Please take a moment to check out our update for September 2017! This has been a whirlwind of a month and I hope you will enjoy reading about our adventures! God has been very gracious to us!
The lifeblood of Christianity is faith in the promises of God. It is what starts us out on the journey of Christian life, and it is what sustains us when dark clouds of fear and despair overshadow our way. A person first becomes a Christian when he clings to the promise of eternal life offered through the sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus. Although people complicate salvation by teaching that it is a process, or something that can only be obtained after completing certain steps, the Bible is clear that salvation is a gift received through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). “It is of faith, that it might be by grace” (Romans 4:16). But where do we place our faith? The Bible affords only one answer: In Jesus Christ. We rest our hope in the promise of eternal life offered to all who will come to faith in Jesus Christ (John 6:37). We see this “promise of eternal life” in Titus 1. In the opening verse, Paul speaks of the “faith of God’s elect,” and the “acknowledging of the truth” (Titus 1:1). He then goes on (in the very next verse) to lay the foundation upon which our faith is built: “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2).
You could invest plenty of time examining this particular verse, but I would draw your attention to the phrase, “God, that cannot lie, promised.” Our confidence (which is the biblical definition of “hope” by the way) is based upon a promise God makes (eternal life) and is guaranteed by as aspect of God’s character (He cannot lie). Have you come to place your hope in Jesus Christ?
God’s promises, however, do not just relate to salvation. We can find countless other promises made throughout Scripture. One of the earliest promises is found in Genesis 9. Immediately after the flood, God makes a covenant (a promise) with Noah that He will never destroy the whole earth again with a flood. In spite of raging hurricanes and tsunamis, this promise has held true for thousands of years. This promise in Genesis 9 is then confirmed with a beautiful symbol: the rainbow.
This morning as I was walking out of the store with Jonas, we looked up and saw a stunning rainbow reaching across the sky. Although when I see a rainbow, I recognize that it relates to a very narrow promise (i.e. that God will never flood the entire world again), I believe we can make a broader application as well. A rainbow reminds us that God will keep, not just the promise He made to Noah, but every promise He has made throughout all time.
This was a reminder I needed this morning. We had a wonderful trip to the Philippines, but there yet remains so much in our immediate future that could cause me to despair. The uncertainties of finances, scheduling meetings, or a host of other questions could paralyze me with fear. The times I am anxious, uncertain, wavering, or any number of unhealthy responses to life are the times I am not clinging to the promises of God. The promises of God serve as an anchor to our soul. Without this anchor we are set adrift upon life’s tumultuous seas without direction or hope. For this reason, having faith in specific promises God has made is vital for my spiritual health. Learning to lean upon these promises is my lifeblood. May God give grace to rest in His promises, knowing that He is faithful and true.
Ever wonder what it is like to drive in the Philippines? Take a look at this video and you can find out! I really enjoyed driving in and around Bacolod. It was a blessing to have our own vehicle to help us get acclimated to the area and be able to come and go as needed. And it was fun to drive a stick (something I had not done in 15+ years). In spite of the craziness of driving in the Philippines, I did not witness a single accident. Vehicles drive relatively slow (with all of the tricycles and Jeepneys on the road), and even on open stretches of highway outside of the city, I generally kept under 80 kph (about 50 mph) and only very rarely went above 100 kph (about 62 mph).
Our last full day here in the Philippines was packed with memorable moments and joyful fellowship. We have truly enjoyed getting to know Pastor Callejas and his family. Tonight they treated us to some delicious pizza after the evening service!
Our children really enjoyed getting to know everyone. Micah liked talking about spiders, reptiles, snakes and a whole host of other critters with Pastor Callejas’ three sons. He was especially fascinated to hear about T.J.’s tarantula collection.
Earlier this morning, as well as tonight, I had the privilege of speaking at First Sunshine Baptist Church, Pastor Callejas’ congregation. This wonderful group of believers are committed to faithfully serving the Lord.
Our kids had the opportunity to join in the Sunday School at First Sunshine and were the center of attention!
Of course, all of this transpired today (Sunday), but we also had a very memorable final night at Haven of Grace with the local children on Saturday. Since the local children knew Saturday was our final full day staying at the camp, they were at our door at 7:30am. They stayed throughout the day and asked if we might have a campfire on the beach that night. It was a lot of fun, and certainly a night we will not soon forget.
In the picture below, Micah is holding a small fish he caught in one of the pools of water on the beach side of the breakers.
Here Vincent is proudly displaying a crab he caught on the beach.
This has certainly been a memorable 24 hours to cap off a memorable trip! We will appreciate your prayers for us as we leave early tomorrow for the States.
Before leaving Haven of Grace, I wanted to give you a grand tour of the house and property we have been staying at. This will be our home when we return.
Here we have the boys and girls rooms. They are very spacious!
Just outside of our front door there is a large lanai that we have converted into an indoor soccer field. Micah has spent countless hours out there playing soccer with the other boys.
The favorite item on the lanai for Lydia and Jonas has to be this play house. They have enjoyed playing in the house with their friends.
In the Philippines the most popular sport (by far) is basketball. We get to enjoy having a covered, full-sized basketball court in our backyard.
The property, of course, is used for camps and, Lord willing, a full-time seminary. The two buildings in this picture can house dozens of resident seminary students, in addition to the hundreds of campers who pass through each summer.
Here are a couple of other buildings on the property, including the cantina and a number of pavilions.
The sunsets here are breathtaking. This picture was taken from our window in the living room. I don't think I will ever get tired of that view, and this picture really doesn't even do it justice.
We are grateful for such a beautiful place to call home. Most of all we are thankful for all of the new friend we have met during our stay here.
We are praying the Lord will bring us back soon!
Filipino days tend to start early. The sun rises a little after 5am and activities for the day seem to begin much earlier than they do in the States. I have enjoyed telling our Filipino friends about how long our days are in America during the summer and how short they become in the winter. Days here in the Philippines do not fluctuate in length anywhere near what we experience in the U.S.
This morning was another early one for us. We had to be on the road before 7am to make it in time to speak in chapel at Sunshine Christian School. This was another great time with some great young people.
I was glad to have Micah and Kiersten along with me on this trip and they enjoyed interacting with the children.
After I spoke, we enjoyed some fellowship with Pastor Callejas and his wife.
Once we left Sunshine Christian Academy we left for another speaking engagement–this time at an Outreach Bible Study held on a sugar plantation. This was a great opportunity once more to preach Christ and the Gospel.
We have been very thankful for the many opportunities to minister here in the Philippines!
As our day of ministry comes to a close here in the Philippines, many friends in the United States are just beginning theirs. Today was another blessed day filled with fellowship, preaching, teaching, and fun. I was grateful for the opportunity to speak at Maranatha Baptist Church once again.
After preaching in the morning service we were off to enjoy a delicious meal and some wonderful fellowship with Pastor Jun and his family along with Pastor Harry and his family. The pictures below say it all! Jonas and Micah loved both the chicken and the fish.
Following our lunch, I had the opportunity to speak to the young people and young professionals' group from Maranatha Baptist and Sunrise Baptist Church. We focused on forgiveness from Matthew 18. It was an engaging study on this topic from the Word of God.
We ended out the day being encouraged by a message from Pastor Harry in the Sunday evening service, which was then followed by more fellowship over pizza. What a wonderful day to serve the Lord and be blessed by God's people. For those just beginning their day on the other side of the world I pray you will find the same joy with your church families as well!
Ministering to children is dear to the heart of God. When Jesus’ disciples rebuked parents for bringing their children to Him, the Bible records that Jesus “was much displeased” (Mark 10:14). He then commanded: “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14). In fact, Jesus would even go so far as to say that unless we all become like little children, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3). And lest there be any confusion regarding the quality little children possess that opens heaven’s gate for us, Jesus tells us plainly what it is in the very next verse: “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4). Humility is the key ingredient in receiving grace and forgiveness from God. We must recognize our sin (a very humbling act), and turn to Jesus Christ as our only hope.
Because children are so precious to God, they ought to be precious to us. Today I had the privilege of ministering to a wonderful group of children at Maranatha Baptist Christian School.
What added to my joy on this trip was that Kiersten was able to join me. We left the house at 6:00 am, and I really enjoyed her company on the ride. She had a good time seeing the other children as well as getting some one-on-one time with Daddy when we stopped by the store to pick up groceries. She is maturing into such a wonderful young lady.
Chapel, though was only part of our interaction with children throughout the day. Over the past three or four days, our children have been playing with some neighborhood kids as well. They play basketball, soccer, and eventually make their way up to the apartment. We seem to have anywhere between 8-15 additional kids in the house at any given time. There has definitely been a lot of excitement.
Please continue to pray that the Lord will open doors of opportunity for us to minister to these children!
If you were to ask me the reason our family is following God’s leading to the Philippines, you will find the answer in the pictures within this post. Over the days we have been here, God continues to confirm His direction for our lives by firmly impressing His call upon us to come and help equip and train national pastors here in the Philippines. Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking to a great group of pastors.
This is one of many pastors’ fellowships that regularly meets throughout the city of Bacolod. These men are faithful servants of the Lord who are being used in different places of His vineyard. My hope is to come alongside of these men and have a part in better equipping them for the work God has called them to do by offering accessible seminary-level training. I also long to help train young men who are rising up within their congregations who will soon assume the important and weighty role of shepherding God’s flock. In fact, the weighty responsibility of pastoring a church was the focus of yesterday’s message from Revelation 2.
The picture below reminds us that each of these men have wonderful families and represent great churches. This is a picture of our family with Pastor Kiram and his family. Pastor Kiram and his dear wife have welcomed us so graciously, and it is our prayer that we might also minister to them and be a blessing in return. On Sunday, I had the joy of preaching at Pastor Kiram’s church, Sword Baptist, and meeting his family, along with the congregation he serves.
We are rejoicing in the opportunities God has afforded us in this trip to encourage those who are faithfully serving Him!
We are thrilled to announce that Lighthouse Baptist Church (Newark, DE) officially voted last night to become our sending church. We are so glad to partner with a ministry that has been such an important part of our lives.
For those unfamiliar with what this means, Lighthouse Baptist Church takes on the following vital roles:
- Commissioning us for ministry in the Philippines under their authority as a local body of believers (see Acts 13:1-3 to find the pattern for this in Scripture)
- Providing accountability to our family
- Offering guidance during the period of raising support and once we reach the field
- Supporting us in every possible way (spiritually through prayer / physically through financial giving / emotionally through much needed contact and encouragement)
We could not be more excited to partner with Lighthouse for this next chapter in our lives. A special thanks to Pastor Tobe Witmer for his guidance and support during this time. And thank you to the dear folks at LBC who have been like family to us from the moment we arrived 14+ years ago.
Please take a moment to check out the back of our prayer card we are now able to officially release. And be sure to check out our website for updates.