I am refreshed as I write this, knowing the goodness of God even in the midst of trials. We’ve had some exciting days in our almost nine years in Dumaguete, but I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more assured of what God is doing than I do now.
Back in August, we had our first wedding at International Baptist Church. It was my privilege to perform the ceremony for two of our Hyles-Anderson College of the Philippines graduates and staff members, Emirson Ubas and Clarice Arriola. I counseled Emirson and Clarice during their days of dating, took time to give premarital counseling, and with great joy watched them become husband and wife. They are great testimonies to others, as they, too, seek God’s will for their marriages and futures.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.” (James 1:2)
You always know when God is about to do something, because the unexpected starts happening. September is our Missions Month at International Baptist Church, and we make it a big event. Just before the conference, several things happened. We just knew the Devil was fighting, but we were determined to see the victory. We had a vehicle’s windshield broken, only to see the same glass broken again the next week after replacing it. We had a young lady fall into a sliding glass door at church, getting cut in several places, but, praise the Lord, nothing too serious. We had the gas station attendant put gasoline instead of diesel into one of our vehicles; fortunately, we caught it before any damage occurred. Another vehicle broke down just before our conference. One of our Bible college students was hospitalized with typhoid, and the brother of one of our graduates fell from a tree and was hospitalized. Other things I could share, but I don’t want to sound like we’re complaining. God has shown Himself faithful through it all, and we are grateful that He never leaves us nor forsakes us. Through all the trials, I watched our church work tirelessly with wonderful spirits as they helped one another.
Our Missions Conference, “The Harvest,” was wonderful. We had eight missionary families represented. Four of the families were new to us, and it was a blessing to get to know them and do our best to be a blessing to them. It has been my desire to pastor a church that has a love for missions and missionaries; God has allowed me to do that. Dr. Mark Bosje and his wife joined us for the close of our conference, and it was a tremendous blessing to have them with us. Our people loved them, and I believe they genuinely loved our people. It is great to have like-minded friends in the ministry.
Immediately after our conference, I loaded up my family, with 20 of our staff and students, on a bus to head to the Pastors’ and Workers’ Conference at Iloilo Baptist Church, pastored by Missionary Rick Martin. What a blessing they were to our group, as many of them partook in their music workshops. Our college chorale was honored to be able to sing at one of the sessions. We were also updated on the status of our radio station for Dumaguete. The preaching was helpful, and the fellowship was sweet.
One of the highlights of the conference was an appreciation service for Senator Manny Pacquiao, who is a professing Christian now and has helped open the eyes of many Catholics, that salvation is not in the church, but in Jesus. My family was honored to be able to spend a little time with him after the service. He is a very humble and generous man, and we are praying for God to continue to grow him and use him.
We are excited about the days ahead, as the Lord continues to bless International Baptist Church with souls saved and baptized weekly. It is great to see the spiritual growth among so many. God has graciously added to our church in recent weeks and months, and we are happy to see how quickly new members are becoming faithful.
Please continue to pray for us. Sometimes we want to run faster than God will allow, but we believe that through your prayers and support, we can continue to do great things here in Dumaguete and beyond.
Please pray for the following:
1. Continued spiritual growth among our team, staff, and church family
2. Health and provision for all team families
3. Finances for our radio station—we could potentially be test broadcasting by the end of this year. We still need a tower and to put a studio together; but the paperwork and hearings are complete, and we are ready to move forward.
4. A property and building for our future growth
That all the world may know,