“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow . . . .” (James 4:14) I am sure that we all wished that 2021 would get us back to normal, but we have all found that wish to be delayed.
December in our ministry was much different, as we could not hold our typical, large Christmas program. However, we did divide it into each of our Sunday services. Large and small singing groups did an excellent job of bringing the joy of Christmas through song. New Year’s Eve Watch Night Services had to be canceled as well due to curfews, but we still entered the New Year yielded to the Lord’s will and trusting Him to lead the way.
On December 9, we welcomed the arrival of baby Megan, the daughter of Emirson and Clarice Ubas, graduates of our college who are on staff at IBC. “Baby M” is being treated like a princess by our church family.
In December and January, we had a full schedule of college classes. We were still able to meet while following procedures to protect our health. I taught classes about subjects such as New Testament Survey, refuting cults, how to prepare lessons, Genesis, and Romans. I love teaching the Word of God!
The number of cases of COVID-19 has increased some in our area, but it is still on a very low level compared to the United States. Those under 15 have been restricted to staying in their homes since March 2020.
January 17 was the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the beginning of International Baptist Church. While we were not able to have the large numbers gathered as we have on previous anniversaries, we were still very pleased that we had as many as the authorities would permit. We had a great day of sharing memories by showing photos from the past. We also had many moving testimonies of how God had used our ministry to reach souls and change lives. We were very blessed to recall what the Lord has done, especially in saving marriages.
We continue to be hampered in our soul-winning efforts because of the quarantine rules. However, our people are taking advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. I went out to replace my phone one evening in January. The mall had very few customers, so Bro. Paulo and I were able to lead John Ryan and Crystal to the Lord (after I bought the phone, of course!).
In January, we also took on two of our Bible college graduates as church staff. We are thankful for Bro. Paolo and Bro. Jason joining our team at IBC. It is a joy to see how they have grown in the Lord over the years.
Thank you for your loving prayers and faithful support in uncertain times. May we all “keep the main thing the main thing” in 2021 as we labor to reach the lost and build up the saints. God has been at work here for 10 years, and we must continue to strive until Christ comes or we go Home!
Working and watching in the Philippines,
John Ryan and Crystal