NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 2022
Greetings from Asia to you, dear friends!
Our mission in the Philippines continues to make progress far beyond what I could have imagined in the early days of our work. The new Hosea church in the Malpalo terrorist area is growing. When the church started the local people were scared and were suspicious that we would not remain there for long, as many others had not stayed and taken care of them. Once again children played a key part in the founding of the church, as they were drawn through natural curiosity to find out what was going on. Adults came along too and we found a pastor couple who were courageous and willing to work in the area. We also took care of children's basic needs so that no one was left hungry.
Malpalao new church group.
The cooperation with both military and police forces has brought me much joy as it has enabled us to preach in previously unevangelised areas. The weekly Bible studies for police staff are continuing. The police department chose the premises of our main school to host their training courses, and there are similar areas of cooperation with parts of the military. Pastor Billy is about to start Bible studies in the prison of Sablayan town so even this door has now opened to us. All of Hosea's ongoing building projects have now been completed, although of course there are always new challenges ahead on God's mission field.
New School Opened
The school building in Cabacunga for the tribespeople has now been opened. Children from the tribes have kept our teachers busy in several challenging ways, for example The children find it hard to grasp that they have to attend school on each and every weekday Similarly their timekeeping is very poor so school timetables are not adhered to. Most of the tribespeople and especially the children have little concept of time, so they may turn up at school at quite random hours of the day Every pupil needs to have a birth certificate and since none of them have such documents, these need to be applied for at the office of Philippines Statistics Authority. This enables them to be enrolled into the official school roll, guaranteeing them places in the educational system and our Hosea school. This should be straightforward enough…but the tribe usually doesn't know the date on which their children were born. Perhaps they will recall a child being born "at the time of the typhoon" or perhaps "when bananas were being harvested" or "during the rainy season". So trying to estimate the age in years of a wide range of children coming to the school is a real challenge, let alone fixing a precise birthdate. A creative imagination is quite an asset in such circumstances! Not only dates of birth for the children but even names have to be invented quite often. I am reminded of the task that Adam had in the garden of Eden of naming all the birds and beasts that God created! Our teachers on Hope Mountain had to teach the tribespeople the names of colors and so on but that was a much simpler problem.
Schools have officially started again with face-to-face teaching and the pupils are really enjoying being back in a normal environment after the restrictions of lockdown when they could not attend the school. No longer do our teachers have to walk from hut to hut to teach the children. Online teaching is of course impossible with the lack of electricity and IT equipment in the slums: a fact that seems to be ignored by the central education authorities. One good thing that has resulted from the coronavirus pandemic is a greater interest in the gospel. Parents of the pupils have keenly attended the weekly Bible studies and these meetings are at full capacity. We see the same phenomenon in all of our Hosea schools and our churches too have seen many new converts.
New Hosea school
Hosea has gained an excellent reputation on the island as we have looked after those whom the state system missed. By God's grace we managed this almost impossible task and now we are reaping the harvest: people saw that our faith had practical outworkings and was not empty words. When I look back on the coronavirus years I am amazed to see how few infections afflicted the island. Medical support for those with the virus is extremely limited on the island because hospitals are very low on facilities and medication. Coronavirus has had very little inroads into our pupils, schoolteachers or congregations, and our church meetings have been allowed to continue normally. Ours was the only church allowed to remain open with no restrictions and we were permitted to continue to move around for both relief work and evangelism. As well as surviving the virus we have made it through floods, typhoons and earthquakes. We also suffered termite invasions and many other smaller nuisances too numerous to mention here -- life is certainly not boring!
Please remember to pray for us and also for the schools on Tonga Island. There they have had to endure seemingly impossible situations -- volcanic eruption, ashes, tsunami, coronavirus, swine flu, measles and now a mystery epidemic affecting many children. Also food shortages and lack of basic facilities. Hospitals are so short of medicine and equipment that they can offer no help to the sick, only basic painkillers. But schools remain open for those who are able to come. One of our teachers has cancer but the only available treatment is herbal mixtures and prayer.
We bless all our intercessors and everyone who supports us in various ways. Our school children and church congregations also pray for you all regularly, asking that you will be abundantly blessed in every way.