September 5, 2009th Year of Our Lord
What Jesus said about the urgency of his work applies to our challenges today: “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (Jn. 9:4). We must urgently spread the gospel now before the door of time and opportunity close. Jim McDonald introduced me to Philippine preaching in 1995. By God’s grace, my 35th trip was completed July 1-24 with the help of Craig Meyer (Dickinson, TX) and Kurt Jones (9th & Bliss Church of Christ, Dumas, TX). I had the privilege of teaching 57 times not including the lessons of Craig, Kurt, and several Filipinos. At least 60 precious souls were baptized. God’s Word does not fail but accomplishes His purpose (Isa. 55:11).
Craig, Kurt, and I arrived in Manila July 2. Kurt flew the next morning to Tuguegarao, Cagayan Province to work one week with Rody Gumpad (who got out of the hospital June 30). Craig and I spoke at the Kapitbahayan, Navotas church where Ben and Elias Cruz have labored for many years. About 75 souls heard Craig’s lesson “Where Did Cain Get His Wife?” and mine on “Avoiding Apostasy Today.” Later I met with some brethren to facilitate a reconciliation and to plan future work.
Saturday, July 4, Atoy Franco took me to his home for a morning study with about 12 people. Afterward, Craig and I joined Elijah Sikat and Atoy to preach under a tarpaulin spread across the street between houses in Muntinlupa at a squatters relocation project. The 25 seats were filled and people listened from their doors and windows. A Catholic man said he had been blinded for 56 years by error and he urged everyone to listen and obey the gospel. The brethren are continuing to study with him.
I spent all day Sunday with Elijah, Atoy, and Jimmy Battung in the garage at Jimmy’s house where some 25 souls gathered. Craig joined us after speaking at Pasig. For this one day the new church meeting in the Makati area of Manila met at Jimmy’s home as we concentrated on lessons to edify. One of my lessons focused on “Serving Christ in the Local Church” and Craig emphasized “Spiritual Things.”
Monday Craig and I with Willie Pastor and Robinson Pulveras traveled to Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, where we met Jonathan Carino, Jack Jaco, Jhun Apatan, Fred Ogario, and Dumaguete brethren (Mario Rubio, Zennen Nodado, William Abueva, and others). July 6-9 Craig and I taught Home & Family classes to some 38 souls from the region. For years the good church at West Columbia, TX supported Jose Abueva to preach here, but he left the Lord and his family to live in adultery. After this disgrace to the Lord’s work, I decided to teach constructive lessons on family life for a week to counter this disaster, to encourage brethren, and to strengthen the homes of area preachers and saints. The lessons were well received. One day Craig and I split up and preached in area congregations where Pablo Quimada, William Abueva, Zennen Nodado, and Mario Rubio work, and several were baptized into Christ.
July 11 we flew to Cebu City where Kurt was waiting, having finished his work in Cagayan. Craig, Kurt, Jonathan, and I flew on to Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental, Mindanao and others in our group caught up with us via boat and bus rides. I preached that afternoon at Aloran, Misamis Occidental where Disdado Tual labors. A flood had destroyed their Bibles and song books, and his family was in need because he had injured his hand and could not work. Sunday at Clarin where Juanito Lagasca labors I spoke on “Marriage: God’s Gift to Man & Woman” and “Christ Teaches Total Honesty.” About 40 saints attended. Kurt and Craig had gone ahead to Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur, so Craig worked with Ernie Collado and Kurt with Leo and James Armada in nearby congregations.
Monday, July 13, we continued preaching in the Zamboanga del Sur Province: Craig at Diplahan and Kurt at Hilltop, Sto. Niño, and myself at Maraya, Vincenzo Sagun. Junie Gocela preaches at Maraya. He was living at home when he obeyed the gospel. His father threatened to kill him if he did, so he jumped out a window in the early morning and met the preacher at the ocean to be baptized. His family was later converted! We had about 100 in the building and some 30 more listening at the windows as I taught two lessons on “The First Gospel Sermon” (Acts 2).
The next day we traveled in the small van of Fred Samodol from Pagadian City to Iligan City. The vehicle broke down along the way and was repaired by the roadside within a couple of hours. Craig and I worked with Fred and Edgar Samodol in Iligan City, preaching to an overflow crowd lessons translated by Julie Notarte and Edgar. Kurt and Jonathan were preaching at Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental with Cipriano Carpentero, Jr. There were baptisms at both places. Thursday everyone converged at General Santos City, South Cotabato. Among brethren who greeted us there was W. Connie “C.B.” Balbin from Davao City. I taught him in the Preacher Training Program at Tuguegaro in April. He is a talented 20 year old (yes, he is named for Connie W. Adams).
July 17 Craig preached nearby at Lanton with Jolly Julom and Kurt at Apopong with Precioso Aliño, while I held an all-day lectureship in a function room at our hotel. My topics were “The Final Prophet: Jesus Christ or Mohamed?”, “Jesus Came to Seek & Save the Lost,” “How Sinners Receive Salvation,” and “When Peter Confessed Christ.” The open forum lasted an hour as denominational preachers asked perceptive questions about baptism and the New Testament church.
Saturday Craig went to Koronadal City, South Cotabato to work with Rosalito Nardo while Kurt was at the Fatima church with Nestor Francisco. Julie Notarte is always willing to drive us to preaching appointments and to translate when needed. He drove me almost two hours to Malungon, Sarangani to the place of Rene Sandoval where I spoke to a small group on “Safe in the Arms of Jesus.”
Sunday, July 19, Craig was with Bernard Saquilan while Kurt was at Lanton with Jolly Julom. My lesson at Lagao with Ricardo dela Cruz was based on Genesis 22:12, “Now I Know that Thou Fearest God.” Juanito Balbin was with me and his son C.B. led the singing. In the afternoon all three of us with our companions took leave of General Santos City. Julie Notarte took Craig to Digos City, Davao del Sur for two days, while Kurt and I proceeded to Davao City. Kurt preached that night at the New Matina church in Davao City with Juanito Balbin, while I preached to 20 souls at Bucana with Ben Canada. Their small church building on the seashore is not enclosed and the rain gently sprayed us when the wind gusted as we worshiped. Having no songbooks, they use “sackbooks.” Songs are written on large plastic sacks, hung on a rack, and flipped as they sing. Their songs are few but sung with fervor.
Ben Canada arranged for Kurt and me to preach all day Monday to denominational pastors at Toril on the fifth floor of a public building. This floor was an open air structure (no walls) and we were hot and humid, but happy to teach this interested audience. My lessons on “The Authority of Christ” were well received, as were Kurt’s on obeying God and on baptism. One “pastor” asked questions about instrumental music until he granted he saw the point. He pled with us to preach in his place, and we hope brethren can follow up there. From 8:00-10:00 p.m. I taught about a dozen people in a hair salon near our hotel where Ben had been teaching for several weeks. They were very attentive and several of them were baptized in the ocean the next night. Craig reported 21 baptized in Digos as he rejoined us.
On the 21st Kurt traveled with Juanito and Sonni Dave Balbin to Tambobong, Baguio District, Davao City. Joseph Cunado, Dudley Ross Balbin, and C.B. Balbin took Craig and I to Sinuda, Bukidnon Province where Joseph had been preaching in a facility borrowed from a denomination, and we harvested 15 precious souls to Christ. Wednesday Kurt went with Sonni Dave and Dudley Ross to Ginatilan, Kidapawan City to work with Isidro Manibog. Craig and I went with Joseph, Juanito, and C.B. into the mountains of Antipas, North Cotabato to study with denominational pastors all day at the Antipas Calvary Church. The “pastors” fought the truth on baptism in the open forum, but ended by asking when we could return. Joseph planned to follow up with interested parties the next week.
Thursday Craig, Kurt, and I returned to Manila. The next day Craig prepared to journey and preach another four weeks on Luzon while Kurt and I made our ways back home, all counting our blessings for the great privilege of preaching Christ in the Philippines. As the work grows and expands, there are growing pains and pressing problems: Bibles, songbooks, and meeting places are much needed. Preachers and their families suffer without support. Let us pray and work with them “while it is day!”
In Christian love,