Preaching in the Philippines (III)
Connie W. Adams
The Work in Oriental Mindoro
We returned to Manila on May 17 and began preparations to go to Oriental Mindoro on May 19. The Tan brothers came for us at 4 a.m. to drive us to Batangas, a two hour drive, where we were to meet with the brethren who were going with us to Mindoro on the boat. These brothers are the nephews of Dr. Levy Maravilla, one of the deacons at Spring and Blaine in St. Louis, Missouri. They were very generous, together with their parents, and all of them showed us much kindness. The brothers have studied the Bible considerably since last year when brethren Cogdill and Willis were there, and Rodi especially has learned a great deal from his studies. We are hoping and praying that they will recognize the will of God and be determined to perform it in their lives for they would have a powerful influence for good with many people. Rodi works with his father in the wholesale grocery business and Philip runs an auto parts business. Both of them took off from their work whenever they felt they needed to do so to take us somewhere and neither would accept any pay.
The boat trip to Calapan on Mindoro where we were to preach the next few days took about two hours. A number of the brethren from various places on Luzon accompanied us. We were met at the dock by Brother Diosdado Menor who had arranged to have us all driven to his house in two wheeled carts drawn by small horses that were nearly lifted off the ground when we and all our baggage were loaded in. Brother Menor has been a Christian since 1932 and has been preaching most of that time. He has baptized hundreds of people in Mindoro. We were met by a number of other brethren who had come from other parts of the island for the lectures. We were much impressed with brother Sikat, a preacher who has been supporting himself for eight years by teaching school. He preaches in the Calapan area and is badly needed as a fulltime worker whenever support can be found.
Brother Menor had arranged to have the lectures in the public school auditorium. We had many to attend, including about 25 preachers. There were 29 baptized during these lectures. We heard several other Filipino preachers and were again impressed with the ability of most.
We met a brother Adep from Roxas who was baptized in 1927 by George Benson, the first American to preach on the islands as far as I know. Again we were entreated by many brethren to go with them to visit the place where they lived and preached, but time forbade. I left Calapan early Saturday morning in company with brethren Azcarraga and Hayuhay to return to Manila. J. T. remained in Calapan to conclude the lectures on Sunday. This gave me time to speak again at Pasay on Sunday morning and at Makati one more time, in the evening. Then, in company with the same two brethren, we traveled by bus to Angeles City on Monday morning to begin a brief lecture program lasting two days. J. T. and Tibayan joined us there on Tuesday for the last day.
The meetings in Angeles City were conducted in the home of Castorio Gamit, the preacher there. Angeles is in the "Huk" country. There are about 5,000 of these and they comprise a sort of guerilla force hiding out in the surrounding hills and engaging in various terrorist activities. Near Angeles is located the Clark Air Base operated by the United States government. It is a sizable installation. As you might expect, the presence of this base makes the cost of living quite high in this area and adds to the moral decadence of many. There is a liberal church near the base which is made up largely of servicemen and their families. Faithful brethren being stationed at Clark, or those who have relatives stationed there need to know of the brethren who meet in the house of brother Gamit. The address is 349 Sto. Rosario St., Angeles City, C-201. We met two American couples while we were there. Servicemen and their families can do a great deal to help further the cause while they are in another country. I fear that all too many forget the Lord when they get that far from home. Brother Gamit is not permitted on the base unless he is specifically called for. If you have relatives stationed there, be sure to tell .them about the church in Angeles City and about brother Gamit.
There are about 25 members in this congregation. During the lectures we had the house filled to overflowing with a number standing and some seated in the dining room. Brother Gamit pays the cost of the house out of his income. They had done good work in advance and a number of good prospects were in attendance. On Monday evening after my sermon, we had the usual open forum which lasted two hours. Questions were asked by Methodists and Adventists. The latter pretty well dominated the time with questions and assertions about the Sabbath. I chided them for having a religion based on the claims of a sick woman and then trying to fool the people by saying it came from God. Finally, the preacher for the Adventists got pretty excited, enough so that he jumped out of his seat to say that they would debate us on the matter. Things what I was trying to get him to do. Propositions were later signed for him to meet Victorio Tibayan and I suppose the debate has already taken place. I am confident that many of the good prospects there will soon obey the gospel.
At Angeles we met more preachers whom we had not met before from regions north of there. We had several open forums in two days. I taught almost constantly from 10 a.m. on Monday morning until 10 that night. On Tuesday, J. T. had about the same experience. With the ending of that lectureship, we closed our preaching activities in the Philippines. On May 27 we headed home to greet anxious families and concerned brethren.
Summary of Needs
(1) I do not believe that American preachers need to go and stay. There are many capable men among the native Filipinos, men well able to teach and train other preachers and defend the truth in debate on any issue. It might be helpful for a few years if a couple of American brethren could go and conduct special study classes to better equip the native preachers. Of course, any such arrangement must be worked out with the Filipino brethren. Study classes which really "dig in" would be most helpful and many preachers expressed their desire to us for such studies. The men who go need to be experienced, mature men and. in good health. Traveling is rigorous, the food is different and the climates more oppressive than many of us are accustomed to. There will be open forums at each place and one must be prepared to field all sorts of questions. There will be many hours of private discussion with brethren about a host of things. Preachers who are "cranky" need to stay home. The Filipinos will not put up with such and the cause will not be helped. I do not believe that more than two need to go at a time, nor that they should stay longer than a month. Two very capable brethren are thinking now of going next year and we will do all we can to be of assistance to them.
(2) There are a number of worthy men in need of support. I do not believe that a better investment can be made than to support a native preacher in his own country working among his own people. The cost of living is higher in some areas than in others. In some areas a preacher can be supported for $50 a month, while in other places it would require a great deal more. In some cases the preacher must secure a house not only sufficient for his family, but also in which the church may meet, for there are very few places which have their own buildings. This must be considered as well as the size of a man's family. Mature Filipino brethren who know the men and their work will be able to help much in determining what men are worthy of such support. These men are very cautious in recommending a man unless he has been preaching for some time and has shown faithfulness under fire. There are some good men who are supporting themselves and preaching as they can, who have not even asked for support. There are some who do not have enough support. There is a crippling inflation in the Philippines now. A sack of first grade rice increased from 35 pesos in May of 1970 to 60 pesos in May of 1971. Other items have increased in price correspondingly. Congregations which are presently helping to support men there should take this into consideration. I do not know of a more fruitful field for the gospel today than the Philippines.
(3) Many places need song books, Bibles and communion sets. Tracts and good literature are needed everywhere. I will be glad to put brethren in contact with such places, should any reading this desire to help.
(4) The very ablest and most experienced of the Filipino preachers have very inadequate libraries. Good books are the tools which successful preachers must have. Many preachers do not even have a Cruden's Concordance. They need the most basic of books and study helps. I have compiled a list of basic books which are needed and have a list of preachers who need such help. Several members where I preach have agreed on a personal basis to have a book a month sent to a preacher and have the bill sent to them. I will be happy to put you in touch with a Filipino preacher who needs such help and provide you with a list of needed books. All such books may be purchased from the Truth Magazine Bookstore. This is one of the finest things individuals can do to help.
(5) For $1000 to $1500 a building can be put up in many places where the need is great. Some individuals reading this might want to be of some help along this line. Again, Brother Smith and I will be glad to offer our assistance in informing brethren about such places. In one place in Mindanao there are 50 members who meet in two different houses for no one has a place large enough for all to gather at one time. In another place 41 members are trying to meet in a house 14 x 16 feet.
How long this door of opportunity in the Philippines will be open cannot be foretold. It is certainly open now. Much good is being done with very little material resources. Instead of spending thousands of dollars to send and maintain American families, for much less money, faithful and able native men can do the job much better than we could. They know the dialects and are familiar with the customs. The climate is their own. They have shown that they can succeed with only meager tools. Many have studied their way not only out of denominationalism, but also out of the liberalism that has engulfed so many brethren in recent years. They have borne hardships and suffered abuse and have carried on the fight for truth with success crowning their efforts.
I do not advocate that any effort be made to make these brethren solely dependent on American brethren for support. The time will come when they must stand alone. The fortunes of nations change with time. Wars come and revolutions occur. Governments collapse and peoples become scattered. Should any of these strike the Philippines, I am confident that there will be many faithful brethren who will keep alive the fight for truth. They have already been tested. Brother Menor baptized 200 people during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War H. The Philippines are in many ways the gateway to the Orient. If we can help these faithful brethren with tools to enable them to reach out in their work to the saving of many while the door is open, then the greater confidence we may have in the future of the work should the tide of human events upset all our dreams and plans.
J. T. Smith and I will never be the same again after having visited these gracious brethren and having shared with them in the work of the gospel. We are hopeful that such reports as these may serve to quicken interest in the work and result in making all who read more aware of the needs and problems our brethren face in that country.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 36, pp. 5-7