By Cecil Willis
In 1970, Roy Cogdill and I made a visit to the Philippine Islands, at the request of brethren there. As the result of teaching done by Romulo Agduma on Mindanao, and by Victorio Tibayan on Luzon (both assisted in teaching the truth by a host of other good men), quite a number of preachers had begun to protest against the sponsoring church arrangement by which support had been supplied to native preachers, and to the high-handed and autocratic domination of both preachers and churches by liberal American “missionaries” connected with the Philippine Bible College located at Baguio on Luzon. Futhermore, some legal problems regarding ownership of property by autonomous congregations had arisen that posed difficulty, and of which problems the Filipino brethren thought Brother Cogdill could be some help in solving, due to his background as a lawyer. Brother Cogdill, at my insistence, agreed to visit the Philippines, but then he insisted that I go with him. Thus the first American brethren who opposed institutionalism and sponsoring-church-ism visited among brethren in numerous places in the Philippines.
The Philippine brethren thought our coming was of great help to them, and thus asked that other American brethren try to arrange to come to visit them, and to study with them, and teach them in future years. Larry Hafley and Earl Robertson have just returned from, an extended preaching tour among the brethren there. In 1971, Connie W. Adams, who now edits Searching the Scriptures, and J. T. Smith spent a month or so in the Philippines, during which time Brother Smith conducted a debate with a liberal Filipino preacher named Lacuata, which debate later was printed by the Cogdill Foundation and widely distributed among the brethren there. Much additional good resulted from the visit and preaching of these two brethren.
In 1972 James P. Needham and Dudley Ross Spears visited the Philippines and also conducted extensive teaching efforts while there. In 1973, Wallace Little, Frank Butler, and Jady Copeland made a similar teaching trip to the Philippines. Jady Copeland had been in contact with Romulo B. Agduma for more than ten years. During this time, Agduma had learned and was teaching the truth on the institutional issues which have torn asunder churches around the world. Wallace Little and Frank Butler both had spent considerable time in the Philippines during military careers. Wallace Little had spent about two years at Clark Air Base, near Angeles City, just prior to the visit in 1970 by Brother Cogdill and me. Due to his teaching among the Filipino brethren, and to his extensive correspondence, it is probable that Wallace Little knows more about the work being done in the Philippines than any other faithful American. The recently completed trip made by Larry Hafley and Earl Robertson thus makes five consecutive years that the Philippines have been visited by American preachers who have not joined up with the liberal, institutional digression.
During the past year, several prominent Filipino preachers have written to various American brethren who have visited among them, and have suggested that it was their opinion that more good would be accomplished if some of the preachers who already have been there and who therefore have at least some acquaintance with the work there, would return for other visits, rather than for new men to come each year. Among others, I have been asked by several brethren to return. Connie Adams and James Needham have received similar requests repeatedly. Many have expressed a desire for Brother Cogdill to return for another visit among the brethren there, but the precarious nature of his health at this time precludes the possibility of him going. Such a trip is very tiring, as I think every American brother who has been there will verify. Brother Cogdill is now 67 years old and that, coupled with his sickness, makes it impossible for him even to consider making such a return trip. I might just add here, for the benefit of brethren in the Philippines and elsewhere, that Brother Cogdill’s sickness since June, 1973 has made it impossible for him to reply to all the mail sent to him.
James Needham and Billy K. Farris are planning on returning to the Philippines, perhaps in 1976. Of course, of those two brethren, only Brother Needham has been there previously. But brethren Needham and Farris are working closely together and will team-up to make a trip to the Philippines, very likely in 1976.
Several months ago, Connie Adams and I agreed that we would try to clear our 1975 preaching commitment schedules so as to permit us to spend at least a month in the Philippines. Though I have kept no records regarding such matters, I suspect that I have exchanged a thousand letters with Filipino brethren in the eight or ten years with which I have had contact with preachers there. Brother Adams has carried on extensive correspondence with brethren there. He is about as well informed regarding the Cause of Christ in the Philippines as any American preacher could be, in view of the limited time during which we have been in contact with brethren there.
It will be a pleasure to have Connie Adams as a co-worker in such a preaching trip. Connie and I were in college together, and have been close friends ever since our college years. Even when our work separated us by hundreds of miles, we have corresponded regularly. We worked together in a two-preacher arrangement with the Brown Street congregation in Akron, Ohio. For nearly ten years, Connie served as an Associate Editor of Truth Magazine, and would be doing so yet, were it not for the fact that Brother H. E. Phillips had to relinquish the editorship of Searching the Scriptures as the result of several heart attacks, and Connie Adams was asked to take over that demanding work. Connie and I therefore know each other about as well as any two brethren can know each other, and have worked closely together for more than twenty years. Futhermore, both of us have been very closely associated with the work being done in the Philippines.
Once American brethren were informed of the faithful and courageous stand being taken for the truth by some of the Filipino preachers, they readily began to support some of the preachers there. These native Filipino preachers, and other brethren there, who have had the courage to oppose the ecclesiasticism with its hierarchy located at the Philippine Bible College in Baguio, have withstood the most vicious and dirty assaults that the liberals have dished out anywhere in the world. At least, I have not seen meaner or dirtier tactics employed either by sectarians or by liberal brethren anywhere else. Deliberate lies have been fabricated, one after another, to try to destroy the confidence in the men being supported by American brethren. The tactics employed by the liberals in the Philippines, led by the American so-called “missionaries” stationed at Baguio, would make the political scandals connected with the “Watergate Incident” in this country look like antics one might expect to find at a girl-scout picnic. And before some of you brethren out there jump on my back about my strong language, do your own investigation before you write me. You will be appalled at what you find. Scores of Filipino preachers and thousands of brethren have withstood the dirtiest barrages that the liberals can dish out. The manner in which these brethren have stood up to, and stood up under, the bitterest of tirades has only increased my confidence in them. Scores of them have demonstrated that they simply will not be intimidated!
Presently about 80 Filipino preachers are being supported by faithful brethren in this country. I remember well the crowing the liberals did about the fact that support from faithful American brethren would “dry-up” in a year or two, and they then could proceed on their merry, liberal way. But, five years later, about 80 gospel preachers are still being supported in that country. It has long been my judgment that Filipinos more effectively could preach the gospel to their fellow-Filipinos. Some of the brethren who now are preaching there became Christians before World War IL Brother Menor on the island of Mindoro began preaching the year I was born . . . .1932. Several others have preached for 25 years. In my judgment, I see no reason to import an American family there to stay indefinitely, when there are plenty of Filipino preachers already there to evangelize the islands.
Some may wonder, “Then why should American brethren make these annual trips there?” There are several reasons why these trips have been useful. Unless brethren in this country get some fresh reports regarding the work there from men whom they personally know and in whom they have confidence, it is probable that indeed the support for men there would “dry-up” in a few years. The Filipinos have had their share of “bad apples” who posed as faithful gospel preachers, and these men must be exposed when the evidence proves their guilt. However, do not get the impression that the Philippines have any monopoly on “bad apple” preachers. And the liberals dare not assert that the tried and true brethren have a monopoly on deceiving and untrustworthy preachers. I personally know of enough instances of immorality and irregularity among liberal preachers to snow them under with evidence, if they even act like they want to deny they have such men among them. And if that will not suffice to convince them that they had better not make such a charge, I will send them Ira Rice’s Contender For the Faith in which Rice, in issue-afterissue, exposes the modernism, chicanery, and out-right lies used by some of his fellow-liberal brethren to promote their own pet projects, such as the Herald of Truth and the Philippine Bible College at Baguio.
The supporting of one unfaithful preacher is one too many! His unfaithfulness may consist of unfaithful living or unfaithful teaching. Visiting among the Filipino brethren and meeting face-to-face those against whom charges have been made and sent to this country in order to try to get their support stopped also has proved very beneficial. In some instances, documents that appeared to be formal legal documents making valid charges against faithful gospel preachers turned out to be complete fabrications, and those whose names were affixed to the documents gave affidavits stating that their names had been forged to the illegal and libelous documents.
Furthermore, the Filipino brethren, nearly without exception, have profusely and repeatedly written regarding how much assistance and encouragement and learning they received by the coming of these American brethren over the past five years. Quite frankly, I also do not like to see as much money spent in sending two or three men over there each year as it costs, but the cost of these annual trips would be only a drop-in-the-bucket when compared to what it would cost to send and then to sustain just one American family in the Philippines. But the fruits borne by these trips have shown them to be worth every dollar they have cost.
It appears to me that the Philippines are among the ripest nations in the world for the reception of the gospel. Nigeria and India also appear to be fertile fields where so little expenditure of effort and money can accomplish so much. Our liberal brethren have remarked that the only areas in which the “Antis” have made any significant progress (outside America) have been in those countries that were very poor. So what? Is that any reason why we should not continue to go to preach to poor people? In fact, Paul said that such people are the ones most receptive to the gospel (I Cor. 1:26-31). But it might also be said that such povertystricken countries are the only areas in which the liberals have made any significant progress in converting people. If any should be disposed to deny this charge, let them name off the wealthy countries in which they have had significant and lasting success in converting the masses of people. Even in their “show-case” countries, they began their work when the nations were prostrate as the result of wars which they lost, and started with their bread-lines and soup-kitchens. Whether poor or wealthy, our appeal must ever be that of the gospel (Jno. 6:26), and we must not appeal with fleshly lures.
So, the good Lord permitting, Brother Connie Adams and I are planning on spending some time early next year in the Philippines. A few brethren have made snide remarks, such as “I wish I could afford to take a vacation like that!” And to which I respond, “Yes, and I wish I could borrow $500 to contribute toward the cost of your trip, and let you go in my place!” These extended and concerted foreign preaching trips are no picnics. They are hard work, and plenty hard at that. But they have proved to be fruitful. So with the invitation from the Philippine brethren, and with the support of brethren in this country, and by the kind providence of God Almighty, the next few months will find Brother Connie Adams and me preparing to return for another visit with our brethren in the Philippine Islands. Begin now to pray that this effort might come to fruition, and that it might be successful to God’s glory, to the edification of the saints in that land, and hopefully to enlisting new soldiers in the army of him who bore the cross in our stead.
Truth Magazine, XVIII:37, p. 3-5
July 25, 1974