NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 2017
Time seems to be moving on at an ever-increasing pace. And our Hosea church in Cabacunga on Mindoro Island continues to grow quickly. The pastor couple and many volunteers from their church have done significant work with the poor tribespeople, and I believe that is why God is blessing their church with such a growth in membership. One of the secrets of growth has been the fact that the church members are not just seat warmers! Instead everyone has the opportunity to be an active participant if they want to. I have taught them the basic rule: LEARN, LOOK and DO. They have been taught the Word, and then they put their learning into practice by taking part in an evangelism team, and finally they can bring to fruition independently what has been learned and seen. This is the same method that is used to train medical doctors. First the student learns the theory, then they see how it is applied to the patient, and finally they carry it out in practice with their own patients.
Whole families have come to faith and joined the church. Because of this continuing growth in numbers, we have organised several baptisms. A Cabacunga Hosea church member, Brother Billy, has taken on the responsibility of teaching the bible in Sablayan city, since Pastor Jonathan is overloaded. Within a short time that church has grown so much that the original meeting place of a shelter made from bamboo sticks with a tarpaulin roof has changed to be a proper building. I remember my first sermon under the tarpaulin. Because we westerners often cannot cope with the heat without air conditioning, our pastor had taken a power cable from the adjacent building and connected it to an old simple fan – good cooling but it always lifted up the preacher’s hair, when moved in their direction.
||New school books for the students
Next to the tarpaulin church there was just a dirt walkway that the locals used to reach their village, but it didn’t seem to bother anyone. When I first arrived, I wondered where the churchgoers would sit. But the pastor simply said: “They bring their own chairs.” And that’s how it was: soon people started arriving, carrying plastic chairs upon their heads. Some of them even brought benches.
The tarpaulin church was not my first experience of this kind as we’d already had similar in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea. The only difference was that the tarpaulin pieces were not used as a roof but instead were erected as shallow walls to mark the church area. As I observed that arrangement, a silly question came to my lips: “What if it rains?” The answer was simple: “Why bother - it is only water?”
Our Hosea church in Manila Ritzal has also grown. Pastor Ricky has got another pastor to help in the ministry – they will start working in another locality and will run bible studies there. I am deeply grateful for all the pastors. They are doing a really great job, busy preaching the gospel of Christ, travelling on foot around their local area.
Our pastors have been called by God to their work but they still need income to make ends meet. If the work is from God, it will succeed and grow. Our main leader, Pastor Sonio who lives in Mamburao, helps all new churches in organising the work and he also functions as a spiritual father to others. I have often marvelled at how deeply committed our pastors are. When a second pastor is needed because of church growth, they give part of their own salary or food to the other one, until they can raise enough income from their own church. Support doesn’t always consist of money, instead provisions are sometimes given in these developing countries: when you give a certain amount of rice to someone, you may get a fish or something similar in return. I have sometimes thought that if the world’s economy should collapse, there would not be much difference in the slums: people would continue to trade and barter as they did before.
People reap the fruits of what they sow, either good or bad. The only constant fruit is in God. As Proverbs 8:19 says: “My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver.”
We have also been so happy that quite a few of this year’s school children’s parents in the Philippines have come to Christ and been baptized. Our school mission efforts have been successful both academically and spiritually. God has given us the keys to people’s hearts through our school outreach. We have had the opportunity to be a light in a darkening world through our mission work, as it opened the doors to work amongst the tribal people. We could do so much more and expand our ministry in every direction but sadly we do not have funds to do so.
In November Mindoro Hosea will get visitors as Mr and Mrs Reis from Finland and Pastor Foisil from France will travel there. In December also Nathan Osnes from Norway is travelling to Mamburao to minister in youth work. Then this year will be over and next year will bring new challenges along, I’m sure.
|Building photo 1
||Building photo 2
MOTEL / SCHOOL
Our motel building work is now moving forward again at an excellent pace. The typhoon and storm season is over, thank goodness. Typhoons are unpredictable, and they can almost appear out of nowhere, but God’s hand has protected us from their destructive power.
We are now continuing with the building construction work piece by piece, as far as our budget allows. This kind of building in faith requires special patience, and sometimes I have spent sleepless nights with anxious thoughts wondering how I ever came to volunteer for anything like this. Then God lets me see how He saves one whole family at a time. I recognise again the fruit of our hard work, remembering how our teachers press on, even with their small wages, giving their very best as they take care of our little schoolchildren. All done for the sake of the mission call that God has placed on their hearts. I see the Pastors walking long distances in the bush and over difficult terrains, just to save that one person who is so dear to the Lord. When I think of all this, I feel ashamed of my complaints over the small hiccups at the building site. Age is only a number on a passport, nothing else.
At first I used to be bothered by the costs of the building foundations. Why should we make it as strong as if it was a bomb shelter? Why incur such expense? But after a few typhoons my understanding on this issue has grown somewhat!.
God has also blessed our Tongan school where we have admitted early grade schoolchildren who have not done well at government schools. They have had difficulties in reading and in some other basic issues, and their parents begged our school to take these children in. This was a big challenge for our school principal Dorothy, but she accepted the job. Please remember Dorothy in your prayers! We have similar challenges in our schools in the Philippines, where we have started a special class for those who need intensive teaching. One of our teachers, Danillo has got special love in his heart for such children.
I want to give my heartfelt thanks to all those who intercede for us! You do wonderful work. I also wish to take this opportunity to thank all those people who have donated and all who are part of this mission work in one way or another.
May God bless you all.
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,