Dear Brethren in Christ,
We have just concluded last week (2nd week of June) our 20-day road trip, covering ministry areas in Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon. We visited former Bible study contacts who are now leaders of various disciple-making congregations/ministries, baptized new believers, witnessed to former classmates and shared the Gospel to a big family reunion in Luzon (more than 300 people - Picture 1). More than 300 relatives attended our (Mendoza) clan reunion and I took the opportunity to share the Gospel. Many responded positively. We also visited the church building (Picture 2) and houses being built by the brethren in Negros Oriental which were destroyed by typhoon Odette. By God's grace, slowly but surely the brethren are recovering physically, emotionally and spiritually from the devastation brought by the typhoon. In fact, they have started to reached out to another community with the Gospel.
Lessons we learned from the trip. First, the brotherly love of Christians, many of whom we just saw for the first time are so evident. The bond, the affection, the fellowship and the hunger for the Word made the visit and the journey a real blessing. Second, spiritual reproduction and discipleship indeed work, by God's grace. Some of the contacts we visited who were under our Bible Study in the university 40 years ago, are mightily being used by God to bring people to His fold. For two to three years, they studied the Word of God and after graduation, they allowed God to use them to reach out to others with the Gospel. Through the years, their bible study contacts also conceded to God's call, to disciple others for Christ. Third, God blessed His people, through the years, not only spiritually but also materially, and are extending help to others who needed their help. Fourth. As we traveled throughout the country, we saw many needy poor people still struggling to find a living. Our prayer is that God will use us, His children, to do our share in helping the poor as the Lord promised that the hope of the poor will not be forgotten. But spiritual awakening is still the priority, the Gospel needs to be preached and heard by the people, so that they will establish a personal relationship with Christ, which is the most important of all.
Meanwhile, the other brethren were busy implementing the plans God disclosed to them during their planning. Here are some of the activities they performed during the month of May:
Evangelism - Convicted to reach out to children, the Butuan brethren conducted a child evangelism in one of their community outreach. This is in relation to their desire and commitment to bring families to the Lord. A similar activity was organized by the General Santos brethren the past month. The brethren organized a "Pregnant mother's party" which aimed to promote the services of the birthing home owned by one of the elders. However, they converted the party into a witnessing activity, wherein, the husbands and their children were also invited. More than 100 people (women, husbands and children) heard the Gospel and many of them responded positively. Aside from sharing the Gospel, the owners of the birthing home also distributed gifts to the participants. Incidentally, some of the participants were Muslims. Glory to God (Picture 3).
Discipleship/Training - As a follow up of the echo seminar after the Youth leader's conference which the elders conducted in Tabunan outreach, the youth leaders carried out a general youth conference in Banisilan ministry area. The general conference which focused on skills training and team building was attended by approximately 80 young people from Kisulao, Kulawan, Tabunan, Matin-ao and nearby outreaches (Picture 4). Meanwhile, as the month of May started, the Iligan ministry leaders conducted a discipleship training in Lantungan outreach in Zamboanga del Sur. This training was attended by the brethren from Kulambugan and the host, Lantungan outreach. A day after the Lantungan activity, a similar training was also conducted by the same ministry leaders in Suarez, Iligan City (Picture 5).
One of the rewards of our road trip (ministry visit) to Luzon was the privilege of administering/officiating the water baptism of three brethren in Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte. The brethren decided to publicly declare their commitment to the Lord Jesus by undergoing water baptism. These brethren were witnessed to by their relatives working in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Incidentally, these brethren in Ilocos belong to the Itneg Tribe. Glory to God (Picture 6).
We praise God for this rare opportunity to visit many places in the country, His safekeeping and provision and presence overshadowed our journey. Before the month ends, God willing, our next visit will be in the Southern part of Mindanao, to visit some tribal Christians, and join other ministry areas in their thanksgiving/anniversary celebrations. Thank you for the support and prayers and your co-laborship in the Gospel.
In His Vineyard,
Picture 1 - Pastor Bernie shares the Gospel to his clan in Ilocos
Picture 2 - Fellowship building being built in Negros after typhoon Odette
Picture 3 - Sharing the Gospel at the Birthing home in General Santos
Picture 4 - General Youth Conference at Banisilan ministry area
Picture 5 - Basic Discipleship Training held at Suarez, Iligan City
Picture 6 - One of three who were baptized at Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte