Philippines Missions Trip Journal
These posts are in order, so scroll down to read the most recent post.
Wednesday AM, April 4
We made it safely into Manila after over 30 hours of traveling. We arrived around 11:30 PM on Tuesday. The flight from Newark, NJ was about 14 hours. Then we had about a 3 hour layover in Beijing, China where Bro. Tim Rodgers and I met up with my daughter Marissa. She flew out from San Francisco. The flight from Beijing to Manila was about 4 hours. We landed in Manila and met Bro. Tim’s wife who was already here. After securing a rental car, we drove about 2 hours to our hotel near the air base. Thankfully, the hotel and restaurant are very nice and we got into bed about 4 am this morning. I will have to post my blogs as WIFI opportunities are available. Also, there is a 12 hour time difference, so my mornings begin at the end of the day there in the States. Any services we have will be in the evening here so it will be early in the morning there. Tonight we are driving about an hour away to have a mid-week service at the home of one of our missionaries, Brother Arvin.
I will post photos and more info as we progress through our schedule. Nothing to report today but a safe trip, a wonderful few hours of sleep and a delicious breakfast here at the hotel. The jet lag is murder! The 12 hour time change means the AM and PM are opposite. Our bodies are so confused! Please pray for us to have safety on the roads (traffic here is insane in places), pray for souls to be saved, pray for churches to be strengthened, and pray for us to be a blessing to these pastors and missionaries. I am so glad to have my oldest daughter, Marissa here with me. She is finishing up her 3rd year of Bible College at Golden State in Santa Clara, CA. Her boyfriend, Nathan Patton is also a Junior there at GSBC and has been to the Philippines three times. He is studying Missions and feels that God is calling him to the Philippines as a missionary. I wanted Marissa to see the field with me since she may end up being here one day. She grew up in Africa, so I know she’ll do fine if that is what God allows. In any case, I wanted to bring her to see the field and to spend some quality time with my firstborn. She will be teaching the teen girls on Sunday afternoon on the subject of Missions, so she’s excited about that.
I was thinking this morning of how good God is to me to have allowed me to be able to preach to people in so many places around the world. It has been an honor to carry the glorious message to so many places. I was thinking of how grateful I am for a home church that not only supports so many missionaries and mission projects, but they allow me to slip away a couple times a year to preach around the world. My church has made so many contributions to world missions, but they will never know just how much God has used them to help new churches, struggling works, discouraged missionaries and their families. The highlight of my year is to be able to visit a mission field and personally invest in the mission works that we support. It is one thing to drop your faith promise missions money in the plate each week; it is another to personally go and see what God is doing with that missions money. To see the missionaries, meet their new converts, see where they live and shop and serve is such a blessing to me. Then to have the chance to preach, teach classes, train new converts and preacher boys is the icing on the cake. When I go on a missions trip, it is not for the sights or the food or the exotic feeling – it is to further the kingdom of God.
As a second generation missionary, I know how difficult it can be to start a church from scratch in a place where the gospel is not known. If the gospel has been there, most of the time it is a perverted and distorted version and requires much work and prayer to overcome. I also know how much it meant to me when a visiting pastor could come and simply reinforce what I had been preaching and teaching to my people. Most of what these missionaries have taught their people is completely foreign to them. To have another preacher come in and reiterate what they have already heard is priceless. No wonder that Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 4:9 “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.” He went on to say that a three-fold cord is not easily broken. There’s power in numbers, and there’s power in reinforced preaching. To be able to take that Bible and to build on what the national pastor or the missionary has started is a huge honor and in my opinion, priceless. I look forward while I am here to preaching in several different churches and different stages of growth. I am also very excited about the opportunity later on while I’m here to have a day of training and Q/A for a large host of pastors and Christian workers. One of my passions is leadership training and I look forward to being able to pass on to these Filipino workers some of the things that God has shown me down through the last 25 years of ministry.
I want to encourage each church member and especially every pastor that has never taken a missions trip to do it! It is not all that expensive if you plan it right. We were able to get round-trip tickets from NJ to Manila for less than $600. The experience will change you forever. Instead of taking the family to Disney World, take them to the mission field and see your mission’s dollars at work. It will absolutely revolutionize your life, your family and your church. You will never look at your own local church the same way. I guarantee it! If you are a pastor with a burden for souls and the world, you owe it to yourself, and you owe it to your church to GO see for yourself the need around the world.
If you are a pastor, I highly recommend adding the cost of a mission’s trip to your annual church mission’s budget. The payoff is out of this world. I have set aside $5,000 per year for mission’s trips and it has been a key to keeping me and my people absolutely fired up about world missions. If you are a good steward and do your research, you might can take 2 trips a year for less than $5K. We have watched our Faith Promise Missions jump from $86K per year to over $173K in just 4 years. I always take an entire service and show a presentation of my trip when I return and allow our people to see what their money was able to do and what their pastor, as an extension of the church was permitted to accomplish on the field. My people look forward to my return after a trip because they get to see what God let THEIR CHURCH do around the world. Allow God to challenge your heart. He said to us, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. (John 4:35) Take this command from Jesus Christ personally!!
Jesus knew that seeing the world would change your heart and your life. He also knew that we tend to procrastinate when it comes to missions. As the old saying goes – “Out of sight – out of mind!” Stop saying you’ll do it one day. Stop saying you know you need to and then wasting your money on carnal pleasures. Say not – there are four months! Go and LOOK ON THE FIELDS. This doesn’t mean through a slide presentation, and that is ok if that’s all that is available. Lift up your eyes, and look!!! Go see! Invest, not just monetarily, but personally. Put your life on hold; put your schedule on hold; put your ministry on hold, and GO LOOK!!
I will write more later. We are headed to the mid-week service. God bless!
Wednesday Night, April 4
This evening we drove an hour and a half from our hotel to the brand new work that was started by Brother Arvin. We support this young man at Calvary and have been excited about him getting back to the field after completing Bible College. His dad is a pastor in a nearby city, and he has had a desire to start a church in the city further down the road from where he grew up. They had their first service just 3 weeks ago. I was blown away at not only the number of new converts, but their enormous appetite for the Word. Brother Arvin has been having discipleship classes with these new converts three times a week. Many of them are teenagers and they are winning their school friends to the Lord at an amazing rate. Several of them stood tonight and testified of how they got saved and their desire to serve the Lord. It was unreal. I had the opportunity to preach to this brand new group of people on What Is A Christian from Acts 11:26. They loved it. As usual, Marissa was a big hit with the young people. The church was so kind and gracious and we enjoyed a delicious meal of fried chicken and rice after the service. We also had a good time singing some hymns. They understand and speak English very well, so there is no language barrier to speak of. That is a blessing!
We have to get up at 5:30 in the morning to drive to a Bible college where I will be preaching chapel. I’ll post pictures and update the journal after we get back. Here are a few pictures of our service tonight.
Thursday, April 5th
This time difference is murder. Woke up at 3:30 AM with no chance of falling back asleep, so I got up. I spent an hour or so preparing for the message this morning to the college students. We left the hotel at 6:15 in order to make it to the 8 AM chapel an hour and a half away in the city of Tarlac. We were disappointed to discover that the entire senior class had gone to another meeting somewhere else. There was still a decent crowd, considering that. One of the frustrations many times when lining up preaching appointments is the haphazard way that the organizers schedule events. I was given plenty of time to preach and so I spent about an hour and a half preaching on Joseph – The Exceptional Leader out of Genesis 41:38. I had great liberty and the students listened attentively. When I gave an altar call, most of them knelt in the altar and prayed a long time, many of them weeping. I trust the service was a blessing to them. Most of them are training to be church planters/missionaries here in the Philippines. The challenges will be great, but each one of them were very kind and expressed gratitude for the message. The weather here is hot and muggy and the buildings are not air-conditioned. I’m soaking wet when I finish preaching! Thankfully our hotel is nice and clean and has AC and hot water, so that is a blessing. Apparently many of the hotels here do not have hot water.
We spent the rest of the day traveling around with Brother and Sister Rodgers and the national pastor, Brother Arvin. We enjoyed going with Bro. Arvin to pick out a brand new guitar that the Lord so graciously provided for him and his new church. We had lunch at a local shopping mall and then we were able to see some of the area. We found and explored a beautiful place up in the hills named Minalungao National Park. Marissa and I got to stop and see one of the hundreds of rice fields along the way. We saw many water buffalo working in the rice paddies and fields. Travel here is very slow. It took 3 hours to go 150 kilometers (93 miles). The roads are congested with motorcycles with side cars (called tri-cycles) and taxis and jeepney (taxi buses). Many intersections do not have traffic lights, so the traffic is snarled and chaotic. The food is amazing. Marissa and I are having a great time being together and serving the Lord here. These people are precious and so very hungry to know more. Our hearts have been very encouraged and God has let us encourage these people as well. I absolutely love being able to preach in English without a translator. Most of the people here are fluent in English as well as Tagalog and other dialects. The Filipino people are some of the most respectful and polite people I have ever met. They are very courteous and seem to be so easy going. Even in crazy traffic, they are calm and patient. Much different from the drivers in Baltimore! Looking forward to preaching to a group of young people in the morning for Pastor Palotes at his church in Bataan. We will update as we can. The WIFI at our hotel is sketchy….
Here are a few photos of our day Thursday. Thank you for praying!
Friday, April 6
We enjoyed a delicious breakfast at our hotel and then left to drive to the town of Bataan. This is where Pastor Palotes and his wife, Sandra have been ministering since 2004. They were actually pastoring in the town where Sister Tita grew up many years ago. She was a part of their youth group. Now, they are doing an amazing work at the Bible Faith Baptist Church. We had originally planned to simply go visit and encourage them, but they heard we were coming and scheduled an impromptu service for this morning and we had a wonderful time. They were so gracious and so glad to have us. Brother Palotes has recently had 2 strokes, so we looked forward to being a blessing. They were a huge blessing to us. Sis. Sandra teaches the children music and how to play the recorder (flute). She also heads up their Deaf Ministry. They allowed us to sing several songs and their young people sang and played their recorders for us. Then I preached on David and Goliath and challenged them to fight for what was right. They flooded the altar and the Lord really blessed the meeting. They prepared a delicious meal for us and gave us gifts to take home to our family. Marissa and I were also able to ride in a tri-cycle! That was an experience.
Later, we took the long way home and went by a war memorial and a nature reserve. We have enjoyed seeing much of this island and meeting these wonderful Christians. Tomorrow, Sunday and Monday will be jam packed with services, so please be much in prayer. I will be preaching 4 times on Sunday, and on Monday, I will be preaching and teaching leadership classes at a Pastor’s Conference from 10 AM until around 3 PM. I need the Lord’s hand upon me, so please keep us in prayer!
Here are a few pictures of our day.
Saturday, April 7
After a good night’s sleep, Marissa and I had breakfast together here at the hotel. The hotel is a Korean property, and has a really nice variety of food for breakfast. This morning, we had our choice of several kinds of rice, dried fish (with the heads still on them), as well as a wide variety of “normal” breakfast food, fruit, yogurts and so forth. Marissa and I have really enjoyed being together these last few days. With her in college in California, we have missed having her at home. After breakfast, we left with the Rodgers to go to Macabebe about an hour away for soul-winning and literature distribution. I got sick (we think it was from some bad water), so we dropped Marissa off at the church so she could go with them. We went searching for some ibuprofen and Pepto. After striking out at 5 pharmacies, we got what we could and went back to the church. Apparently the people here do not ever need Pepto… I was feeling much better after taking several pills that we purchased. They did not come in a box or in a bottle. They sell pills individually here. And they are generic. And they have no instructions. But I took what they sold me and it must have worked. We got back and the church folk was thrilled with the response and enjoyed having Marissa with them. I was feeling much better by now.
We got the guitar out and had a great time singing and waiting for the 3 o’clock children’s outreach. After singing for probably and hour, we rode a few blocks to meet at a covered playground where we found at least 200 children, teens and adults waiting for us. Brother Arvin and his new converts got them somewhat organized and spent about 45 minutes singing, reading Bible verses and trying to explain to them that God loved them. Us Americans being there had them pretty hyped up. While his people worked with the children, he went to one side and with a microphone and speaker began sharing the Gospel with the adults and teenagers. Several of them were very interested and receptive to the message. It was quite an experience to say the least.
After the Bible time, they served the children a bowl of chocolate rice. I had never heard of it or tasted it, but it is actually very good! The kids loved it and several of them asked for more. You could tell that they were very hungry. The parents stood and watched as Brother Arvin and his people loved on those children and you could tell it was making an impact. Just being able to participate in that was a joy. Marissa and I had a blast. After we cleaned up, Brother Rodgers and his wife unpacked over 200 small bags of American chocolate candy and treats that they had bought and individually packed up and brought with them. You talk about chaos! I never realized just how popular Hershey’s and cowtails were in the Philippines!
After we packed up, the teen boys begged us to play basketball. Brother Tim and I and a couple of the men from Brother Arvin’s church played the boys four on four. We had a great time and the kids surrounded us and cheered us on. We won too! All in all, it was a great Saturday and all the people from the two churches that helped with the outreach is excited about church tomorrow. Please pray for me. I’m preaching 4 times, and Marissa is teaching the girls at 3 on the subject of Missions. We really appreciate you praying for us.
Sunday, April 8th
Marissa and I got an early start today. We had prayer in our room and then had our breakfast in the hotel dining room. The fresh fruit, yogurt and variety of fruit juice is a really neat part of this breakfast. They even have watermelon juice! We joined up with the Rodgers and headed to church around 7:45. We arrived at Little River Baptist Church in Masantol. This pastor is Brother Arvin’s dad and he had me preach twice; once at 9:30 and again at 11. My first message was to the church and was taken from First Corinthians on the subject of “Strife Is Not Spiritual”. The second message was from Mark 1:33 on “Standing at the Door”. The altar was full of many church people and visitors. I have noticed an unusually large percentage of the people each time I’ve preached going forward and it really spoke to my heart. I asked Brother Arvin yesterday if it was normal for so many people to go up to the altar during the invitation. He said, “No Pastor. It is not normal. God is using you in a mighty way to speak to the hearts of the people.” I was so moved at God’s goodness. I have noticed people weeping during the message on almost every occasion. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the prayers of God’s people!
After the morning service, they moved the chairs and had a time of food and fellowship. We enjoyed a delicious meal with the pastor and his wife. They brought me several unusual items and I ate it, including a whole fish (head, fins and all) as well as a chicken foot. They were really glad that I ate it. It was good actually. The fellowship was sweet. After lunch, we headed to our next meeting.
We arrived at Lighthouse Baptist Church in San Fernando around 2 PM and met Pastor Edwin and his wife and family. We got there early (traffic was light) and so we sat out back of the church under the mango tree and fellowshipped for a while. Then a wind came up and mangos were falling and ants were falling on us and after a few bites, I made a motion that we move our fellowship somewhere a little less hazardous. Gratefully it wasn’t fire ants, of which I’m terribly allergic. If I get bit by a fire ant, I have to take a Benadryl to keep from breaking out all over. My first thought was this: if we went to five pharmacies and still never found Pepto Bismol, I’m a goner!! Fortunately it was just a regular red and so it was fine. Brother Edwin took Brother Tim and I around to see a few of the other churches that he had started. He has started 4 churches in the past 15 years, as well as built a building and trained the pastor. He has a desire to start many more churches. We got back in time for the 3:30 Bible Study time. I had the men and teenage boys for an hour. Marissa spoke to the teenage girls and Sister Tita spoke to the ladies. The evening service started at 5 PM and the place was full. The choir was fantastic and there were several specials, including me and Marissa and Bro. Arvin. I have to say, I have enjoyed playing his new guitar!
I preached from Genesis 2:1-3 on “Let God Work” and tied it in with Ephesians 2:10. There was great conviction in the service and most of the people were in the altar for a long time. People were weeping and they expressed just how much God had spoken to them. It was a real blessing to be able to encourage such a great pastor and his church. We closed out the day with dinner with the pastor and his wife. They are such sweet people and we had a great time of fellowship.
We got back to the hotel exhausted after a long day of driving and services. We cannot tell you how much we appreciate and need your prayers! It is now Monday morning at 4:45 and I am trying to get this finished so I can get busy preparing for the 4 messages/training sessions today. Enjoy!
Monday, April 8
One of the events that I had been so excited about was the opportunity to meet and address many of the local pastors and church planters. It has been such a blessing to see how these local pastors and missionaries work together and encourage each other. They have cooperated with each other’s vision and encouraged each other. Several of the places I have preached included members from other churches. There were at least 100 in attendance with approximately 30 pastors and church planters and preacher boys as well as their families and church people. The Training Conference was hosted and organized by Brother Arvin and was held in San Fernando at a conference center. Gratefully, it was air conditioned. We had preaching and training sessions from 10:30 until 3 PM. The meal at lunch was unbelievable. The Rodgers helped organize and provide a delicious meal of crab, prawns, chicken, pork and all the trimmings. The pastors and their families were overwhelmed at the generous provisions. I had brought 50 pounds of my books and literature to give away to the pastors and the preacher boys in Bible College.
It was such a joy to give many of them a copy of The Exceptional Man, Preacher I Have A Question, Dare To Be Different, Tongues and Healing, and a few copies of The Life of an Ambassador. Many of them asked me to sign their copy and write my life verse. I left exhausted but thrilled at the opportunity to have made some contribution to the many churches and ministries represented. I dealt exclusively with topics pertaining to leadership, conflict resolution, organizational practices and the second man. Thank you so much for praying for us. It means the world!
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Today was one of the most exciting ministry opportunities we have had since we arrived. We were able to attend and sing and preach at a Youth Revival meeting. This event was coordinated by Brother Arvin and was held at Lighthouse Baptist Church where we preached on Sunday night. It was a blessing to see at least 250 in attendance from several churches in the surrounding area. The first message was by one of the Filipino church planters. I preached the second message from Daniel 1 on being a “Stick In The Mud”. When the altar call was given, God worked in a great way.
After the service, I was given several different certificates in appreciation for the services and leadership sessions on Monday. The pastors here are very grateful that we came and repeatedly thanked me for the messages and the classes yesterday. I have been so encouraged by the unity and the fervency of these national pastors. The Christians here are so sweet and sincere.
We have enjoyed mild weather since we arrived. Tomorrow morning we leave for Manila. We’ll update you later tomorrow evening.
Today, we packed up and left for Manila. It is only about an hour and a half away with no traffic. But it took us about three hours. The traffic here is impossible to describe. It took us an hour and a half last night to go six miles to the church. There are people everywhere. The roads are crammed with cars, busses, taxis, jeepneys, motorcycles and people. You cannot imagine the congestion. The air smells like carbon monoxide. The air above the city is brown from the smog and pollution. If you take a wrong road, it will take you twenty minutes to get back on track. I have seen two busses riding side by side in the same lane. Motorcycles fly by in between vehicles. Kids playing in the street, people on their phones crossing the road in the dark. It’s unbelievable!
We had the wonderful opportunity last night to close out our Philippines trip with a delicious meal and service at the home and church of Pastor David Dela Paz of the Shekinah Glory Baptist Church in Rizal. He and his people prepared a FEAST for us and we were overwhelmed at their kindness. They even had a roasted pig! We had a great time singing together before and during the service. I lost count of how many pastors were in attendance last night, but it was well over 6 that came and brought their families and some of their people. The place was packed and we had a great time. I had tremendous liberty to preach and again, the altars were filled.
We have enjoyed our time here immensely. We will be leaving very early in the morning. Brother Rodgers and his wife will be staying behind for another week. Marissa and I will fly to Beijing together and then we will have to say our goodbyes. She flies back to California to finish her third year of Bible College at Golden State. She had thoroughly enjoyed this trip and we have had a great time together.
This is my final update. God allowed me to preach 12 times in 10 days. We made many new friends, helped and encouraged many pastors and church planters, saw God stir the hearts of many churches. We saw souls saved and the hearts of God’s people challenged. That is all we could ever pray or hope for. I know God has worked mightily in my heart, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to come see this place and these churches. Mine eyes have definitely affected my heart! I can’t wait to get back to my family and church.