Philippine Profiles (4)
There is power in the word. The gospel is God's power to save and is quick and powerful (Rom. 1:16; Heb. 4:12). Thousands of Filipinos have been saved by having heard the Word. Many thousands more would obey but they wait because they have not yet heard. There are perhaps 600 Filipino preachers but most earn their living by various occupations and are very limited in the amount of time they can give to preaching. It is true that there are some who are supported by American brethren, but these are a minority. These preachers simply cannot get to all those who would obey by just a "seek and find" operation. They need something to help arouse in the Filipinos a desire to seek out the preacher, just as Cornelius. What can we do to help our brethren in this field "white unto harvest"?
One of the most effective tools in reaching such is radio. The radio is the Filipino's ears to the outside world. The woman working in the rice paddy or the man plowing with the caribou is not far away from a radio. The woman may be listening to one that is perched on a knoll in her field; the man may have a transistor in his pocket. The gospel flourishes in many regions today because the preacher's message has been extended to many regions through the wonder of radio. The Cagayan Valley region has perhaps 50 congregations. This was not true even 13 or 14 years ago when Rody Gumpad came into this region with his young family. Securing radio time in Tuguegarao, his voice was carried into the remote places of this valley and soon his was a familiar voice to the radio audience. Many were led to obedience through his teaching. One sad, yet true story tells of a terminally ill father who heard Rody and who told his two sons to search out that man "for he is teaching the truth." He died without being baptized, but today both those sons are active preachers of the word.
The fact that there are so many congregations in this region tells both of the power of the gospel and of the role that radio has in spreading it. Domie Jacob in Cordon, Isabela has a effective radio program as also has the Torreliza brothers (Leonito and Romeo) in north-west Luzon. These two brothers live in Condon and Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur and report several baptisms as the direct result of their broadcast. Jun Apatan in Pagadian City (Mindanao) has had a radio broadcast for many years now. The programs do not always meet with the same success as those of Tuguegarao and Cordon. Lordy Salunga, preacher in Angeles City had a program for a short while but not with the reported suc-cess as some of these others. But whether the programs produce great or more limited results, they help to fulfill the preacher's responsibility of planting and watering. There are no radio programs (to my knowledge) in all of Metro Manila but there badly needs to be. This is a teeming metroplex of 8-10,000,000 people and a program would surely produce many conversions in this area. And, there are able, effective preachers in the area who could do a splendid job of handling such a program. Another area which has no program but which badly needs one is Laoag City. The newly opened work of northern Samar would be greatly aided were brethren able to air the gospel in that region. Radio reaches into nooks and crannies where the feet of no preacher has yet gone and helps to pave the way for con-versions once he comes to the area.
Radio programs bring questions which can be answered over the radio or by correspondence but there is inevitably the request for tracts. These brethren have very few. Filipinos devour reading material; tracts on first principles and denominational errors are greatly needed. There is a need for English tracts, an even greater need for tracts in the various dialects.
Stateside brethren with computers can render real service to preachers on foreign soil be it in the Philippines or elsewhere. Capable brethren in the Philippines have tracts they have written but cannot reproduce because of the prohibitive cost. The computer can reduce that material to tract size if there are those who are willing to copy out the words, letter by letter. Once the material is on the computer, it can be reproduced on a copier with excellent results. The tract may lack "the professional look" but is nothing at all of which to be ashamed. Such tracts are very inexpensive. One that takes about 1 and 1/2 letter size pages (two tracts I have written to carry are of such length) costs about a penny for the paper and a total of 3 cents by the time it is mailed by MBag to brethren there. For about $100 one could print 3,500 tracts capable of producing tremendous good in the fertile mind of Filipinos. A lot of manual labor is necessary to copy and assemble such tracts, but nearly every congregation has those who are willing to help fold and staple such material together: earnest souls, who though they can-not go, want to help and what help they render! Good is done for the brother at home as well as the brother abroad!
Doors are open in the Philippines, but preachers there need tools to work with. The preacher who has tracts to send to interested listeners or to hand out in the market place is greatly expanding his work. A tract will be there long after his voice is silent.
May God help us to have a heart eager to share with others the gospel that brought salvation to our own souls! May we never weary of telling the story or forget that "Of one the Lord hath made the race, through one has come the fall. Where sin has gone must go his grace, the gospel is for all!"
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: No. 24, p. 5