NEWSLETTER JUNE 2022
God's Blessings Continue
We have continued to preach the gospel in areas under terrorist influence on Mindoro Island. The military is combating terrorism in the Malpalon region where Hosea has been bringing God's Word and food supplies to the inhabitants, even during the conflicts. We are accompanied by armed military forces for our protection. Jesus has many friends and does not reject people for their outward appearance or questionable lifestyle, but offers His love to everyone and brings salvation for the broken-hearted. We are called to carry His light into the darkest places so that even the hardened heart of a terrorist can be softened by God's love and find salvation.
Army is giving security for us
Nathan was recently preaching the gospel in the political prison in Mamburao. It's a place where murderers, rapists and other serious criminals from across the Philippines are incarcerated. Since many of them are classified as being dangerous to society, they may have received double life sentences. But the truth of the gospel penetrated many stoney hearts, and with tears of repentance a total of 86 convicts gave their lives to Christ. Many of the prisoners pleaded with Nathan not to leave them but to come back again, asking him to be their friend. This may seem an odd request to us westerners but many of the convicts come from the slums and have no family and hence no visitors. Such outcasts from society easily drift into crime or terrorism. They really need much support to overcome the problems they face. Thankfully our main Hosea church is located in the same city as the prison so our teams can continue visiting them and bringing God's word to them.
Many of you will have heard the news that the newly elected president of the Philippines is Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son of Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos Sr, who held power for many years. We pray that he would be given wisdom to rule well as the new president. Also we pray that the weekly Bible studies held for military and police staff, initiated by the previous president Rodrigo Duterte, would be allowed to continue. We have been privileged as the Hosea organisation to have been appointed to run these studies. Duterte's motto was that corruption could only be rooted out through God's word which brings inner cleansing.
Coronavirus has surprisingly brought some substantial benefits to our organisation: it has opened opportunities to bring the gospel to areas that we could not previously reach because of the terrorist groups. With the support of the military and police forces we have been enabled to freely move around Mindoro Island even during the quarantine period. But the virus also had downsides: the island`s borders were closed, and people lost their jobs and so ran short of food. In addition our schools had to move to distance learning, which in the poor slum communities created major problems for the teachers. Slum children usually do not have access to electricity let alone the IT facilities necessary for distance learning. And even if the family had a mobile phone, it was quite likely that there was no signal in their home area. Teachers were forced to come up with imaginative workarounds.
Coronavirus also resulted in a two-year delay in opening our hotel where we had planned to bring young people on apprenticeships to learn skills in the hotel and catering trade, as well as providing income to support the Hosea schools. Before the virus came, our hotel was fully booked but as soon as quarantine came we had no clients as we had to close down. The island's borders were opened shortly before the presidential election and I was really concerned as to how we could advertise the hotel now that we could open up again. One of the senators from Marcos' party rented the hotel for two months for his election campaign so that brought us some income. But I could not have imagined the blessing that would result from this -- I was just deeply frustrated that there seemed to be no answers to my prayers for an effective marketing strategy. But God answered on a much larger scale than I could have guessed…
Food being provided
Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr decided to stage a campaign event on Mindoro Island as his representative was already in our hotel. So Marcos announced that he would hold a special electoral reception at the Hosea hotel! He was followed by media and TV reporters from across the Philippines together with police and security staff and a huge crowd of islanders as well! When Marcos learnt that the hotel had not yet been officially opened, he decided that he would stage the opening ceremony. So ribbons and ceremonial scissors were set up at the main entrance and the media eagerly recorded the formal opening. This resulted in instant fame for our hotel across the country and local people were eagerly snapping photos of it on their mobile phones. When the Lord takes charge of publicity, His efforts far surpass even the best plans of a Miettinen who used to work in marketing!
I am sending my heartfelt thanks to our supporters who have enabled us to continue our ministry throughout the challenges of covid, in serving the poor both physically and spiritually. By our practical provision we have gained the respect of the island's population as they see us ministering as Jesus would. This in turn has drawn people to our churches so that we are genuinely seeing revival.
BMeetings at our newest church in Cabacungan fill up so much that people have to sit outside the building. The Turawan tribespeople hike down from their mountain areas to come to the church. A new Hosea school is being built within the grounds of the church, which is led by a godly woman named Pastor Celsa. This is just a small glimpse of what had been happening in our ministry.
We continually need your prayer support - thank you all for your participation with us. One believer is a single light but if we all shine together then this world will become a brighter place.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. Psalms 112:4
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,