May 25, 2018
Many people told me that my life would change by spending my summer in the Philippines, but I kept telling myself, “You will be the same! Why are all these people saying this? Nothing like this can change my life.” Despite their encouragement, probably due to my lack of belief, I was not prepared for what God had in store for me.
While serving in the Philippines, I witnessed some pretty incredible things, but one thing that stood out was our evangelizing method of going house to house. I remember the first week like it was yesterday: hot, humid, and so many people speaking different languages and dialects. We were in the village of Santo Rosario. And even though our team was exhausted from our flight, we headed out to do ministry the first day. Little did we know what was about to unfold according to God’s plan.
The children only had one more week of summer break before they went back to school, so we began inviting people to VBS. We were eager and anxious as we went out, inviting anyone we met along our way. We came to the house of a lady named Elmera. Elmera had a husband who was at work, and two cute little boys. We invited the boys to VBS. Elmera could speak a little English, which was rare in these villages. She opened up to us about her life, and she also wanted to know why we were there. We tried to share the Good News with her, but just like any Filipino house, the children were running around acting like kids, so it was noisy and we were distracted. Much to our surprise, Elmera said, “Come have a Bible study at my house next week!” We delightfully accepted her request and were eager to have our first Bible study.
So after VBS week, we went to Elmera’s house to study the Bible with her. She was incredibly receptive when we shared the story of Lazarus and the rich man. She understood that there was a heaven and a hell, and that she did not want to die and go to hell. As we shared the Good News with her, she wanted to trust in Christ! She repented of her sin and believed Jesus!! Hallelujah! We got a first-hand glimpse of the saving power of Jesus Christ in that moment.
As our time continued, we had to leave Santo Rosario to go to another village. Thankfully, we were able to connect our national partner, Eunice, with Elmera. When it was time for us to return to Santo Rosario, to our amazement, we found that more people had come to Christ as Eunice studied the Bible with them in Elmera’s house! Praise the Lord!
After my summer in the Philippines, I kept in touch with Eunice. It has been such a blessing to see the goodness and faithfulness of our God as He has continued the work that was started when we were there two years ago! Elmera is still being discipled by Eunice, and the village of Santo Rosario now has a house church!
Like most Christians in the Philippines, Elmera has faced some persecution from people in her village who are non-believers. But through these various trials, she has been able to share the Gospel with the priest, who came to her village to tell people how the Christians were wrong. When he distorted the Scripture, Elmera spoke up and made it very clear that he was the one who was wrong, and she continued to share the True Gospel.
Elmera has had the opportunity to share with her cluster - a group of Catholic ladies who come together for “Bible study” once a week. If Elmera had not been consistently discipled by Eunice, the impact she is making would not be possible.
God connected us with someone who was eager to know Truth and ready to be discipled in His Word. As Elmera has learned more about who God is, she has obediently shared what she has learned with members of the house church daily. (2 Timothy 2:2 – “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”)
God is most certainly working in believers around the world, but how will those who are lost in the world hear if we who are saved do not go? (Romans 10:13-17)
This summer, I will be serving in South Asia for 2 months and after that, I will be returning to the Philippines for 2 weeks to visit Elmera and Eunice and the believers in Santo Rosario. What a joy! I can’t wait!
“The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray to the Lord of the harvest, that He will send laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38)