April 2003 : The Philippines
I returned from my trip to the Philippines on May 8. I have had time to be refreshed and receive ministry from my dear wife Sandra, my family and the saints of the Norwich Worship Center. There is such a sweet refreshing that comes upon me when I come home. I have not always mentioned it. I have not always acknowledged the joy that comes on me when I return and gather with the fellowship of believers at my home church. There is a special connection that takes place in me when the first song of praise is sung unto the Lord in the corporate body. I am flooded with a sense of gratitude to the Lord, and to all those, including those of you out side of the local body of the Norwich Worship Center who has lifted up this ministry in prayer. Somehow in my spirit, there is a connection made that transcends the distances and times and joins all the people of the nations, cities, towns and villages that I have been blessed to visit into an inexplicable unity that creates in me such sense of humility that defies description.
This one thing I am absolutely convinced of; God is gathering a people who are being prepared for an extraordinary out pouring of His Spirit that will produce a sense of community and family that the traditions of men and religion will not be able to stop. This wondrous occurrence will be visible to all; the lost will be drawn to this community. The forgotten will come to be embraced, the excluded will be welcomed and the reviled will be reconciled. New creative ways of reaching people and embracing them into the family of God will begin to be adopted by fellowships that have put aside their traditions and practices that have been their identity for years. A new sort of leader will come forth. A leader that walks with integrity and expresses the life of the Lord Jesus effortlessly. Their credentials will not be of the sort that produces the praises of men and institutions. They will not be for displaying on a wall in some isolated office with restricted access but will be openly recognized by those who are seeking the Lord. These new leaders will surprise the establishment, because they just wont fit-in; rather they will stand out. Those who choose mans traditions over this grace of God, will be the losers. WOW! PTL, I did not expect all this. Even so come Lord Jesus!
Well let me now give you a little report of the wonderful works of our God. Arriving in Buenavista Agusan de Norte Mindanoa, Philippines my host and dear friend Pastor Rudy Dalapu met me. That same night on April 15 we began the annual conference of Pastors and leaders that have chosen to associate with us. Presently now that is 29 Churches 13 Missions and over 12 Independent Ministries. During this conference five other churches came to join with us. The days of the conference were filled with times of stirring praise and sweet worship. There was powerful preaching and teaching sessions and wonderful fellowship. The evening meetings were open to the public and many were saved, healed and set free. After the evening meetings that stopped about 10:30 11:00 we would all begin to go over the things the Lord had done and one thing lead to another and before we knew it, it was early in the morning.
Where the presence of the Lord is there is liberty.
The new day would begin with everyone taking breakfast together and committing himself or herself not to do again. But guess what? Yeah, you got it. The next night it was the same as before. Looking back over those times so much was taught and caught during those late night early morning gatherings. We soon discovered that in our weakness His strength in perfected.
Out of one of those night gatherings the Lord birthed a new plan for Elijah School of Ministry International. Now, dont put down the newsletter just yet, this here has me truly excited. One of the new Pastors who joined with us during the conference, after leaving his denomination some six months earlier, has taken on an assignment. Pastor Rev. Materno J. Canedo, who was also a bible teacher at his denominations Theological Seminary, is working to establish a Traveling Ministry Training School. Heres how it is designed to operate. He will go into one of the remote areas where there are several communities and villages where pastors need to be trained or to complete their training and will spend one full week teaching one or two subjects for the entire week. He will then move on to another area and repeat the lessons. He will travel on a circuit about once ever three months. With each new visit he will introduce new subjects. In ten months to a years time of these intense classes the students will have completed the equalivent of two years Ministry Training School. What this does is provide the necessary pastoral leadership into places that have desperately needed pastors. One of the problems we were facing was that as we went and conducted open-air crusades in these places and sought to plant a church out of the new group of believers, there was no one to lead them. By Gods grace and provision we are now taking the Elijah School of Ministry International to the people rather than requiring the people to try to come to us. The first such class begins June 1. You did not realize that you were a very critical part of what God is doing in the Uttermost places. I tell you I can not thank you enough for your prayers and support. Villages and Communities in many nations now will have trained confidant, pastors and leaders reaching and teaching people with the truth of the gospel of the kingdom. Only by the grace of God was I urged to take my laptop and all the training material on disc with me. Pastor Materno has a computer and will translate the material where it is needed.
Over the course of the next two weeks we traveled to several villages and communities and preached in the open air as well as in church buildings. Two places stick out in my mind as vivid reminders of Gods desire to reach all people. There is a settlement of people just out side the town of Kubula. The people of this settlement earn their living by digging out the limestone in the mountain and selling it for about .10 cents a 50 pound bag. All the members of the family work. They live on the side of the highway on the steep slope of the mountain. We arrived one afternoon and gathered the settlement, some 75-80 in the area they had dug out of the mountain. We sang a few choruses and I preached the simple powerful message of the gospel. All the people except the babies responded to the Lord Jesus and received new life. Several were healed of sicknesses. No one has anything to do with these kind of people no one except the King of Glory. WOW! An entire settlement will forever be changed.
The other place was in the village of Limbia about 15 kilometers outside the city of Cagayan de Oro. On a Sunday afternoon the church I was working with brought some food out to a clearing underneath a huge old Mango tree. The trees branches acted as our ceiling and the birds our choir. Once again the Spirit of God came upon us and a sweet presence filled the air. 80 or more people were welcomed into the family of God that afternoon. Aged men and women, young men and teenage girls, and children. Not a one turned away from the love and grace of the Lord that day. An aged woman who could hardly walk was restored so as to walk freely without the use of her cane. I bear witness that our God is an awesome God.
Remember God is FOR you, God is WITH you, God is IN you. Therefore who or what can be against you?