“For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.” (Psalm 18:28-30)
Let me begin this letter by saying that I do not believe in writing “plastic” prayer letters! While I certainly don’t want to be a complaining missionary, I also want to be honest and forthright in my communications. So, this letter is going to be very frank and painfully honest. The last two months have been the darkest months of our lives. In all ministries, there are seasons of trials. The truth is that we have been in a season of trials for about eight months. However, nothing in the previous months could compare to the last two months. As we have come down the homestretch in our church building program, for some reason, God has seen fit to allow the Devil to have a field day with our church staff and Bible students. In just six weeks’ time, we lost four Bible students and two staff members due to a variety of causes, ranging from discouragement, to worldly desires, to grotesque sin. We have wept more tears in the past two months than in any previous 12-month period of our ministry. There is no other way to say it; it has been a time of darkness, BUT GOD HAS BEEN FAITHFUL. In the darkness, God has given us light; in the battles, God has given us strength. Though we don’t understand why He has allowed so many of these recent events, we know that His way is perfect, and we can trust Him.
PREPARING TO MOVE
On a happier note, our new church building is finished, and we are just a week away from our big move! On Sunday morning, July 10, we will have our first service in our own building! Thank you to all of you who have prayed and given to make this day possible! God has been very good to us. Please pray that we will be able to get the electric connected BEFORE our first service! We are moving either way, but it would really be nice to have power for our first service.
PLANS FOR A FURLOUGH
One thing God has made very clear over the last few weeks is that we desperately need to take a furlough. It is something that I have put off due to the complexities of our ministry. With our Bible students and relatively large staff working on a multiplicity of projects and no one really qualified to oversee the ministry in my absence, the idea of a two- to three-month furlough never seemed possible. Well, due to the events of the last two months, our ministry is, for the moment, much less complicated, and God has made it clear that now is the time. I just made the decision about a week and a half ago, and already God has begun to work out all of the details. We have been in communication with the Bolton family, a wonderful missionary family who provide pulpit supply for missionaries in situations like ours. I found out this morning that they have already purchased their tickets to come. As of right now, we are planning on leaving for the States in early September and returning to the Philippines sometime after the birth of our fourth child. While my wife’s pregnancy is not the reason for the furlough, it is a nice “side blessing” that she will be able to give birth in the States. She is due in early November, so, Lord willing, we will be able to come home to the Philippines sometime in early to mid-December. Please pray that God will work out all of the details. While we are in the States, we would love to visit some of our supporting churches. If you would like to have us come, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your prayers, friendship, and faithful support.
DIVIDENDS ON YOUR INVESTMENT
At 4:29 p.m., June 21, I received an unusual message on Facebook. “Can you help me?” is all it said. It was from a young man named Junjie. I had never met him and had no idea who he was. I responded by asking where he lived and was surprised to learn that he lives here in Dapitan. He was going through a difficult time in his life, and somebody had told him about our church. He was hurting and looking for answers. After a few minutes of messaging, we scheduled an appointment for the following day. At 12:00 p.m., we met and sat down on a public bench to talk. Within three minutes, it began to sprinkle, then rain, and then pour. We had to walk several minutes through the rain to find a shelter. There under the shelter, I learned that Junjie had formerly attended a “born again” church in another city but had never truly been born again. His faith was resting in his own good works. It was such a joy to watch his eyes light up as I explained that Christ’s payment on the Cross was enough, and there was nothing left for him to do except BELIEVE. After 30 or 40 minutes, Junjie bowed his head and put his faith in Christ alone for salvation. This past Sunday morning, he came to church for the first time! After the service, he promised to come back next Sunday to be baptized. Please pray that he will indeed take this first step in following Christ.
I should point out that June 21 was probably the most difficult day I faced over the last two months. I was bleeding emotionally and deeply discouraged, and on that day, God decided to give me a small token named Junjie just to remind me that He is still with us, and everything is going to be okay.
Yours for souls,