Fulfilling Conference

God intervened in our group discussions, personal reflections, teaching sessions, and many chit chats. God was there with us. I was in a three-day event, the Mission Training Conference 2022, here in Butuan City, Philippines. Darrell Whiteman was our main speaker. I assisted in some of the sessions. There were 66 of us, and 13 were cross cultural missionaries. The theme was: “Crossing Cultures With Jesus,” and sure enough Jesus visited with us.

It was a fulfilling conference. Many testified of new revelations and deeper insights. “We will go back to the mission field full of encouragements, so much blessed with learnings and with your love.” Irene shared in one of our last meetings. “All the questions in my mind were all answered. Thank you for the messages.” Sandra testified in one of our group chats. Darrell’s presentations and stories were very engaging. “Surely God is with us,” God was there and we are grateful.

After this conference, we proceeded to another location for a one night, two days of Missionary Retreat. It was a good time of break and small group reflection. On the second day, Darrell stayed with the group while I continued to speak at a Youth Missions Conference. Again, God showed up in our midst. The time of prayer with the young people were powerful and moving. The Lord helped me in my weaknesses. I have to confess I was out of my elements speaking to millennials and the younger generations. However, God took over our sessions. I praise God for the leadership of the counselors and youth organizers. Such a humbling experience to participate in this gathering. About 150 young people came from all over the provinces of Agusan, Surigao, Davao, and Misamis. God, the Great Shepherd, led the way for us.

Thank you again for everyone who prayed for us and supported us with their gifts and donations. God is our Great Provider, and He is there for all of us.

Raising the Poor From The Dust

Today’s Lectionary Reading is from Psalm 113:1-9. These verses are challenging—hard for me to imagine that the poor around me are “seated” among the princes, the governors, the CEOs of our days. This chapter rebukes me and compels me to treat the powerless and disenfranchised in our society with dignity and compassion. So, help me God!

“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people. He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children.” (Psalm 113:7-9 NIV)

What is God’s challenge for you today?

Throwing A Party

Jesus said: “When she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, and says to them, 'I am so happy I found the coin I lost. Let us celebrate!’” (Luke 15:9. GNB). In other words: “Let us have a party!”

Are you one of those persons who throw out a party at every little joyous event? Do you easily get excited about beautiful things happening to people around you? Are you a fun person to be with?

Our Lectionary Gospel Reading for this week is found in Luke 15:1-10. Jesus reminds us that heaven celebrates when people encounter God’s joy and “the wanderer comes home.” The parables also remind us that we need to celebrate, I mean, really organize a fiesta bonanza and declare a homecoming that rattles the very doors of heaven. Are you up for the challenge? Do you have your trumpet ready or your electric guitar set on Metal-Rock sounding jubilation? Who are you going to invite to this party?

In Prison And You Came To Me

Jesus said: “When you give a dinner or a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.” Undoubtedly one of the most difficult passages in the Bible. (We find this in Luke 14:12-14.) Difficult because we don’t do it. (Although, some of us incorporate this practice in our Christian .) Here is another difficult reminder from Paul that is a hard pill to swallow. Paul says, “Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body” (Hebrews 13: 3). Both these sets of verses are from our Lectionary Reading for this week. Indeed a very difficult and challenging week for all of us.

Are you regularly visiting those who are in prison, and do you invite the poor and powerless into your family table? May the Lord help you as you continue to obey Him.

“I was in prison and you came to me.” (Matthew 25:36)

Fully Christian And Fully Asian

Fully Christian and fully Asian. I was privileged to visit with some Bataknese people here in Southeast Asia. On my last day of visit, my host arranged for a time of worship, dance, singing, and affirmation of our humanity. It was uniquely Batak, dance steps in the tribal way, singing songs in the language of their ancestors, and moving with everyone that only belong to their Bataknese identity. They welcomed me as one of their own. The leaders draped me in the traditional garb with its tribal colors. Everyone coached me to dance in the rhythms of their tradition.

I have never felt more fully human and fully Christian before this particular worship time of Bataknese dance and songs. I started praising God in unfamiliar tongues and moved with the people in the beat of their culture. I felt so close to God in a very strange way. Fully Christian and fully Asian. God be praised!

Christ Of Today

“The transforming power of Christ among the people is what draws outsiders into the circle of Christian fellowship,” Pastor Abi shares to me through my interpreter and consultant Dr. Mamahit. I am here in Southeast Asia visiting several partners. One of them is Pastor Abi, who is working among the Muslim people of this Southeast Asian nation. He narrates how they intentionally share the gospel in simple ways, focus on building relationships, give more time in Bible applications, and gather together in small groups. As I was listening to Pastor Abi, I wondered how this ministry could be replicated around the world. Would there be a level of success if we follow this model of sharing Jesus?

Many of these indigenous ministries are outside of our comfort zone, not to mention that most of them are beyond our usual ways of understanding what a Christian ministry looks like. Pastor Abi’s members are still considered Muslims by many of their neighbors. They are popularly known as “Followers of Jesus,” and are not ostracized by their Muslim families. Unheard of in the minds of most Christians. And yet, the Lord of the Harvest is raising up leaders like Pastor Abi and the gospel grows in the lives of the people.

“We share the story of Jesus from both the Koran and the Bible,” Pastor Abi continues. He was quick, however, to say that the final word is always the biblical stories of Jesus. He explains how the people soon realize that the Jesus of the Bible is the Christ of today whenever they experience healing of the sick, reconciliation of families, and many answers to simple prayers. The transforming power of Christ becomes an everyday encounter. So, do you think we can replicate this kind of ministry in our churches today?

Jesus And The Woman With Disability

When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. (Luke 13:12-13)

Allow me to paint five stages from this event above. One, Jesus saw the woman. Two, pronouncement was made about her healing. Three, Jesus placed his hand on her to bless her. Fourth, the woman was healed. Five, the woman started praising God. 

If you notice, the actual healing came on the fourth stage. Question for you: Does it really matter to a faithful disciple at what stage the healing would come? Not really. What matters is that Jesus is leading the way in all these stages. Most important fact is that Jesus is with us all the way. Read again our Lectionary Gospel Reading for this week in Luke 13:10-17. And you will see Jesus is with the woman always, even on a Sabbath Day. From the moment Jesus saw the woman until the ending when all the people were rejoicing because of the healing, Jesus was with the woman.

Questions for everyone: Where is Jesus in your life? At what stage in your life is Jesus present and near?

Rahab And The Cloud Of Witnesses

Jesus is the Perfecter of our faith. Please read our New Testament Lectionary Reading for this second week of August from Hebrews 11:29-12:2, and we will see many “cloud of witnesses” pointing to Jesus. “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies” (Heb. 11:31). Her identity is not based on her work or the things from her past, or even the labels that other people have imposed upon her person. But her identity is in her obedience to Yahweh. 

Let us continue to look up to Jesus, who is the foundation of our identity. Do you have a friend whom you can share the faith-story of Rahab? Invite her or him to run the race with you “that we have to run with patience, our eyes fixed on Jesus the source and the goal of our faith” (Heb. 12:1).

Where Is Your Treasure?

Jesus said: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34). Jesus here is referring to a heart that is ready for the coming of the Lord, as he says in verse 40, “You also must be ready” (Lk. 12:40). This readiness for the Lord’s coming is not only for the Second Coming, but also for God’s everyday fellowship with a Christ-follower. This is why Jesus admonishes everyone to seek the kingdom of God above all things. Jesus says: “Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you” (Lk. 12:31). Where is your treasure?

This question about the treasure is really a question of the state of the heart. The question should be: “What are you seeking in your life”

Unassuming Ms. Julie

Ten families in five months. The lead pastor told me the story of growth of one of their outreach ministries here in this Asian city. I was amazed at the way God is working here. So, I told the pastor I just have to meet the leader of this group and see for my self.

Ms. Julie (not her real name) is a mother in her mid forties. She leads this work here among the urban poor of City-M. She is a very simple person, ordinary looking and unassuming. But God is using her for the ministry. There is a thriving work among the children in their  neighborhood. You can see from the pictures the excitement they have for this growing family of believers. 

“We want to make her as an example of what God can do in this city of M__n.” The lead pastor, Pastor Paul (not his real name), shared this with me. We prayed together. Truly God can use ordinary people for the Lord’s harvest field.

I am currently in Country-IA visiting our partners here. Pray for God to lead the way. Pray for understanding as I explain to the pastors here the nature of our future partnership between FMWM-Asia and GMMI (the name of this group) of Country-IA. I am so blessed to witness the work of the Spirit of God in this Asian country. To God be the glory!!!