A message from our Philippines Partners Edgar and Tita
We are back! Praise the Lord for travelling mercies esp. with this Covid 19 pandemic. We came back 2 weeks early just in time before everything “locked down.” Thank God for His guidance and wisdom. We ourselves were on “self-quarantine” for 14 days. Thank God that both of us are in good health.
We were in the Philippines for 4 months. Temperature was averaging 35 degrees celsius. We were both so excited to go back home to follow up on the projects we got involved in early 2019.
Our trip started in Bohol where Tita’s family had a reunion. On Sunday, Nov 10, we had a worship service with Tita leading Praise & Worship and Edgar sharing the message. One nephew asked? “how can they do the worship with just the two of them?” By God’s grace we did! We sung hymns and read scriptures. We had about 35 family members in attendance. The gospel was clearly presented and everyone was challenged to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Nov. 17, saw us in Ozamis City where Edgar preached again. He preached on the topic “Are You Ready?” Then, the church requested us to attend their leader’s meeting after. Early this year we challenged this Church to have a clear Vision and Mission for themselves. We had a very productive meeting which lasted for hours. They then decided to have a Church Leader’s Retreat that Friday to finalize all their plans for 2020. We were also requested by the church to meet with their prospective Pastor at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Cebu City, which we did after a couple of weeks. We met with Pastor Anton Barlisan in Cebu City, who was graduating April 2020. He confirmed that he felt called to Pastor New Life Baptist Church in Ozamis City. He is now in Ozamis City, serving at NLBC. Praise the Lord! Through ASSIST, we are also helping this church renovate their Children Sunday school rooms to accommodate
more children on Sundays and make it safe and secure for each of them.
The following day, Edgar was requested to do a house blessing for someone who previously accepted the Lord in our Bible Study in Toronto and is now back in the Philippines. We had a meaningful time as Edgar presented Jesus as the source of all blessings in our lives, but the most important blessing is Jesus becoming not only our provider but more so our Savior and Lord. The whole family and close friends were present at this house blessing. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and feasting after.
From Ozamis City, we proceeded to the place we missed to visit the last time we were here due to the unsafe peace and order situation in the area. We travelled from Ozamis City via Cagayan de Oro City. Our next stop was in Don Carlos, Bukidnon where we stayed overnight. Early the next morning we proceeded to Kabacan, North Cotabato to follow up on the work there. The area going to North Cotabato has a reputation of being risky. But thank God we finally made it.
Unfortunately, Pastor Daryl Villaruel was in Singapore for a Missions’ Conference at that time. However, it was such a joy to meet his wife and children and the 3 Associate Pastors along with their church workers. We had a great time of fellowship, exchanging experiences in the ministry and prayer. The building, including the 4 washrooms, is now functional. It just needs painting. In just a year of existence, the Church space turned out small as they now have an average attendance of about 50 people x 2 services every Sunday. So, they’ve decided to build another building in the adjacent lot. The current building will be used mainly as the parsonage, dorm and classroom and the new one will be purely a place of worship. Currently, we don’t have a commitment to help in the new building. Praise the Lord for all that He has done in this area. We were so blessed to see this functional building for the glory of God
By God’s grace, in the past 13 years Pastor Daryl has trained 72 workers and planted 13 churches. The Vision is to saturate the whole province of North Cotabato with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The work has not slowed down despite the peace and order condition of the area. When we were there, the workers present just finished 2 neighborhood Bible studies. Having seen the area, Kabacan is truly a strategic place between two big Cities, Davao and Cotabato. It is a bustling town with a mix of Christian and Muslim population. We continue to pray for more workers to saturate North Cotabato with the Word of God and hopefully change the course of history and end constant fighting in the area. Edgar went back once more to speak at the church in Kabacan. What a privilege to share the word of God to this congregation.
After a few days of rest, we then flew to Zambales in the Northern part of the Philippines. We attended the 40th Anniversary of the Jaire Children’s Home in Castillejos, Zambales, under the leadership of Pastor Joel Alviar. This is an orphanage we supported. What has been so amazing in this place was the fact that when we visited 2 years ago we spoke with Pastor Joel Alviar and he expressed three needs of the orphanage; their tractor needed repair, their fishpond was broken, and that their piggery had no pigs.
At that time, we decided that the most economical way to help was to give them money in the amount of 10,000 pesos to buy sow pigs. Today three generations of pigs have come out of our initial two! The orphanage has sold 24 piglets already, in the amount of 50,000 pesos which went to augment the day to day operations of the orphanage. They currently have 6 huge pigs. One is a mother pig with 8 piglets, the other is pregnant. There will be more piglets very soon, God willing! In total thus far, there were 54 that came out of our original two. What a great testimony of good stewardship!!! We never thought we would be so excited to tell you about our Pig story. What little we gave, the Lord multiplied. This small piggery allows the children to learn first-hand how to raise and take care of pigs and see and experience the fruit of their labor.
We heard during the celebration amazing stories of grown professionals who used to live in the orphanage. A couple, in fact, returned the favor by becoming teachers in the orphanage school itself. We also heard a testimony of one who was abandoned as a child due to lack of food and his parent’s inability to raise him. He is now a manager of a Korean company, married with children. It is such a joy for us to hear and witness these testimonies of children changed by God in this orphanage. This has reinforced our desire to help and equip the different ministries that the Lord has allowed us to partner with. We cannot touch the lives of every child and individual, but we will let every opportunity count for eternity.
We then visited Pastor Greg Villanueva who is ministering to the Aetas (natives). We had a good time discussing his ministry concerns and plans. We provided him Php 80,000.00 to buy a slightly used four-wheel vehicle, instead of a motorcycle, to use in ministry. He requested this change to enable him to bring more Aetas to Church on Sundays. Besides the motorcycle in the rain and very muddy road
is dangerous. Last Dec. 22 during the Christmas Service of the mother church, Ptr. Villanueva packed this vehicle with 30 people to attend. It was a day of great rejoicing for the church.
Edgar preached at Bethesda Grace Church in Olongapo City. A fellowship lunch followed with the leaders of the church to encourage one another and to talk about ministry of the two churches and the orphanage we are assisting. All Praise to God for the spirit in this church. Sunday afternoon was spent at the Calapacuan Church. As per report, a number of teenagers have left the church as the demand for them to work has risen. Some are working to help the financial needs of the family. There is also the re-emergence of crime and drugs in the area. We encouraged the church to continue reinforcing Bible studies for the youth. We advised the church to realign the funding to include the Young People activities. We found out that there are fewer young children attending the feeding now and there are more Youth coming out.
We are providing new Bible study materials for the teachers to use for the continuing Saturday feeding and Bible study. We are encouraged to see a couple who were the products of the last Family Day we did in January of this year. These young people are very happy with their roles in the Praise & Worship every Sunday. Recently, we received very encouraging report from the pastor because their Children’s Saturday feeding and Bible study had more kids attending now
We left Zambales in the middle of a big storm brewing. In fact, our plane was the last plane out before they closed the Clark International Airport due to typhoon locally dubbed as “Typhoon Tisoy”. Thank God, except for a few bumps along the way, we made it out safely.
It is such a joy to give you this update. The Lord has filled our hearts seeing the fruits of our efforts. Together, we can reach lives for the Lord with the gospel. Indeed, intentional generosity is a way to change the lives of many people. We are humbled with this opportunity to serve the Lord in this way in our retirement years. As sundowners our bodies are easily tired but the strength that the Lord has given us in these travels is so evident. Your prayers are felt everyday as we move around. Your support has gone a long way in extending help to the saints in need. We are praying for you too that you and your families “will not grow weary in well doing because we know that our efforts in the Lord will not be in vain and in due time we shall reap, if we faint not”.
We thank the Lord for opportunities, where we were able to lead Bible Studies among workers at Saddle Ridge in Dahilayan, Bukidnon, did marital counselling among young couples we know in the area, attend Bible studies in the community, and get to know more people in the small community that we live in. We trust the Lord will continue to use us in many different ways in the days ahead. It is so exciting what the Lord has prepared for us in our return, God willing. For as long as our bodies will allow us, we will serve the Lord. Thank you for your partnership. Thank you for allowing us to be “your hands and your feet”.
TO GOD BE ALL THE GLORY, GREAT THINGS HE HAS DONE!