Our Preaching Trip to the Philippines: My Perspective

By Larry Ray Hafley

I always thought Brother Leslie Diestelkamp lived in Nigeria even while he was in the United States. I could not appreciate his fondness and devotion to the work in that country as I do now. Whereas I only spent a few, short weeks in the Philippines, Brother Diestelkamp has spent years in Nigeria. At least, now there is some understanding by me of his love and labors that was not there before. This is referred to in order to underscore the feelings that stir my soul in regard to the work in the Philippines. But the work of the Lord will not get done if we bog down in subjective sympathies. And this report is written to prompt, provoke, and promote greater effort in the gospel.

This shall not be a detailed diary-like account of our travels. This shall not be a sociological interpretation or a cultural dissertation on either the Philippines or the Filipinos. I was not on a tourist excursion, and I am not a social scientist. It was enough trouble for me just to go as a simple preacher of the gospel, so I shall give my perspective of the journey as a preacher who went to preach the word and having done so, returned.

My Companion

Earl E. Robertson and I traveled together. No better co-laborer could have been found. Together we laughed, sweated, fretted, ate, slept, preached, rode, flew, got sick, moaned, hoped, worshiped, and prayed. Never a cross word crossed our lips. We worked together in perfect harmony. Earl’s work was superb. His teaching was beneficial to all who heard him. It was a thrill for me to have the opportunity to learn from him. The churches and brethren who supported Brother Robertson financially should not begrudge a single penny. It was money well spent, well used.


Earl and I were greatly assisted by several good brethren and by Rodi Tan, the nephew of Brother Levy Maravilla of the Hazelwood church near St. Louis. The warmth, friendliness, and sacrificial treatment accorded to us by our Filipino friends was heartwarming. Vic Tibayan and Billy Hayuhay went everywhere with us. Brethren Azcarraga, Villamor, Salvatieffa and Ben Cruz went numerous places with us also.

Generally Speaking:

We spoke at lectures in Dian, Makati where Carlos Azcarraga preaches, at Pagadian City where Eduardo Ramiro labors, at Kidapawan where the beloved Romulo Agduma lives and works, and at Baguio City where Andrew Gawe strives for the faith. I was favorably impressed with these works, though the lectures at Baguio City seemed to be the weakest with regard to attendance. We preached in numerous other places also.

Without a doubt, the ablest man in the Philippines is Romulo B. Agduma. He is a good and godly man and is not afraid of the devil himself. Brother Agduma is a man of unimpeachable character and integrity. I do not say these things to exalt Brother Agduma. Indeed, he will not want me to say what I am saying, but his many friends in the United States and in the Philippines will gladly attest to his faithfulness. Brother Agduma is blessed with a lovely family, a devoted wife, three daughters, and a son, Reuben. Reuben Agduma will be remembered by many Americans. He attended Florida College from 1970-1972. Reuben is a splendid young man. He is an excellent teacher and preacher of the gospel. The Lord has no finer young evangelist than Reuben.

“But aren’t some Filipino preachers lazy, dishonest troublemakers?” “Don’t a few of them smoke?” “I have even heard some are guilty of adultery.” Yes, that in a few instances is true, unfortunately. But isn’t it also true of American preachers? You cannot name a single sin among the Filipino preachers that I cannot point out the very same thing here. Let us not have a dual standard. Not all Filipino or American preachers are deadbeats, just because a few are. Let us not cease to support all good men just because of some bad eggs.

Specifically Speaking:

I spoke to a large gathering in Tondo near where the faithful Ben Cruz labors. There was a group who had come out from a conservative Christian Church in the audience. They were not satisfied with their baptism in the Christian Church and subsequently had been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. They called themselves the church of Christ-Matt. 16:18. After 1 1/2 hours of preaching and open forum discussion, 15 were restored and identified with the brethren. I came down hard on the mechanical instrument and other human doctrines and traditions accepted by denominationalism. They received the truth. Since they had been scripturally baptized, that is, separate and apart from any sectarian taint or stain, we received them as brethren.

I also spoke before a liberal Christian Church (Disciples). Our discussion was pointed. I accepted questions for 1 1/2 hours, mostly on the Ainstrument” issue. The “visible” results were apparent, but there was some invisible good done that I trust will bear fruit. There is more openness to the truth in the Philippines. Denominations will allow open forums. There are many debates. Victorio R. Tibayan is perhaps the ablest debater in the country. His mind is analytical, and he is quick to pierce an argument. He was a great help. His son, Vic, Jr., it is hoped, will follow in his father’s footsteps.

Debate with Alan Highers?

At the lectures in Kidapawan, the institutional brethren successfully disgraced themselves. They attempted to upset the lecture program. Their leader was an aged man for whom I felt a good bit of pity. Propositions for debate were handed to Earl and me with the assurance that Brother Alan Highers would meet us in debate. Below is the copy of the propositions submitted by the institutional brethren with the amendments which I added:


1. RESOLVE. That it is in accordance with the Scriptures for the church to relieve non-church members from the church treasury.

/ s / Earl E. Robertson / s / Larry Ray Hafley

ALAN E. HIGHERS Affirmative



2. RESOLVE. That it is in accordance with the Scriptures for funds from a church for evangelism or relief to be passed through another church.

/ s / Earl E. Robertson / s / Larry Ray Hafley

ALAN E. HIGHERS Affirmative




1) Each proposition shall be discussed for at least two (2) nights. L.R.H.

2) The propositions shall be discussed in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A. L.R.H. Other sites may be agreed to but Memphis must be the first place agreed upon. L.R.H.

3) Propositions agreed to by Larry Ray Hafley as amended in ink. L.R.H.

/ s / Earl E. Robertson

NOTE: We will come to Kidapawan Central Elementary School Grandstand at 4:00 P.M., May 3, 1974 (Friday), to receive a signed copy of the propositions, for transmittal to Bro. Alan E. Highers.”

Observation of Needs

1. The Filipinos need American financial support. That may sound materialistic, but it is true. The conditions there are not the same as ours. Poverty, by our standards, exists on a large scale. In some areas, $100 will support a preacher. Of course, location and family size determine to a great extent the needs of any given preacher. There are many churches in this country that could easily part with $50 per month. I know men who need as little as $13 per week or $50 per month. Surely, there are churches who will not allow a poor, faithful, sacrificing Filipino to go and work hungry. Brethren, blacktop on the parking lot or shingles on the roof do not seem so important when you see a dear brother wearing all the clothes he has in this world on his back. If I ever thought I had sacrificed a little to preach the gospel, I shall never so think again. The faithful Filipino brethren turn my feeble needs into covetousness by comparison. Yes, I saw brethren and their families who were physically hungry because they preached the gospel without support. Two families in Russellville are supporting men from their own pockets. Can you do the same? Will you?

2. The Filipino brethren need books, tracts, and Bibles. Many expressed their desire to receive gospel papers. They are starving for the materials many of us allow to collect dust or burn. Would you be willing to subscribe to a magazine of gospel teaching for some preachers? Believe me, they read every article, every line, every word many times over. Nearly every preacher expressed a desire to receive Truth Magazine. Would you like to send Truth Magazine or some other paper to a worthy brother who will read it?

3. The Filipino brethren are in need of special “in depth ” studies. This is not alone my judgment. It is theirs also. Several mentioned the need for some training in the meat of the word. Though this applies to all, it is particularly true of preachers.

4. Of course, the brethren need our prayers. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” (Eph. 6:18)


I want to express my thanks to all who supported and encouraged me and my family in this work. The separation from home, the long hours and long miles were not all joyful, but the work was rewarding in many ways. To all, thanks.

Truth Magazine, XVIII:35, p. 8-10
July 11, 1974