Sunday, March 12, 2011 @ 11:10 a.m. four weary (and I mean WEARY) travelers from Tulsa, Oklahoma U.S.A. were greeted by 20-30 smiling faces in Ozamiz City, Philippines. We arrived one day later than scheduled due to the earthquake in Tokyo, Japan. Since no one in Ozamiz knew what flight we would be arriving on they simply showed up at the airport several times over a two day period until we finally arrived. They were standing outside the small airport entrance with Pastor Jofran and waving their hands and smiling from ear to ear. After hugs and kisses they held a lovely banner in front of us which announced the arrival of our mission team from Tulsa, Oklahoma! After the team rested for a couple of hours we gather for a special dinner at 8:00 p.m. Sunday night. There was much laughter, fellowship and planning of activities for the week to come.
Monday morning was the beginning of a two day Women’s Seminar and Pastor’s Conference. Some of the messages given included: Women’s Responsibility to God and the Church, Intimacy with God, The Spirit of an Armor-bearer, and Praise and Worship. In the evening a Revival and Healing service was held. Many came for prayer and as the Lord’s presence filled the conference room, many souls were restored and broken hearts healed.
Tuesday morning the conference continued with the 2nd part of the message on Praise and Worship. The conference ended with a message on Submission and Loyalty. After lunch we traveled by van to the mountains for an Eternal Life Church Chapel dedication. We also fed the children and later that evening attended the graduation of several Bible students who had completed the first year of their studies.
On Wednesday, March 16, we visited two more Eternal Life Churches. One was located in Molave and the other in Dumingag. The children were fed at both churches. Rev. Jeff and Sis Genesis were kept very busy with all the feeding programs. The children could eat all they wanted and laughter was continuous between filling their spoons with the rice chocolate mix and putting the mixture into their mouths. At some churches the children sang and danced for us. We enjoyed it almost as much as they did.
On March 17, we visited the Eternal Life Church in Bandera and Pastor Sandy presided over the morning service. Afterwards Rev. Jeff and Sis Genesis fed the children. Again, much laughter and smiles as the children ate. After the feeding program was completed, we distributed clothes to the children. Each article of clothing was put in a plastic bag with the child’s name on it. What a blessing to see these precious children come forward and take the gift from your hands.
Friday morning we visited Eternal Life Philippines Headquarters in Ozamiz which is Pastor Jofran’s church. After my message on Prayer Evangelism, we passed out needed medical items to designated persons and once again Rev. Jeff and Sis Genesis fed the children! While the children were being fed, Pastor Sandy and I filled plastic bags with soap and other much needed items for those in the near by jail/prison. We arrived at the prison around 2:00 p.m. and were given permission to speak to the inmates.
There were 150 men and 8 women. Although I was a little uncomfortable with the conditions of the prison, (6 separate cells with 25 men in each cell) it gave me peace of mind thinking that Pastor Sandy would be ministering to these men since she has been in the jail/prison ministry for over 25 years. However, God can and does blindside us once in awhile! This time He wanted me to speak to the male inmates, therefore, giving me an assignment that I had never had before! He then lovingly waited to see what I would do with it. Pastor Sandy and Sis Genesis were taken to the opposite side of the yard to speak to the women. Rev. Jeff and I were directed inside an area where there were 6 cells (more like cages) which housed 150 male inmates. Although three (Philippines) pastors accompanied us, Pastor Paculaba, Pastor Tagyamon and Pastor Mendaros, they were with us mainly as interpreters! When asked to speak to the (25 inmates) per ‘cell’, I hesitated. Immediately I thought, who me? I have nothing prepared! I have never spoken to men in these types of surroundings. I have never spoken to anyone or anything in these types of surroundings! What do I say? I was beginning to sound a little like Moses. Me, who me? Lord, I can’t do this! But like Moses, I asked the Lord for help! And He gave it! I opened my mouth and the words came out (His Words), not mine! As I shared very personal life experiences and hardships with them, they began to listen with open hearts. God got their attention, they listened, than He offered and showed them the “Way” out! The Only Way! Much seed was planted!
At 7:00 p.m. that evening we attended a special banquet in honor of Pastor Jofran and his wife renewing their wedding vows. It was beautiful and the food was great! Saturday evening Pastor Sandy, Pastor Jofran and I were given the opportunity to minister by radio. The Word of God was broadcast in four provinces. Many heard the Word of God and again much seed was planted.
This precious experience in the Philippines underscored for me that God is very serious about getting the gospel to desperate people. If the church in America is to once again impact culture, we too must get serious about reaching people for Jesus Christ. I am looking forward to our next mission assignment this year as well as our (return) mission trip to the Philippines in 2012.
God wants us to be mature Christians. He wants us to grow up and say, “God doesn’t exist for me; I exist for the Lord—to be an instrument through whom God displays His mercy, compassion, and glory to the world. We must go beyond “What can You do for me, Lord?” to “What can I do for You, Lord?”
The time for big-thinking, big-hearted American leadership is not over. The national government may be confused about its foreign policy, but the American church is not. We have been clearly commanded by our King to go into all the world, preach the gospel and disciple the nations. – John Dawson
Blessings and love,