Dear supporters and friends of the work of our brethren in Advent Christian work in the Philippines. It seems incredible to me that by the time you read this I will have been in the Philippines for five weeks and already be home again. As I write I am in Cebu City with Pastor Jonathan Navacilla at Banilad. I thank you all again, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, for your continued, faithful support.
I arrived in Manila on October, 27 and spent the first few days staying with Pastor Roy Rocha and his family. This was a time of blessing for me in many ways. Firstly I was able to get to know Roy’s children better, particularly Jojo and Peniel. The first full day I was there Roy took me to the church in the morning where I was able to witness a children’s holiday programme in action with the young ones being tutored in English and Maths. Parents are encouraged to pay P10 (approx $NZ0.31) per session toward the costs of books etc. Two sessions were being held each day. Pastor Roy supervises the leaders and the content of the material.
On the same evening Pastor Roy and I travelled 1 1/2hours by jeepney, to an office block to conduct a Bible Study group for some of the company’s workers. I was privileged to be asked to speak. Fortunately I am used to being “ambushed”, so went prepared just in case. Pastor Roy had warned me that it might happen. The return journey only took 30 minutes. What a difference no traffic makes! Our Sunday began at 4.00am so that we were able to be at the church in time to be set up ready for a 6.00am worship service. .With the service and Bible study we were finished at 10.00am. Usually following the service there is fellowship and then visitation to be done.
On the Saturday, with Roy and Jojo, I was able to visit the city’s Wildlife Park and the Quezon Memorial Shrine (The first President of the Philippine Commonwealth under the Americans) and later attend a birthday party (not like ours would be) and then on the Monday the three of us and Peniel visited the Intramuros Area where Jose Rizal spent his last days and was executed for his stand against the Spanish occupiers. Having studied Rizal at OBC, I had wanted to visit this site but not had the time to do so previously.
In the last “PU” Pastor Roy mentioned his involvement with Accelerated Learning System. I was asked what this entailed. Roy is now the district co-ordinator (my term) for the Quezon City area and facilitator for the camp, hence the large number of people he referred to. In his own church there are about thirty people involved.
Pastor Roy and his family’s greatest need at the moment is another house to live in. The present landlord has served notice and even given an extension. Pray that the family may find a suitable house to rent closer to the church. The house also needs to be very accessible for Nacnac, Roy’s wife, as she is dependent on crutches for moving about.
The following Tuesday night I sailed for CDO. Whilst in CDO I felt that I was “back home”. I enjoyed my time there taking part in the OBC Spiritual Life Retreat, sharing “Coke” and donuts with the Dorm Boys and meeting with old friends and speaking on several occasions including at Macanhan Christian Community Fellowship Church where Benjie Ragas is pastor. In the afternoon I was able to attend the baptism of three of Pastor Benjie’s congregation. What a joy to see these young people witness their faith in Christ as Lord and Saviour in such a public fashion.
While in CDO it was a joy to see Pastor Reniel Comajeg, Felany and Elisha Grant again. I was made most welcome, staying in their home while in the city.
I was again able to see and spend time with Pastor Billy Comahig, Joanne and Jobi Anne. These dear friends are always so kind and friendly to me.
It was also good to catch up again with Mm Nely Gamayon, Director of OBC, and discuss with her some of her vision for the college. Mm Nely was not at OBC when I came to leave but she sent a most encouraging text to me in response to my farewell message to her.
Mm Fe Mendoza and Pastor Toto have been granted residency in the USA and departed on Friday Nov. 18th. Their daughter and family have lived there for several years. Both Mm Fe and Pastor Toto feel that their place is with their family at this present time. We wish them well and God’s blessing as they have made this move. Pastor Billy and Joanne Comahig will live in the Mendoza home in the meantime.
Mm Minda Lipanta, Pastor Rucky Pallo, Mm Fe Laturgo (Grafe) and others wish to be remembered to any from the work teams to OBC.
While in CDO I was able to catch up with Pastor Eleazar and Mrs Comajig, Pastor Jojo Saballero and Pastor James Lomocso, each of whom some of you will remember.
Also, while I was in CDO, I was able to attend the wedding of Pastor Rustom Marquino Jnr to Kathleen. It was great that my visit coincided with their scheduled wedding date 11.11.11. It was also Rustom’s birthday.
Having been in CDO for eight days I returned to Cebu where I am at this time, staying with Pastor Jonathan Navacilla, (12 nights). I said before that I am amazed at what this young man does. Sunday he preaches three times and from 20th Nov. he will be preaching four times; Tuesday night is a mentoring session; Wednesday 7.30pm Bible Study/ Prayer meeting at the church followed at 9.30pm by a home Bible Study; Friday Cell group leaders meeting Noon to 3.00pm, 3.30pm Visitation to Kindergarten parents, 7.00pm preaching class; Every Ist Friday of the month Overnight Prayer Meeting: Saturday 2.00pm Umapad Adult Bible Study, 4pm Brother’s Keeper Basketball Ministry and then some times worship team practice. In addition to this schedule there are all the other things which Pastor Jonathan does, including planning for the BPACCI youth camp this coming summer (April). Living above the church means that he is at the congregation’s call whenever anyone wishes to see him, no matter what the hour. Monday is supposedly his day off, but usually something else comes along. In addition to these activities he is the Kindergarten Administrator and needs to be present from time to time to liaise with the parents. Sermons and studies also have to be prepared.
The “Brother’s Keeper” basketball ministry is reaching about forty non-church attendees with some of the church young people attending and helping with study groups. Attendance at Bible Study is compulsory for those wishing to play. At least seven have accepted Christ and have been baptised already with another baptism scheduled for December 19th for others of this group. At this stage indications are that about 90% of the remaining attendees who wish to be baptised. The young ladies volleyball group “Soul Seeker” reaches about 16 young women with Bible studies. Some of these young ladies have also accepted the Lord. One of the greatest needs for these ministries, along with the Umapad children’s outreach and adult Bible study, to develop further, is to purchase a “multicab” which is a small 14 – 16 seater (plus driver and front passenger) jeepney- type vehicle. The cost of one of these is about NZ$5000 -6000.
In addition to “Brother’s Keeper” and “Soul Seeker” cell groups the church young people are active in conducting cell groups and follow-up in their schools and work places.
Pastor Jonathan and his fiancée, Flor Naingue, are planning to marry next May, 2012. Knowing them both and seeing their dedication to the Lord in action, I know they will make a great couple.
At all the services I attended at Novaliches, Manila (Roy), Banilad, Cebu (Jonathan) and Macanhan, CDO (Benjie), the churches were full each time. For me this was most encouraging to know that the training these young men have received at OBC, Cebu Graduate School Theology and International Graduate School of Leadership is having such an effect on the spreading of the Word by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Before I left New Zealand to come to the Philippines in late October two or three people said to me “You are going back to your second family” and that is just what it has been like for me. These dear folk are my “second family”. Thank you to all of you who support this Advent Christian work in the Philippines for helping this to be so. By God’s grace I shall return again next April/May.
May you all continue to know God’s richest blessing as you continue to serve Him day by day. May you also know the real joy and blessing of this Christmas season as we celebrate the Saviour’s birth!
Yours in the Master’s service,
- Please pray that Pastor Roy and Nacnac and family will find a suitable place to rent so that they are able to transfer quickly.
- Pray for Roy’s involvement with “Accelerated Learning System” so that the children who are tutored will grow academically and spiritually.
- Pray for Bishop Miranda as he has a strenuous schedule of visitation and organization to keep.
- Pray for Mm Nely Gamayon in her role as OBC Director, that she and the faculty will have wisdom as they lead the college.
- Pray for the students at OBC, that they will be committed to their calling to study.
- Pray for Pastor Jonathan and all who work with him in “Brother’s Keeper” and the other ministries of the church.
- Pray for those who have recently been baptised and those who have indicated their wish to be baptised that they will all know God’s presence in their lives and be obedient to His call..
- Give thanks for all God has done and is doing in the lives of those whom I have had the joy of being with over the last five weeks.
- Pray for Pastor Toto and Mm Fe Mendoza as they settle into life in the USA.
- Pray that ways may be found to provide for the needs of each church fellowship and its ministries.