Saturday, February 28, 2009

Live From Dumaguete, It's Saturday Night!

Dumaguete City, Republic of the Philippines
11:20 Saturday Night
February 28, 2009

We had the morning and afternoon off today as Brother Joseph made the long trip to pick up the folks from Mayaposi for the Anniversary Service of New Life Christian Church. He hauled 18 folks in the little “easy ride” for two hours from the mountains down to the city of Dumaguete. To say that little vehicle was full would be a tremendous understatement. The men and women of the church were busy all day, preparing the anniversary feast which would be enjoyed by everyone tonight.

Joseph picked us up at the hotel at 5:50 and when we arrived at the church the place was packed with worshippers. I tried to count, but I lost track somewhere past 110. My best estimate would put the attendance tonight at somewhere near 135.

Besides the New Life (home folks) and the 18 from Mayaposi, there were also some visitors from Emmanuel Baptist Church, as well as Pastor Roberto and Marissa Martin of the Baptist Church in Bais City. There were also a number of visitors from the community, as well as one dear lady who serves us breakfast every day here at the Bethel Guest House in Dumaguete. We were very pleased to see her. The whole team has been a good witness here at Bethel. The hotel is owned by a devout believer. He has built the nicest hotel in Dumaguete City and it serves as a meeting place and small convention center for this area. Most every big event that takes place in Dumaguete, takes place at the Bethel Guest House. It is advertised as a “No Liquor/No Tobacco” hotel and they strictly enforce the rules.

The service was wonderful tonight. There was a celebratory atmosphere as the church observed it’s ninth birthday. There was spiritual congregational singing and special music provided by individuals and groups of various ages. It was easy to preach in such an atmosphere – even with an “interrupter”! The larger number of rural people who are not proficient in English forced us to use an interpreter tonight. I was blessed to have the services of Bais City’s Pastor Roberto Martin. Pastor Martin, stayed right with me and enabled me to get into the flow of the message like no other interpreter I have had here in the Philippines. I certainly do appreciate his help.

During the revival we have used a theme entitled, “What Does Jesus Do For Us?” Tonight (in accordance with the theme of the anniversary ”Jesus is Coming”, my message from Matthew 24:43 reminded us that “Jesus Is Coming To Take Us Home!” At the close of the message, many raised their hands to indicate that they were interested in knowing more about being prepared for the coming of Christ. When the invitation was given, seven precious souls came forward to symbolically give their lives to Jesus Christ. Pastor Valdez led in a prayer of consecration. This brings to 57 the number of people who have publicly accepted Jesus during this mission trip. There will be a joint New Life/Mayaposi Baptismal Service at Silliman Beach tomorrow at 2:00 PM.

After the service closed, everyone in attendance enjoyed a feast of two roasted pigs, lots of chicken, rice and other Filipino goodies. It was a wonderful time of fellowship. We are already beginning to think of how hard it will be to leave these dear folks in two days.

Oh yes, there was another incident during the service that bears mentioning. Joseph Spurgeon, one of our team members, presented Rowina Gantalao with an engagement ring, and popped the big question. Joey and Weng (as she is called here) have been carrying on a long distance relationship for a couple of years now. I guess he decided that the time was right, so on bended knee, he asked her to marry him. The crowd erupted with cheering.

By the way - She said yes!

I’ll be posting a number of photos on Facebook in an hour or so. Please take a moment to check them out.

Tomorrow promises to be a full and busy day of preaching and packing. I hope to put up a post tomorrow night before bedtime.
Good night for now.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Night Update From The Philippines

Dumaguete City, Republic of the Philippines
Friday, February 27, 2009
11:45 PM

We have come to a close of another full day of ministry here in the Philippines. Praise God for the energetic young men on our team, who have really carried much of the load for the past 6 days! I don’t know what we would have done without them, but I do know that we would not have had nearly as much ministry activity without them. I am still having difficulties with the sinus infection and congestion in my chest. Five days worth of Cephlexen, Zyrtec, and Robitussin has helped, but I am still not at full speed. Looks like I’ll be bringing it home with me as a souvenir of what is my last planned mission trip to this place and it’s wonderful people.

Today’s action saw some of our team members doing house to house evangelism around Purok 7 (the neighborhood of the New Life Church) in Upper Batinguel this morning. Afternoon work took place in the “G-K” (not to be confused with C-K in northern Wayne County) area, on the banks of the Banica River. This area had been hit hard by the flash flooding of three weeks ago. Rick and Joey did not get any still photos there, but they did get some video that we will share with the church later. The important thing is that three people made professions of faith in Jesus Christ during the morning activities and seventeen precious souls prayed to receive Christ this afternoon at “G-K”.

This brings to 50, the total number of adults who have made recorded decisions to follow Jesus Christ. Several others who have made re-dedications in their lives as well. There have probably been other decisions of which we do not have record. Pastor and Mrs. Valdez and the NLCC congregation have a lot of follow up to do!

The Revival continues to grow in attendance. Tonight more than 45 adults and children were present. We had an excellent service, and Joey and Rick took the kids out for the children’s ministry during my message. Tonight’s message in the “What Does Jesus Do For Us?” series was entitled, “Jesus Died For Us”. The text was found in Colossians 1:19-23. There were no public decisions tonight, but Pastor Valdez noted that several neighbors have been visiting each night of the Revival, and a couple of the neighbor ladies have been there every night. This is one of the things that we have been praying for, that NLCC may reach their growing community with the good news of Jesus!

After church tonight, about twenty of us “transferred” on motorcycles and easy rides to the home of Judge John and Nida Elmaco to attend Nida’s 56th Birthday Party. There were probably already 25 people (or more) present when we arrived. Nida is the sister of Villa Valdez and Dario Dales, and she and the Judge are now members of New Life Church. The Judge and Mrs. Elmaco have a beautiful home, very near the El Oriente Beach Resort, just outside of downtown Dumaguete. It was large enough (with courtyard areas, etc) to comfortably hold all the guests, who were treated with wonderful hospitality. We met many of the Elmaco’s friends and some of Nida’s high school classmates who were on hand for the festivities which included karaoke and food. Lots and lots of food…

The food was delicious and there was enough to feed a small army. Besides the large roasted pig, there was rice, spaghetti, chicken, bar-b-qued pork, several types of fish and seafood and many other Filipino delicacies. A large birthday cake provided the desert. I came dangerously close to the sin of gluttony tonight. All of us are stuffed, and the selection sure beats Shakey’s where we have taken many of our meals while here.

As the weekend arrives, we will be winding up the activities with a day and a half of intensive ministry at the New Life Church. We have the morning and afternoon off for free time tomorrow as Bro. Joseph Zerna makes the two hour trip to the mountains of Mayaposi, Mabinay to bring about 25 of the members of the Mayaposi Baptist Church to Dumaguete for the New Life Church’s 9th Anniversary Service tomorrow night. There will be another big feast following the services tomorrow evening.

The “Mayaposians” will be staying at the church compound for the entire weekend to share in the Anniversary activities on Saturday and Sunday. A baptismal service is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at Silliman Beach. Joey will assist Bro. Joseph in the baptismal service and I will probably miss it as I have been invited to speak at the same hour in a Bible Study led my Lolina Allosa. Then Sunday evening we will gather back at the New Life Church. Joey and Rick will wind up their children’s ministries, the ladies of the church will meet in one area for discipleship studies, and Thamer and I will lead a Bible Study for the men of the church.

Since this will probably be my last visit here, the folks from Mayaposi have decided to stay in town until Monday afternoon so they may see us off at the airport. Brother Joseph will then have to make the long trip back to the mountains to deliver these precious people back home on Monday evening. We have made so many dear friends here over the years, and helped start four churches, and build three buildings. I already begin to tear up when I think that I may never see them again after this weekend. So I am not going to think about that right now!

For now, there are four messages that need to be prepared for the next two days work. The tears can flow at the airport on Monday…

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thursday Comes To An End

This has been a day of mixed emotions as the mission work continues here on Negros Island in the Philippines. Joey and Rick went with our Filipino hosts to a village (which I cannot pronounce or even attempt to spell) up near the top of the volcano, Mount Talinis. Our team visited the same village in January of 2008 and we received a great welcome from the barangay officials there. We had hoped to visit again when we returned in May with the group from New Orleans. Unfortunately we were unable to do so then due to mudslides washing out the only road to the area.

As was the case last year, the school dismissed it's students to attend the Bible lessons taught by Joey and Rick. More than 100 elementary students filled the concrete bleachers at the barangay basketball court for the Gospel presentation. Each child was given a "Story of Jesus" children's book and many Bibles and tracts were distributed to the adults who were present.

I don't have the words to describe the majesty of the place, where the volcano meets the clouds. It is absolutely beautiful - and probably 15 degrees cooler than here on the coastal plain. One feels as though he is on top of the world! A huge geothermal power plant just below this village draws its energy from the volcano and generates power for the islands of Negros, Siquijor, and Cebu.

We have no idea of how many children may have been effected by the Gospel message. Only God knows. But we do know that everyone heard the message, and that fulfills our responsibility.

In the afternoon a group went to the barangay of Balugo, adjacent to Batinguel where the New Life Church is situated. At a home Bible study there, 10 adults accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Attendance was up a little for the second night of our Revival meeting at the New Life Church in Upper Batinguel. Special music was provided by 13 year old Rachel Grace Allosa, whose mother, Lolina, played the electronic keybord for the service. I stayed in the Allosa home on my first visit here nine years ago, and Lolina and the Allosa children are delightful people. And boy oh boy can that Rachel Grace sing! I remember her singing as a four year old. She was outstanding then but she can really belt it out now. What a big voice coming out of such a small girl! She sang a song entitled "A Time of Refreshing", which was perfect for our Revival services. Rick and Joey also provided special music.

I preached tonight from Colossians 1: 13-14 with a message entitled "Jesus Forgives Our Sins" from the "What Does Jesus Do For Us?" series. Mrs. Valdez summarized my message in the Cebuano dialect. During the invitation time, two young men I would estimate to be in their mid thirties, accepted Christ.

It is now late and it's been a day, but one that was made sober by the news that my Dad is a patient at Saint Mary's Medical Center, half a world away. Dad has totally lost the use of his legs and he is undergoing tests to determine the nature of the problem. It appears that there are problems in his back that may be causing the difficulties, and surgery may be an option. I am waiting to hear more. I feel so helpless, so far away - but I am so appreciative of my brother Bruce and our dear friend Alice Davis who do so much for Mom and Dad. I hope that you will pray for Dad, and also for my dear Mother, whose cruel Alzheimer's Disease prevents her from grasping this latest turn of events.

Our trust is in God and we know that He will do what is right.

Until our next post - Good night from Dumaguete City!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wednesday Night Report from Dumaguete

It’s 11:20 PM on Wednesday night in Dumaguete City and time for bed after another long and fruitful day.

At least ten adults made professions of faith in Christ today during house to house evangelism activities our team conducted in Upper Batinguel today. Many Bibles and Gospel tracts were distributed during this activity today. I was able to spend two and a half hours of quality face to face time with Pastor and Mrs. Valdez this morning. We had opportunity to speak about future strategy (both short term and long term) for the New Life Christian Church.

It appears that the land deed title work is now almost completed after nearly six months of bureaucratic red tape. When completed, the land title will be in the name of the New Life Christian Church rather than in the name of Pastor Valdez’ wife, Villa.

The church has completed it’s process of being incorporated and properly registered with the government of the Republic of the Philippines. I have received copies of the deed work and the new Church Constitution and By Laws. It looks as though the church has done an excellent job in ratifying it’s constitution which includes the procedure that will be used to call a Pastor, on that occasion when Church Planter Pastor Valdez will eventually step down. I am gratified to see the quality of the document.

Another good sign at NLCC is the larger number of male members that seem to be stepping up in faithfulness and taking on leadership roles. Men like Judge Elmaco, Brother Tata, Giovannie Valdez and others are joining faithful men like Dario Dales, Joseph Zerna, and Pastor Valdez in taking their place as spiritual leaders of their homes and in the Church. The church has long had a number of faithful ladies who are actively involved in the various ministries of the church. The youth group seems to be strong and growing, which bodes well for the future of the congregation.

We had lunch at McDonalds in Dumaguete today. Almost felt like home, although most McDonalds back home don’t offer chicken and rice dinners, or McSpaghetti. They do here! Also, Robby Pearson, if you are reading this, please note that NO ONE touched my Sprite today! They know better now. J

We began our four night Revival Spiritual Emphasis Campaign tonight at 6:00 PM with 37 adults and children in attendance. Rick Gunnell and Joan Ugdoc provided special music and Juvy Zerna and Weng Gantalao led in worship as Dario Dales accompanied on electric guitar. I began a series of messages entitled, “What of Us”. Jesus Does For Us”. Tonight’s text came from 1 Peter 5: 6-11 and the message was “Jesus Takes Care
I was allowed to preach without an interpreter tonight as most of the congregation spoke English, then Mrs. Valdez summed up the message in Cebuano for the few non English speaking congregants. Six women and one man responded to the invitation given by Pastor Valdez at the end of the message. Each of these individuals were Christians who wanted to “cast their cares upon Jesus” as the message challenged them to do.

Joan Ugdoc (whose newborn daughter still remains in ICU at Silliman University Medical Center) was able to come to our service tonight. She needed the break and her husband, Pastor Jonathan, encouraged her to get out while he stayed with the baby. We learned that the child needed some type of special injection that would cost over 5,000 pesos. This amounts to just over $100 and might as well have been $100,000 for this poor family. By God’s grace, we were able to share the needed funds with Joan, and she wept uncontrollably with gratitude when we presented her with the 5,000 pesos. The needs here are just overwhelming and heart breaking.

The recent flash flooding has left many families in worse shape than before. Please pray fervently for the people of Oriental Negros, and for the faithful Christians who minister among them in the name of the Lord. There is one Southern Baptist Missionary in this Visayan portion of the Islands with more than two million people to reach. Therefore the work of native pastors and church planters, like Pastors Valdez and Zerna is most important.

Activities will continue tomorrow morning. I am still feeling pretty rough and I am not sure how much of the day time activities I will be involved in at this point. I am scheduled to preach again tomorrow night in the second night of the Revival. Joey and Rick will be doing activities with the children and youth an hour before the evening service.

I am sharing a few photos here, and others may be viewed by visiting my Facebook profile page at

Thanks for your prayers and for your financial support. The task is overwhelming, but we are helping make a difference, one family at a time.

God bless,
C.J. and the team.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday Afternoon - Dumaguete City, Philippines

While unable to help with the concrete work at the church today with Rick and Joey, we have still been able to do mission work here in the heart of Dumaguete City.

Those of you who know Thamer Calhoun, know that he has a great love for the Word of God, and for sharing it with anyone and everyone. Thamer is a member of the Wayne County Gideon Camp, and has given out hundreds – if not thousands – of copies of the New Testament. When he first considered coming here as part of the mission team four years ago, he felt as though there was nothing he could really do here.

“I can’t sing and I can’t preach.”, Thamer told me. “I don’t know of anything I can do to help.”

“Do you preach or sing at home” I asked.

“No, I’m just a Gideon.”

I challenged him, “Why not do scripture distribution in the Philippines?”

“Well, maybe so!” he said, and the rest is history.

Thamer tried to work out a deal with Gideon’s International, but they would not approve it due to the fact that there are Gideons in the Philippines. (Even in ministry we sometimes have to deal with bureaucracy!) Logistically it was very difficult for us to transport very many Bibles with us, but God graciously brought us into contact with the Philippine Bible Society who not only have Bibles at an affordable price, but can provide them in the Cebuano tongue, spoken on this island! Now we could give the complete Bible in their native dialect, and not just an English New Testament.

Folks like Mason Robinette, Locust Grove Baptist Church, Hyland Heights Baptist Church, and other friends of Beacon Ministries have provided the funds for distribution of several thousand Bibles and New Testaments here over the years. Thamer Calhoun has overseen the ministry in this place. One of the interesting twists is that over the past three years, we have come to meet and fellowship with some Filipino Gideons, who wholeheartedly welcomed our ministry as a supplement to theirs.

This afternoon Thamer can be found walking up and down the promenade along Rizal Boulevard on Dumaguete’s beautiful seafront – talking to complete strangers – passing out copies of God’s Word. Earlier in the day he had made sure that every employee of the Bethel Guest House (where we are staying) has their own copy of the Bible.

They love Thamer over here! They may not understand what he’s talking about sometimes, and he has trouble hearing them and understanding the broken English, but his love shows through and they recognize it. One man on the Boulevard who identified himself as Ephraim, told me, “Thank you for doing this ministry in Dumaguete! How the people here need to hear the Word of the Lord!”

People EVERYWHERE need the Lord.
Thank YOU for giving to this ministry and making this possible.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I Am Proud Of Our Team

The last day and a half has been pretty difficult for me, being so far from home and suffering from a pretty good sinus infection. Fortunately Richard Shields has come through with some good advice and I have been able to purchase the ceflexen, zyrtec, and robitussin that should get me up and running soon. I have spent the biggest part of the past day and a half in the bed, pretty much knocked out. The last thing I have been able to contribute here was preaching in the Sunday morning service. It feels fairly worthless to come half way around the world just to get sick. That is why I am so proud of the other team members who have kept the work going during my case of the "punies".

Joey has picked up the slack on the preaching duties and Rick and Thamer are both doing their parts in witnessing, scripture distribution, and support ministry. I am proud of these guys.

I have long said this may be my last trip here to the Philippines - and it may well be - as I am not planning any return trips in the foreseeable future. Only God knows what is in store for me. But it is comforting to know that this ministry is embedded in the hearts of other, younger men and women, in Huntington and New Orleans, who I believe will come again and assist the wonderful Filipino church planters here in the future.

Rick and Joey worked today with the men of the New Life Church in digging and building forms for the concrete to be mixed and poured tomorrow morning. Joey has also put together an impromptu Bible School for the kids who were out on a one day holiday today. He will be working in Children's Ministry the rest of the week. Rick is always happy to do anything he is asked, and he worked like a borrowed mule today. And what can I say about Thamer? He is everyone's "Lolo" (grandfather). When verbal communication may fail, he exudes a love for these people that can be understood in any language.

I cannot fully express the joy and pride in seeing their faithfulness to this mission. This year's trip is a little different than those before. This year we are concentrating on helping the local church make an impact in it's community. We are hoping to train church leaders in leading this congregation to place the emphasis on "being the church" and not just "doing church".

Please continue to keep us in your prayers. Pray that I may be back up and around soon. (I can't stand being a slacker). Pray for the House to House evangelism activities the rest of the week and for the Revival Crusade and the Anniversary Service. Our team consists of more than the four of us who made the journey here. It includes our faithful prayer and financial partners as well.

I am so proud of our team!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Evening From Dumaguete

Note: I copied and pasted this post from a Word document. I don't know why it came out underlined, but I can't seem to get it changed. Please forgive my computer ignorance!

Our first Sunday in Dumaguete has come to a close. It has been a good day. The day began with Sunday School and worship at New Life Christian Church (SBC) and culminated with house to house evangelism on the west side of the community surrounding the church. I preached this morning at NLCC to a congregation of 75 through interpreter Giovannie Valdez. Joey Spurgeon spoke to a group of thirty or so in a morning Bible Study in Taclobo where he was introduced as “One of the great preachers in America”. He said that after that introduction he could hardly wait to hear himself speak! J

Thamer has been passing out Bibles and Bible Reading Guides to everyone who will receive one – including many of the employees of the Bethel Guest House, where we are staying. Rick is playing his guitar and singing everywhere we go. Joey is helping with the public speaking duties and he is excellent in witnessing to young people. They flock to him.

I have developed a sinus infection with some pretty miserable symptoms. But thanks to Linda and Richard Shields (a pharmacist back in Ashland) I have been able to get the medicines I need to get me back on track. Thamer and I stayed in this evening as I took the medication and slept – a lot! I will most likely stay in tomorrow and try to get this bug shaken off so we can be full force on Tuesday in preparation for the Revival Crusade activities beginning Wednesday evening.

One very pleasant surprise happened late this afternoon. While I was sleeping off the effects of the medication, I had a visitor come by my room. It was none other than Rev. Charles Davis, on his way to the Dumaguete Airport. He was heading home from a week of doing mission work up the coast in Bais City. Bro. Davis, who now serves as a pastor to seniors at a church in Alabama, was formerly Pastor of First Baptist Church of Grayson, KY. Bro. Charles was instrumental in getting me here for the very first time in February, 2000 and he and I roomed and worked together on that trip. He and his lovely wife, Linda, are precious people and dear friends. He has continued his partnership here in Bais City with young Pastor Roberto Martin – who is the grandson of Bro Davis’ long time Filipino Pastor friend, Benjamin Marcelino.

We have shared the Gospel with several hundred people already this week. We have purchased needed items for NLCC and the Mayaposi Church. I have given young Pastor Joseph Zerna several Bible Commentaries and several requested books on expository preaching. I have also talked in depth with Giovannie Valdez regarding theological education to aid him in his ministry. Giovannie is a graduate of Foundation University in Dumaguete and he works in a Microsoft Call Center doing customer service in Cebu City. He is a gifted communicator and a passionate follower of Christ. We hope to encourage him and help whenever possible to get into the Seminary here in the Philippines, or to at least take some online courses for now through New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

At least 10 adults have made public professions of faith in Jesus Christ thus far, and we have already been able to help and encourage the hard working pastors here. Thank you for helping us be here and more than anything else, thank you for your continued prayers.
Here are some photos of today’s activities. For anyone who would like to see more photos, I have already posted several albums on my Facebook page. I invite you to visit it and check them out.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Fruitful Day

Today has been an excellent (and tiring) day.

We started by leaving the hotel at 7:45 for RUSI. RUSI is a motorcycle dealership. They sell motorcycles and parts. Lots of parts! The place is huge. Nita Elmaco (wife of Judge Elmaco) and member of New Life Church seems to be some sort of manager there. The owner allows them to have a daily Bible Study from 8:00 to 8:30 each day. There were more than 60 employees crammed into that room this morning! What a great time we had! Rick played the guitar and sang, I preached and Thamer gave a powerful testimony. The response was good. Mrs. Elmaco indicated that there were several who decided to follow Jesus. She and the church will follow up on them.

From there we went to the print shop owned by Mr. Cabellas, a Gideon whom we have met here before. There we purchased several hundred fliers telling about our revival services at New Life Church and the 9th Anniversary Service. We also bought 2,000 promotional fliers on heavier paper that can be used this week and in the future for visitation brochures for New Life Church and 1,000 similar fliers for Joseph and Juvy to use in the ministry of Mayaposi Southern Baptist Church in the mountains of Mabinay. We also purchased one ream each of personalized letterhead for the two churches. Both pastors were extremely thankful for these resources.

While at the print shop, we learned that Mr. Cabellas was a patient in Silliman University Medical Center here in town. This is also where Pastor Jonathan and Sis. Joan Ugdoc's 17 day old daughter is also in ICU. So we drove over to the hospital to see these folks. Silliman University Medical Center is the largest and best hospital in Dumaguete, but in many ways, the conditions were deplorable. While we saw some expensive looking medical equipment in the ICU area, the other conditions were more like you would have found in our hospitals in the late 40's or early 50's. Mr. Cabellas' room appeared to be unclean, and the hallways were cluttered. Still, the care available at Silliman beats anything else available on Negros Island.

Mr. Cabellas had been treated for blood pressure problems and was hoping to be released today. It will be a little longer for the Ugdoc baby girl. She has sepsis and is jaundiced. I don't know what all of the problems are, but she is a very sick baby. Pastor Jonathan and Joan tell us that she is showing signs of inprovement. We had a very emotional time of prayer with them and the baby. Rick Gunnell provided comforting words for them as well, telling them of the struggles little Ricky had at birth. He was in ICU for four weeks!

On leaving the hospital, we visited two electronics stores and found a good DVD player to go with the television that we had previously purchased for the New Life Church. While there we also bought a new microphone for the Mayaposi Church. From there we purchased lunch for the whole party and the Filipno hosts gave us a two hour break while they ran some errands and took care of some of their personal business.

This afternoon we left for the Batinguel area of town to do ministry in the neighborhood of the New Life Church. We did some house to house evangelism and also gathered at the home of one of the church members for a Bible study and witnessing time. I shared the gospel with about 20 people gathered in the yard and ten of the adults responded to the invitation to receive Christ as Savior. Thamer and Givonnie Valdez spoke to another large group of young people who were gathered at another home in the vicinity. There was a positive response there as well. Joey Spurgeon related the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to the children there and he also did some ministry among a group of young men gathered nearby.

After that we "transferred" to the church where a number of the young people were making preparations for Sunday morning services tomorrow. Pastor and Mrs. Valdez, Pastor Zerna and newly baptized "Brother Tata" asked me to come with them to a little house just down the path from the church. This was Tata's brother in law. He has lived in the house since 2000 - the year I first came here - but today was the first time we were able to talk with him and share the gospel. I used "Share Jesus Without Fear" and was able to share the plan of salvation with him. He is trusting in singing in the choir at the catholic church to "hopefully" get him into Heaven. We shared the Bible message of Grace and can only hope that these were seeds falling on good ground!

We are all pretty tired tonight. Tomorrow morning Joey is speaking at a Bible Study hosted by Mrs. Lolina Allosa. Lolina is the wife of a former pastor in the area, Reuben Allosa, who is now not in fellowship with the local Baptist pastors due to some personal issues. Please pray for that situation, as Lolina and the children are very special folks. He will go there with Rowina Gantalao. Lolina has agreed to provide keyboard music for the Revival services scheduled for next week at New Life Church. I will be at NLC in the morning with Thamer and Rick.

We are thankful for a fruitful day in the work of the Lord.

By the way. Bobby Wood asked about the location of the cave in the photos from yesterday. That cave was located on Siquijor Island. I understand that there are also some caves in the Mabinay area - not too far from the Mayaposi Church. But we have never been there.

Thanks for reading and we hope you'll navigate back here for the next few days to stay updated on the mission work.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Photos from Friday

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!

A New Day In The Philippines

This is the view from our window at 6:30 this morning.

We look forward to what this and each new day holds for us during this short term mission work.

Not much to report yet, since this is a rest day for us after 58 hours of travel and having our body clocks turned 13 hours in reverse. The temperature here is in the high 80's with humidity in the 90% range. We will meet this evening with nine of our Filipino members of the joint mission work for prayer and for discussion of the work ahead of us. The mission activities will begin in earnest early tomorrow morning (Thursday evening your time).

For now, it's time to rest for about an hour and then work on temporary repairs for the broken "Moon Boot". I actually found Duct Tape today at Lee Plaza, and we'll do some West Virginia engineering on this thing this afternoon.

Please keep us in your prayers as we work with the local churches and pastors. Pray that we will be a help to them and not a detriment to the work that they so faithfully do year round!
Check in from time to time for updates on this sight.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In the Philippines at Last!

Our Philippine mission team arrived at Benino Aquino International Airport in Manila at 5:35 local time Wednesday morning, Feb 18, 2009 (4:35 PM on Tuesday back home). At that point we had been on the way for 28 hours since leaving Huntington on Sunday afternoon. We are a day behind schedule, due to missing our overseas flight in Los Angeles on Sunday evening. We’re all tired, but none the worse for wear as I can tell. While the events of late Sunday night were frustrating, a Sovereign God has worked out all the details as He has chosen to do. The delay has helped to teach us several lessons, and has created other opportunities for witnessing. Cathy Howerton hit the nail on the head when she commented on an earlier blog that we “shouldn’t forget that we’re missionaries, and LA needs missionaries too.” Well said, Mrs. Howerton!

I cannot connect to the internet here in the airport, so I am typing this on a Word document and will copy and paste it to the blog on my first opportunity after we get to Dumaguete. There have been a number of personal set backs along the way, up to departure, and on the trip itself. Each team member can testify to trying experiences in attempting to be part of this team. My own personal bumps in the road include the broken foot, and then part of my “Moon Boot” that broke in Los Angeles. Right now I have the thing temporarily patched up with some “Korean Air Lines” packing tape that the ground crew in Guam allowed me to have.

We have each taken an unexpected $300 hit due to missing the Sunday night flight out of LA and having to rebook on Philippine Airlines. We only had two hours scheduled on the ground in LA to begin with, and when the US Airways flight was delayed two hours in it’s departure from Charlotte, things didn’t look good. The final nail in the coffin came when they announced we would have to land at Dallas/Fort Worth to refuel due to high headwinds. When we made the mad dash from Terminal 1 in LA three terminals down to the Tom Bradley International Terminal, we saw that Philippine Airlines Flight 103 had departed 20 minutes earlier.

On the bright side, US Airways did provide us with hotel rooms Sunday night and a food voucher. As a result of that, we didn’t have to live with the homeless folks out on the street on Sunday night. Since southern California was experiencing it’s worst winter storm since the 1950’s, the warm dry hotel room was indeed a blessing.

We cleared customs here in Manila and had to jump through some hoops at a ticket office here due to the rebooking of flights, but thankfully, everything fell into place. So now we wait…

Our domestic flight to Dumaguete is scheduled for a 2:45 PM departure. That means that we should arrive at our final destination at 4:00 PM on Wednesday evening – a full 52 hours after saying goodbye to our families at Tri State Airport on Sunday.

We feel an excitement over all of this. I cannot help but believe that the Enemy has worked overtime to keep us from making this trip. We believe that God is getting ready to do something wonderful here – and we hope to be able to see the results. In the mean time, please keep us in your prayers. Pray that God is already preparing us, and that He is preparing the hearts of those who will hear our message. Pray for God’s hedge of protection around Pastors Doming Valdez, Joseph Zerna, Jonathan Ugdoc, and their families as they serve Him under very difficult circumstances.

We hope to report on this site as often as is possible, to keep our partners back home updated on the activities of the next two weeks.

Until the Nets are Full,


PS. We made it to Dumaguete this afternoon AT 4:00 pm. a good sized group from the Church were on hand to meet us. We have tonight and tomorrow morning to catch up on our rest and the work begins in earnest tomorrow evening with a full American/Filipino Team Meeting.