A new year has come quickly upon us here in the city of Dumaguete, and so quickly one month has already gone. There is so much to do and so little time.
We closed 2016 with the following statistics: 8,468 salvations, 684 public professions, 296 baptisms, and 1,073 visitors. The year 2016 was a great year for our church growth, as young converts became faithful to church attendance, church attendees became soul winners, and soul winners grew in their confidence to share the Gospel, teach in jails and hospitals, and preach at funeral services. The growth in 2016 has shown itself in 2017, as we celebrated our church’s 6th anniversary on January 22, with a record attendance of 614 and 41 baptized in the Sunday morning service. Zechariah was excited when his karate coach and four other karate students accepted Christ as their Saviour and followed the Lord in believer’s baptism!
It is hard for me to believe, but my oldest son Zechariah will be graduating from school this year. He has considered an array of different opportunities that are available to him. I am excited that he has chosen to attend the Commonwealth Baptist College in Lexington, Kentucky! With that in mind, it is time for the men of the Lawrenson family to make a trip to the States. Zechariah, Josiah, Stephen, and I are planning a trip to the States in the months of May and June.
It would be our pleasure to be able to visit many, if not all, of our supporting churches. The exact dates are still not set. It looks as though our route in the States will begin in New York City somewhere in the beginning of May. I would like to take a week and visit churches in the immediate area of New York City, Eastern Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Connecticut would be next, followed by some stops through New York, and a stop at my father’s house in Brockport. Three weeks into our trip would allow us to visit Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. A road trip through Ohio with visits near the end of May will allow us to be at the First Baptist Church of Hammond at the beginning of June. Our venture would continue to Wisconsin and then turn south—in a good way —to Tennessee and end at the in-laws’ house in Lexington, Kentucky, somewhere near the second week of June.
If you would like to have us visit, we would love to see the people who have made our ministry on the mission field possible! Please contact me by email if you would like us to visit. I should have the exact dates of our trip finalized by the time you read this letter.
I faced my first welding project as we prepared for the Christmas program in December. A way had to be made to fit 30 adult choir members on the church’s auditorium platform, since the children’s choir would be occupying the steps and the front of the platform during the program. After I spent some time researching welding machines, their abilities, and their requirements, followed by a lot of local education about what was allowed and not allowed by the local electric company, our church purchased a 220-volt inverter welding machine. I designed risers for the choir to fit in the 5-foot by 15-foot space allowed for the project.
After weeks of research, planning, and cutting the metal stock to length, I was excited to get some hands-on experience welding. I spent about two hours practicing my welding on some scrap pipe and angle iron that would be used to make the risers. After struggling with my new toy and consistently burning holes in the thin-walled pipe, I asked my son Zech, who was watching my efforts intently, if he wanted to give it a try. He donned the welding hood and gloves like a professional and commenced to weld the pipe and angle together. Then, I think to show off a little, he proceeded to patch the holes in the pipe that I had made. Over the next few days, the project was completed! The risers were used in the Christmas program and now provide additional seating in the back of our auditorium!
MEET MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL BAPTIST CHURCH AT DUMAGUETE
Joemar and Kristine Macalisang
There was a couple who were very close to us before we were saved. This couple worked at the same institution, the Silliman Medical Center, where we worked and had the same likes. We would sing karaoke, drink, and celebrate at the fiestas together. We would go to church together. For nine mornings in December, we attended the 4:00 a.m. mass. The priest explained that our faithfulness to the mass would allow our wish to come true. Our wish was for our daughter Khanne to be healed from her autism. We would go to church early, believing that if we completed the required attendance, Khanne would be healed, but after completing and repeating the same way every year, we noticed that our wish didn’t come true.
When we got saved, we were so excited to tell our friends the Gospel also, and we were happy when they got saved. Things were different between us, as we became faithful to church, we would invite the couple to join us, but they refused. One time when the time for the fiesta was approaching, they came to us and invited us to celebrate with them, but I explained to them that we don’t celebrate it anymore because this is what we believe. I even made a joke so that he would not be embarrassed at my refusal. I said, “Invite me on your birthday, and surely I will come.” They said they understood, but I saw the wall start to build between us. Though we lost them, we have gained the most important gift—eternal life.
There was a time when I could not understand why Khanne is different. I remember when my mother would show us a small printed paper and told us that we would pray for it. I thought twice a week would be effective for our problem with Khanne, but it didn’t help. My coworker also told me that we needed to be married again in church and Khanne would improve. (Our first legal wedding was not in church. It was a civil wedding.) We had our second wedding in church when Khanne was three years old. As a parent, we would do anything for her, including expensive behavioral therapies.
We are thankful to God that the truth reached us, thankful that we have the Bible as our authority, not from other people. We are thankful for Brother Levi Espada who took time to visit us at home. We our thankful for our pastor, Randy DeMoville, who helps us, especially to strengthen our marriage. Many things have changed. Our likes before are now our dislikes. We don’t like the songs we sang before. There is no more liquor, and idols are put in the garbage. We realize that the things that were important to us before are not important after we got saved. Like Khanne, it is not for us to change her, but we understand that God has a purpose to fulfill. She’s not a burden, but God’s gift to us.
It is clear to us what our life’s purpose is, to share the Gospel with others, though it’s not always easy sometimes. We encounter rejection from our friends, coworkers, and some family members; but that won’t stop us. My prayer is that God will provide more soul winners. We still need to reach more people. In our institution many patients die every day. I don’t know if they are saved or not. We also have coworkers and friends who are not saved.
My husband, who used to be shy, has a gift of God’s wisdom to preach. I am thankful for the learning and opportunity the ministry has provided.
Joemar and Kristine Macalisang are faithful soul winners at International Baptist Church. They attend the weekly Thursday soul-winning meetings and can be counted on to help transport others in their personal pedicab to make visits or to go soul winning. They both serve together faithfully on a GAT route every Saturday and Sunday. They work together to bring people to church and encourage their converts to follow the Lord in believer’s baptism. Joemar preaches in our primary children’s church service every Sunday. Kristine helps him in many ways during the service. Joemar also serves as an usher, and Kristine works in the nursery. They both work at the local Silliman Medical Center. He works as a lab technician sterilizing medical equipment; she works as a secretary. Together they are a result of God’s grace and mercy. Mr. and Mrs. Macalisang have an evident desire to help others learn of the truth that made them free of their false hopes in their dead works (Hebrews 9:14).
Serving the Lord with gladness,
The Lawrenson Family (on the field)
Stan, Kim, Zechariah, Bethany, Josiah, Chloe Anna,
Stephen, and Luke