By Jim McDonald
Preaching at Infanta, Quezon
When the seminar at Resurreccion was past, R.J. and I bade each other a sad farewell. He had given nearly three weeks of his time to the Philippine work and had been warmly received by them. Ben Cruz and his family had come to the Resurreccion lectures and R.J. returned to Manila with them. Emilio Alvarez and Rene Ignacio had come to Resurreccion and we traveled with them to Infanta, Quezon. The next four days were spent here as we preached in baranguay halls, nepa huts of Christians and in brethren’s buildings. We were greeted with much argumentation on this trip from “Iglessia Ni Christo” sympathizers. The Iglessia Ni Christo is a very powerful religious group in the Philippines and like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, affirms that Jesus Christ is only a man. But, despite their opposition, teaching continued. We preached in a fishing village called Sitio Bayan where brethren had been conducting classes for nearly a year. Once we had concluded our lesson, one of the village “elders” arose and said to the assembled congregation: “We have been hearing these brethren for several months now and know that they are teaching us the truth. It is decision time for us.” When he had finished 15 men and women expressed their desire to confess faith in Christ and to be baptized into the Lord Jesus. The sea was too turbulent that day for baptizing so brethren had to return on another day to complete the deed. A new congregation was begun on the shores of this sea when their obedience was complete. Aurelio Ruanto, an older preacher from Infanta, will go out and preach for these brethren each Lord’s Day. Aurelio needs help for transportation costs and $25 a month would be sufficient. Is there someone who will have fellowship with this brother as he helps to nurture and edify this infant congregation?
We finished our stay in Infanta by preaching at the Lord’s Day morning worship. Two more expressed a desire to be baptized; one a former Iglessia Ni Christo member.
We returned to Manila from Infanta on Sunday after-noon, preaching to another Manila congregation that evening. Then, we made our way to Ben Cruz’s where we were to meet brethren who would accompany us to Mindoro so that we could preach on that island. We had been at Ben’s scarcely 20 minutes before Lordy Salunga and Rick Darasin arrived. Lordy preaches for the Angeles City brethren and is one of the most able of the preachers in Luzon. He has an excellent grasp of American issues and is sound in the faith. Rick is a fledging young preacher, a convert from Catholicism through the efforts of Lordy, and is the only member of his family who is a Christian. He hails from Leyte, an island of the Visayas, and he with Lordy will make a preaching trip to his people later this year. He also accompanied me to Mindoro. On Monday morning Gady Castres (who is from Mindoro) arrived with his son and we traveled to Batangas so that we might catch a ferry from there to Calapan, one of Mindoro’s largest cities. From Calapan we went to Aurora where we preached and spent the night with Elesio Sikat, preacher for Aurora brethren. There are approximately 15 congregations on Mindoro and during the next three days we visited eight of them. On Thursday of that week we hired a jeepney and traveled 160-170 kilometers to the most remote of congregations, preaching in various places along the way. Brother Menor, aged preacher in Calapan, determined he would make this long, hard trip and although we were fearful for the drain it would make on him, he probably made the trip easier than I did! A few were baptized while we were in Mindoro as in other places.
Return To Manila
Our company returned from Mindoro with three or four Mindoro preachers traveling part of the way with us. Efren Algaba had recently moved his family to Luzon and had begun a work in South-central Luzon, an area that badly needs men like Efren. Two or three Mindoro preachers were going to his place to help him further evangelize, then they would return home to Mindoro. Those brethren who had traveled with me from Manila continued on with me to Manila where we went to brother Cruz’s and they returned to their own homes.
Brother Marrs joined me at Ben’s. It was wonderful to see him! We had been in the Philippines for almost a month but had not really worked together as on our previous two trips together. During the next two days (Saturday and Sunday, January 27, 28 we preached in three different congregations north of Manila, one of which had been badly affected by the explosion of Mt. Pinetubo in the early 1990s. This was a village called “Bettis.” Lahar (liquid lava unleashed upon the towns below by summer rains) had nearly buried the village the year before and government aides warned that the June rains would likely finish the job this year. Inhabitants were warned to get out while yet they could. Many had but many yet remain. The congregation in Bettis has lost many of its people but still a remnant remains. Funds were given to each of the families in the congregation and brother Marrs urged the preacher to be like “Moses” and lead the congregation collectively to a refugee camp provided by the government. In this area the dust was stifling. Beggars lined the sides of the roads with their hands stretched out for alms from those passing by. And yet, as inconceivable as it might seem, we could see TV antennas on the roof tops of their hastily built hovels! During these two days we preached in four different congregations, returning to Manila late Sunday night. About eight were baptized in visits to these four congregations.
Palawan is an island southwest of Luzon about an hour distant by plane. Puerto Princessa is its capital city and is one of the cleanest cities we saw in the Philippines. Strict rules against trashing have been passed and are rigidly enforced. Local residents told of one of the national senators who was fined because he threw down a piece of paper or some similar item. Oil exploration and production exists on this island and Muslims eye the island as a prize for them to seize.
There are 16-17 congregations on Palawan. We arrived on Monday and were scheduled to leave on Thursday. First, we conducted a seminar for preachers, giving out tracts, Bibles, and sets of the Jehovah Witnesses material. The next two days were scheduled to be spent teaching churches. We met “Tony” in Palawan. “Tony” was a preacher for the Disciples of Christ, the only preacher for this group in Palawan. He preached for two congregations. He had been taught by brethren and after asking some questions, requested to be baptized. He arranged a quick meeting for us with his congregation the next day.
We traveled from Puerto Princesso to Brooks’ Point where there are three or four other congregations. But, the distance between the two cities is almost 200 kilometers and the roads were terrible. On Wednesday we preached for a congregation just 9-10 kilometers from Brook’s Point, but getting there proved to be a task be-cause we had to ford a river in whose midst our jeepney become “stuck.” There we sat while the water rushed through our jeepney, so high sometimes I had to put my feet on the dash to keep them from getting soaked. On our return we found another jeepney stuck in the same spot so we abandoned the jeepney, crossed on a walkway to the other side and hired a “tricycle” to carry us back to Brooke’s Point where we were to catch a bus back to Puerto Princesso. As the tricycle also went through swirling water it seemed for a moment that we would all be swept into the stream below but the driver managed to wrest control of his tricycle from the current and get us safely to the other side. We spent the next day talking with brethren while waiting for a plane that would carry us to Cebu. (More to come.)
Guardian of Truth XL: 10 p. 12-13
May 16, 1996