From March 22nd to March 31st I was blessed to be able to travel to the city of Cagayan do Oro (CDO) in the Philippines to participate in the 10th Annual Family Bible Camp Conference. The Conference is put on by a group of Congregational Churches primarily from the Mindanao region. Long story short, due to the wonders of the internet I had become connected to about three different groups of people in the U.S., that led to being connected with some of the men in Cagayan de Oro. God’s means of bringing His people together is truly amazing to reflect upon.
Pastors Remegio Lapiz and Kim Lapiz (father and son), and family, were gracious enough to invite me into their home to stay for the duration of my trip. There were seven Churches represented at the Conference, with another four (plus) that are in association together. The attendance for the Conference approached 200. The theme centers around building Godly families with different emphases each year.
I was also blessed to preach twice on Easter Sunday at Jireh Reformed Congregational Church. I preached on the resurrection of our Savior and King from 1 Corinthians 15 in the morning and from Psalm 2 in the afternoon. Again, due to modern technology my wife stayed up late on Saturday night (14 hours behind) to watch me preach via Facebook messenger.
After the Conference and Lord’s Day, I spent the next couple of days traveling to visit some of the Churches to see the need and assess how O.M.I. might be able to work with this Churches in the future. I traveled to Gingoog City where we visited with Pastor Antonio at Ebenezer Reformed Congregational Church; and to Damilag City to visit with Pastor Rey at God’s Glorious Grace Congregational Church. These visits were made with other Pastor’s and members of the Churches. The fellowship was encouraging and instructive on the struggles that these Pastors and Churches face.
This spiritual condition is what I feel is most important to convey to you. The Philippines, like America, has a façade of Christianity glossed over the secularization of their culture. While many consider the Philippines to be a Christianized nation, less than 10% are professing Evangelical Christians – in the broadest of senses. Within the 10% there appears to be much liberalism and catering to culture. In many ways it feels like the American Church Culture – but worse.
And on top of this problem there is the lack of financial support. In a country where many struggle to meet the bare minimum of living standards, Evangelical Christians are living in a society that is “built” for Roman Catholics. The history of Catholicism has such a great influence on the culture that to not be Roman Catholic places one outside of the broader societal system of cultural influence and support.
Which is why it is so important that O.M.I. is looking to be a support for these Churches. They “make ends meet” but they cannot afford to support a Pastor in a way that truly frees him up from the cares of the world to focus solely on the ministry. It is also difficult to find the time and resources to train up the next generation of Pastors.
So what can be done? First the Pastors met with me at the end of the Conference and asked if I would return next year for the Conference. I agreed without hesitation. They also plan to add a Pastors Conference in the days just previous to the Family Conference. They asked if I would help them find men to come and teach at this Conference as well. Yes, without hesitation (and we have already begun the process).
During my time there I told them that what they needed was a man to come to the Philippines that could be an advocate to Churches in other parts of the world to testify on their behalf so that we might find support, both spiritual and financial. I also told them this advocate should be someone that could come and help with the training of some of the young men that are seeking to become Pastors. Before I left they asked if that man could be me. I told them that I would be willing but I would have to spend time in prayer and in conversation with my family.
The end result is that I plan to return on a full time basis. These men are godly men who have sacrificed much to be ministers of the Gospel in a land that does not reward them for doing so. Some of them could have had careers that provided well for their families but have followed the call to proclaim the whole counsel of God in a deceived land. These Churches are congregations that practice fellowship and community and sacrifice for one another as they can.
As is often reported by those that go on missions trips, the trip was as much a blessing for me as it was for them. But I also know that we can do more. And I want to do more. Lord willing, we will do more.
The hope is to return by March of 2017. I would like to have my family in place before the Conference in April 2017. As soon as we get done with the Conference we will begin the process of training young men for the ministry within their local Church context. And we will begin evangelizing within each of these Churches communities so we can develop self-sustaining, self-supporting, self-replicating Churches.
I will be writing more about this but I would ask that you be in prayer for myself and my family. Be in prayer for the Churches in the Philippines. And I would ask that you consider financially supporting this work – beginning today. There is going to be a need of @$2400/month to support our family and the Churches we are working with. But we also need the initial costs of moving and setting things in order. This is easily going to be over $10,000 (plane tickets will be $7000).
If you can begin monthly support now it will pave the way for future costs. You can use the buttons on this page to give a one time gift or to establish monthly giving. No gift is too large or too small. All donations are appreciated. If you represent a Church and would like me to come speak send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can work on dates. If you have any questions please feel free to email or comment below.
This is an exciting time for myself and my family. When I began to work with O.M.I., we never thought we would actually be moving overseas ourselves. But when asked by these Pastors, and seeing the need, how could I say no? The Lord is at work in my life and the life of these Christians in Mindanao. I pray that you will consider being a part of the support system of this work.
Soli Deo Gloria!