By Connie W. Adam
Having visited and preached in the Philippines in 1971 and again in 1975, I decided to go again to places where we had been before and include some new places, and see how they do (Acts 15:36). This trip was in response to repeated invitations from several places in the Philip- pines. My wife accompanied me on this trip and was a great help. For years brethren have urged American preachers to bring their wives but only two or three have done so over the years.
We spent one month in the Philippines with all of our work being confined to Mindanao and Luzon. In Mindanao, we conducted meet- ings at Pagadian City in Zamboanga and also in Davao City. Ramon C. Carino is an older and much respected preacher in Pagadian City and all of that part of Mindanao. He is now 75 and is yet doing a significant work. At Davao City we worked with our old friend, Juanito Balbin and at Toril, just north of there, with Emilio Lumapay. Both are able and experienced preachers who take a strong stand for the truth.
Our last two weeks were spent on Luzon, first at Manila with Ben Cruz who continues to do good work. We had a most encouraging visit to Tuguegarao where Rody Gumpad is doing much good work. While there we preached two nights in the open in a brother’s yard, at two dif- ferent congregations on Sunday and then had a two-day lectureship. I also spoke on their one-hour television program. From there we spent an amazing three days visiting congregations in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. I had heard good things about the work in that area but this was my first time to see any of it first hand. “The half was not told.” We were greeted by over 1,000 at three different locations and about 800 at still another. There are many congregations and preachers in that area. They are working together well and do not seem to be troubled by some of the issues we had to combat at other places (error on marriage, divorce and remarriage, the one covenant doctrine, errors on the misuse of Romans 14 and the false applications of that to questions of fellowship and how to identify false teachers). We met many able preachers in that area, in- cluding Dani Oiongson at Allisitan, Victorio Domingo at Marcos, and Materno Sibayan, Sr. and Materno Sibayan, Jr. who work at Laoag City, Sinait and in that general area. Brother Sibayan, Sr. was a well-known and able Pentecostal preacher until 1972 when he was converted on Mindanao by the late Romulo Agduma. He returned to his wife’s home area at Sinait and from that beginning the work in the northern part of Luzon began to grow and flourish. Scores of denominational preachers have been converted. Three were baptized during our work (and that does not include 24 more preachers converted during the same time frame in places where Jim McDonald preached. The church at Laoag City had constructed a large meeting house and is now using it though it is far from completed. We saw new buildings under construction in several places. Some had recently improved their facilities. Other congre- gations meet in very humble circumstances under sheds attached to the side of someone’s house, or under a shelter framed with bamboo and with a straw roof.
There are hundreds of congregations in the Philippines. I do not know how many and I doubt that anyone does for sure. There are several hundred preachers. We personally greeted between 400-500. Some of these men have support from churches and individuals in the U.S.A. Others sup- port their families while working as farmers, teachers, taxi drivers, or whatever they find to do. Life is very hard for many of them. We saw a number of congregations which now have elders and deacons. Some are able to assume part of their local work in spite of the poverty of many members. We saw areas where drought is still affecting corn and rice crops.
Many of the preachers have been converted from denominationalism and have given up a great deal in many instances in order to take a stand for the truth. Some of them are well educated. Others have limited education and few tools with which to work. Most of them need books and teaching supplies. Congregations are in great need of class materials to teach children and young people. There are places where Bibles, song books, and communion trays are badly needed. Gospel tracts on basic subjects are needed everywhere. I saw two preachers who have copy machines and they really put them to use.
Men like Jim McDonald, Ron Halbrook, Jerry Parks, and
Danny McKibben have done much good. Through the years a number of good brethren have gone to help. J.T. Smith has made four trips. Any number of good men have gone at least once. Johnie P. Edwards with his son, grandson, and another brother, took their two-weeks intensive preacher training program to Manila in January with great results. They had 120 preachers enrolled in that. They took along 40 boxes of teaching materials.
While we were there for 30 days, I preached 56 times, conducted 27 hours of open forum (answering Bible questions) and Bobby taught 30 classes for women. These were well received and in several places there were more women than men in attendance. We saw 183 baptized. That does not include those converted at places where other Americans worked during that same month, nor the number from Filipino preachers at work during that time. These baptisms are the result of the labors of the Filipino brethren and they would obey the gospel whether we were there or not. It is regrettable that some American preachers have taken a variety of false teachings to the Philippines. Brethren there have to do the same as we do here. They have to sort through that and see what the Bible teaches and stand accordingly. Some of those who have taught error there do not agree among themselves, yet they go arm in arm with each other in their work. That is made possible by their misuse of Romans 14 and mistaken notions about fellowship. We had many questions about these matters. Several able and respected men made their position clear and stated their determination to stand whatever it might cost them.
We were assisted by thirteen congregations and 43 individuals in making this trip. We are grateful for this help and thankful to our God for health and strength to meet a very demanding schedule. We are also thankful to our beloved Filipino brethren who extended such loving hospitality to us everywhere we went.