HOSEA NEWSLETTER MAY 2023
Greetings from the mission field!
Our outreach in prisons is enjoying great success: a total of 291 convicts in three different prisons have come to faith. Conditions in these jails are really miserable with tiny cramped cells. The prison colony in the mountains is particularly bad, where the inmates suffer from the cold through lack of blankets, footwear and warm clothing. There is even not enough food for them. In addition many prisoners are incarcerated in locations long distances away from their homes, friends and family. And in the Philippines a life sentence means literally that -- one's whole life. I am not allowed to publish any photos of our prison outreach, but we are so grateful that God was moving in power to heal several of the prisoners we visited.
Our work in these men's prisons was led by Nathan who was accompanied by Ole who had been commissioned by his church back in Norway to be trained within Hosea's mission. I was understandably concerned about young Ole because of the dangers surrounding our mission work, with the ongoing conflict between the military and NPA terrorists. Given the threats that we had personally encountered I was reluctant for a new young entrant to join us.
Children are praying
I cannot reveal all the details but let me describe a particular incident when the Hosea team was preparing to visit a dangerous area, to illustrate the situation. It was the team's second visit to that area, having previously provided food supplies and carried out gospel outreach there. Ladies from our church had prepared the food to be delivered but the military transport that was due to take the team and material failed to arrive. We didn't manage to contact either the military drivers or the people whom we were due to visit, so a big delay ensued. Thankfully one of our congregation lent us a car to use, so the team crammed into the vehicle and were about to set off when suddenly Pastor Sonio spoke up. He felt that there should be a radical change of plan: rather than the original destination he said that we should travel to a different place in a totally new area!
This caused quite some consternation amongst the rest of the team since agreements had already been made with the people at the original location. But the pastor said that he had remembered that government agencies had visited the original place a few days earlier to deliver plastic sandals to the people there, so they had already received some recent help, in contrast to the new destination where locals had got no such support. So the delivery of plastic sandals seemed to have confounded our outreach!
But Pastor Sonio's mind was made up and the radical alteration of itinerary was agreed. The visit turned out to be a great success with the gospel being preached effectively. On the return journey communication with both the military and the original destination was mysteriously re-established. We were told that the last minute change of plan had actually saved the lives of all our outreach team. Terrorists had planned to ambush the military vehicle that would have transported them and the supplies. Local people there received intelligence of this planned attack and warned the military but no such message came through to our team. The NPA plan was for one of their number to dress as a Catholic nun under whose robe would be hidden weapons and whose presence in the area should not have aroused any suspicion. Thankfully the alertness of the local people foiled this plan, as they were surprised by the unusual arrival of a 'nun' in their area. And by God's grace we were warned through Pastor Sonio's last minute change of itinerary.
This reversal combined with the sudden loss of communication with the military and the original locality certainly doesn't feel like a coincidence any more! The Lord used the memory of a delivery of plastic sandals that came back to the pastor's mind and the absence of the military transport to protect our team. As we reflect on this and similar situations we are reminded of the importance of seeking the Lord's guidance and listening to even the smallest hints from the Holy Spirit.
Thank you again for your prayer support. A particular answer to prayer has been the restoration of a reliable electricity supply to Mindoro Island after the inhabitants had suffered electricity blackouts for a half a year until President Marcos intervened and brought a solution. "For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways"