By Steven Locklair and Jim McDonald
These brethren are turning the world upside down just as was done in the first century and some are enduring persecution (Acts 17:6).
Acts 14:26-27 — It was a great encouragement for these churches to hear all that God had done with them. I hope and pray that this report will be to you also. Jesus said to his disciples, “Behold I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. Already he who reaps is receiving wages, and is gathering fruit for life eternal; that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this case the saying is true, one sows, and another reaps. I have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor” (John 4:35-38). The fields are white unto the harvest right now in the Philip- pines and former denominational preachers who have been converted are laboring to preach the gospel to every creature. These brethren are turning the world upside down just as was done in the first century and some are enduring persecution (Acts 17:6). Jim McDonald and I were able to reap what they have sown and God gets the glory. Paul asked the Thessalonians that the brethren pray for the word of the Lord to spread rapidly and God be glorified as it had done with them (2 Thess. 3:1). The gospel is spreading rapidly and I don’t want to leave any of you out who were joint participants in the spreading of the gospel through all of your prayers. Paul mentioned Epaphras, a brother at Colossae, and he said about him, “Always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers” (Col. 4:12). I know that many of you have labored earnestly for us in your prayers and the peace, joy, and love we can have as fellow heirs in the grace of eternal life as souls are being saved.
As a result of Jim McDonald and myself preaching the gospel of Christ, I baptized 17 at Cagayan de Oro City (two denominational preachers) and 19 at General Santos City (15 denominational preachers) in Mindanao. There were at least nine others that were baptized at San Carlos City (six denominational preachers) and in the Manila area (three the last weekend). Over one-half of the conversions were denominational preachers (23) who were willing to sacrifice their income and error to become a Christian only and preach the truth of God’s word. Jim McDonald especially emphasized before they were baptized that there was no promise of financial support to preach if they obeyed the gospel. There is an atmosphere of great joy and enthusiasm in hearing the word of God in the Philippine islands.
Arrival at Manila and Travel to San Fernando La Union (1/1-1/5)
After 23 hours of travel, we arrived late Friday night in Manila, on Luzon, the largest of the Philippine Islands. We were met at the airport by 25 or 30 brethren who traveled to welcome us. We were taken to the home of Ben Cruz, fed dinner and put to bed. I have learned that the brethren here are very hospitable and friendly. Saturday was spent getting tickets, making further travel arrangements for the remainder of the trip, and driving to Angeles City. Sunday morning, I preached two sermons at Angeles City where Lordy Salunga labors. Lordy will be publishing a bulletin “Sword & Shield” which will be sent out to about 600 Filipino preachers. This should be a tremendous asset in helping to build the work of the Lord in the Philippines. He is 37, having preached 16 years, has a great zeal, love, and desire to contend earnestly for the faith and save lost souls. Sun- day afternoon, we drove up to San Fernando La Union, where Jim was meeting with three preachers there to help work out problems. Jim reported that the problems were resolved as far as he could tell and there seems to be unity and peace among the brethren there again. On our return trip, we stopped at Luna (way out in the country) where Jim preached a short lesson. We stopped again at Angeles City to pick up Lordy, who would be our traveling companion for a few weeks, and then returned to Manila.
Cagayan De Oro City (1/6-1/8 )
On Wednesday, January 6, we flew to Cagayan de Oro City on Mindanao. After a brief rest, we traveled into the mountains to meet with some brethren. It turned out to be a very scary trip. We rode in a jeepney, and there were others traveling with us in a smaller jeep. The jeep wrecked when the steering column locked up and they went in the ditch (thankfully not over the ledge). It was an exhausting day. The next day I preached a lesson on “How to Establish Authority” and after being translated into their language and a Bible question and answer session, we went to Mindanao Sea and I baptized 17 there. At least two of them were denominational preachers. One of them was 81 and a former Methodist preacher and the other was a 65-year-old lady who preached for the Methodists. I feel compelled to mention another one who was a former commander of the MNLF. This is a Moslem anti-government group that has killed many people. We had the opportunity to see the power of the gospel of Christ working on an individual’s heart as he was struggling with the realization that God could really forgive his sins. He had tears of joy in his obedience to the gospel. Others from the Moslem group came to the gospel meeting also. Yes, the gospel still is God’s power to save after 2,000 years. We left there on January 8 with Lordy and several brethren from General Santos City (Leonardo Maste, Coen Manting, Jerry, Jessy, and Johnnie Julom). Our travels included an all-night ferry boat ride to Cebu, a drive to Toledo City, and a fast boat to San Carlos.
San Carlos City in Negros Occidental (1/9-1/12)
At San Carlos City there were over 50 preachers that attended, many of whom were denominational preachers. After two days of much preaching, debate, open forums with Bible questions and answers, there were six preachers from the Baptist church who were baptized into Christ for the remission of sins. The atmosphere was electrifying and emotions were very high as we discussed the Scriptures. One Missionary Baptist preacher, who did not obey when we were there, admitted he had been wrong and was open to study as he could not meet the arguments from Scripture. We answered questions about baptism, the church, the day of Pentecost, tithing, Christmas, indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and blasphemy of the Spirit. We hope and pray that those who were converted will have the conviction to preach the truth. I copied some sermon materials that hopefully will be helpful in that regard. We along with Lordy and Jesse left at 3 A.M. Wednesday morning for what would be a very long journey to Romblon.
Wednesday was the worst day of the trip as we had about a 16 hour trip by apex (similar to a taxi-van), jeep, fastjet boat, pontoon boat, and jeepney on a very bumpy windy steep dangerous road where we could only go about 10 MPH. The day ended after 16 hours, and we still weren’t on Romblon, because there wasn’t a boat available at night. We couldn’t get to the island until the next day at about 9:30 A.M. We could have gone a shorter route straight to the island, but they were going to charge us $250 (American money) so we couldn’t afford that. It was a grueling and exhausting journey. We preached in an evangelical building to about 25 including at least ten male denominational preachers. There were also many women preachers there. They were so intent on studying that they took all the notes down we wrote on the board and were willing to study during the day without any power. They were so zealous to study God’s word that a generator was brought in so we could preach to them. I was genuinely surprised and encouraged by their interest and agreement. We studied about eight hours that day with no A/C, it poured down rain, there was a dog in the building, the generator was very loud that night, and yet they were still desiring to hear God’s word. On Friday, Jim preached on the church and I preached on authority. The preacher of the congregation voiced loud opposition to baptism and that we had taught on the fact that tithes cannot be bound today since they were under the Old Law. We had to leave on a pontoon boat at 1 P.M. and it was getting close to time for us to leave. We thought that he would sway the entire congregation against us as the Jews had done when people were listening to the word of God in Acts 13. Jessy Julom stayed that afternoon. Later, he reported to us that Rolle (the preacher) had apologized for the way he had acted and that all the denominational preachers would be baptized. We hope and pray that they have the conviction to do that and become a church that belongs to Christ. There are only four Christians there on the island and they are very weak. They desired to study more.
General Santos City (1/16-1/21)
From Romblon, we took a pontoon boat to Tablas Island. We then had to travel two hours to get to the airport. We spent the night and caught our flight to Manila. We were so excited to be going to General Santos City, be- cause of the report that multitudes of people were being baptized in this city and region. We flew from Manila about 5 A.M. and were met at the airport by many brethren, who carried us to Jessy Julom’s house. Worship services began at 9:30 A.M.. The week was a very exciting part of our trip. During the week, there were about 90 plus preachers present. About 50 of them had been converted out of the denominations in the past year. They are willing to come hear the gospel and discuss it openly with a good and honest heart. I’m not sure how many denominational preachers there were. What an exciting day it was to baptize 17 into Christ on Thursday! Fifteen of them were formerly denominational preachers. There were four Alliance, nine Baptists, and two Pentecostal preachers. Jim made sure that they understood that they were not promised any sup- port to be able to preach but only out of their desire to have the forgiveness of sins and be only a Christian. In the past year there have been about 65 denominational preachers converted. That is spectacular and hard to believe but we saw the evidence of their hunger and desire for righteous- ness during the week.
Many more have been converted because of a failed prophecy by the head of the Jesus Miracle crusade. Jose De Venecia predicted that a certain candidate for the presidency in the Philippines would definitely be elected and if he was not, then they could shoot him. It didn’t come true, so one of his assistants named Benjamin Asas and 100 other congregations withdrew support from him. Benjamin was baptized into Christ a few weeks before we went to General Santos City and he was there the whole week that we were lecturing there. He was influenced for the truth by Leonardo Maste and his father-in-law who is a Christian. It has been reported that he has baptized about 1,200 people after teaching the truth to those under his influence as of early March and there should be many more. He plans to go soon to Surigao (northernmost city in Mindanao) to set up Bible lectures with denominational preachers there. As far as we know there isn’t a church of Christ in that whole northeastern region of Mindanao. There is other talk about going into other areas like the islands of Masbate, Leyte, and Cebu. Paul wrote to the Thessalonian brethren and said, “Pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you” (2 Thess. 3:1). These brethren and many others are using their influence in the denominations to spread the gospel. Please pray that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly through these fertile areas. Many in the Philippines receive no financial support to preach the gospel and one of the great burdens in going over there is that many of them personally ask for support.
Taipei, Taiwan (1/23-1/25)
From General Santos City we flew back to Manila and then up to Taipei, Taiwan. Jim McDonald had received in- formation that there was an opening door in Taiwan as a Christian had moved there, and we went there to try to locate others we had addresses for. Jerry Toreja has been studying with about a dozen different people from the de- nominations. Currently, Jerry is the only Christian in the immediate area. He has been inviting some of his other friends to meet in his apartment for worship on Sundays. On Sunday, Jim had the opportunity to preach the gospel to five non-Christians who came to his apartment. On Monday night, they have a group Bible study meeting at a Presbyterian building which we were invited to. They normally just give their personal testimony as to what God was doing in their lives but didn’t really study the Bible. We didn’t know what to expect when we got there. Albert Schweitzer, who had heard the gospel the day before and was impressed with Jim’s knowledge of the Scriptures had asked him to speak. Jim spoke on the new birth from John 3. In the Bible question and answer period there was a lot of discussion. They made many excuses for those who have never heard the gospel after they saw the force of the Scriptural arguments for baptism. I had them go to 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 which shows that those who don’t know God and don’t obey the gospel will suffer eternal damnation. We told them that was why we had made the trip — to preach to everyone. They were also stunned by Jim’s answers to the questions about the “thief on the cross” which is a universal question. You could tell that they were stunned and had never heard this kind of teaching. They were thinking deeply about the subjects mentioned and desired to study more another time. Jerry doesn’t have the capability of preaching but seems to be a good personal worker. We were unable to locate the other Christians, and contacted Virgil Bocarile to see if he had more accurate information. We returned to Manila on Tuesday and de- parted for Zamboanga City on Wednesday.
Zamboanga City (1/27-1/29)
By the time we got to Zamboanga City, we were exhausted and ready to come home. We were thankful that we didn’t have the confrontations that we faced at San Carlos and General Santos City. There were about 50 present there. Jim cut short our time here because of Moslem rebels who were active in that region.
Manila (Our last days in the Philippines)
We flew into Manila and stayed our last weekend with Ben and Delores Cruz, who have done so much for the kingdom of God in the Philippines. He is the main contact for American preachers going over there and is very hospitable. All of his three sons and four sons-in-law preach. Not all are full-time, but they are all capable. We had been scheduled to preach on a radio program. He told us Friday night that the broadcast would reach possibly millions of listeners and would cover about one-half the Philippine is- lands. It was hard to believe but another American preacher who was in Palawan (about 500 miles away) was able to hear it. I received much encouragement from brethren who heard the program. After we were finished, there were questions about instrumental music, the thief on the cross, denominational baptism, and how is a man to be baptized. One congregation, which Jim and I had the opportunity to preach at the next day, was started because of the radio program. That last Sunday, we began preaching at 7 A.M. and preached at four different congregations. We ended our day about 8 P.M. We flew back to the States on Mon- day and got back on Tuesday, February 2.
Jim McDonald and I are requesting that faithful brethren consider going and spending ten days or two weeks to edify and strengthen these new preachers. It will do a tremendous amount of good for the brethren and will help equip them to teach others effectively the gospel of Christ. If you are interested in going or helping to support faithful gospel preachers over there, please e-mail or write to me or Jim McDonald concerning them. We will be happy to supply you background information. Many of the preachers and their families live on $300-400/month, so even $50/ month would mean a lot to them. Please keep the Filipino brethren in your prayers.