Well, after a really crazy spring, I thought I would take this musings to give you a report about my Philippines trip.
Last year, I was approached by our Sovereign Grace leaders about helping out with ministry partnerships in the Philippines. For almost 10 years now, I have had a growing passion for that country, for reasons unknown to me. I had a friend, Tony Walsh, that went there years ago, and ever since then, my heart has been stirred to go, if the opportunity arose. When I told SGC that I would go, I was thinking something like summer or fall, but when they told me spring, my heart sank because that is really my busiest time fo the year. Luckily, our church and baseball schedules had a bit of a “break” in them and it made it possible for the trip to not be too stressful about what might be going on at home.
Basic Rundown of the trip:
- April 24-played a doubleheader with Glide High School, then traveled to Portland.
- April 25-flew from PDX to LAX, then from LAX to Manila. Landed in Manila on Friday, April 26th around 8:30 p.m. (2 hours late) and waited another 1 1/2 hours for my bags.
- April 27-Taught a leadership gathering at Cross of Christ Salvation Gospel Ministries led by Pastor Jeffrey Jo (see picture with Jeff and Jeanie).
- April 28-Preached at Cross of Christ Salvation Gospel Ministries (see video). Ate at the best buffet I’ve ever eaten at in Manila, was serenaded for my birthday (which was weird), and crashed back at the hotel that evening.
- April 29-Flew from Manila to Cebu City.
- April 30-May 2-Taught at the Sovereign Grace Churches of the Philippines Pastors/Wives Conference. I preached two times: once on God’s Design for Wives and once (closing session) on God’s Faithfulness.
- May 3-4-visiting Cebu City with Nilo and Nadine Ebo (see picture). Nilo is the pastor at His Dwelling Place Church in Cebu. Also visited with two of their key leaders, Saitam and Ian (pronounced E-N).
- May 5-preached at His Dwelling Place Church. Flew from Cebu City to Manila, Manila to San Francisco, and San Francisco to PDX (landed at 10:45 p.m. on May 5).
- May 6-returned to Roseburg.
Purpose of the trip:
For over 20 years, Sovereign Grace Churches has been involved in working with pastors in the Philippines. But in the past 3-5 years, that partnership has become much more intentional and working towards formalization. Namely in the past few years, three pastors have reached out to SGC for ongoing partnership, friendship and training. In Manila, Jeffrey Jo; In Cebu City, Nilo Ebo; and in Bohol, Pete Valdez. All three of these men are wonderful leaders with a passion for the gospel and for the Philippines.
The main purpose of this trip was to equip and encourage these brothers, along with other pastors that they have trained and deployed. Our goal was to hear from them about how we can serve them further and to teach their leaders in different contexts. One main objective was the 2nd Annual SGC Philippines Pastors/Wives Conference in Cebu City. At that conference, we met with around 80 pastors/wives and taught on Biblical Manhood/Womanhood.
For me, personally, one main purpose was to see missions at work. For many years, I’ve seen a growing trend among missions organizations that has concerned me and I’ve noticed a shift in missiology that I wanted to see in operation. Here’s what I mean: the growing trend that has concerned is that is has seemed to me (not that I’m correct on this) that much of missions work is done by American churches, who send Americans to foreign lands, to learn a culture, do evangelism, and start some sort of ministry. My concern about this is that when I read much of the New Testament, Paul seems to be burdened about seeing native Christian leaders rise up to plant churches, not just ministries. Further, it’s concerned me that much of American missions is done by Americans, rather than training/equipping indigenousness leaders to lead their congregations. After visiting with the brothers in the Philippines, much of my concerns were validated and my missiology was confirmed. Seeing these Filipino men, leading Filipino churches, with a heart for the Philippines was remarkably encouraging. Let me add one last thing to this: this does not mean that there aren’t moments when foreign people plant works in foreign lands. We see Paul do this. But it seems to me that Paul’s burden was to raise up leaders in that community/country when he could and if not, then the Lord provided someone who had a sense of call on their life for that area (ex: Titus in Crete).
I was particularly humbled by this trip and the men/women I met in the Philippines.
- Meeting Oscar from Mindanao, a former head-hunter, who pastors a small church there, was amazing. Oscar and his tribe have brought the gospel to other “warring” tribes and they’ve seen first-hand the power of Christ to bring peace.
- Listening to Saitam’s heart for the village children around Cebu City was inspiring. He said to me, “In 1521 Magellan brought a statue of baby Jesus to the Philippines and our people worship that idol. But in 1517, Martin Luther brought the gospel to Europe and changed the world. I want to bring the gospel of Martin Luther to the villages of the Philippines.” Wow. A 32-year old single man, who rides a dirt bike two-hours one way, 2 times a week to take the gospel to these places is amazing to me.
- Watching Nilo Ebo work among his people was such a great thing to see. He is an older pastor and highly respected. Everywhere we went, where people knew Nilo, they hugged him, shook his hand and laughed at his jokes. And his wife, Nadine, is a joyful helper in God’s work in their church and ministry.
- And then seeing Jeff’s team of young leaders and men that he’s trained was truly a gift. For over 26 years, Jeff has tried to build a church that is based on the doctrines of grace and the Bible. He’s simply modeled his ministry after what he saw in God’s word. And he’s fulfilled 2 Timothy 2:2, where he’s raised up other godly men who will train other godly men. It was awesome to see. And those young guys that he’s surrounded by are all working in some major area of ministry in their church and community.
I was amazed at the wealth & food in the Philippines. This isn’t something you’d think about before you go. But there is literally no middle-class. The malls are huge and the buffets are…well I gained 4 pounds on the trip! How do I explain gaining 4 pounds in a 3rd world country.
The song portion of the worship services was passionate, full of energy and really well done. Their musical skill was incredible and their passion was contagious. And they don’t mind it loud…really loud. I thought that was fun and interesting. They sang songs from their hearts and their people clapped and jumped. For a guy who likes things a little more passionately done…I loved it.
I found it funny that after preaching for 45 minutes…they thought I was too brief. Many came to me and said, “great message but too short”…I kept hearing my wife in the background saying…”I told you that you don’t need to worry about the length of your sermons.”
Business class is a must…wow, that’s a long flight.
This trip is more than likely going to become an annual trip. At the end of the pastors/wives conference, I was asked to go to Mindanao, if security was cleared and it was safe. It’s something that we’ll be praying about. The other issue is the time of the year…if I’m going to continue this and coach baseball and pastor the church, this trip will more than likely be moved to early March or even late February. All things to pray about.
In the meantime, will you pray with me for my Filipino friends? Here are some of their names and locations:
- Jeffrey and Jeanie Jo in Manila
- Emman and Apple Illuzada in Manila
- Nilo & Nadine Ebo in Cebu City
- Saitam Maitas in Cebu City
- Pete & Ammie Valdez in Bohol
- Oscar in Mindanao.
CLF elders and the church, you made it possible for me to go and it’s really humbling that you’d joyfully get behind this trip like you did. Thank you!