Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday Mission Report - Final Day

Dumaguete City, Republic of the Philippines
Sunday Night, March 1, 2009
9:45 PM

The planned activities for our Philippine Mission trip have finally come to an end.

This morning we had a very emotional morning worship service at New Life Christian Church. Rick Gunnell played and sang “A Friend Never Says Goodbye”. I brought a message from Acts chapter 20, which tells of Paul’s last words with the Ephesian elders as he made his way back to Jerusalem. Feeling much like the apostle, when he said that they would see his face no more, I shared the same concerns with the Filipinos that Paul shared with the Ephesians.

Like I said, it was emotional.

Our team has been quite active since we have been here, and we owe a lot to Joey Spurgeon and Rick Gunnell for sharing such a large portion of the work load here. Old “Lolo’s” (grandfathers) like Thamer and I just do not have the energy these young guys have. I thank God that He put this team together for this particular time.

The Revival services were wonderful, starting on Wednesday evening and culminating with the church’s 9th Anniversary Service Celebration on Saturday night. Attendance on Wednesday night was 32 and it had grown to 135 by Saturday. Several decisions were made for Christ in the revival, joining those who responded to the Gospel in house to house evangelism efforts during the week. Total number of recorded conversions for the mission effort was 57, for which we praise God.

Immediately following the morning worship service, we were asked by Brother Tata (a newly baptized believer at the church) if we would visit with his cousin, Nestor, who is a cancer patient at Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital. If we thought the conditions at Silliman University Medical Center were poor, they were deplorable at the Provincial Hospital. It looks nice on the outside, but the conditions inside the hospital might be described as squalid. Patients were housed six to a room, and the first floor hallway of the main building was lined with patients in their beds. Nestor is suffering from lung cancer, and I could scarcely turn down the request from Tata to go pray with him. We were obliged to do that, but our eyes were rudely opened to the pitiful people and the bad conditions of the hospital. There are so many needs here, it is just overwhelming!

To me, this afternoon was one of the highlights of the entire trip. At 3:00 we met at the church for separate Bible Studies for the men, ladies, youth and children. I had the privilege to speak to 21 men on the subject, “Men As Agents Of Revival”. We had a great Bible study with Judge Joseph Elmaco serving as the interpreter. The Judge did a wonderful job of translating my teaching into the Cebuano dialect for those who did not speak English. After the “lesson” was over, Pastor Valdez asked the men if they had any doctrinal questions that I could answer. Talk about pressure! I had no idea what they might come up with, but it really wasn’t too bad. Most of the questions seemed to center around “Pentecostal doctrine” – which seems to be a hot topic of discussion here, as well as questions regarding the difference between the Baptist teachings and the dogma of the Roman Catholic church.

We had a great time of Bible study and prayer, as did the women’s group, and the children and youth breakouts, taught by Rick and Joey.

Tonight we treated the Valdez, Dales, and Zerna families, and Rowina Gantalao to dinner at the Santa Monica Beach Resort in Banilid. The setting was beautiful, the food was good, and the company was great. It was a nice way to finish out our planned activities. It is Sunday morning back home and we hope you all will have a wonderful Lord’s Day.

Tomorrow will be a time of packing, checking out of the hotel and saying goodbye (or “so long” as the song goes). We will not be rushed in doing so, since our flight to Manila is not scheduled to leave until 4:45 PM Monday. The really cool part of the trip back is that we will arrive in Los Angeles at 2:45 PM on Monday. That’s arriving in LA two hours BEFORE we left Dumaguete! I’m sure that’s the closest I’ll ever come to time travel…

I feel that this will probably be my last time here for short term mission work, but I do hope some of the younger guys from Huntington and New Orleans will continue the work. We will still be supportive financially as long as God will provide through our people, but I think the time has come for me to hand off the baton to a new generation.

This place and these people will always have a special place in my heart. Now, however, it is time to head back and help lead our people at Westmoreland Baptist Church in seeking to reach “our Jerusalem” with the Good News of Jesus.

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