By Jerry Parks
After a one month stay in the Philippines, it is good to be back home and to report to you on the activities and results of our recent trip. Brother John Humphries and I left Louisville on February 26th and I returned home on March 28th. John had to return a few days earlier because of another meeting here in the states.
I believe the trip was very productive for several reasons. Thirty-two precious souls were baptized into Christ. For this we are truly thankful to God. Since this is the longest that we have stayed in the Philippines, we were able to become better acquainted with brethren in this unique part of the world.
Because of our extended stay, we were able to cover a portion of the three basic sectors of the Philippine Islands: Luzon, Visayans, and Mindanao. Last year we had planned to go to Mindanao but were hindered by typhoons.
The first week was spent in the Manila area as we enjoyed the hospitality of brother and sister Victorio Tibayan. We visited places like Tala, which is a leper colony as well as preaching to a group of bank employees and a community of people who make their homes under a highway bridge. Political unrest caused by the assassination of General Florendo and talk of another coup attempt, made it necessary for us to check on the advisability of our travel within the country. We checked with both brethren as well as the American Embassy then finally decided that we would go ahead with our travel plans. John traveled to northern Luzon while I flew 600 miles to the southern most island of Mindanao. We were told that it would be safe as long as we stayed in the metropolitan areas. Therefore John taught classes in Baguio City and surrounding areas while I conducted Bible studies in Davao City.
Since this was my first time to go to Mindanao and since I was not personally acquainted with any of the brethren there, brother J.R. Tibayan agreed to accompany me to Davao. J.R. proved to be a wonderful traveling companion and co-laborer. He has traveled with many American brethren in the past and we soon became the best of friends.
We stayed in the home of brother and sister Joy Notarte and later in the week we stayed with brother and sister Juanito Balbin. Their hospitality will long be remembered and appreciated.
Our Bible classes started at 8:30 each morning and would continue till 5:00 in the afternoon. I studied through the book of Timothy which was followed by a Filipino preacher translating the lesson into the local dialect. After that there would be an extended question and answer period which generally stimulated a lot of discussion. There were about 75 preachers who were in attendance throughout the week. They came from all parts of Mindanao, many at great personal sacrifice in order to be with us.
In addition to the teaching we were able to do, we also had opportunity to hear brethren tell of their hardships and the difficulties they faced with poverty, drought and discouragement. Various denominations continue to pour money into the Philippines along with their social gospel. It is not unusual to find a big beautiful Catholic, Mormon, Baptist or Seventh Day Adventist church building complete with school, medical hall and basketball courts in a community of bamboo houses. This would be a great enticement to people anywhere, but especially in a place where poverty prevails. In spite of such hindrances, brethren continue to preach the word, distinguishing between the Lord’s church and the churches of men. Thankfully, people continue to be drawn to Christ by the simple power of the gospel.
After returning to Manila for a few days, brother Humphries and I flew to Palawan, a long narrow island on the western side of the Visayans. We conducted classes in Puerto Princesa as well as preaching for various congregations in the areas. Brethren attended the classes from as far away as Brook’s Point which is 200 Kilometers to the south. There were several problems which soon became apparent and we were able to address these in the course of our studies. Before we left, brethren seemed to be in a much better frame of mind. Personal clashes were resolved and unity now seems to prevail among the preachers.
Our last full week was spent in the home of brother and sister Ben Cruz. We conducted classes at Kapitbahayan as well as participating in various home Bible studies. We were also greatly assisted by brother and sister Noli Villamor who helped us with some banking transactions. Sister Teresa Cruz took care of our medical needs. Dr. Teresa provides medical attention for most all the brethren in the Manila area. She is a great blessing as most all the brethren are ready to attest.
There is yet much to do in the advancement of the cause of Christ in the Philippines. Others are needed to make the kind of trips that I have just described. This is a source of great encouragement to the Filipino brethren; it provides much needed teaching and an opportunity for a better understanding of the poverty that so afflicts the gracious people of this struggling nation. Poverty is indeed, the greatest physical problem these brethren are facing. It is the cause of most of the medical problems. Diseases like tuberculosis and other health problems are rampant because of the poor living conditions and pollution that fills the air and water.
Brethren, we are blessed abundantly here in the USA. We must not become weary in well doing. The opportunity is there for us to help. Why not consider helping with the support of a Filipino preacher? There are many good preachers who have been preaching for years without any support. Preachers are living in poverty conditions making great sacrifices in order to continue the work of spreading the gospel. I would be glad to share any information that I have with any individual or congregation that might be interested in helping such a person.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 14, pp. 426-427
July 19, 1990