Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kick Off Meeting

Tonight our four man American team met with nine Filipinos from New Life Christian Church in Dumaguete City to pray for and discuss planned ministries for the upcoming activities here. It was a time of good food at the Sta. Monica Beach Resort, great fellowship, and planning. The next several days appear to be filled with much activity in Batinguel and surrounding barangays of Toclobo, Candu-ay, and in areas surrounding Pastor Valdez’ New Life Christian Church (SBC). Many of these areas were hit hard by the flash flooding of the Banica River about 10 days ago.

Those present at tonight's meeting included Pastor and Mrs. Doming Valdez, Pastor Joseph and Juvy Zerna, and five other active members of the New Life Church. One of the men, nicknamed "Tata" is a newly baptized believer, who lives in the flood devastated area. Tonight we presented Pastor Valdez with 16,000 Philippine Pesos, (about $400 American) that had been donated to go toward a flood relief feeding ministry. Pastor and Mrs. Valez will over see the project which will be based in Tata's home. His home was elevated and therefore did not receive major flooding as did many of his neighbors.
Only a believer for about three weeks when the flood hit, Tata opened his home as a small "refugee center" and shelter for several neighbors who had lost everything in the disaster. This has become a tremendous open door for ministry for the New Life Church!

Tomorrow’s activities will first take us to an island where we have never had opportunity to minister before. The Island of Siquijor is visible on the horizon from our room in Dumaguete City. Siquijor is well known locally as the “Island of Witchcraft” due to the strong belief of the natives in black magic, voodoo and the occult. We are due to take the 9:30 scheduled fast ferry from the pier of Dumaguete for the 50 minute ride to the island and return on the ferry on the 4:30 final run of the day. We spent a night on Siquijor on my very first visit here in 2000, but it was simply for an orientation and get acquainted meeting of our American team and our Filipino counterparts.

On several of our trips in the past, we have looked for opportunity to visit Siquijor, but for one reason or another, the plans never came to fruition. Our visit tomorrow was brought about by several changes in the intended schedule, and will be limited to the port city of Larena and areas within walking distance. Our “guide” tomorrow is a lady who is related to Mrs. Valdez and who is a native of Siquijor. The nature of the trip will preclude us from taking many Bibles for distribution, but we will go bearing several hundred Gospel tracts to give away. We are praying for a fruitful trip to this strange island as we have opportunity to interact with some of it’s residents.

The planned itinerary calls for the next eleven days to be full of evangelistic activities. Rick Gunnell purchased a guitar today at Lee Plaza and will be able to take it with him as we travel from home to home in the next week. Thamer Calhoun is our Bible distribution guru and Joey Spurgeon will work with the youth and children, while also sharing preaching duties with me. I will try to give daily updates here whenever possible.

In the meantime, we will appreciate the prayers of our loved ones 13 time zones away! We leave for Siquijor at 8:15 tomorrow morning. It's 12 minutes past midnight right now. Thamer is already knocked out and I'm preparing to hit the sack now.

Good night from Dumaguete City!

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