Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday Report From The Philippines

Today marks a full week of ministry we have done here in Negros Oriental.  Thus far we have spoken to elementary school students and their teachers in two schools and to a PTSA group of parents in one of those schools.  We have done hospital ministry and have done personal evangelism.  Our evenings are full of open air crusades, thus far in different barangays of Bindoy, Manjuyod, Bais City, and Bacong.

The Filipino Pastors and their wives are a special group of people.  They work tirelessly in setting up these crusades.  Each one begins with contemporary Christian praise music playing over the rented speaker system.  We carry a gasoline generator and a light standard with us to run the equipment and provide light in the places we go where electrical power is unavailable.

As the music plays, many curious children come out to see what is going on.  Their parents are not far behind.  the pastor's wives, Cristy, Elenita, Jocelyn, and Juvy organize the children into several types of games accompanied by recorded (loud) music.  The kids have such joy in these simple games that it blesses your heart just to watch them.,  The crowd grows as adults gather to watch the children and to get a look at the Americans who have come to the village.

Once about 45 minutes to an hour of game time has elapsed, the pastor's wives (who are wearing the matching shirts or scarves each night) begin to welcome the crowd by leading in "action songs" that get everybody involved.  I call the girls "The Marvelettes".  Their voices are beautiful, and even though we cannot understand most of the words to the songs, they are obviously a big hit with the crowd.

The local pastor will make some opening remarks and introduce the American and Filipino team members.  One of our group will usually sing a song, and the previously selected team member will bring the message.  Pastor Josue Cadiao usually does the translating in these evening open air crusades.  He is excellent!  His English is good and he can stay right with the preacher.

Once we complete the message, we turn the service over to Pastor Cadiao to give the invitation in their Cebuano dialect.  The Marvelettes and instrumentalists will play and sing, and in nearly every service there is a significant response to the invitation.  To date there have been 635 professions of faith in Jesus Christ.
Each one who responds to the invitation is prayed with, decision cards are filled out getting necessary contact information for followup.  Each new believer receives a Cebuano dialect Bible and literature telling them how to study their Bible with helpful information for new believers.

Are all of the people who respond to the invitation genuinely saved?  The answer to that is, only God knows.
What I do know is that the people are hearing the Gospel (both in English and Cebuano).  They are being counselled and prayed with.  They are given a copy of God's Word and helps to use it. Each one is followed up on by the local pastor and his congregation. I also know that God is in control.

I could go on and on about what is happening here, but I will share more of that later and with our church congregation when we return.  But for now, the Easy Ride has arrived and we're off for another trip up the cost to Bindoy where Bub Amis will bring tonight's message.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers over these last few days of ministry here in Negros.
In His Grace,

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

You See The Most Unexpected Things From Time To Time!

While one of our Easy Rides was broken down on a dirt road between two sugar cane fields in Mabinay, the  other two stopped in a shady area where we took opportunity to share the Gospel with about 20 curious folks who came out to check us out.  Paul Harris preached and 12 of those folks responded to the message by professing faith in Jesus Christ.

While we were waiting there, a young guy rode by on a bicycle, and when I saw the T-Shirt he was wearing, I asked him to please stop and allow me to photograph him. He never really understood why I was so interested in his shirt.  Check it out and guess for yourself!

Some Selected Photos From Tuesday's Activities

 Randy and Brenda Lincoln distributing Cebuano Dialect Bibles to new believers in Bacong

 Philippine "cowboys" moving some livestock in Mabinay

 Taking a break near Himokdongon where one of our Easy Rides broke down and repairs had to be made

 Pastor Josue Cadiao (right) counsels an elderly gentleman who was the first person to respond to the invitation at the open air crusade in Sac Sac, Bacong.

 Two precious children getting drinking water from a river in Mabinay.

 We had to get out of the Easy Ride and push it up this hill in Himokdongon.  We've had to do this several times in Lamdas and other remote areas in Mabinay!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Report From Dumaguete - Saturday AM

Our Negros Oriental Crusade has had a great start.
We have been incredibly busy, and already traveled many miles in the "Easy Ride".  On Friday we had opportunity to the Gospel in a public school in a barangay of Bacong.  Bub Amis spoke to over 200 students. After that, Randall Robertson had opportunity to share with the Faculty members and the Principal. Then at one o'clock we went back and Paul Harris had opportunity to present the Gospel to about 100 of the children's parents at a PTSA Meeting.

Last night in Bindoy we shared the Gospel with more than 300 people on an outdoor basketball court. 178 precious souls responded to the invitation to follow Jesus.  We do not know how many decisions are genuine and from the heart but we do know that they all heard the Gospel. We also know that Pastor Nico Folio will follow up on each one.

Below you will find our preaching itinerary for the rest of the trip. Please use it as a prayer guide when you have opportunity to pray for us.

In His Grace,

Ministry (Preaching) Rotation For the NESBAC/Beacon Ministries
Negros Oriental Crusade
Feb 21-March 3

Thursday, Feb 21 – Orientation – C.J. Adkins
Friday, Feb 22 -  School Evangelism – Speaking to Students – Bub Amis
                              “             “                Speaking to Faculty – Randall Robertson
                              “             “                Speaking to Parents – Paul Harris

                             Open Air Pangalaykayan, Bindoy Crusade – C.J. Adkins

Sat, Feb 23 -        Open Air Malaga, Bindoy Crusade – Randall Robertson

Sun, Feb 24 -  Split up pastors to go to the four Filipino Churches
                             C. J. Adkins with Bro. Joseph at Lamdas Church
                             Bub Amis with Bro. Roberto Martin at Bais Church (& 2 other preaching points)
                             Randall Robertson with Bro. Nico Folio at Manjuyod Church
                             Paul Harris with the congregation of Bacong Church

-     Evening Open Air Crusade Sac Sac, Bacong – Randall Robertson

Mon. Feb 25 – Open Air Crusade, Himokdongon – Bub Amis

Tues. Feb 26 – Open Air Crusade, Lamdas, - C.J Adkins

Wed. Feb 27 – School Evangelism Dansulan Elementary – Randall Robertson
                         Open Air Crusade Talungon, Bais – Paul Harris

Thurs. Feb 28 – Open Air Crusade Bindoy – Bub Amis

Fri. March 1 – School Evangelism, San Miguel Elementary School – C.J Adkins
                        Open Air Crusade Pamplona – Randall Robertson

Sat. March 2 – Victory Party Bacong Christian Fellowship (SBC)

Sun. March 3 – Joint Assn. Worship Service at Bacong Christian Fellowship

  • At each Open Air Crusade – Randy Lincoln will give Personal Testimony and Report of Gideons International
  • Brenda Lincoln will also provide special music at all open air crusades

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Friday Morning In Dumaguete

Yesterday was a day of preparation for the rest of the crusade and a day to try to adjust to the 13 hour time difference.  Randall and I have both awakened around 3:00 AM the past two mornings.  That makes it pretty rough around 7:00 PM when it is almost impossible to hold our eyes open!

We began the day with a good breakfast here at the hotel, in the cafe overlooking the sunrise over the Sulu Sea.  Our hosts met us at the hotel at 9:00 AM and we all went to Lee Super Plaza (the huge department store in downtown Dumaguete) to exchange currency and to purchase some needed items. We will be doing ministry in three schools this trip, and Pastor Cadiao has asked us to purchase some give away items to the children and their teachers.  We purchased 1,000 pencils and 1,000 Gel Pens for the students. We also purchased 135 each of the better ink pens in black and red for the teachers.  We will meet with the students at one school at 7:00 AM today, and with the principal and teachers shortly thereafter.  Bub Amis will share the Gospel with the students and Randall Robertson will share with the school faculty.  Please pray for God's presence and anointing in these men.

Then at 1:00 PM we will have the opportunity to share the gospel with the parents of the school children.  Pastor Paul Harris will speak to the parents.

After the lengthy stay at Lee Plaza, the entire team went to Robinson's Place, the new shopping mall that opened in Dumaguete about three years ago.  I cannot help but marvel at the changes that have taken place in Dumaguete  the 13 years that I have been coming here for ministry.  Our team had lunch at Shakey's  Pizza and we treated our Filipino Teammates to a great lunch there.  We all had a great time of sharing and fellowship together.

We did some other odds and ends around town and then took off for the Bacong Church where we had a wonderful time of worship, fellowship, planning and orientation for the remainder of the crusade activities. Our hosts have a very vigorous schedule set up with ministry scheduled over a LARGE geographical area. We're going to spend a lot of time in the Easy Ride pictured here!   It was almost tiring to just realize how many miles we will cover for the Lord in the next 9 days, but we know it will be worth it!

I had opportunity to speak at the orientation meeting last night and what a joy it was to address many members of our combined Filipino and American joint team. These people love the Lord and it is a joy to work with them!  Each team member had opportunity to share and we closed the meeting with a season of fervent prayer for God's will to be done in all that we do.

Please keep us in your prayers.

Greetings from Dumaguete City, Philippines

This is the view of the Acacia lined Rizal Boulevard by the Sulu Sea, just across the street from Bethel Guest House where our Beacon Ministries Mission Team is staying on our eleven day stay here in Negros Oriental.  Our team consists of Pastor Randall Robertson, and two members of his Locust Grove Baptist Church, Randy and Brenda Lincoln; Pastor Paul Harris of Abundant Hope Baptist Church, and Bub Amis and myself, from Westmoreland Baptist.

Our journey here took about 45 hours from the time we left the parking lot of Westmoreland Baptist Church in Huntington, WV at 5:30 AM on Monday.  Our flights from Cincinnati to Detroit, and from Detroit to Nagoya, Japan, and Manila were on time and as pleasant as that long a flight can be.  We arrived in Manila just before Midnight on Tuesday night and met up with Randy and Brenda. They had traveled separately on another airline and had taken a much different route.  They arrived in Manila about 30 minutes prior to our arrival.

After collecting our luggage (thank God and Delta that it arrived with us!) we cleared customs, exchanged some money for Filipino currency, and took the airport shuttle bus to Terminal 3 for our domestic connections to Dumaguete via Cebu Pacific airlines.

Our flight to Dumaguete was scheduled to depart at 7:50 AM, so that gave us time to walk around some - a very pleasant thing to do after such a long plane trip - and get a bite to eat.  We were able to freshen up a bit, change clothes and prepare for our arrival in the "City of Gentle People".  By the time our boarding call came at Gate 117, we were extremely tired, but ready to finish the last leg of our journey.  The boarding of the 737 was complete and we sat back ready to back away from the gate, but it didn't happen. Someone on the other side of the plane said, "They're taking the luggage off the plane!" and subsequently the pilot came on the sound system to explain that the flight had been cancelled due to severe weather en route to and around Negros Oriental.  We were instructed to claim our luggage on carousel number 6 in the lower level of the airport and then proceed to the re booking area of Cebu Pacific ticketing area on level 3.

Try to imagine 160+ people - mostly pushing carts piled high with luggage - trying to board two elevators at the same time!

To make a longer story short, the re booking experience caused us to have to re check the luggage.  New boarding passes were prepared for each passenger and we were told that the flight would begin boarding at 1:20 pm for a 1:50 departure.  The next 5 hours was probably the hardest of the trip.  Exhaustion began to sit in and it was only possible to cat nap in the crowded gate area.

I should take a moment here to thank Darrell Clark for his assistance during the re booking process.  We were able to connect with Darrell over Facebook, while in line at the ticket counter.  He, in turn, contacted Pastor Josue Cadiao by phone. Josue was waiting in the rain with a group of about 15 others to meet us at the Dumaguete Airport. Darrell was able to communicate to Josue the situation and the approximate arrival time for our rescheduled flight.  Thank you, Darrell, for your assistance!

The long, two day journey was worthwhile as soon as we saw the smiling faces of our dear Filipino pastors and their wives and other church members.

The fellowship was sweet and after many handshakes and hugs, they transported us here by easy ride to the Bethel Guest House.

We will meet at 9:00 am (about 20 minutes from now) for today's activities, which will include our combined team meeting, worship, and itinerary planning for the next 11 days of ministry here.

I will try to post here from time to time to keep our families and friends updated on our activities here, abnd what the Lord is up to in this place 13 time zones away from our homes.

Please keep us in your prayers and join us in asking God to make us a conduit of His Grace!

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Thought About Pastors And Their Families

Our older son's 40th birthday is today. 

It is so hard to believe that it has been that long since he arrived at Cabell Huntington Hospital in 1973, but that's another story, and I don't want to sound like the old geezer that I am becoming.

What I do want to do, however, is to share a few thoughts with you regarding a pastor and his family.

Jay is working on the last stages of his Ph.D. work at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, but he also serves as Pastor of First Baptist Church of Westwego on the west bank of the Mississippi River in suburban New Orleans.  Both tasks are a full time job.  He has served at FBC Westwego for just over 10 years, and previously he was mission pastor at Fellowship Baptist Church in South Shore, KY for five years.  He also had the distinct "privilege" of growing up in a pastor's home as a PK (Preacher's Kid).  Like me, he has witnessed the challenges of a pastor's family from both sides of the equation.

He and his family were looking forward to a special week of vacation.  Michelle shares a birthday with Valentine's Day, and Jay's birthday is the next day.  They had looked forward to spending that special week together as a family in one of their favorite places.  They had just arrived in Orlando, FL late Sunday night for their family vacation when "that call" came in.

A dear saint in their church had passed away unexpectedly.

To make a long story short, Jay and his family were faced with a situation that all of us in pastoral ministry for any amount of time have faced.  He has had it happen before as well.

Well, he did what he felt he needed to do in obedience to his calling from God.  He spent as much time with Michelle and the boys as he could, and then he boarded a flight very early this morning so he could do the funeral service this afternoon in New Orleans.  Michelle and the boys have stayed on for a couple of days and will be driving back to NOLA by themselves.

A post that Jay placed on Facebook last night touched a familiar chord with me, and reminded me of similar situations I have experienced, both as a PK and a pastor.  A pastor's family is not like most others.  It takes a very special kind of woman to put up with all that is involved, and often the children just DO NOT understand why their lives are so different than that of their friends. Please take a moment to read Jay's brief post, and then, if you are blessed to have a good pastor, please take another moment to thank God for sending him your way, and ask God's blessings and grace on your pastor and his family.  I know they would appreciate your prayers.

Read Jay's post here.

Happy birthday Son.  May God bless you and your precious family.  Thank you for giving to the Lord.  The hours are tough, working conditions are not always ideal, and the pay is never enough, but the "benefits" are "out of this world"!

Monday, February 11, 2013

For My Grandsons

Dear Quint, Will, Canon, Asher, and Nathan,

Hey boys.  Just a note to tell you how much I love you all and how proud of you I am.
As you go through life you're going to run into problems that will make you want to just give up and quit.
Many years ago when I was in the insurance business, I was going through a time of discouragement.  A friend shared this poem with me and it's message has always stuck with me.  I want to share it with you and hope that as you grow, and at times things are so tough that you think of giving up - that you will remember the message of this poem.

Don't Quit!

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out–
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

- Unknown Author

2013 Beacon Ministries Philippine Mission Trip

I made my first visit to the Philippines in February, 2000.  I went as a part of a five man team of pastors from eastern Kentucky, to work with indigenous Baptist pastors and church planters in the Province of Negros Oriental.  Negros Island is divided by a mountain range running between two volcanos - Mt. Canlaon in the north and Mt. Talinis (or the "Horns of Negros") in the south.  Politically the island is divided roughly from north east to south west into two provinces - Negros Occidental in the west and Negros Oriental in the east.  Most of our time and ministry has been expended in Oriental, within a two hour radius of the Provincial Capital city of Dumaguete. We have also done some evangelistic work on the nearby islands of Siquijor and Apo.

Negros Island, the third largest island in the Philippines, is believed to have once been part of the island of Mindanao, but was cut off by rising waters at the end of the last ice age.  Among the early inhabitants of the island were Negritos, as well as Han Chinese and Malays. They called the island "Buglas", a native word which is believed to mean "cut off".

Spanish explorers on the expedition of  Miguel Lopez de Legazpi first came to the island in April 1565. Legazpi dropped anchor at the nearby island of  Bohol and sent his men to scout the island now known as Negros.  Because of the strong currents of the Tañon Strait between Cebu and Negros, they were carried for several days and forced to land on the western side of the island. They reported seeing many dark-skinned inhabitants, and they called the island "Negros" ("Negro" means "black" in Spanish). The island was sparsely settled at the time, except for a few coastal settlements.

The topography of the southern end of Negros island is dominated by the  Cuernos de Negros (Horns of Negros) stratovolcano .  Two large geothermal power plants on Mt. Talinas generate enough electricity to provide power for the entire island as well as a nearby island. 

Negros Oriental's total population as of the 2010 census is 1,286,666.  It is a province that has a large urban center (Dumaguete City) as well as smaller cities and remote mountainous villages.  The predominant religion on the island is Roman Catholicism, yet in speaking with many of the natives who identify themselves as "Christians", the vast majority claim no personal relationship with Jesus Christ. There is a tremendous dearth of Biblical understanding, and many of the people do not even possess a Bible of their own.  One Filipino pastor told me many years ago that the Spaniards "brought missionaries with the cross, but behind it they brought the gun!"  Hence the Christian "religion" was planted in Negros, but for the vast majority of the people there, it is only about the "church" and its rituals.

Dumaguete City boasts several universities and colleges - including Silliman University, St. Paul's, Foundation University, Negros Oriental State University (NORSU) and the Asian College of Science and Technology.  As in many college towns here, there have sprung up fast food places, bars and clubs, and even a modern shopping mall.  However, one does not have to drive far from Rizal Boulevard on the ocean front to find rural areas of sugar cane farming, smaller towns, fishing villages, and remote areas where many live in deep poverty, even without the basics of water and electricity for their houses and nippa huts.  The one thing the peoples in these various locations have in common is the need for a Savior.  The pastors and members of the NESBAC churches are committed to knowing Christ and making him known all over Negros.

One week from today, I will be leading a six person team on my 12th short term mission trip to Negros.  It is my pleasure and honor to be hosted by, and working along side of Pastor Josue Cadiao and the other pastors of the Negros Southern Baptist Association of Churches (NESBAC).  The other members of our team are Pastor Randall Robertson of Locust Grove Baptist Church in Huntington, WV; Pastor Paul Harris of Abundant Hope Baptist Church in Barboursville, WV, my Youth Pastor, Bub Amis from Westmoreland Baptist in Huntington, and Randy and Brenda Lincoln, also of Locust Grove.  Randall has been part of our mission work there for several years.  Randy and Brenda were with us two years ago, and Paul and Bub will be making their first overseas mission trip.  We are all excited about being part of what God is doing in that beautiful part of the world.

The Dumaguete Belfry along Perdices Street  was used as a watchtower during the 19th Century to warn the inhabitants (by ringing the bells) of the then small fishing village of impending raids by marauding pirates from the south of the islands. From its top could be seen the island of Mindanao on the horizon. These raids were so rampant in the area during those times that this little fishing village came to be known as “Dumagit” or “Dagit” which means “kidnap” in the local Cebuano language. The Spanish authorities later adopted and restructured or “hispanized” the name to “Dumaguete”.

The rural areas are very different from Dumaguete, and the other cities of Bais, Valencia, and Tanjay where we have also worked in the past.  There much farming is still done in what we think of as primitive ways.  Plows and carts are still pulled by large Carabao (water buffalo) across the fields and hillside farms.  Smiling children, and their families, who speak little or no English, recieve us with openness and great curiosity.  What a joy it is to know that we can give many of these families their own copy of God's Word, written in their own Cebuano dialect.  What a privilege it is to be able to share our faith in Christ with them - usually through a Filipino interpreter.  And what a blessing to see many of them make professions of faith in Jesus.

The Bell Tower is a landmark in Dumaguete City.  It has a long history, but when I see it I am reminded of the fact that Satan seeks to kidnap the souls of every man, woman, boy and girl on the island.  I pray that God will anoint and strengthen the good people of the NESBAC churches (as well as other evangelical groups in the area) to be a watchtower  and a warning voice to those dear lost people.

Will you pray for our team as we travel across 12 time zones to spend much of our "vacation time" in doing what we can to help strengthen the Kingdom work that is going on year round in Negros Oriental?