“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.” That verse is a perfect description of how we’ve felt over the last two months since our last letter. God has blessed us in so many ways and on so many levels! I would love to tell you everything that He has done, but for sake of space, I’m going to focus primarily on the events of my recent trip to the Philippines.
On March 28, I flew to the Philippines with one major goal in mind: I needed to find a house somewhere in Dapitan City. However, God was getting ready to prove, once again, that He “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think”! I had no idea what was coming.
First of all, I would like to thank those of you who joined us in praying that God would bless my house-hunting endeavors in Dapitan. God answered your prayers in grand style! I arrived in Dumaguete City on Thursday, May 30. Over the next couple of days, I got to take care of some business and spend some enjoyable time with my father-in-law, Scott Christiansen. On Sunday I had the privilege of visiting International Baptist Church and seeing many of the people whom Ruth and I invested in during our 4½ years in Dumaguete. It was such an encouragement to see so many of them continuing to faithfully serve the Lord! On Monday I finally made it to Dapitan, and on Tuesday the house hunting officially began. I spent all day on my motorcycle—searching, looking at apartments, following up on leads, and being intermittently soaked and then sunburned. Towards the end of the day, I was growing a bit discouraged. Not only had I not seen a single house for rent, but the few available apartments that I had seen were not good options. I hadn’t expected to find a home on the first day, but what I was finding was not encouraging!
Late in the afternoon as businesses were beginning to close and the people were starting to head home, God led me across the path of a man who said his sister had an apartment for rent just a few blocks away. His sister was unavailable, but his father took me to see the apartment. As soon as I stepped inside, I knew that it was the home we had been praying for. I talked to my wife that evening and then met with the landlady the following day. Two days later, we signed a one-year contract, so we can now officially say that we have a home in Dapitan! As if that wasn’t enough, God allowed me to lead my new landlady to Christ right after we signed the contract!
Our new apartment is situated on the second floor. Its layout is modern, and it is larger than any other apartment I saw during my time in Dapitan. Under the apartment is a large garage area that is included in the monthly rent. It could easily accommodate 75 chairs and probably more. It will function perfectly for future Bible studies and eventually church services. Therefore, God not only gave us a nice apartment, He also gave us a place in which to start our church. To top it off, the building is perfectly located at a rotunda on the National Highway right in the center of the Dapitan’s main population! OUR GOD IS AMAZING!
On another note, Ruth and I are very happy to announce that we have officially set our departure date, and we have the airline tickets to prove it. We will be flying out on Thursday, July 20; and, Lord willing, we will arrive in Dumaguete on Saturday, July 22. A few days later, we’ll take a ferryboat from Dumaguete to Dapitan, where, Lord willing, we will start the Truth Baptist Church of Dapitan. Thank you so much for your faithful prayers and support. Please continue to pray for us as we wrap up our deputation travels and launch into the final phases of preparing to return to the field. We are currently receiving 94% of our needed support, and we never felt closer to home! In closing, I’d like to summarize this letter in a single sentence: we have our airline tickets, a church start-up building, a nice apartment, a tremendous location, and an awesome God!
Dividends on Your Investment
My first flight on my way to the Philippines was on a small jet from Detroit to New York City. I was assigned a window seat on the right side in Row 25. When I reached my row, there was a lady sitting in the aisle seat, but the middle seat was still empty. She stood up, allowing me to pass, and I sat down next to the window. A few minutes later, the stewardess said over the intercom that the plane door had been closed. It was then that I realized that I was experiencing the rare travel situation of being placed next to an empty seat. I must admit that this made me very happy! 😊 It was during this brief moment of happiness that the man sitting across the aisle in Row 24 stood up and said something to the lady in my row. I didn’t hear what he said, but she promptly picked up her things and moved to the middle seat, making room for the man, who must have been her travel partner. Before I had a chance to be disappointed, the lady turned to me and said, “Would you like to take his seat? There’s only one person in that row too.” I agreed, gathered my things, and stepped across the aisle
As I sat down in my new seat on the aisle in Row 24, I looked at the lady sitting two seats away by the window and realized that she looked like a Filipina. As I got myself situated, I turned and introduced myself and learned that her name was Pearly. When I asked her where she was from, she replied that she indeed was from the Philippines. I then asked her what part of the Philippines, and she hesitated. I could tell she didn’t expect me to know anything about her home country. Finally she said, “From the South part.” I decided to just take the plunge and asked her in Visayan, “Kabalo ba ka sa Visaya?” (Do you speak Visayan?) Her mouth fell open in disbelief, and she stumbled over her words as she tried to tell me that Visayan was her first language.
It didn’t take long for me to learn that Pearly was a life-long Seventh-Day Adventist who was very uncertain of her salvation. She was very confused because she had been taught so many conflicting doctrines in her church. Before we even took off, I had my New Testament laying on the empty seat between us, and for nearly two hours, using mostly Visayan, I carefully laid out the simple plan of salvation. About 10 or 15 minutes before touchdown, Pearly bowed her head and put her faith in Christ alone for her salvation! Praise God! Only He could arrange such a perfect soul-winning opportunity!
Yours for souls,