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Hosea Ministry International

Newsletter
15th Dec 2015

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December Newsletter 2015

Greetings from the Philippines.

Firstly I want to thank my wonderful travelling companions who accompanied me on my latest mission trip to the Philippines: Nea, Hannele, Jaana and Seija-Riitta. They will write about their experiences of the trip in a later newsletter.

It's not as simple as it sounds to travel as a group, especially when my team comes all the way from Finland. And of course there's the jet lag too. My own journey to the Philippines is easier since the distance between Australia and the Philippines is much less, with a time difference of just two hours. The weather systems are similar too – in fact Australia is often hotter at this time of the year than the Philippines.

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Food is delicious

To encourage you all, I have a story to tell that started several years ago in the Philippines but that is only now coming to fruition. I had been invited to preach the gospel on the island of Mindoro in a jail colony that holds political prisoners, amongst others, from all over the Philippines. In the particular prison that I visited were incarcerated leaders of terrorist groups or individuals convicted of some sort of corruption. Also one of the former presidents of the country had been jailed there for a period of time.

A dinner had been organised in the prison yard for a number of guests because it was election time and the local election candidates were there. Convicts considered too dangerous were not allowed to attend, such as those who had held positions of authority in the NPA terrorist organisation, of which there were many. But although they were in a distant part of the jail, they probably still heard what was said at the event because the amplification was so loud, as is the Filipino style, that the sound echoed even across the rice fields kilometres away.

I don't know if similar things happen in other countries, but I was surprised to see the local political candidates asking for prayer and prophetic words. At one point in the proceedings, the head pastor of our Hosea churches, Pastor Sonio, took me aside and pointed out that there was still one person that should be prayed for. This particular prisoner had been brought there from another part of prison and had stayed off to one side of the main group. He seemed like a pleasant man and he told me he believed in Jesus Christ. We did not ask any more about him, but I received a word of prophecy for him relating to the Old Testament figure of Joseph whose brothers had thrown him into a pit and who later had ended up in prison also. The prophecy said that he would be released and paid back many times over for what he had lost. This is what God told me to tell this man, who was a total stranger to me. I could see tears in his eyes as I spoke to him. Since then I have never seen him again.

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Aroma school children

I asked Pastor Sonio who this man was, and he told me that he was a former mayor of the city who was jailed over an allegation of fraud. After the election, information came that he was indeed innocent, but he did not have sufficient funds to pay for a lawyer so he could not afford a trial. According to Filipino law, even though he was innocent he still had to wait in jail for a long time. The people in the city had really liked this mayor for he was known to be honest and had brought in many positive improvements. Unfortunately in the next election another official was running as a candidate and wanted the mayoral position for himself. And since you can't buy popularity, this rival had to find another way to remove the popular mayor by some devious means. So he was falsely accused of electoral fraud and jailed during the investigation, meaning that he could no longer run in the elections.

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Gamot church Mangya village

A year passed then a second year and a third year started. I kept asking the locals whether this man was still in jail and the answer was always the same – yes he was still there. So I started to doubt the prophecy that I had given to him – why did I open my big mouth? Why didn't I stay quiet or just given him a simple blessing? I started suffering Jonah syndrome and tried to forget the whole incident. But I couldn't get it out of my mind.

It wasn't until this year that I finally heard the end of the story. When I asked Pastor Sonio how our friend was doing in the jail, as I knew he had kept in touch with him, Sonio told me delightedly that was no longer in jail as he had finally been released as innocent. He had risen to a higher political position, just one step below governor. The Lord had indeed lifted him up and replaced many times over what he had lost! It is always miraculous how God is faithful to fulfill His promises.

I just want to remind those of you who have not had their prayers answered and who suffer from problems caused by others, that God does not have a bad memory even if it feels like you are living in a deep pit. His covenant with us does not change. His word says in Psalm 146:7-8

He does what is fair for those who have been wronged. He gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free .... The Lord lifts up people who are in trouble. The Lord loves those who do right.

This is how He will take care of all your issues.

Back to the topic of our visit to Mindoro island. This time we really traveled around the island. When I asked about the population size, I was surprised to learn it was around 5-7 million, even though it is noticeably smaller in area than Finland and is full of high mountains. I suspect the population is much larger than the official figures as many people don't make it onto the government census books, especially those from the slums.

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Pastor Celsa playing guitar at a church
Montalban Hosea school and our team

Because the island is so mountainous, the roads are often very poor and traveling up and down the mountains is really slow. We preached the gospel of Jesus to the mountain tribespeople, even though the roads on the way there were almost impassible in places, as a result of the mud from the previous typhoon. Word soon spread of our arrival amongst the Gamot tribe. They had been waiting for us but with some scepticism: they were sure that these foreigners would not come because nobody ever cared about them.

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Missionaries from Japan, Osaka 2015

We were late because of the bad road conditions but great was their joy when two mud covered vehicles appeared through the bushes and the Group of White Ghosts crawled out! It was too much for some of the natives and they fled to hide behind their huts. Compared to the tribespeople we are indeed giants and of course albinos as well. Plenty to be scared of indeed! But you would have to go a long way to find a more receptive audience – they drank in every single word and testimony that we gave. I love these people – they are such genuine open people that the world has not yet managed to corrupt, especially those inhabiting the isolated mountain areas.

I often travel with two other Mangyan church pastors when I preach the gospel and it is such a privilege to help them in their evangelism. They really are modern-day apostles and have paid a heavy price for it. I am so happy about all the Hosea church pastors, and I feel God has guided good and honest men to these positions. I also feel similarly about the Hosea school teachers. They too function as God's ministers and are really excellent teachers. You can easily see the results not only in the academic performance of their students but also the spiritual outcomes. I also rejoice over our youth work and especially over the first intake of Hosea pupils who have grown up to be teenagers. The tree has produced good fruit!

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Tribe members attending Gamot church

I thank you all for your prayers and donations. Thanks to you all, so much has been accomplished. Whenever I have faced a problem that seems insurmountable, I feel your prayers have helped me to come up with an answer to overcome the issue.


Blessings to you all.
Anne

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Mangyans had bravely formed a choir and even composed a song. We have now more than 40 adult students in the school, their ages varying from young to old. They told us that they were now able to vote for the first time in the elections. Earlier they had had to give their voting slip to others to fill in, without knowing what they wrote in them, because they could not read or write.

When the Mangyan students were singing their song, I was standing in the back of the church. Suddenly I noticed four small children hiding between benches. Our teacher said that they were our students, and she then went and asked why they were not among the other children. One of them explained with tears, that they were so hungry that they could not go to sing. I was so surprised to learn that they were already 6 year olds, even though they looked more like 2 year olds, skinny and bony small children. Nheng commented that this is due to malnutrition, which is the reason why all these tribespeople are so small: their continuous lack of food stunts their growth. We brought a 40 kg bag rice with us and also other foodstuff and fed them all after the meeting, thanks again to the donors! We made so much food that there was enough for evening meal as well.

Last spring Hosea organized a medical mission for the Mangyan tribe. We also left some medicines with the local Pastor, so the tribespeople could be given help later as well. The Pastor said that some Mangyans come even at night begging for help in their desperation. Also some people from other tribes turned up for medicine and were given some, for it is hard to turn desperate people away without help. Now we are in the process again of collecting funds for another medical mission, which should happen sometime next year.

While we were in the Mangyan village, I recognised that most of them were walking bare foot again. I wondered what had happened to all those sandals which had been donated for them a year earlier. The Pastor laughed and explained that the Mangyans have a peculiar walking style, they step heavily on their heels and that wears out the heels of the shoes very quickly. That means that they will need a new pair of sandals every year. One man had a good pair of sandals slung over his shoulders, so I went and asked him why he didn't use them. The man replied: “I don't want to use them as they would wear out. When they hang on my shoulders everyone can see that I have shoes.” So this man had still good shoes, while others had worn theirs out”¦ Now, who is the wise and where is the wisdom here?

We also distributed a bag full of clothes. Birgit and Ulla went to buy some more and as always the Mangyans put the new clothes on top of their old rags. They can't see any reason why the old clothes should be taken off, so they carry their whole wardrobe with them all the time. The same clothes are worn day and night and the extra clothing keeps them warm at night on the mountains. The price tags are also left on, so everyone can see they are new clothes.

Hosea's second fishing boat is now operating on the eastern side of Mindoro Island (Oriental Mindoro) where it is manned by our Mangyan pastor, thus serving the Mangyans also. There are more fish now on the Oriental side of the island because big Indonesian fishing trawlers have appeared close to the Occidental Mindoro shores (the western side of the island). Occidental Mindoro is facing the open ocean, so Indonesian factory ships come close to the shore and take in all fish, big and small, diminishing the fish population. Locals usually fish with spears, sparing spawning fish for reproduction. They understand the laws of the nature and know that spawn fish are needed to keep fish stocks -- you cannot empty the ocean of fish. Local small fishing boats can't drive away large foreign fishing vessels, so locals are deprived of their fishing livelihood.

The Hosea Filipino team want to send their heartfelt thanks to all the supporters and prayer warriors. They and also our students keep praying for you. They understand that it is because of you, your prayers and your donations, that they have this wonderful opportunity to get an education and thus a good start to their lives. It was really great to meet some of our very first students, the ones with whom we started this ministry in the Philippines. It was so wonderful to see the fruit of this work. Many parents are also saved as they attend our weekly Bible studies.

Great blessings from the islands,

ANNE

 

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