Back from the Philippines!

Actually, it’s been almost two weeks since we’ve been back, so here’s a belated report on the trip that Paul Roberts, McKinley, and I took to the Philippines during the last couple of weeks of March and the first days of April.

DSC_8083The purpose of our trip was to do some investigation on behalf of Joy to the World Ministries, to see how the organization could possibly help Reformed Christians in the Philippines.  Paul is a member of the mission congregation in P.G., and his wife Cecilia is from the Philippines. So there was already a personal connection with Cecilia’s church, the United Covenant Reformed Church in the Philippines (UCRCP) congregation in Las Pinas, which is a southern suburb of Manila, and with the pastor of that congregation and his wife – Pastor Edwin and Emy Puzon.  Emy runs the Covenant of Grace Integrated Academy (see the picture) in Las Pinas, a Christian school that also serves as the worship location for the UCRCP congregation, and as the Puzons’ home (as well as allowing Pastor Puzon to minister full time without outside financial support).  One of the areas that we were looking at was the possibility of sponsoring children to study at Covenant of Grace.

IMG_0824But our trip wasn’t limited to the urban sprawl of Manila. We also visited UCRCP congregations in Davao City, on the island of Mindanao, where we met Pastor Vic Bernales (see the picture to the left) and the elders of the church. We also had the opportunity to worship with the congregation on our first Sunday in the Philippines, and I was invited to preach during the morning service. We were also welcomed to a couple of Bible studies, and spent a fun day just being tourists, visiting the local crocodile park and a beach resort.  And of course, enjoying the delicious local cuisine (that was one of the highlights of every place we went)!

DSC_8136From Davao City, we flew north to another city on the island of Mindanao, Cagayan de Oro, where there is a UCRCP mission congregation. We met with their elder and one of the members, and I also had the opportunity to visit with Glem Melo, another Reformed Christian from that city. The picture to the left was taken after a delicious meal at the home of Elder Laloy and his family. Once again, it was great to meet with brothers and sisters in Cagayan de Oro, and also to tour the beautiful surrounding countryside with its pineapple plantations, and (thankfully) cooler weather up in the mountains.

IMG_0818From Cagayan de Oro, we flew back to Manila, where we spent the next weekend. We worshipped with the congregation in Las Pinas, and I was invited to preach there as well. We did some exploration of Manila, spending a day on Corregidor, an important site in the history of the Second World War, visited a couple of extremely large malls, and white-knuckled our way around the city using several typically Philipino modes of transport, including Jeepneys. The picture to the left is of a jeepney. They’re unique vehicles, often painted with slogans and Bible verses. This one reminds us to “pray without ceasing” – and as Pastor Wes Bredenhof said, this is something that non-Philipinos are led to do when braving the traffic anywhere in the country!

IMG_0852While in Las Pinas, we made a day trip to Laguna, where there is another UCRCP congregation, a couple of hours south of the Metro Manila area. Our final stop was the province of Pangasinan, which is about 200 km north of Manila. There is another UCRCP congregation in San Carlos, and we met with a group of elders and deacons from that congregation as well (over dinner, of course). That’s catfish and “drunken shrimp” on the table, and there were some other delicacies available as well! Once again, it was a real blessing to meet with the brothers in Pangasinan, to visit the church building, to meet a number of church members, and to be so warmly welcomed!

DSC_8195This is a picture of the outside wall of the church building in San Carlos. They call it “The Comfort Wall” – and you may recognize the writing as the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism.  Despite the difference in nationality, language, and culture, we share one faith, and that unites us more than anything else could. The Reformed churches in the Philippines are young, and still small. But there is great enthusiasm and great opportunity for the spread of the Reformed faith in that country. I hope to be able to return to the Philippines sometime soon, but until then, I’ll take the Jeepney’s advice: “Pray without ceasing!”

Christianity Explored

CE logoBeginning on Friday, April 11th, we will be starting a new outreach program. It’s called “Christianity Explored,” and we’ll be using the “Christianity Explored: English Made Easy Edition” study guide as the basis for the program. Over a period of seven Friday nights, we’ll discuss the “big issues”:

What is the purpose of life?

What happens to us after we die?

Is the Bible really true, or is it just a collection of outdated myths?

What do Christians believe about Jesus? What makes Him so special?

And finally, What is the Christian faith all about?

The “Christianity Explored” program uses Mark’s Gospel as its starting point, and this edition of the program is especially geared toward people for whom English is a second language. We’ve already begun to promote the program on Facebook, and we’ll be beginning a series of newspaper advertisements this week, as well as posting ads on various bulletin boards around town.

We pray that the Lord will give us an opportunity to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to many people over the course of this program, and ask that you join us in praying that people will see the ads and respond to them by signing up to participate.

And if you’re reading this in Prince George, and you know of anyone who might be interested in taking part, please pass this along. More information on the program, and how to register, can be found here:

http://www.pgchurch.ca/25401.html

 

 

Heading for the Philippines

Flag_PhilippinesI’m finishing off some last-minute tasks while making preparations for a trip to the Philippines, and I thought it would be a good idea for me to post an update and some information on an exciting trip that I’ll be taking.

Tomorrow, Paul Roberts, a member of the mission congregation in P.G., together with McKinley and I, will be heading out to begin a 2 1/2 week long adventure in the Philippines. Paul has been a board member of an organization called “Joy to the World Ministries” for some time, and I was recently invited to be a part of the board as well.

Joy to the World has been active in Malawi and East Africa, and we are travelling to the Philippines to do some investigation as to how we might be able to help out with some Christian schools in that country.  We will be meeting with a group of pastors and teachers, and we’ll be participating in the graduation ceremony at the school in Las Pinas, which is a community in the Metro Manila area. So we’ll be based in Las Pinas, but we’ll also be travelling to the city of Davao, on the island of Mindanao, as well as to another city north of Manila, where we’ll also be meeting with pastors and teachers.

Rev. Wes Bredenhof has recently returned from the Philippines, where Providence Canadian Reformed Church, together with the Free Reformed Church of Baldivis, Western Australia, have recently begun a theological education program. We will be meeting with some of the same brothers that were involved in that program, and we’re excited to have the opportunity to make and build connections.

We’ve seen the wonderful things that organizations like Children of Light (now associated with Word and Deed)  have achieved by God’s grace in places like Indonesia, and how a Christian education can have a huge impact from generation to generation. Our prayer is that we’ll be able to play a small role in setting things in motion in the Philippines, along the lines of what Children of Light have done in Indonesia.

As we have opportunity (and Internet access), I hope to post pictures and updates both here and on Facebook.

Catch-Up Time

Another month has past, so here are a list of links to the final four sermons I preached on the book of Deuteronomy over the past four weeks. Because I had previously preached through Leviticus, I passed over chapters nineteen to twenty-seven for this time, and picked up the thread of Deuteronomy in the closing chapters.  I preached seventeen sermons on Deuteronomy, and that’s basically scratching the surface of the book! But for now, it’s back to the New Testament, and I’ll begin a series of sermons on the First Letter of Peter this coming Sunday, the Lord willing. But for now, here are the links:

https://archive.org/details/SermonDeuteronomy28

https://archive.org/details/SermonDeuteronomy29

https://archive.org/details/SermonDeuteronomy301114

https://archive.org/details/SermonDeuteronomy3168