relate to these people: so this would be my text.
Bro. Adel, and Bro. Rey, had already gone down to breakfast; so after meditating on these verses a while, I decided to join them, and see also if the snack bar would have Pineapple juice. The two brothers had already finished, but we visited while I drank a can of Pineapple juice. Shortly thereafter, we caught a Jeepney in front of the hotel, and went to Burgos Street Church, where we met today.
This church and pastor (Bro. Emilio Boloron) have been one of the richest blessings of this ministry. Five years ago when I first came in contact with him, he was trying to have church services in a run down rent house in another part of Tagbilaran. He was behind on the rent; and his landlord was cursing him, and mocking him, about his God not being able to pay his rent! I gave him money to pay his rent, and shortly afterward he moved to Burgos Street to start all over again. We helped him with his rent, and have paid the rent continuously, along with other occasional needs. It has all been very well worth it!
The first year I came after his move, (The meeting place is actually down an alley way, about 200 feet off the main street.), there were about 30 people attended that service, (His own little congregation being about 15.); and the meeting room was so small only about 25 of those could get inside -- by some sitting on the lap of others -- while a few stood outside the door. The next year a few more were added, along with a little “room” (Half walls, with a roof.) added to the side of that place, in which to meet. During our services that time, the room was full again, with some standing outside. By last year his congregation had grown to about 40, and we gave him money to expand the meeting place. At present the congregation numbers near 80, and today the place was packed again!
The expansion, though, took up the up the space where he and his wife (Sis. Nenen) slept. So in order for them to have a place to sleep, they put a floor in over part of the meeting room. Today he showed me that place; and I could hardly believe what I saw! There was just enough space between the floor and the tin roof for them to roll out a thin bamboo mat, and crawl on to it. Their faces are literally just a few inches from a hot tin roof! They try to sleep in these conditions (Anyone who knows how hot tin roofs get, will certainly understand the situation!), along with rats running around them during the night! All this they have been willing to do for the sake of Christ, and the truth! This is what I call dedication!
I think it was last December that Bro. Boloron wrote to tell me Sis. Nenen was sick; and to ask for help to take her to a doctor. I sent him money; and she was told she has a problem with her lungs so that she has difficulty breathing. She is taking medication, and says she is better -- but when I saw where they sleep, I didn’t wonder she has breathing problems! Bro. Boloron told me there is a little apartment for rent adjoining where they now are, and took me to see it: all I can say is that it is better than what they now have. He tells me he can rent it for P1,400.00 per month; and without him asking, I know he is praying that I will offer to pay this rent -- and how can I do otherwise? The owner has promised to clean the place up, (By the way, too, one thing that excites Bro. Boloron is that it has it’s own little pot for a toilet!), so as soon as this is done, they will occupy it.
Now to the rest of the day. Services officially begin at 9:00 with several songs, and prayer; after which I am called to preach. I am quite satisfied that the message was from God, and to these people -- basically showing the fact of suffering; then showing why this must be; and finally what the end results will be. There was a pastor present that I had never met before, who is trying to begin a new work in another town; and from what I learn, the message was particularly suited for him; and I trust he was encouraged, along with the others.
The services then closed with a song; offering; and prayer; after which a meal was served. The meal was enjoyed along with the fellowship; and as soon as the meal was over, we went back to the hotel, where arrangements had been made to use the pool for baptism service.
Arriving at the hotel, as soon as I changed clothes, those services began with a brief exhortation on baptism; and after the candidates confirmed their desire to continue, myself, Bro. Boloron, and eight souls went into the water. (While we were waiting at the meeting place for some to finish eating, an eleven year old girl was brought to me with the statement that she wanted to be baptized. After talking with her, along with Bro. Rey, we were both convinced she was not a candidate. I was also told Friday evening of a young boy who the mother thought should be baptized; but by talking to him, it quickly became evident that he was no where near ready for baptism.) After the baptisms, and prayer, the services were officially over for the day.
I say “officially over” because after we checked out of the hotel, several of the pastors stayed around to visit out in front of the hotel. During this time, several doctrinal questions were discussed, and I was thankful for this opportunity. We left the hotel headed for the boat terminal at about 3:45, the pastors going with us. Upon arriving at the terminal, the pastors stayed with us for awhile, reluctant to part company. At about 4:45 we say our goodbyes, though, and enter the terminal. Our boat was scheduled to leave at 6:00 P.M., but actually left at 6:40. Our time on Bohol now over, but not without two more pastors urging me to return, and come to their church, and towns!
As I finish writing this, it is 10:50 P.M. in Cebu City, on the island of Cebu; and we are to leave the hotel here tomorrow morning at 4:30 A.M. going to the airport to fly to Cagayan de Oro City, on the island of Mindanao. Our meeting is to begin there at 8:00 A.M. tomorrow; and scheduled to end around 2:00 P.M., after which we will have a 6 to 8 hour drive to the next meeting place at Digos City on Tuesday.
“And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Luke 9: 57-58.
PHILIPPINE MISSIONS MARCH/APRIL 2007
DAY ELEVEN -- APRIL NINE
Today began at 4:00 A.M.; and it was 4:30 when we left the hotel for the airport. Our plane doesn’t leave until 8:00; and I think it is a little early, but Bro. Adel doesn’t want to take any chances with the traffic. (He really wanted to leave the hotel at 4:00, but I said 4:30 was plenty early!) We were at the airport by 5:10; where Bro. Adel left us to go home, since he will not accompany us on the Mindanao tour. I know I am going to miss him interpreting/translating for me, but it can’t be helped. Bro. Rey and I go into the terminal, and wait for the restaurant to open for breakfast. It opens at 5:30; and after eating, we go straight to the airline ticket counter. Our tickets warn us to check in 2 hours before takeoff, so we are at the counter at exactly 2 hours before -- only to find out the ticket counter doesn’t open until 7:00! So we take a seat, and wait.
As soon as the counter opens, we are third in line; and promptly get checked through -- except this is a small airline that just island hops, and their luggage limits are very light, costing me P449.00 extra. After paying this, we proceed to where the airport tax is paid, (Every terminal here has this added tax.), and give them another P200.00 for each of us. From this point we just pass through one more inspection, and then there is nothing to do but wait, and talk.
As we waited, we saw a little two engine prop plane being towed across the tarmac, and I jokingly said to Bro. Rey that there was our plane. Little did I know how true this was! We were 30 minutes late in loading; and when we did, it was this plane! When we took off, the engines made so much noise it was hard to talk, so we spent the 50 minutes of flying time in silence.
Nevertheless, we landed safely at Cagayan de Oro at 9:10, only 10 minutes late. As soon as we collected our bags, we walked out to find one of Bro. Rey’s old pastor friends waiting. Our other preaching partners have already begun the meeting at 8:00; but were to send our rented van to get us. We waited about 30 minutes before it came; and we reached the meeting place at 10:20, during the time Bro. Tacatani is preaching on Depravity. As with last Saturday, he uses no English, so I don’t know what he was saying. However, after we had been there awhile, Bro. Rey leaned over, and remarked that he was “getting better; and the people give evidence of being blessed”!
He finishes about 10:50; and they immediately call on me. Not only could I not understand him, but I didn’t have a clue what his subject was. So when they call me, I have no idea what I am expected to preach. Upon asking Bro. Joshua, I am told to preach on Unconditional Election. So what text do I use? Then all at once it came to me to go to Genesis chapter 3, and use how Adam and Eve sinned; were ashamed and hid; and then how God sought them out; shed the blood; and clothed them. Bro. Rey was translating for me: and not being used to him, I did not have the liberty, but the people got the point. My message lasted until 11:50; and then we broke for lunch. We were supposed to leave at 3:00 P.M. in order to make the 6 to 8 hour drive to Digos City, so we resumed at 12:30 with Bro. Joshua preaching on Limited Atonement. He preached about 30 minutes, and again the congregation was favorable, if not enthusiastic. Then I was to finish up with Irresistible Grace, and Preservation of the Saints. I began by reminding that it is the blood that saves us; that indeed we are bought by His blood -- and God is not going to give up that which He bought at such a price! I then lead into the first subject by reviewing the first three, including sovereignty. We looked at a few other scriptures, but mainly stayed in The Song of Solomon showing not only why Christ is so irresistible to His bride, but also how beautiful is the bride. Then finished up with a few verses declaring the security of the believer.
During the message, liberty was restored -- and the people really reacted! So much did they rejoice, that we could scarcely get away. I spent 45 minutes or more just talking to some of them about the message -- and, yes, several were pleading for us to come to their places, promising to be praying to that end!
We finally got out of Cagayan de Oro at 5:45; and after dropping the Gubal’s, and Sis. Tacatani, at the bus station as we passed through Davao City, (They will take the bus home to Panabo, and Bro. Gubal will join us Tuesday or Wednesday at Digos.), we arrived at Digos at 1:00 A.M. on Tuesday. It is now 3:00 A.M. as I finish another long, and tiring, 23 hour day -- but also a very blessed one!
1 Chr. 16:36 “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel for ever and ever. And all the people said, Amen, and praised the LORD.”
PHILIPPINE MISSION MARCH/APRIL 2007
DAY 12 -- APRIL 10
What a rewarding Day! And after only catnapping for less than two hours last night! It was after 3:00 A.M. when I finally got to bed; and after going in and out of sleep for those two hours, I am wakened for good by the Muslims behind the hotel doing their chants, or whatever it is they do. No sleeping, so I got us, and got ready. As I went out the door to see if the others were ready for breakfast, Bro. Dexter Malud meets me at the door. This is the first time to see him in a year, and we greet each other with a hardy hug!
Bro. Dexter informs me of the day’s schedule; and prepares to go to complete preparations. Before he goes, I ask him if one of the church ladies can launder my dirty clothes; and with his affirmative answer, I send him off with a bundle. (Every year they do this for me. This is one way they show their love!) Bro. Dexter has already contacted the others by text message, so they know that services begin at 9:00, and were in no hurry for breakfast, electing to rest a while more after last night. So I return to my room; meditate on the scripture a time; and then listen to the news until the others are ready to eat. We enjoy breakfast by fellowshipping around the table; and as soon as we are finished, prepare to go to the meeting place.
It is just a short distance to the meeting place, and we arrive just before nine. They have between 80 and 90 chairs set up, and I am somewhat disappointed that there are maybe 25 people present. A few more, though, arrive in a few minutes, and the meeting begins with Bro. Dexter giving a history of how the “Five Points” came into being. He does this in his usual interesting way, taking about 30 minutes. He then calls me to preach on Total Depravity.
After the last two days; and especially last night; I was afraid I would be so mentally tired that I couldn’t think; but was amazed how alert my mind was; and the message developed well -- and once again I must thank God for how He keeps making the messages fresh, and refreshing! Once again many of these are new (People kept coming, and by now there are about 40.); and although there has been expressed appreciation, nothing real enthusiastic. During my message, a light snack is served; so no break is taken. After me comes Bro. Tacatani, with Unconditional Election. Once again he preaches using practically no English, so I cannot judge his content. When he is through, one man has a question for me concerning the necessity of preaching, if people are predestined to salvation. I explain that while the gospel has no power to regenerate, yet it is the only means by which God has chosen to call out, and equip, those who He has regenerated. This seems to satisfy. Several more questions follow before lunch break.
We now take about 45 minutes for lunch; and then resume with Bro. Dexter presenting the doctrine of Limited Atonement. (By the end of my message, the crowd swelled to about 60; and by the time of the afternoon session, every chair is occupied.) As usually happens, the farther we get into the messages, the more enthusiastic the people get; and they are now displaying much more interest.
I then take the subject of Irresistible Grace; but before beginning that, I illustrate just how simple God’s truth is to understand by using the illustration of a loving parent giving up his child to death for a convicted murderer; asking the question if anyone would do this in the first place; but if they did, would they do it without a guarantee that the murderer would go free? Then asking if God would give His son without a guarantee! You know what they answered! Going then into the subject, I preached for about 40 minutes out of the Song of Solomon. This is now three times I have used this scripture in connection with this subject, and it just gets better every time -- and the people’s reaction confirms my opinion!
Bro. Tacatani then finishes with Preservation of the Saints. Then a few questions before Sis. Elly Malud leads the group in singing “His Banner Over Me Is Love”. Then some thoughts from Bro. Dexter before we adjourn. Were supposed to be through by 4:00, but it is after 4:30 by the time we can stop!
No, this is not the end of the day. At 6:30 we are to have a service to acknowledge with diplomas the two-year study course of 19 theology students . Our efforts in this is now beginning to bear fruit. It is our prayer that ultimately these, and others, will be able to help teach many of the village pastors a much more complete knowledge of the Bible. We can only do so much in these
seminars; and there is a great need for more than a basic knowledge in these pastors.
So after eating a light meal at 6:00, we are to move to a different location for the graduation service. This is the first time for this, so there are some delays so that we do not begin until 8:00, and finish at 10:30. Then by the time pictures are taken, it is close to 11:00.
The services themselves consisted of recognition of each student; their wives and/or parents; and presenting the diplomas. As each one received his diploma, I said a prayer for him; and then each one also prayed. Then after the presentation of diplomas, I preached a charge to them using 2.Tim. 2:15, and 1.Thes. 4:11, as texts. I always dread these ceremonies -- especially the way they do them -- but always end up being greatly blessed! Tonight was no exception!
A new year begins for Kairos School of Theology on April 20, the day I leave the islands to return home. Eight of these 19 will continue their studies, along with 37 other first time students. (Most of these 19 are already pastoring churches, but desired to better equip themselves. I might add that this school deals strictly with theology in keeping with it’s name.) The facilities where they meet to study are very poor; the means are meager; their hardships are many; but God has blessed! And although the challenge to maintain the ministry becomes greater every year, yet thus far our Lord has supplied enough: just enough -- at least as we think -- but enough! I don’t know from whence He will send the means to continue, but we must believe He has a purpose, and that He will fulfill it!
Bro. Rey and I have talked about the possibility of doing the same thing in Manila. He is already teaching theology in a Presbyterian seminary in Manila, where only he, and one other professor, are Calvinistic. There is also Bro. Rolando Mendoza, so the instructors for such an endeavor are already there. We have also had thoughts about doing the same thing in Panabo; and there is already one functioning in General Santos City, on the southern most part of the island of Mindanao. Bro. Arnie has some other pastor friends working with him there in teaching theology to several young men. If God will grant that we could establish a school in Manila, and one in Panabo, this would give us three schools strategically located on the largest island, Mindanao, where most of our work is carried on; and one on the second largest island, Luzon. There is also the possibility of beginning a school on Bohol, with Bro. Boloron.
Well, there is so much more that could be said, but this is getting rather long, and it is now 12:50 A.M. on Wednesday. It has been another very long day -- but as I said in the beginning, What a wonderful one!
“The LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount: Turn you, and take your journey, and go to the mount of the Amorites, and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the plain, in the hills, and in the vale, and in the south, and by the sea side, to the land of the Canaanites, and unto Lebanon, unto the great river, the river Euphrates. Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.” Deut. 1:6-8
PHILIPPINE MISSIONS MARCH/APRIL 2007
DAY THIRTEEN -- APRIL 11
By the time I write up yesterday’s diary, and take a shower, it is after 1:00 A.M. this morning when I get to bed. Don’t know exactly what time we will leave to go to Kidapawan, but expect to leave around 7:00 or 7:30 as it is about an hour and a half drive. So I set my alarm for 5:15 to make sure I am ready in case we would leave earlier. (The reason I don’t know the time is because Bro. Dexter, who is in charge of the Kidapawan meeting, has gone with the van to deliver the theology students, that live near Kidapawan, home; and will not return until between 2:00 and 3:00.) I wake up just before the alarm goes off, and by 5:30 I am ready. Shortly after, the others are ready, and we go down where I have a glass of milk, while the others eat. Shortly after eating, Bro. Rey excuses himself. He began suffering with his stomach Tuesday morning, missing the day meeting. He did go to the graduation, but is still having trouble this morning, and will not go with us today. He is the third one to experience a problem so far. Bro. Joshua showed me his leg at Buenavista, Bohol, Saturday; and it looked really bad! Many sores, and swelling; and he said he had not slept for two nights because of pain. I tried to get him to go see a doctor, but he insisted that he would wait until he could get back to Panabo (home). He, and his wife, left us at Davao City Monday night to take a bus home. He did see a doctor, and will join us in the morning, when I will find out more. Then Bro. dele Gente came with us to Digos from Cagayan de Oro Monday night, but left Digos early Tuesday to return home to see a doctor. He sent a text message saying his blood sugar is very high, and the doctor advised him to rest. The past two days I, too, have been feeling in my back what the doctor has said is caused by the Gall Bladder; and especially today. I am trying to watch what and how much I eat, but it is difficult seeing I am dependent for the most part on the food that is served.
It is actually 8:00 A.M. when the Maluds (Bro. Dexter, Sis. Elly, two of their boys, and my Dorothy’s namesake, 6 year old Dorothy Grace) arrive, and we leave. We make good time, though, and are at the meeting place just after 9:00, where the meeting gets started right away. When we begin, there are about 20 people, but it isn’t long before others come; and we end up with 35 to 40, depending on when the count is done.
About half of these are not familiar with the doctrines of grace, and are from Pentecostal churches; as are many of those that come to these conferences. (However, the Pentecostals here do not practice speaking in tongues, miracles, etc., as a general rule; at least the ones we come in contact with. They mostly are associated with Pentecostals through music, usually using guitars and drums; and most all denominations clap hands, and raise hands.) We also have many Christian Alliance people, along with Church of Christ, Methodist, and many stripes of Baptists. Last year we even had some Mormons; and one from Ted Armstrong’s group. There are some from time to time from just about every group you can think of; and I can never get over how God opens the hearts of such a diversity!
Today is no exception. Bro. Dexter again takes the introduction; Unconditional Election; and Preservation of the Saints. Mine is Total Depravity, and Limited Atonement. Bro. Tacatani’s is Irresistible Grace. The messages have their usual impact. (So much so that I have to be careful of taking our Lord for granted! Dare not!!!) Once again I can honestly say that it is a marvel how God brings out so many scriptures, and so many new thoughts, to keep the message alive! For instance this morning while I was waiting for my turn, Duet. 29:1-5 came to mind; and I began there to demonstrate the depravity of the heart, using Israel as an example; and this afternoon Christ’s words concerning His being sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel came; and I began using Israel to illustrate limited atonement. And I am also amazed how many other truths come out in connection with these doctrines!
We finish preaching at 5:15, and Bro. Dexter asks me if we want to allow questions; to which I tell him I think we should. There are a couple of questions (of sorts) asked concerning doctrine; but mostly there are just comments of amazement at these truths; and discussion as to what this means for their individual ministries, as well as continued fellowship; and continued education and/or instruction. We have promised them materials; more conferences when possible; and I think some will be taking advantage of courses from Kairos School of Theology -- in addition to the 46 already mentioned before. (I might here add that after hearing our doctrine, and how we conduct this work, and how our churches operate, there is much talk among these brethren of how their own denominations have exploited them for financial gain for the heads of the denominations, while giving the pastors no support at all. This is something I began to take notice of almost from the very beginning. On the day of judgment, I pity those who are doing these things! But this is what marks us as so different -- we are here to help, not to exploit; and we are here to share the truth; and these people feel, and appreciate, the liberty which comes with us, and our doctrine!) I have been wondering for some time how I, and our little church, are going to keep up with all the requests for conferences; and now I am earnestly concerned! We already had more requests than we could get to this trip; and I had hoped to come back in July or August to get to the rest. However, by now there are already more than we can get to in another trip; and we are only just over half way through! And as I have already related, Bro. Albiso is counting on me returning in October for their three day meeting on Mindanao. All I can do is rest in the truth that “faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen”!
It is now 11:15 P.M. again, and I have had almost exactly 9 hours rest since early Sunday morning. My eyes are blurring from tiredness, so I must try to get a few hours rest. Can’t expect too much, though, as the bed here is a solid wood platform, with such a thin “mattress” until it is almost like sleeping on the board itself. It is cheap, though; and it could be worse -- believe me!
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Mat. 10:16.
PHILIPPINE MISSION MARCH/APRIL 2007
DAY FOURTEEN -- APRIL 12
Too tired to care about a shower, I get to bed at 11:30 after finishing yesterday’s diary. Doesn’t take long to get to sleep; but wake up several times to find a new position, and relieve the part of me next to the “mattress”, before getting up at 5:30 to get ready for the day. About 6:00 I step out the door; and about the same time I meet Bro. Rey coming out, (His stomach problems seem to be solved.), and he tells me Bro. Joshua has arrived from Panabo to go with us to Savoy. Bro. Joshua has arranged this meeting, and so was the one to be in charge. Even though the hotel kitchen is not open yet, it is decided to go ahead with breakfast. There is a little open stand outside the hotel that is open 24 hours, and it is decided to eat there.
Bro. Rey and I go on ahead of the others; and while we are waiting, he informs me our van driver is concerned about the area where we are to go, as he thinks it is a “critical” area -- meaning an area where there is likely to be Rebels. When the others join us, Bro. Rey immediately accosts Bro. Joshua, and the words get rather heated -- so much so that Bro. Joshua leaves the group, going up to the hotel room. I know he is quite upset; so while the others eat, I go up to talk to Bro Joshua, and to get him to come back down. (Making matters worse is the fact that two years ago Bro. Joshua set up another meeting in the mountains of central Mindanao -- another critical area -- and the other brothers did then, and have continued, to be critical of that action; and Bro. Joshua has already felt a little hurt from that incident.)
The two of us join the others, and although things are calmer, it is evident the issue is far from over. What to do? After again listening for a few minutes, I ask all of them (The driver has been in on this all along.) to go with me back to the hotel room. Here I explain my position, telling them that first I am much more fearful of not fulfilling what my Lord has sent me to do, than I am of the Rebels; and second I am much more fearful of division in our group than I am of the Rebels. I remind them that we have a wonderful ministry in which we have been blessed in multitudes of ways in seeing our Lord work; and that I believe Satan is attacking with one of his best weapons -- division from within! I explain that although I am very wary of tempting God; and although I certainly am not some macho minded “hero”; yet my own decision is to go in the fear of the Lord, trusting in His providence; but if anyone feels they should not go, then it would be understood. This brings peace, and all express their willingness to go. After prayer, we load up, and head out. The fact I am writing this tells the rest of the story!
I have never been to Savoy, and the road turns very bad for several miles; but we arrive safely. After some time for introductions, the meeting begins with about 25 present. The meeting place is the Savoy church “building”, which consists of a second hand tin roof over a concrete slab.
The meeting begins officially just before 9:00; and after three songs, and two prayers, Bro. Joshua introduces the pastors present, consisting of eight (not counting us). Once again I have not been told just what order we will follow, but assume it will basically be the same as usual. However, I am surprised when Bro. Joshua calls me to begin, and tells me I am to pretty well preach the entire day! So I begin with the power of God; then the Sovereignty of God; Depravity; and Unconditional Election. After preaching for nearly two and a half hours, I mention that the people must be tired, an perhaps it is time for us to take our lunch break -- to which all begin to shake their heads “No”! I could hardly believe it: but we did take the break.
About 1:30 we resume, with Bro. Joshua deciding to call on Bro. Rey to take up the doctrine of Irresistible Grace. (This is very pleasing, as it indicates to me they are back in each other’s good graces!) I am blessed with not only the message, but also with evidence these brothers are growing in grace, while preaching grace!
After Bro. Rey is finished, Bro. Joshua calls me to complete the day with Preservation of the Saints. I preach on this doctrine, finishing up with three points of practical application of the doctrines. As indicated before, the people have shown interest all through, but as a the last message proceeds, they get more and more vocal; and by the end, once more there is much rejoicing! Before the message began, they were asking for time to ask questions; but by the end, there were only two very minor ones!
After officially closing, we stayed around for awhile for drinks, and pictures, finally leaving at 4:50. We were supposed to be gone once again at 3:00; but when we’re having such a blessed time, it is difficult to get away!
It is now 9:30 as I finish, and I must take a shower tonight, as it has been rather hot most of the day, and I am quite sweaty! Need to get busy, and get to bed, as Bro. Dexter has just come to my room to inform me we will be leaving in the morning at 4:00; so I will need to be up no later than 3:15.
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.” Isa. 54:17.
PHILIPPINE MISSION REPORT MARCH/APRIL 2007
DAY FIFTEEN -- APRIL 13
This day began good, waking at 3:15; getting dressed; checking out of the hotel; and by 3:45 I have my bags in the van, and ready to go. However, only myself and the driver are ready; it is 4:15 when the others come to the van. We get going, though, right away, and have no problems on the way. When we get to the turn off at General Santos City, Bro. Joshua leaves us to help set up medical assistance for the tribal people of Malungon. He has been working with a medical missionary from the U.S.; named Dr. Evans; for over a year, helping to coordinate the work among the tribal people of Mindanao. I am invited to talk with Dr. Evans on Wednesday of next week, if it will work into my schedule.
After dropping Bro. Joshua, we proceed to Glan, where today’s meeting will be held. Before going to the meeting place, we stop for breakfast. While eating, Bro. Dexter reveals he has some issues with Bro. Obien, the one who usually does the translating/interpreting for me when the people can’t understand English. Bro. Obien is not with us on this part of the trip, but it is agreed that these issues need to be addressed with him for the sake of the work. Do not know exactly when this will happen -- either by correspondence, or else immediately upon my next trip, before we have any meetings. It seems he has angered some people -- even one to the point that he would injure Bro. Obien if he had the chance. Bro. Dexter asked me before I began this trip not to include Bro. Obien on the Mindanao portion of the trip, but would never tell me exactly why. Nevertheless, I had enough respect for Bro. Dexter that I asked Bro. Obien to remain at his home in Cebu City, on the island of Cebu. This has disturbed my peace today; and is the second issue to arise: but while it is disturbing, yet it also makes me think that maybe we are on the right way, and that Satan is trying to do all he can to hinder the work! My prayer is to my God and Saviour!
Arriving at the meeting place, we first greet those who are there; and then Bro. Dexter, Bro. Landau (One of the area pastors), and myself leave to go to the house of the local Barangay Capitan (The political equivalent of tribal chief.). It seems the Barangay Captian has donated a nice size lot for a church building, and wants to talk to me about a building being put on it. Arriving, we find an older man who is suffering much with arthritis in hands, knees, and feet. He is lying on a couch, and had been vomiting several times already today. Nevertheless, he receives us in a remarkably cheerful way. His proposition is that if we will supply the materials, he will furnish the labor for a new building. All I can do is tell him we will consider it. We end our visit then, shaking hands; and then I took a couple of pictures of him, and his little grand-daughter, of whom it is very obvious he is quite attached, and she to him!
Leaving there, we go out to look at the lot. On the way, I realize Bro. Landau is the pastor of a group of people who are already meeting in an old building on the lot. We reach the place, and determine the material needed is bags of concrete for the floor and wall columns; concrete block for the walls themselves; steel bars for reinforcement; sand and gravel; and wood for forming the columns, and for a frame for the roof material. There is already a roof on the old building which can be reused for the new building. They are to make a list of materials, and cost, and send it to me.
We then return to the meeting place, where Bro. Rey has already presented the doctrine of The Sovereignty of God; and Bro. Tacatani has presented the doctrine of Total Depravity. So Bro. Dexter immediately presents the history of the origin of the “Tulip Doctrine”, or Five Points of Calvinism. I count 31 people present, with about half being pastors. The people seem quite attentive, although as usual you can sense the caution in those new to these truths. As soon as Bro. Dexter is though, I preach on Unconditional Election, with Bro. Rey translating. While I am confident of the contents of the message, I certainly did not enjoy the liberty I have grown accustomed to! Maybe I am getting too accustomed, and God wants to remind me! I sure miss Bro. Obien, though; and after working with him for almost eight years, it is really difficult to change! So not only am I concerned, and saddened, over the issues with him for the sake of the integrity of the work, but also for not wanting to lose his services!
After an hour break for lunch, Bro. Dexter continues with Limited Atonement; Bro. Tacatani preaches on Irresistible Grace; then Bro. Dexter finishes with Preservation of the Saints. Bro. Dexter is very knowledgeable and capable, and the people always appreciate his messages; and today is no exception! As for Bro. Tacatani, this is his first time to work with us in preaching; and while I am confident he will get better, he is not there yet.
The day ends, though, with the usual rejoicing! There are a few minor questions, but for the most part the usual time for questions is taken up instead by different ones testifying to the blessings they have received!
After the meeting closes, many want to still visit, which we do. We finally get away, and at 8:00 P.M. I am finishing writing today’s diary in my hotel room. Oh, remember that day before yesterday I said something about the bed being hard, but that it could be worse? Well I think we found it! Haven’t tried the bed yet, but the bath room is terrible; and I have already killed two cock roaches at least as big as the ones in Texas! I have asked Bro. Rey and Bro. Dexter to meet with me in my room tonight after their supper, and will report on this meeting in tomorrow’s report.
“There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.” Prov. 21:30.
PHILIPPINE MISSION REPORT MARCH/APRIL 2007
DAY SIXTEEN -- APRIL 14
Yesterday evening (Day 15/April 13) I had asked Bro. Dexter and Bro. Rey to come to my room after their supper for a discussion; so shortly after I finished writing yesterday’s diary, they arrived. Before I came over here, I had written asking that when one of the Filipino brothers was preaching, to use enough English so that I could keep up with the message; or else one of them was to stay by me to translate. They had not been doing this, but yesterday was very bad. So I reminded them of my request, and told them I felt like I had been put off in a corner! I then insisted on being able to follow their messages. Today (Day 16/April 14) was super!
I was also disturbed by an incident that took place yesterday (Day 15/April 13). Bro. Leonardo Miguel was one of the very first people I met the first time I came; and I have known him very well over all these years. We ordained him to preach during the third year of my coming over -- and I have never seen anyone so happy and thankful to be ordained in my life! He laughed, and cried, for joy for the longest time; and now every time I see him, he hugs me, and thanks me over and over again! To begin his ministry, he went to the Sarangani Province of Mindanao (where he now is). He has been, and still is, one of the poorest of the poor, experiencing many hardships: very little food; very little clothing or shoes; the poorest of living quarters; a very poor place to meet; and the poorest of people to pastor. We have sent precious little financial aid to him, except for enough to pour a concrete slab, and put a roof on it under which to meet for worship. Yet he goes on uncomplaining -- just happy to be able to preach!
Yesterday, though, he badly wanted us to go out of Glan -- the town where we were having the meeting -- about eight kilometers (about 6 miles) to where his church meets, in order to see the place. So I went to Bro. Dexter and Bro. Rey about going; and Bro. Dexter’s reaction was to ask “what purpose it would serve”. Then Bro. Rey, and our driver, thought the road would be too bad. So we refused his request, very much to his, and a few of his members, disappointment! This was my first time in the area, and they have been waiting and anticipating the day I would come for at least the past two years! They were very disappointed!!!
As we were headed from Glan to General Santos City; where we would spend the night; I could not get this off my mind and heart; and the more I thought about it, the more I was convicted that this was all wrong! What would be the purpose? To give simple, but needed, encouragement to this very poor, but faithful pastor and people! What would be the purpose? Simply to show our love and appreciation!
In all the years we have been together in this ministry, I have been very gentle with the brothers; but now I feel a rebuke is in order. I tell them I believe we are guilty of what James speaks of in chapter two -- having respect of persons! I tell them that over the years I don’t know the number of times I have been taken to see places that I really do not know what the purpose is -- but which always turns out to be for finances! And as far as I know, Bro. Miguel had nothing like that in mind! I also remind them we had plenty of time to go see the Barangay Captain -- the rich man -- and to go see the place he is donating for a church -- which will require quite a bit of money. (Please do not misunderstand: I am not opposed to this proposition; and we will try to help with the building of this church building!) I also remind them we have traveled many extremely rough roads, not the least of which was the road we traveled to Savoy yesterday!
I did not know for sure how they would react, but I felt I could not let this pass; and I am very happy to say they took it as they should; and today (Day 16/April 14) has been one of the best yet!
After this we discussed several things pertaining to the future of this ministry, finishing our discussion around 10:30. I then got to bed around 11:00 -- actually finding the bed a little more restful than the one at Digos! I did get fairly decent rest even though I woke up three or four times before waking for good at 5:00, and getting up at 5:30.
As for today (Day 16/April 14), we had agreed last night to leave the hotel at 7:30; but I was ready just after 6:00; and going to their room, I found them also ready. So we just left right away, about 6:30. Our destination today was Maasimm, and we arrived there right at 7:30. The men haven’t eaten, so before going to the meeting place, we begin to look for an eating place. We finally spot one, but when we pull up to it, another is spotted near by; and for whatever reason, the men decide on it. So we breakfast there, to find out at noon that the lady who owns and runs the place is not only a member of the church where we are meeting, but is also the one to feed us the noon meal!
Arriving at the meeting place, we first greet the host pastor, and a few people already there, including the pastor of the church at Daliao. Bro. Dexter then wants to take me to see the little church building we have helped these people to build. So he, myself, and the pastor get our driver to take us the approximately 30 minutes to as close as we can get in the van; and we then walk a short distance. Several of the members warmly greet us; and after looking the place over, and taking a few pictures, we are off. Before going back to the meeting place, though, Bro. Dexter wants to know if I will consent to going about 20 minutes farther out to Kesong, where we have helped another church build a little building. So once again we get as near as we can in the van, then get out to walk quite a distance this time through the banana and coconut trees; across a dry river bed; after which we reach the church building. When we reach the building, we find one of the members -- Sis. Aton -- and she is so very excited! She runs to me; shakes my hand; hugs me; and then leads me quickly to see “my” church building! It is just so amazing how happy and excited she was, finally breaking out in tears!!! I wish we could have stayed awhile, but needed to get back to the meeting. So again after a few minutes to look; and take a few pictures; (and a few more hugs!), we return to the meeting place. (By the way, the “pews” of both buildings are just flat pieces of boards; the Daliao church building has ten of these, about 4 feet long each, which takes up almost all of the space for the congregation; and when I inquire as to how many attend services, I am told they pack 40 or more into this tiny place! Absolutely amazing again how excited and thankful they are for so little!!!)
Returning to the meeting place, Bro. Rey has already begun the meeting by expounding on the Sovereignty of God. He is not long in finishing, and immediately calls on me to preach on Depravity. I take just over an hour with Bro. Rey translating; and today preaching was once again a joy! It felt so good to enjoy great liberty again; and for the message to flow so smoothly! It is 11:15 when I finish; and it is decided we will have lunch before continuing. It is during this time that I am told the reaction of the people was, “It is heavy!” They were very attentive all through the message, but very quiet; and when I went to sit down, not a sound was made.
At 12:20 Bro. Dexter calls the meeting to begin again. Bro. Dexter preaches on Unconditional Election, doing his usual very good job; and as he preaches, the people began to have some favorable reactions. Bro. Dexter finishes, and Bro. Rey takes up Limited Atonement -- and I am blessed to say that his liberty is much increased from when we began this trip. (Before he preaches, a group of 12 or so women, dressed in their very colorful and beautiful native dress, sang for us.) Immediately after Bro. Rey, Bro. Tacatani preached on Irresistible Grace. As I said in a previous report, he is new to our team, but today I was much more blessed with his message; and when he finished, the people all clapped their hands -- a sign of their approval! Wonderful!
Then I am to finish out the day with Preservation of the Saints; but before getting into this subject, I address some areas related to the preaching thus far. At Kidapawan I mentioned briefly a message I have on God’s five steps to salvation; and twice since Bro. Dexter has asked me to give a brief outline of it. Then yesterday and today one of the brothers, in his message, has asked me to explain what the term “world” in John 3:16 is referring to. I also touched on why God saves some, while not others; explaining that the fullness of His mercy can only be known when it is compared/contrasted with His wrath, thus showing His glory in both. Gave some supporting scripture references also for 2.Thess. 2:11-12; and then finished up with the Preservation of the Saints, concluding with Jer. 31:3. By this time it is absolutely amazing the transformation that has taken place -- the mood has gone from “heavy”, to praise and thankfulness!!! Now they are excited about these truths, and wanting to hear more! So there are requests for more meetings! One pastor is there from Sarigao, Agusan del Norte (Northern Agusan Province), which is on the exact opposite end of the island of Mindanao. I have no idea how he came to be here from such a far distance, but he is urging us to come to his church as soon as possible!
The meeting has ended at 5:00, and we are finally getting away at 5:20 with everybody waving goodbye to us. We must make one more stop, though, to see the place where Bro. Monero’s church has begun a new building. After this we return to the hotel, where it is 11:10 as I finish writing today’s diary. I have had a very light “supper”, and have taken a shower. While drying off after the shower, I had the towel over my head to dry my hair; and when I removed the towel, everything was pitch black! For an instance I wondered if I had gone completely blind! It was only a brownout, though; but for that instance a very weird feeling! When I told the others, we all had a good laugh!
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” 2.Corin. 2:14-17.
PHILIPPINE MISSION REPORT MARCH/APRIL 2007
DAY SEVENTEEN -- APRIL 15
Getting to bed at 11:25, I am very tired, and thinking I would crash! However, I just doze off and on all night until 4:15. Although the bed slept pretty good the night before, last night I kept feeling something biting. Don’t know if it was just in my mind, but could never really sleep. At 4:45 I got up; and stayed up until 5:30, then decided to lie back down, and at least try to relax while meditating on the message for today. Got up for good at 6:00, and was dressed and ready by 6:30. Read my Bible for a time, then decided to see if the others were ready for breakfast. Going to their room, I got no answer. So I go down to the hotel dining room, to find them there. To my surprise, they see me coming; and knowing it is my birthday, they sing “Happy Birthday”!
We visit while they eat, (One note here: the van owner and driver was unknown to any of us in the beginning, but for the past few days he has been really rejoicing and getting into the messages; and now he is not just our means of transportation, but has become a real brother in Jesus; and we are counting him as one of “the team”! Today we hugged each other as though we have known one another for years! Praise God!), and upon finishing, they go to get their things together, while I try to check out. No one to check me out, though; so I return to the room, and read some more until 8:30, when a clerk is supposed to come that can check me out. I take my three bags, and go down stairs; and this time I do get checked out. (The lady placed my credit card on the counter, then placed the blank credit card ticket over the card, using the side of a ball point pen to rub over the blank ticket in order to make an impression of the numbers. Third try was the charm!)
It is only a short distance to the meeting place, and we arrive at 8:45 to find a few already there. This was not a conference, but rather a joint Sunday service with the church in General Santos City, and the church at Batomelong; and then only part of each church could be accommodated. In all, about 60 people show up; and services begin a few minutes after nine with singing; prayers; several testimonies; and then they sing “Happy Birthday” to me, after which they all came by to shake hands. Then Bro. Gamilong; his wife Ruth; their six year old daughter, Lovely Grace; and two young men, and two young women from the Bible School which Bro. Gamilong is responsible for, sang “Victory In Jesus”.
I am then called to preach, with Bro. Rey translating. We begin also with Bro. Tacatani re-reading in the Visayan dialect the verses I read in English; but because this takes so much time, most of the scriptures I just quote, so they will be incorporated into the translation by Bro. Rey, thus eliminating the need for Bro. Tacatani to re-read them. This saves considerable time. My text is Phil. 4:6-8, focusing mainly on verse 6 -- peace that passes understanding. Although I once again had a battle in my mind and heart over just what to preach, it is soon evident this is the right message. Whatever doubts I had quickly vanish soon after beginning, as I can feel the message developing; and witness the joy and comfort the people are experiencing! Thank God for His love and faithfulness to His precious children!
After the message, it is time for lunch; fellowship; and pictures before closing at about 1:15 or so. We are to go back to Digos this afternoon; but before we do, Bro. Arnie and Sis. Ruth want me to go by their place to see what they are doing with the money sent for a livelihood project. Sis. Ruth has a major in music; and has wanted to teach music; but has never been able to afford to have a place to teach. I sent them P20,000.00 to do this, and she already has 8 students, and they aren’t finished fixing the studio yet. Bro. Dexter and I visit with them while Bro. Rey and the other two go to the fish market in order for Bro. Rey to buy some dried fish to take back with him to Manila when we go Thursday afternoon. He will sell enough of these in Manila to pay for the entire amount, and then he, and his family, will eat the rest.
As soon as they return to the Gamilong’s, we head for Digos. (While going over the mountain, we saw a bus lying on it’s side over the side of the road, with people standing all around. We did not stop, so do not know what injuries were sustained, but could not help being some, as these buses are almost always carrying more that there are seats for; and of course no seat belts. Just a reminder of how God has protected us on these trips, keeping us from all harm and danger! Cannot begin to number the times we could have experienced as bad, or worse!) We arrived in Digos about 4:00, stopping long enough for me to get some money exchanged, and to buy some phone cards by which to call home. Called last night, but hardly got started talking before the time ran out, and the phone went dead. No warning is given, it just goes dead! We then went on to the hotel; got checked in; washed my hands and splashed some cool water on my face; (No A/C in the van; this is the hottest time of the year; and today has been one of the hottest!); then we are off again. The people of the Digos church have planned a birthday celebration for me. They are much enthused -- much more than I am! (They did the same last year.), but this is one of the few ways they feel they at least can show their love, and appreciation.
We have a short service in which Bro. Dexter asks me to say a few words of encouragement to the people; to which I talk to them maybe 15 minutes about the wonder of God’s love in His people that binds us together in the body of Christ. Afterward, they sing “Happy birthday” to me; we eat a light meal; visit for a time; have prayer for the elderly lady who has Lukemia (and in whose house the Digos church meets, and where we are now meeting.); then hug each other goodbye until next time I visit the islands; returning to the hotel about 6:30. It has been another wonderful day in God’s grace!
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Phil. 4:8-13.
It is now 9:40 P.M. as I finish writing this day’s diary. I have had a much enjoyed shower, and am ready for bed. We are to leave here at 5:00 in the morning going to Panabo. It is just four days now before I leave for home on the fifth day, Friday; and it is about time, as I am becoming more and more exhausted each day. Also, I miss my wife, family, and church terribly; but then I also miss my people here so much, too, when I have to leave! I always leave home with tears, and leave here the same way!
PHILIPPINE MISSION MARCH/APRIL 2007
DAY NINETEEN -- APRIL 17
Hit the bed at 11:00, after setting my alarm for 5:45. Slept well, only waking twice before getting up at 5:15. By 6:00 I am waiting for the others; and in just a few minutes, our driver knocks on my door. When I go out, I find his wife has come to the room, and we are introduced. I also find that the driver has contacted her to come by to take care of some business, otherwise she would be with us today. They have a friend arriving today from Japan; and the wife and friend are to attend the last meeting on Thursday. Our driver is also a Southern Baptist preacher; and he has contacted six other pastors he knows to be at the meeting on Thursday. This is evidence of how much our driver has been personally affected by hearing what he has during this trip!
We are away by 6:15, going by first to pickup the Gubals; then picking up Bro. Tacatani on the way to our meeting at New Corella. We arrive at the meeting place about 7:30, where we find Bro. & Sis. dele Gente waiting. The meeting place is an empty room adjoining a small restaurant. Some eat breakfast while we wait for people to arrive. As they come, it first appears there will only be a few. However, they keep coming; and before long the room is full, with some sitting outside on the sidewalk. The opening to the room is as wide as the room itself, so there is no obstruction to those on the outside.
The meeting begins with Bro. Gubal giving the history of the Five Points; and then preaching on Total Depravity. (Before Bro. Gubal begins, Bro. dele Gente introduces the pastors present. We almost always have at least three of four -- sometimes more -- denominations present, but today there are pastors from more than a dozen!) I am after Bro. Gubal, preaching on the Sovereign, Almighty God. We then break for lunch. After 30 minutes we resume with Bro. Rey preaching on Unconditional Election; then Bro. dele Gente preaching on Irresistible Grace; and me finishing with Preservation of the Saints. After this, I spend 30 minutes or more answering questions. (It is very hot again today; and very little air movement, with only the one opening to the entire room.)
Today has been the toughest so far! It seemed to me that Satan was “standing at our right hand to resist”! Bro. Gubal’s message was the worst I believe I have heard him deliver, as if he really didn’t know what he was talking about; and Bro. Rey was even worse! Either Satan was really directly giving resistance, or it is a good thing this trip is coming to an end, as fatigue is taking it’s toll -- I myself am feeling the effects of the rigors of the every day events; and I believe the others are feeling it even more! Added was the fact that several were openly hostile, with a one-armed man particularly giving evidence of open defiance!
However, once again our Lord proved Himself stronger than all, triumphing over all! By God’s grace, Bro. dele Gente and I enjoyed much liberty; and even though I thought for awhile this meeting had turned into a disaster, it actually ended quite well. I believe our Lord saved it by shutting the mouth of the lion -- namely, the one-armed man! I could see in his expression; and hear in his voice; absolute assurance that he had trapped me with his questions! There is no doubt he had been thinking about how to accomplish his design for some time -- probably keeping him from hearing what was preached! However, not only did God provide an answer to his questions, but turned the table with a question for him -- which he could not answer! (Brought to mind the many times this happened with Jesus!) After he could not answer my question, he (and evidently some of his friends) immediately left. It was quite evident this had a settling effect on the rest, for now there is actually much joy, and many expressions of gratitude -- along with hopes for our return. Three or four got my address in order to ask further questions. One (Bro. Eddie) expressed his thanks, saying what he heard had helped him in his calling to be an evangelist; and he was another one who said he has known several missionaries, but that I am “different” than any of them. Once again I did not press him as to why -- just give thanks to God for grace, and the blessings He gives, and is giving!
We got back to our rooms about 6:30 after dropping off the Gubals, and Bro. Tacatani. As I finish this, it is 9:10; and I am through for the day. Two more all day meetings, and this trip will be complete; and my body, as well as my mind, tell me it is time. It has been wonderful -- again -- but the body can only take so much!
“And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.” Mat. 21:23-27.
PHILIPPINE MISSION REPORT MARCH/APRIL 2007
DAY TWENTY -- APRIL 18
Today began at 5:30; and after getting dressed, I read for awhile waiting until I was fairly sure the others would be up. Went to their door, and the three of us went to eat. However, Bro. Rey is having stomach problems again (Later, at today’s meeting place, Bro. Dexter tells me he had problems last night, too.), so he orders only coffee; and since I do not usually eat breakfast, I only had a drink; so it was only our driver that ordered breakfast. After he gave his order, a few minutes later he was told that no cook was available; so he ended up eating two pieces of bread, with coffee.
During this time, Bro. Rey decided he better remain in the room today; so the driver and myself leave, picking up Bro. and Sis. Tacatani along the way. Bro. and Sis. Gubal will come later, but they first must go see the Bisinga family; members of the Panabo church; off to their new home. Bro. Dexter, who is responsible for putting this meeting together, is to meet us in Tagum City where the meeting is to be. However, none of us know where the meeting place is; but just as we arrive in Tagum City, and they are about to try to call Bro. Dexter, we spot him on the street -- right in front of the meeting place!
It is still early, though, and Bro. Tacatani wants to invite a pastor he knows; and Bro. Dexter wants to go just outside the city to see his uncle. So we all get in the van; drop the Tacatanis at their friend’s house; then proceed to Bro. Dexter’s uncle’s place. Arriving there, he does not find his uncle, but talks to his cousin, who decides to attend the meeting. We then return to the meeting place.
The meeting place is in the office of an insurance agency that is operated by the host pastor, Pastor Dumlau. He had not opened up when we first arrived, but now immediately greets us. We are also surprised to find Bro. Arnie Gamilong from General Santos City, along with one of his young Bible students. They have made the three hour motor bike trip from General Santos last night. What a nice surprise! A couple of more come shortly, but it is already past time to begin. I have learned, though, not to despair as this is not unusual; and sure enough it isn’t long before more arrive. The meeting begins with Bro. Dexter giving his usual introduction; and just after he begins, more arrive, including Bro. Joshua Gubal, and one of his Panabo members. This brings the total present to 23.
This turns out to be one of the most pleasant meetings we have had! All the guest pastors are young, and full of enthusiasm -- yet humble, and receptive! After Bro. Dexter, I take up the doctrines of Sovereignty, and Depravity. Today I have also enjoyed as great a liberty as I have ever experienced -- ever! When I am through, they are all exclaiming to each other “Claro, Claro” -- very clear! Again, thanks be to God, both for the message, and for opening the hearts! After me, Bro. Arnie takes the doctrine of Unconditional Election; and although young, and not used to doing this, does a credible job! We then break for lunch.
Just as I finish eating, Bro. Joshua comes to me with a problem. He has received word that his daughter-in-law has had a miscarriage, and needs to get to the hospital, but they have no way to get her there. I tell him to get our driver to go with the van to get her; so they leave immediately.
The meeting resumes with me preaching on the doctrine of Limited Atonement. However, about half way through the message they begin to bombard me with questions -- not like the first ones yesterday, but questions of genuine interest; the kind you enjoy! For somewhere between an hour and a half, and two hours, I would preach for two or three minutes, and then answer questions for five or ten. It was great!
Bro. Tacatani then preached on the doctrine of Irresistible Grace; and he is becoming more of a blessing every day! He comes from the Pentecostals (He now lightheartedly calls himself a Bapticostal”.) He has given up the Pentecostal trappings; and has declared several times the last few days how God has opened his heart; and how he is every day receiving more revelation that thrills his soul!
Bro. Dexter closes out with Preservation; and once again let me say what a blessing it is to experience how God brings new scriptures to light to teach these great truths! And how many other doctrines are brought to bear while expounding these! There is no limit to God’s working!
There has been joy here almost from the beginning; and by the time this is over there is much rejoicing and excitement: hand shaking and hugs -- and yes, there are many requests for our return, along with requests for us to come to the churches of these pastors! Praise be to God!
We are finally able to get away, arriving back at our rooms about 6:30; but the day is not over yet. First, I have a long talk with the young man who was our driver for the previous four or five years. At the end of our trip last May, he was accused of stealing some money; but when the accusation was made, we had already departed from him, so I had no chance to talk to him. I have been getting reports through the year since of how devastated and distraught he -- and his parents, and wife -- have been; and I asked Bro. Joshua to try to find him, and get him to come to see me. To my surprise, he walked into the meeting today! He then came back to Panabo with us. After talking with him for quite a while in the presence of Bro. Dexter and Bro. Rey, I am thoroughly convinced of his innocence. As he understood I believed him, relief came over his whole body; and after talking to him about how God sometimes brings these trials to test and strengthen us, he went on his way rejoicing! (As we left the Gubal’s place the next morning -- where he had spent the night -- his last words were that he longed to be with us again on these trips. I hope and pray that it will be possible next trip!)
Next, I have a meeting with the members of the Finance and Projects Committee to discuss and decide on some matters affecting the future of the work here. (One of these is to consider enrolling pastors in the Philippine government program called PhilHealth; and in the government Social Security program. For about P300.00 per month (About $6.50) these programs will provide a measure of health care; and after ten years, a small pension. We all think this would be one of the most helpful ways we can assist these poor pastors, and we are praying that our Lord will make it possible; but first we must register our group with the government. Also, by registering with the government, we can obtain Identification Cards for the pastors -- especially the village ones -- giving them legitimacy with the military, who otherwise often gives them problems.) Then after this, the Tacatani’s have requested a time to see me. As I finish writing today’s diary, it is 11:57. I still need to take a shower, and get ready for bed, but what a marvelous day it has been!
We have one more meeting tomorrow in Davao City, after which Bro. Rey and I will fly back to Manila: he to go to his house and family; and me to catch my flight back home Friday morning!
“I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” Rev. 3:8.
PHILIPPINES MISSION REPORT MARCH/APRIL 2007
DAY TWENTY-ONE -- APRIL 19
The last day for a conference began as usual, rising early; getting ready; (checking out today); getting with Bro. Rey, and our driver for coffee (For them, and Mango Juice for me -- They also had some bread they had kept from yesterday.) Afterward we load up the van, and first go by to pickup the Tacatanis; then go by for the Gubals, and Bro. Parillos -- one of the Panabo church members. We then head out for the meeting place in Davao City. It takes us a little over an hour, arriving at the meetings place just before 9:00. The meeting is actually scheduled to begin at 9:30, but as usual most of the participants are on “Filippino Time” -- meaning when they can get there.
It is actually 10:00 when we get started, but the room is full. I counted 27 today, not including those of us who are doing the preaching. Bro. dele Gente, who is responsible for this meeting, has rented this room in a restaurant. It has window air conditioning units, but they can in no wise keep up with both the heat inside and out -- the heat on Mindanao has been constantly between the mid-nineties, and one hundred. Good that the people are used to it!
Bro. dele Gente begins by introducing everyone, over half being pastors. After introductions, Bro. Dexter gives the history and origin of The Five Points; and then preaches on Depravity. One of the pastors sitting directly in front of Bro. Dexter looks to be maybe 50 years old, or so; and almost immediately begins to question some minor thing that Bro. Dexter said -- whether “all” in a certain passage was singular, or plural. There is always the occasional practicipant that comes not to listen, but to teach; and they usually are easy to spot even before they say anything -- they just have a certain look! It also almost always turns out, too, that these have the least relative statements and/or arguments. Mostly they just show their ignorance! However, to this man’s credit, by the time Bro. Dexter, and myself, had finished, he had an altogether changed attitude. Once more our Lord was faithful and gracious to direct his word, and our thoughts, to overcome the would be gainsayers! Bro. Dexter’s message was again a blessing to my heart, and I have no doubt to the people; and as for me, today was a continuation of the liberty enjoyed yesterday -- what a pleasure it is to preach like this! And God continues to reveal these great truths in more and more scriptures, keeping them fresh and living!!! More and more I am wondering why we don’t preach more on these doctrines at home! And also why people at home don’t get more joy from them!
After my message on Unconditional Election, we break for lunch; which was supposed to be for only thirty minutes. However, the food is served cafeteria style; and by the time the people go through the line, and eat, it is most of an hour. We are trying to get the whole session concluded by 3:00 so Bro. Rey and I can get to the airport in plenty of time. However, while I eat, Bro. Joshua’s son-in-law, Jupiter Salera, (He and Gege named their little boy Hercules!), talks to me about the possibility of helping to refurbish the little place he has rented for his photography and silk screening business; and he wants me to go by to see the place after the services are concluded. (The first time I met Jupiter some four years ago, we had a conference at the church of which he was the pastor at the time. However, several months ago, the church, lead by the upper hierarchy of the denomination, kicked him out of the church over the doctrines of grace. He and Gege are meeting with a few in their house, which is near by both the church he was at, and the place of his business. He is anticipating being a pastor again in the future.)
As soon as lunch is over, Bro. Tacatani preaches a short version of Limited Atonement; and Bro. Rey was to do the same with Irresistible Grace. However, Bro. Rey’s preaching was just the opposite of the last time he preached (day before yesterday at New Corella). Today he was preaching with conviction; and his thoughts were well organized; and although I did not ask him, it seemed to me that he just felt that he could not cut the message short! I am glad he didn’t!!!
By the time he is through, though, it is getting late; so when I am asked to close with Preservation, I do keep it short -- but the meeting still closed out with the people rejoicing, happy, and wanting more! The usual expressions of thanks are made, along with more request for conferences. The last thing is to take a group picture; say goodbye; and then load into the van to first go by Jupiter’s business place; then by his house; then by a place to get money exchanged; buy a phone card so I will be able to contact Dorothy to let her know I am on schedule to return home.
We then go to the airport, where Bro. Rey and I say our goodbyes to those traveling with us, including our driver. During the time he has driven us around, he has thoroughly become one of us! And it is just one more great blessing! As always, there is a certain sadness when one of these trips comes to an end; but as our Lord wills, we all are counting on another time!
Bro. Rey and I check in with our airline; and from then until we part at the Manila airport, we discuss what has taken place during the trip, along with other things pertaining to the work. It is Bro. Rey that expresses that this trip has been the best of our times; and that he is so blessed with all that has been accomplished -- both directly connected with all the conferences, as well as what has been accomplished on the side. I whole heartedly agree!
At Manila we part ways, he going home to his family, as I take a taxi to a nearby hotel. It seems I get the last available room anywhere near the airport. I don’t know what is going on, but find out from the hotel desk clerk that there are flight delays, so the hotels are filling up. Hope it doesn’t affect me tomorrow! After arranging for the hotel shuttle to take me to the airport at 8:00 A.M., I eat a bite; shower; watch the news a bit; and by this time it is almost midnight. Was just too tired to write up the diary last night, so am writing it during my long layover at Taipei on day twenty-two.
As for day twenty-two, not much to report as there was no delay at the Manila terminal -- just the usual standing in a long line; getting through the check points; getting through customs; and so forth. Did not experience any problems on the flights home (Manila to Taipei; Taipei to Seattle; Seattle to Houston); except there could have been a problem at Taipei, as they changed the loading gate on me; and by the time I realized it, I only had a few minutes to catch my flight. Did not realize they had changed the gate until I went to the original gate, only to find no one there! Hurriedly found someone to ask; and the new gate was on the opposite end of the terminal from the original gate! Otherwise, just long hours in mostly cramped quarters! My wife; one of my grandsons, and his wife, and their little girl -- one of my great-grand-daughters, met me at the Houston airport, and drove me home.
“And said, O LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and showest mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts:” 1.Kings 8:23; 2.Chronicles 6:14.