By Carl McMurray
It is good to be home. That was my first thought after five weeks in the Philippines, On behalf of myself and other brethren, I’d like to share some of the good news of the Lord’s kingdom in that part of the world.
I was one of five American brethren who arrived there over a period of about nine to ten weeks. I will only mention the areas I visited, but for more information you might contact Keith Burnett, John Humphries, Jerry Parks or Norman Fultz. In the areas I visited I witnessed 46 baptisms while over the 9-10 week period the total went over 200 in addition to the formation of one or two new congregations.
When I arrived in early April, brother Keith Burnett had already been there for several weeks. Deplaning at 12:30 a.in. Saturday, I was taken to the home of Noli Villamor (who graciously kept his home open to me and helped me as 1 traveled through Manila from week to week) for a few ,iours sleep. The next morning and every morning began around 5:00 a.m. as we headed out for Quezon province and the congregations at Infanta and Real. We returned late Sunday evening and were on the bus at 6:30 the next morning for a ten hour trip to the northern provinces. Keith Burnett and I spent the next two weeks in the northern provinces of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. We spent each day traveling, preaching, visiting with brethren and staying in their homes. The work going on in those areas is tremendous. It was begun with the efforts of Materno Sibayan, Sr., 19 years ago in Laoag City. Since that time, in just these two provinces, there have been about 40 preachers converted, trained and set to work among over 70 established congregations. Literally thousands have been baptized into Christ over that time period. What has happened in your area over the past 19 years? I might add that Materno is an ex-Pentecostal preacher and has helped lead a multitude of his Pentecostal brethren to the Lord. Many of those taught by him have also done likewise.
We spent some amount of time traveling into areas that the U.S. Embassy had declared off-limits, because of the threat from NPA (communist) rebels. One high point of the trip was staying in the home of brother and sister Vic Domingo in Escuda Marcos. Under their security we traveled into the mountain, even teaching in a government village of ex-NPA (baptizing two more). One sister we met had even been a guerilla leader in the past, well know by the newspapers and the army as the “Beautiful Commander.” She now serves our great Commander.
After two weeks in these provinces, Keith went to Palawan while I traveled through and spoke in churches in the provinces of La Union and Pangasinin, concluding with a three day lectureship in Urdancta, where brother Eusebio Balliao labors. While there we had an uncomfortable situation with a native preacher, U.S. supported, whose living, due to alcohol, was not up to his profession. The information discovered was passed along to those in fellowship who, being worthy of commendation, did not view this as a blot on the name of faithful preachers, but instead shifted their assistance to worthy workers.
Leaving there I spent the weekend in Manila, joining up once more with Materno Sibayan, Jr., who had been our traveling companion and translater in the North. He is a young man desiring to preach while possessing a degree in engineering. It was easy to become good friends with this dedicated worker. His sense of humor and energy made him easy to lean on in some difficult situations. Monday I left for the southern most island of Mindanao with John Humphries, Jerry Parks and Norman Fultz who had arrived the week before. While Humphries and Fultz stayed in Davao City with brother and sister Juanito Balbin, Parks and myself stayed with Joy and Amy Notarte and traveled out into the rurual areas meeting with various congregations. While we met several young, diligent preachers doing a good job in this area, a special word might be inserted here about the work of Joy Notarte and his brother Jul. Together, they are active in teaching and training preachers in about 20 congregations. They had already baptized about 70 souls themselves in the first four months of ’91, including an entire congregation of Baptists (20 people). They took down the sign on the building, turned it over, painted “church of Christ” on it and just hung it back up. Joy also funds a radio program from his personal support to reach into outlying areas. There is a good work going on there.
Flying back to Manila on Friday with Humphries and Fultz, we left Parks to a few more days of travel and preaching. Saturday a.m. I was on the plane again to Isabella province where I spent a few days traveling with brother and sister Domi Jacob. As with all the places we stayed, the hospitality of the Jacob home was wonderful, as was the opportunity to be with so many brethren and see the good work that he and his family are doing in the area around Cordon. Concluding here, it was back to Manila where I imposed on the Villamor household once more before heading back to the States. Their help and friendly warmth was/is truly appreciated.
While brother Humphries originally encouraged me to make the trip, I found all the American brethren diligent workers and count it a privilege to have been able to take part in that effort. Though there are some unworthy Filipino preachers Oust like U.S. preachers), I met and spent time with a great number of dedicated, faithful brethren who are earnestly serving the Lord amidst great hardship. Many have never received any financial support. Great sacrifices are being made to preach the gospel on that side of the Pacific and I commend those who are in fellowship with what work. Please do not grow weary in well doing. Many trophies are being laid up to be revealed in the last day for the humble work going on there now. If any individual or congregation would be interested in the work there I would be glad to share any information I have gathered, in slides or by letter. If there are any young Christians who would like to correspond with a pen-pal, I would be glad to pass that information along also.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 15, pp. 487-488
August 15, 1991