I’m grateful for all the wonderful things that are going on in the lives of the Filipino pastors and those around us. I have a lot of great news to share as well, that I don’t really know where to begin! In May I was fortunate enough to be involved with another church plant through SOS (Summer of Service). It’s the hottest time of the Philippines to be walking out in the sun, but is worth it! There were about 17 volunteers. After 3 weeks we had created a church to leave to the new pastor. We didn’t have any new SOS church plants here in Mindoro so I traveled out with a couple of our local pastors, who also volunteered their time in Bicol. In our first baptism service in Magarao, Bicol, 21 people dedicated their lives to Christ! The favor of God was on us. The firemen of the town asked us to pray over their new fire truck and the police asked me to lead a devotional during their weekly flag raising ceremony. All glory belongs to God!
After our very eventful trip in Bicol, I volunteered to help one of our pastors here in Mindoro create more Bible studies. After already getting used to sleeping on the concrete floor and fetching my own water to bathe with, what’s two more weeks? It’s all for God anyhow! There weren’t nearly as many of us at the time, but the 6 of us including some church members from a city in Iloilo helped. Though we were exhausted from SOS we did manage to help create some pretty solid Bible studies for the pastor. I also began to learn from those in Iloilo how their church had grown at an incredible rate through a discipleship method. I was also able to teach these 4 from Iloilo about praying for the sick. It was incredible as moments after teaching one of the ladies prayed for the other who had a chronic breathing/allergy problem in her nose. God instantly healed her! Both the ladies were ecstatic to say the least! Many others got healed during SOS, but I enjoy sharing the successful prayers of others more. It’s really not about me. Christ empowers us all! It’s about what ‘we’ can do together to impact the world through Christ and for Christ! With Him all things are possible!
After having a week of some much needed recovery and catch up on daily tasks; I planned my trip to Iloilo. It’s just as far from Mindoro as Bicol is – almost 24hrs – but it was worth my time. I was able to really study from the pastor who had taken his church to over 4,000 members by utilizing discipleship. It’s been something on my heart that I felt we were lacking here in Mindoro. I’m so grateful for everybody who helped me in Iloilo, from waiting for me at the bus station, to giving me a place to stay while I remained there in their island. After returning, my missionary mentor Ray Miller asked me to teach on the topic in the Wednesday pastors meeting. The teaching and discipleship of these pastors have always been our priority, but now we’re trying to take it deeper and assist them in this area of discipleship making. The meeting went great and is an ongoing process, but even after a week there has been a great change in their way of thinking and the steps they are taking to move in that direction.
Livelihood has been one of the other things that has really been effecting me over the course of my second term here. Mindoro is nothing like Cebu even though it’s still part of the same country. Not only do they speak a different language, but they think different in a lot of ways. Our pastors here feel that the community and their churches would frown upon them if they get work while they are pastoring a new church. I know it totally goes against the way Americans would think. Many American pastors, whom I know, have worked a job while getting their churches established. Filipino pastors working businesses are socially acceptable on the other hand! The middle of last year I was able to slowly inspire Pastor Jimer to start farming for a secondary income. Well, the farming has continued and Pastor Jimer has been an influence on our other Assemblies of God pastors. This has left the doors wide open for us missionaries to be able to inspire each one of them to ‘create wealth’ as the Bible says. I believe this change of thinking can even impact their congregations as the pastors live by example. They will be able to inspire others to create businesses and jobs, thus effecting the community in a positive way. Thank you for taking the time to read my mountain of text! I know you can’t help but pray for those whom you support on a monthly basis. So for that, I am grateful for everything you do for me as my wonderful supporter! I thank God for putting each supporter and prayer warrior in my life. Together we can and we are making a difference!