As many of you know eight people (including myself) from our congregation just returned from a two week long missions trip to Davao City in the Philippines. We stayed with Alan and Delores Farlin, missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators, and friends for whom the Minden Evangelical Free Church is their home church. Here are the highlights of what God enabled us to do.
- Part of the team ministered two different times in an orphanage where Delores weekly serves. The extra bodies enabled more adult interaction for children who have very little of that. I was able to be on one of these trips and played basketball with some of the children.
- Part of the team ministered one day in a mental hospital. Similar to the orphanage, this was an opportunity to come alongside Delores and help her in a ministry she is involved in regularly and where God has made a very large difference through her.
- We spent a day going up into the mountains to take clothes and food to three churches whose buildings were damaged by the December typhoon. We also helped do some repair work on one of the buildings.
- Some of our team (including myself) worked one day on a school building that had been flooded as a result of the typhoon. We carried out bucket loads of mud. We did this in conjunction with some other missionaries as a way of strengthening their presence in this community—a presence that said to many people, “We love and care for you.”
- We spent two days working on a shelter for girls taken in off the street. The Christian And Missionary Alliance missionary who runs this ministry was so encouraged. Our work will be part of what enables this particular shelter to begin taking in girls off the street in greater numbers and to teach them about Jesus Christ.
- For one whole day we visited a community on the coast where people build their houses on stilts literally out over the sea. About one year ago a cement slab in their community gave way and fell into the water leaving a hole about 6 x 20 feet. Several of us spent the day carrying rebar, rock, and sand about 300 yards into the community where the repair needed to take place while the rest of the team put on a Bible School for the children. The young missionary (a fellow Hoosier by the way!) working with this community was so encouraged. He felt it was not only a boost to the church there, but also would provide a strong testimony to the majority of the people living around them that are not Christians. He believed the work would have a significant impact on the spread of the gospel.
- I had the privilege of preaching in the English service of the Farlins’ church on our second Sunday. I gave an overview of James’ message in James 3-4 that provides an “antidote to division within the church”. I also had the joy of baptizing the Farlin’s daughter, Angela. Alan and Delores, by the way, were very encouraged to see their American and Filipino Church families coming together in such great harmony. We found great joy in seeing what the Lord continually does through them!
- We also met many wonderful people and made some connections that I believe will have lasting long-term impact for world missions. Some of these include: Hamir (a follower of Christ who trains others how to share the story of Jesus Christ); Brian and Patty (Conservative Baptist missionaries who just moved to the Philippines); Paul Barner, the CMA missionary who runs homes for street children and also a school for the same children; and the Davao Bible Community Church, along with their wonderful staff. We also began talking to the Farlins about ways to utilize them in the states once they retire to recruit, teach, and send missionaries into the field. We also picked up some ideas on how we can stand with and support the Farlins (especially the medical and mercy ministries of Delores) in more specific ways for their remaining time there.
- Finally, God gave wonderful opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with people while on the way to and from the Philippines—including a man from Nebraska who was headed to the Philippines to marry a Filipino woman and also an attorney from Los Angeles (I had a three hour long conversation with him as we flew from Manilla to Tokyo).
All-in-all, this was a very fruitful trip. I want to thank all of you who prayed for us and also those who supported us to go. We were truly blessed to be in this wonderful country and to meet so many great people, learned a great deal from the Farlins and others, and were very humbled for the ways that God chose to work through us. Only eternity will reveal just what God did in these two weeks. I can’t wait to find out and to praise him for it all!