NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 2017
Time seems to be moving on at an ever-increasing pace. And our Hosea church in Cabacunga on Mindoro Island continues to grow quickly. The pastor couple and many volunteers from their church have done significant work with the poor tribespeople, and I believe that is why God is blessing their church with such a growth in membership. One of the secrets of growth has been the fact that the church members are not just seat warmers! Instead everyone has the opportunity to be an active participant if they want to. I have taught them the basic rule: LEARN, LOOK and DO. They have been taught the Word, and then they put their learning into practice by taking part in an evangelism team, and finally they can bring to fruition independently what has been learned and seen. This is the same method that is used to train medical doctors. First the student learns the theory, then they see how it is applied to the patient, and finally they carry it out in practice with their own patients.
Whole families have come to faith and joined the church. Because of this continuing growth in numbers, we have organised several baptisms. A Cabacunga Hosea church member, Brother Billy, has taken on the responsibility of teaching the bible in Sablayan city, since Pastor Jonathan is overloaded. Within a short time that church has grown so much that the original meeting place of a shelter made from bamboo sticks with a tarpaulin roof has changed to be a proper building. I remember my first sermon under the tarpaulin. Because we westerners often cannot cope with the heat without air conditioning, our pastor had taken a power cable from the adjacent building and connected it to an old simple fan – good cooling but it always lifted up the preacher’s hair, when moved in their direction.
|New school books for the students
Next to the tarpaulin church there was just a dirt walkway that the locals used to reach their village, but it didn’t seem to bother anyone. When I first arrived, I wondered where the churchgoers would sit. But the pastor simply said: “They bring their own chairs.” And that’s how it was: soon people started arriving, carrying plastic chairs upon their heads. Some of them even brought benches.
The tarpaulin church was not my first experience of this kind as we’d already had similar in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea. The only difference was that the tarpaulin pieces were not used as a roof but instead were erected as shallow walls to mark the church area. As I observed that arrangement, a silly question came to my lips: “What if it rains?” The answer was simple: “Why bother - it is only water?”
Our Hosea church in Manila Ritzal has also grown. Pastor Ricky has got another pastor to help in the ministry – they will start working in another locality and will run bible studies there. I am deeply grateful for all the pastors. They are doing a really great job, busy preaching the gospel of Christ, travelling on foot around their local area.
Our pastors have been called by God to their work but they still need income to make ends meet. If the work is from God, it will succeed and grow. Our main leader, Pastor Sonio who lives in Mamburao, helps all new churches in organising the work and he also functions as a spiritual father to others. I have often marvelled at how deeply committed our pastors are. When a second pastor is needed because of church growth, they give part of their own salary or food to the other one, until they can raise enough income from their own church. Support doesn’t always consist of money, instead provisions are sometimes given in these developing countries: when you give a certain amount of rice to someone, you may get a fish or something similar in return. I have sometimes thought that if the world’s economy should collapse, there would not be much difference in the slums: people would continue to trade and barter as they did before.
People reap the fruits of what they sow, either good or bad. The only constant fruit is in God. As Proverbs 8:19 says: “My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver.”
We have also been so happy that quite a few of this year’s school children’s parents in the Philippines have come to Christ and been baptized. Our school mission efforts have been successful both academically and spiritually. God has given us the keys to people’s hearts through our school outreach. We have had the opportunity to be a light in a darkening world through our mission work, as it opened the doors to work amongst the tribal people. We could do so much more and expand our ministry in every direction but sadly we do not have funds to do so.
In November Mindoro Hosea will get visitors as Mr and Mrs Reis from Finland and Pastor Foisil from France will travel there. In December also Nathan Osnes from Norway is travelling to Mamburao to minister in youth work. Then this year will be over and next year will bring new challenges along, I’m sure.
|Building photo 1
|Building photo 2
MOTEL / SCHOOL
Our motel building work is now moving forward again at an excellent pace. The typhoon and storm season is over, thank goodness. Typhoons are unpredictable, and they can almost appear out of nowhere, but God’s hand has protected us from their destructive power.
We are now continuing with the building construction work piece by piece, as far as our budget allows. This kind of building in faith requires special patience, and sometimes I have spent sleepless nights with anxious thoughts wondering how I ever came to volunteer for anything like this. Then God lets me see how He saves one whole family at a time. I recognise again the fruit of our hard work, remembering how our teachers press on, even with their small wages, giving their very best as they take care of our little schoolchildren. All done for the sake of the mission call that God has placed on their hearts. I see the Pastors walking long distances in the bush and over difficult terrains, just to save that one person who is so dear to the Lord. When I think of all this, I feel ashamed of my complaints over the small hiccups at the building site. Age is only a number on a passport, nothing else.
At first I used to be bothered by the costs of the building foundations. Why should we make it as strong as if it was a bomb shelter? Why incur such expense? But after a few typhoons my understanding on this issue has grown somewhat!.
God has also blessed our Tongan school where we have admitted early grade schoolchildren who have not done well at government schools. They have had difficulties in reading and in some other basic issues, and their parents begged our school to take these children in. This was a big challenge for our school principal Dorothy, but she accepted the job. Please remember Dorothy in your prayers! We have similar challenges in our schools in the Philippines, where we have started a special class for those who need intensive teaching. One of our teachers, Danillo has got special love in his heart for such children.
I want to give my heartfelt thanks to all those who intercede for us! You do wonderful work. I also wish to take this opportunity to thank all those people who have donated and all who are part of this mission work in one way or another.
May God bless you all.