Note: This post covers our Philippines Crusade in August 2013. I hope you’ll take the time to look at the pictures, watch the videos, and read the words. We filmed a five-minute video recap the morning after.
Some walked three miles each way from the mountains.
Some were pregnant, some carried babies, some were very old. But that didn’t stop them.
On the way to, there was light. But not on the way back. On the way back, it was dark.
Dark and rainy. This was the rainy season. But that didn’t stop them either.
About 1,500 people live in the village of Bat-Ongan in the province of Masbate.
Masbate is an island located in the center of the Philippines. Geographically, it’s sort of the heart of the nation.
Bat-Ongan is a rural village. Pastor Roy’s extended family lives there, and he started a church there.
From my perspective, it’s a difficult place to live. There is much poverty there. But we worshipped together.
And enjoyed Ricardo, the worship leader, lead “I Can Only Imagine.”
The people were thankful for the new sandals we gave them. And when we passed out Bibles, you would have thought they were gold. For some, it was the first Bible they ever owned, like this woman:
One family’s story really touched me. Torn by tragedy, they are moving forward. I just wish it was a little easier for them.
Here they are.
Here’s their hut.
Here’s the toothbrush they share.
And here’s their story. If you would like to help, let me know.
For months, the pastors talked up the crusade.
Their church members invited people. It would be at a local elementary school. They even printed banners.
On the day of the crusade, the principal cancelled classes to set up for the event. He told the students their parents needed to come.
The people started to gather for the crusade, some three, four hours early. The ones from the mountains walked the long, muddy road. Soon the courtyard was full.
I wondered why so many had come. Why had they walked so far? Why had they left their huts, where thieves can so easily steal their few possessions during the crusade? (this actually happened)
Why had they come to hear someone they had never heard of? Why had they brought their babies, why had the elderly come out in the rain?
Because God had drawn them.
And why had we come? It wasn’t easy to get there. Up at 3 am for the early flight, leaving our kids with my mom, hour-long van ride to the motel (with no internet!), half hour ride to the school, in the rain and the mud and the heat and the bugs.
Why had Colette and I come? We had never held a crusade before. What made us think we could do this?
And Joseph and Ruth from Myanmar? They had their own orphanages to run and families to tend to. Why had they come?
Because God had sent us.
He sent us with the mandate to preach the gospel not with wise words, but with God’s power. Why? So that faith would be built not on human wisdom, but on God’s power. This is the proper foundation of faith. It was the Apostle Paul’s mandate in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5.
So when Pastor Roy and the local pastors invited us, we knew God was sending us to Bat-Ongan.
Joseph prayed for the sick.
Ruth prayed for the nation.
And I got to share the gospel: God loves you more than you love yourself or your kids or more than you believe He loves you. And because God loves you, He changes you by the cross of Jesus.
Just watch how many people said God’s power changed them.
By the end of the two days, about 200 people, including the village chairman and three of this advisors, decided to follow Jesus!
To put this into perspective, this is about 13% of the village, and not only that, a majority of the village leadership. Plus, the local pastors have committed to pastor the new believers.
This village is ripe for transformation. Praise be to God!
To everyone who prayed, supported us financially, and shared encouraging words, thank you. And a special thanks to my mom for caring for Asia and Rex so we could do this.
For all of us, this was a journey worth taking.