It’s been nearly two months since our return in the Philippines, and as I think back over the events since our arrival, I don’t even know where to begin. God’s hand of blessing has been so incredibly obvious! In James 4:6, we find the statement, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” I once heard a preacher describe that “grace” as a “supernatural push.” In the short time we’ve been in Dapitan City, we have experienced that supernatural push! I could never, in a one-page letter, share everything that God has done, but allow me to give you a brief overview.
Considering the fact that we were traveling around the world with three young children, our trip from Michigan to the Philippines was quite uneventful . . . except for a little hiccup in Seattle! What would a trip to the Philippines be without at least a short time of incredible stress?! When I approached the gate counter to get the tickets for our next flight, the airline employee politely asked me when I would be leaving the Philippines. When I told him that we would not be leaving but would be applying for a missionary visa after our arrival, he informed me that they would not be able to let us on the plane unless I could show him an itinerary for our departure from the Philippines. I was floored! The employee was apologetic, but no matter what I said, he would not budge. I was faced with two options: find a way to purchase five airline tickets leaving the Philippines or be stranded in Seattle. I chose the former. With less than 30 minutes till boarding time, I logged into the airport’s Wi-Fi with the help of an employee and began searching for cheap tickets going ANYWHERE—I wasn’t planning on using them anyway! By God’s grace, with less than 10 minutes to spare, I completed the purchase of five tickets going to Bangkok, Thailand. I showed the itinerary receipt to the man at the desk, and within five minutes, we were sitting on a plane headed for Taiwan! This story could have ended much differently. God is good!
We arrived in Dapitan City on Wednesday, July 26. We checked in at a pension house and immediately began shopping and preparing to move into our apartment, while simultaneously look for housing for our three staff members. In three days, we were able to move into our apartment, and in the next week and a half, God allowed us to make almost every major purchase necessary for our new home. If that doesn’t impress you, you’ve never tried to furnish a house on the mission field! God gave us tremendous favor in the eyes of so many people, beginning with our landlady. It seemed that every time I turned around, someone was there, offering to help us find something or offering to deliver it for us.
For months we have prayed that God would give us people in Dapitan whose hearts He had opened, and He has done just that! We launched our Bible study on Sunday, August 20. We had 51 people in attendance, many of whom are still attending 4 weeks later. Since July 26, our church has seen a total of 467 people saved, and 88 of them have been led to Christ by those we have reached! Yes, God has already given us multiple converts who regularly win souls! To God be the Glory!
Dividends on Your Investment
On Saturday morning, September 16, I got to go out soul winning with my wife, a rare treat for both of us. The first house we approached was owned by a lawyer. I had met his wife before but not him. He invited us into his beautiful, sprawling house, and we sat down in his living room. He was very friendly and seemed to be relatively open to the Gospel. I learned that he is a prosecutor for our province and that he speaks excellent English. We chatted for a few more minutes; then I turned the conversation to the Gospel. He told me that he was about 80% sure that he would go to Heaven. When I asked him if he would like to erase the 20% of doubt, he replied, “Of course!”
As I explained the Gospel, it was obvious that he was under tremendous conviction. Paying reference to his under-standing of law, I repeatedly referred to God as the Judge throughout my presentation of the Gospel. When I reached the point that sinners deserve to go to Hell, I could tell that he was really struggling with that. As I watched his inner struggle, God gave me a perfect illustration. I looked at him and said, “Because of our pride, it is very hard for us to admit it when we’ve done wrong and deserve to be punished, and some people even argue with God that they don’t deserve to go to Hell.” Then I looked him straight in the eye and said, “Have you ever seen someone argue with the judge after they were sentenced for the crime?” In a subdued voice, he said, “Yes.” Then I quietly asked, “Did it do any good?” He dropped his head and said even more quietly, “No.”
At that point, I knew he was ready to admit that he needed a Saviour. About 20 minutes later, I had the privilege of introducing him to Jesus Christ!
Ruth and I left his beautiful house and walked to a little store on the other side of the street, where a crowd of young people was hanging out. I gave them all tracts and found out that some of them had already been led to Christ by Bemon Grapa, one of my staff men. I began witnessing to the rest of the group.
What a contrast! We went from a beautiful house to a tiny little storefront shelter, from comfortable furniture to rough, wooden benches, from English to pure Visayan, from a quiet environment with a single attentive listener to a noisy environment with 10 or 12 periodically distracted listeners.
I worked hard to keep the young people’s attention as I gave the Gospel. When I was finished, 6 of them made a decision to trust Christ as Saviour, and the beautiful thing about our God is that He was just as excited about the 6 poor kids getting saved as He was about the lawyer getting saved in the big house across the street! Our God is awesome!
Yours for souls,