We’re picking up where we left off six months ago. You may remember that we tried to start a church plant in Pequeño (in the outskirts of the city) a year ago, but we had to leave six months later because we struggled paying the building rent. Still, we have been bringing those dear people here every Sunday (it’s a long drive), and visiting them every Friday, but they needed more than that. So now we’re having church services in Pequeño, albeit in a smaller venue—the living room of one of our friends. Our first service went really well. We already need more space. May the Lord provide.
My latest video: A couple of minutes of fun, then a surprise ending.
BTW, our new house is 4BR, 4 restrooms, a big living room, and lots of storage space. P30K ($575) per month. So far we have three friends living with Gina and me. We’ll try to get a couple more in here later. Living together helps facilitate discipleship.
There’s nothing like a ladies’ prayer meeting to ‘break in’ a new home!
Gracy is one of the young people we’re supporting in seminary as she prepares to become a missionary. She describes how our Lord has changed her life:
I was raised in a Catholic family but on my mom’s side their belief is Spiritism. Both parents are rice farmers. I experienced a lot of physical and verbal abuse. It’s so hard to believe what is the truth in my life. I know my parents love us. But seeing my scars and remembering the pains, I just felt like I need to prove myself worthy of acceptance but I’ve always failed to do that. Later on I don’t know what I want to do in my life. I was in bad relationships, though I didn’t experienced sex at all but I became so controlled, these guys have their own girls. But the Lord never gave up on me. He sent my class mate at High School to evangelize me at the park together with my friends, so after that I was so amazed to his testimony and he was so bold about sharing that junk in his life about being a drug dealer and a gangster. That evening on, he keeps on texting me, he invited me to their church. Seeing and experiencing the love of God there, it was reminding me that when I was little, I wanted to serve God. So finally it gives me hope again to live a life with a purpose. I decided to get baptized. Now I’m in Bible school and graduating this year. Through the obedience of the laborers of God, they help this journey of my life and excited to work more for God. It’s not an easy thing to follow Him and take up our own cross but there’s His Grace that always be sufficient to all weaknesses.
(With her permission, I edited and shortened Gracy’s story for this format.)
Driving is more fun in the Philippines!
You never know what you’ll see in the middle of the road!
Yes, I did drive under the ladder.
I have felt a lot of earthquakes in the 5 1/2 years since we moved here, but the 7.0 on 12/29 was the biggest!
We participated in several big Gospel-preaching parties in public high schools and elementary schools throughout our city during the last week of school before Christmas. The tall girl is an Australian professional basketball player who shared her testimony as my assistant pastor Oning translated.
Gina and I love everyone in this Christmas church service photo, but we’re most excited about the six Indian men in the back row. Please pray for them.
Our mobile Christmas outreach choir. At each stop, after we sang, we distributed meals to homeless people downtown, and we shared God’s message–“tidings of great joy”–face-to-face.
Discipleship: We started going to Santo Rosario Gym months ago to bless neighborhood kids with their own little church service and feeding program every Saturday. I believe the best way to bless kids is to win their parents to the Lord. But sometimes we win the parents by blessing their kids. Almost from the start, I wanted this to be my assistant pastor Oning’s “baby.” So I avoided going there, because he would grow more doing it without me. Now, once in a while, Oning doesn’t go, either! The disciples he trained can do the entire ministry without him.
Gina and I have known Jemilyn for more than a year. She is a blessing. Here is her story, translated:
I am a mother of two. I was a typical housewife.
I knew there is a God; I even went to church every Sunday with my family. But after going to church, I still felt a void inside.
I was a quick-tempered mother. I spanked my kids too much.
I was also so afraid of the unknown. When a family member or I would get sick, I would worry a lot and go to the ‘quack doctor.’ *
I didn’t care much about people outside of my immediate family. I didn’t even get along with my in-laws. I would start fights over what I thought people were thinking of me.
Thankfully God used Prescy to share Jesus with me. She encouraged me to actually experience him** and not just depend on a priest to tell me about him. I started reading my Bible. I never did before because some people say Bible reading will make you crazy. Thanks to Prescy, I now know Jesus personally. I have boldly declared my faith in public since I was baptized. Now, the way I treat my kids has changed. I am still a work in progress, but I have learned the power of prayer. I ask God for wisdom. I don’t worry about sickness anymore, and we never go to the quack doctor. I now care for others and want to share Jesus with them. I also pray for those who are sick.
Now I get along with my in laws, and they also have seen the change God is doing in me.
All glory to God!
I am looking forward to more of Him, and I desire to have my own Bible study group to be able to teach others to know and follow Jesus.
*Not a real doctor. Quacks are very common here, using witchcraft and preying on the fears of the people.
** “Taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8).
Feeding our hungry volunteers after a project. We worry that some of our friends don’t get enough to eat. When Gina is too busy to cook, sometimes we have to splurge on McDo (as they call it here) or some other fast food place. Thankfully, McDonald’s is much cheaper here than in the US.
Even after years of living in the Philippines, I still learn new things about the culture occasionally. Recently, through a family’s crisis, I had an especially heart-breaking learning experience.
To me, the emergency was very easy to solve: Their 24 year old daughter was kidnapped by a cult over her P5000 ($95) debt, so the police should be called upon to rescue her.
It turns out that’s not how Filipinos see the situation.
Apparently, if you sign a loan agreement with details allowing it, a lender can hold you against your will. Hospitals do it all of the time here.
Even if there is no such written agreement, the cops would apparently not do anything about it. They would see it as her fault for not paying her debt.
We gave the family the P5000 to release her.
Dolly has three small children. Her husband left her. She does laundry by hand for others to make a living. When she heard about Jen’s home burning down (see last month’s report), Dolly donated two bags of clothes to Jen’s family. God loves it when poor people give as much as they can. When the widow in the temple gave her last two coins, Jesus called his disciples and praised her to them. When Dolly gave those clothes, I’ll bet Jesus called some angels over and told them about her.
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