“10,000 DEAD, MISSING” is the headline on this mornings’ paper, The Philippine Star, dated November 11
November 6, 2013
Dear Praying Friends,
A 7.2 earthquake and monsoon rains left us without power, internet, telephone, etc. for a few days; and we are now trying to prepare for a typhoon that is likely to cause a lot of damage in the Philippines in the next few days. After that passes through, I’m sending Brandie and Ava to be with my in-laws (T.J. will be staying here with me). We got some saddening news about my father-in-law, Larry Lee; an MRI showed the brain tumor grew despite chemotherapy and radiation since discovery in July. Aside from the main tumor, there were some new spots on his brain. The doctors and the family decided to stop further treatments and get hospice care. We thank you for your concern and prayers in this matter. It’s hard to believe how quickly he has deteriorated since being told three months ago that he had cancer. His spirit and testimony through all this have been graceful, despite losing all strength.
“Dad” has been the music director at Calvary Baptist Church, in Middleburg, Florida, for almost twenty years. The last time I saw him in July, he was excited about getting new people into his Sunday school class and teaching them. Dad would still be a regular at their 6 a.m. men’s prayer meetings if only he had the strength. Larry’s brother, next-door neighbor, and fellow Sunday school teacher, Uncle Tyrone, also has cancer and is going through chemotherapy; and we ask that you pray for him too.
December 14, 2012
Dear Praying Friends,
Every year at Christmas time our church and college have a Help the Needy Program. Our people go out and sacrificially give of their time and very little money to make Christmas better for those who are less fortunate. Even our college students, who will not be going home for the holidays, want to stay and be a blessing and help to others. We have special fellowships, parties, and other activities for people in our city who are blind, deaf, lepers, street kids, widows, fire victims, slow-learners, prisoners, and others. They will get some food, small gifts, maybe some help with some of their needs; but the best gift of all, they will be given the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We were blessed to have Dr. Ray Young and his wife come for a weekend visit. He had the opportunity to minister to some police officers (pictured below), and Mrs. Young went with my mom on her extension Bible-class route in one of the poorest areas in the city.
Our church’s choir and orchestra will be performing our annual Christmas musical three times in the next couple of weeks. We are expecting many visitors, mostly people that wouldn’t go to church but for a special Christmas presentation.
Our family is doing well. Thank you to those who sent me birthday cards. Brandie and I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary on the 21st of this month. T.J.’s first school Christmas party is next week. He has to say poem, and his mom is hoping he will actually go through with it! Ava is a sweetheart, and her personality is really starting to show.
A few weeks ago, we lost many of our e-mail contacts because of a cell phone glitch. It really wasn’t my fault- it was the phone…honest! If you would like to receive our prayer letter via email, please let us know. We appreciate you all so much and don’t take it lightly the sacrifices that are made on our behalf. May God bless you this Christmas and in the coming year.
Ricky, Brandie, T.J. & Ava Martin
Lourence Joy Aba was born 21 years ago on the large southern island of Mindanao. She was born into a Christian home. Her dad worked for the Japan International Corporation. When she was in kindergarten, her dad was scheduled to go abroad. One week before he was to depart, he decided to quit his job and go to Bible College to become a pastor. His wife was against this plan at first, because she was worried about finances.
During her elementary years, Lourence Joy said there was a lot of fighting in their place between the Philippine army and the MILF (Muslim rebels). She remembers seeing cannons in the streets and armed soldiers who always looked so tired but she admired them for fighting for freedom. They always heard the sounds of guns and bombs. Sometimes parents would suddenly appear at school and snatch their children away to safety.
Lourence Joy said, “We were told to be prepared at a moment’s notice. My dad came home from the Bible school because he was afraid for us. One night he told us to go to bed fully dressed. He told us to wear shoes that we could run fast in. At 2:00 am someone knocked on our door quietly. My father didn’t answer because he heard that sometimes the MILF used this ploy to fool people. Sometimes people would answer the door and then the Muslims would kill everyone inside the house. My father made us hide and opened the door a crack. Thankfully, it was my uncle, telling us to run.” Lourence Joy’s family ran to their church. Many people were there hiding. Someone whispered “Evacuate” and they quietly ran out of the church. She continues: “My father carried me and my mother carried my sister and we ran to one of our church members’ house. I could feel my father’s heart beating wildly.” After graduating from Bible College, her father started a church in Camiguin Island. They had to learn a new dialect and food and money was always short. There were other trials—persecution and mocking by the devil’s crowd. However, God blessed and the church grew.
Lourence Joy was a very good student and always made top honors. She wanted to be a nurse or possibly a teacher. She loved to study and she also loved music.
Her whole life was centered around church but one day she heard her father preach on “Comforted Yet Tormented at the End.” She talked to her mother after church, who gave her daughter the plan of salvation. Lourence Joy said many times she would raise her hand at the invitation, claiming she was saved but she was truly born again in July, 2000 and was baptized. Her father always encouraged her to bring her Bible to school. One day she heard someone making derogatory remarks about the Bible and her religion. She is not one to keep quiet. She defended the Bible and her beliefs. The religious teachers (Catholic) in her school didn’t appreciate her either! She was known as “that Baptist girl.”
Lourence Joy graduated as valedictorian in high school. She was offered a scholarship to study in the USA but she didn’t think she could stand to be so far away from home. She was also offered full scholarships at some universities here in the Philippines. She kept thinking about Bible college and seemed torn with all the choices. She thought she would get her degree in a secular college first, and then go to Bible college. She finally enrolled in a secular college to be a teacher, thinking, “Bible college can wait.” One weekend she went home and saw her mother crying. She asked what was wrong and her mother hugged her and showed her a text on her cell phone. A pastor was asking if Lourence Joy was interested in enrolling in Iloilo Baptist College. Lourence said, “I didn’t return to my college that whole week because I wanted to think and pray. My classmates kept texting me and asking what was wrong. I kept thinking that my service for the Lord had decreased since I started going to college. I was always too tired. I felt I was failing to give God my best because of my schedule. “
She finally texted her friends and told them she would leave for Iloilo City Sunday after church. That Sunday morning, many of her friends went to her church and many of them received Jesus Christ as their Saviour!
“Although there were discouragements and ups and downs, I have no regrets. God is able to sustain all my needs, spiritual, financial, emotional, whatever,” says Lourence. “Before I was thinking that Bible college could wait but souls need to be harvested now. They cannot wait. I must redeem the time for the days are evil. Now, I’m a fourth year student. I play in the IBC orchestra and sing in the church choir. I’m involved with school ministry, Bible study, and extension classes for children. To God be the glory!”
32ND ANNUAL PASTORS & WORKERS CONFERENCE
God gave us a great Pastors & Workers Conference! It was an honor for us to be able to have Pastor Dean Noonan from Faith Baptist Church, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, along with Mrs. Noonan. Our daughter Rachel and her husband Matt, and son Landon attend this church. It was a joy to have them here as well. Also accompanying them was Calvin Allen, who sang and preached (see photo below), and was a real blessing as well.
Missionary Doug Sisson also spoke. The Lord has used him for 16 years to reach people through the church he started in General Santos City, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church.
Mrs. Noonan did a great job as she spoke to our ladies, along with Mrs. Gwen Celestial, a pastor’s wife who was in our very first graduating class. Mrs. Celestial recently had her leg amputated due to diabetes, and is slowly losing her sight. Both of these godly ladies were a great help to the many ladies who attended the conference.
BEAMS Bibles once again sent a container of Bibles to distribute to the pastors, as well as Pastor Mark Smith, Faith Baptist Church, Tacoma, Washington. Dr. Rene Freret was supposed to come and preach at the conference this year but had to have open heart surgery. Please pray for him as he continues to recover.
Words cannot properly express how extremely grateful these pastors were for these Bibles (see photo below). The conference is free and we provide free accommodations and meals. This year over 700 pastors attended (pictured above). Our goal each year is to honor the Lord Jesus Christ, and to be a blessing to the hundreds of delegates that come, in hope that they will go back to their respective places and do more for the Lord.
One of the keys in starting churches here are the Bible Schools. There are more than 30 independent Baptist Bible Colleges in our region of the country. There is a great spirit among the various schools. During the Pastors and Workers Conference about 20 Bible Schools were represented and we had several of them have their choirs sing. Most of these schools are small but combined they are having an impact on the islands of Panay, Negros, and Guimaras. The result of the spirit of the pastors who lead the Bible Schools is a revival in church planting! There are now about 2,000 independent Baptist Churches in this region of 8,000,000 people. Most of these churches are small as most people walk to church. There is little transportation available, so it is important that all the villages in these islands have a church. Panay Island has 2,800 villages plus 91 towns and five cities, not including Negros and Guimaras. Please pray for Pastor Vincente Gelladula, a graduate of Iloilo Baptist College, who started a Bible School this year.
POLICE APPRECIATION NIGHT
This past September 30th, Iloilo Baptist Church had its 10th annual Police Appreciation Night. Missionary Doug Sisson preached and several of the policemen accepted Christ as Saviour. About 300 policemen and policewomen attended. Three police who were killed in the past year in Iloilo City were honored along with the families. The Lord has given us countless opportunities to reach people by working with the police in our city.
For the past 35 years that we have been in the Philippines, Becky and I have always been so grateful to those of you who have prayed for us and given to the Lord’s work here. Never has that been more true than now during these hard financial times. Thank you for your sacrifice! May God richly bless you for it!
In this prayer letter, we would like to share the testimony of Jean Calibayan, one of our Bible college students:
I am the 7th child among 10 children. I was born in San Remejo, Antique, and I am now 21 years old. My dad is a carpenter but his work was not stable so our family was very poor. He would work whenever and wherever he could but when he didn’t work, we didn’t eat.
After my mother delivered me she became very sick and lost her sight. Even though she was blind she worked very hard—she did all the household chores and even planted vegetables. She was always trying to find ways to feed us.
I remember one day when I was little we had nothing to eat but corn and bananas and I remember crying about it. When I was 10 years old my mother taught me how to harvest in the field. She allowed me to go with my brothers to help in the harvest. Later I found out after we left the house she cried and cried because we were always hungry. That’s why I am so thankful for my parents. I learned how to work hard. It was hard for them to raise all of us but they always did their responsibility. They always did everything they could just to provide food for us.
I remember one time when I was in elementary school, my parents and all my brothers and sisters were working in the field. I was so hungry I ate the salt and the seasoning my mother used for cooking (monosodium glutamate).
Later my mother asked where the salt and seasoning was. I joined the others in saying, “I don’t know.” A few days later I became very swollen. My classmates and teacher asked what happened. Finally I couldn’t even walk or stand and I thought I was going to die. I finally confessed to my parents what I ate. My brothers carried me to the health center. It was very far away. They doctor treated me and by God’s grace I was healed. I was absent from school for a long time.
When I went to school, I never had anything to take for lunch or snacks. I would just sit and watch the others eat. Sometimes a classmate or my teacher would give me some food. When I was in grade 6, I lost my eyesight, just like my mother. Even though I couldn’t see, I still worked in the field. My mother treated my eyes with some herbal medicines. I am so thankful God used that to heal me. I was blind for about six weeks.
After graduating from grade six I worked as a maid for someone. Every time I received my salary I went home and gave it all to my mother, except for my fare. I was always getting sick.
In 2000, I attended the Iloilo Baptist Church Camp in Tambaliza, Concepcion, along with my brother, who was a pastor by that time. I got saved and baptized that week. In 2008, I was contacted by one of the staff of Iloilo Baptist Church, asking me if I wanted to go to Bible college. I replied, “Yes, but not now.” I felt a deep obligation to help my family because they were so poor.
One day my mother had an eye appointment. My brother, who is a pastor, was sitting in the hospital waiting for her. While he was waiting, he was reading his Bible. The doctor walked up and asked him if he was a pastor, and he said, “Yes.” The doctor said that his father was also a pastor and that he knew what the pastor’s life was like—living by faith. He told my brother that he would do an operation on my mother’s eyes for free! My mother and brother were so happy when he said that! My family was so thankful. We tried to think of a gift we could give that doctor. When my mother went back for her surgery, she took the doctor two chickens and some bananas. God answered prayer—my mother’s eyesight was restored! When she opened her eyes she was so happy when she saw all of us. She hugged all of us and said to my brother that was a pastor, that he never grew up—he was still the same—very short! We were so happy. It was such a great blessing that my mother’s eyesight was restored!
I was asked again, if I would like to attend Iloilo Baptist College. I felt God wanted me to serve Him in full time Christian work. A staff lady from IBC came to talk to my parents. I left with that staff lady to attend IBC because I knew that God called me and wanted to use me.
Now, by God’s grace, I’m in my 3rd year at Iloilo Baptist College. I believe the promises of God that He will supply all our needs. I know God will always provide. I am so happy when I experience God’s provision. When I give to missions I learn that God is not slack concerning His promises. He knows our needs and will surely provide it. All things work together for good.
Jean’s brother, Eduard Calibayan, is a foreign missionary in Zambia.
NEWS AND PRAYER REQUESTS
Recently someone hacked our email account and deleted all our emails and contact list. They also sent emails to many people on our contact list saying we were stranded in Madrid and to send money. I’m sure some of you have had a similar experience. We have changed our email address and taken other measures to make it more difficult to have this happen again. Our new address is:email@example.com.
This past October 2 the church had its 9th annual Police Appreciation Night with over 200 police attending. It rained so hard that night! We were surprised so many of them came! We honored some police that were killed in the line of duty. Our soul winners led several policemen and policewomen to the Lord. One of the widows of the policeman killed in the line of duty was saved, and her daughter also accepted Christ as her Saviour.
Our 31st Pastors and Workers Conference was October 5-6. All the speakers were from our region of the Philippines. We chose men that have overcome very difficult circumstances in their lives and ministry. I can’t begin to tell you what a blessing their messages were. The main speaker was Pastor Eddie Gerodias who is battling cancer. He is a long time friend and has been the pastor of a church on Negros Island for 35 years. Pastor Arnel Arquisola in Roxas City, Pastor Ely Perez, here in Iloilo City, and Pastor Florencio Muleta, (we wrote about in our July/August prayer letter) all started great churches with very limited finances and facilities. The same can be said for IBC graduate Moimar Lacsao in the Island of Negros. Another IBC graduate, Hermando Abelitado, lost a child. At least 784 pastors came (that’s how many registered) for the conference. There were also hundreds of laymen, Bible college students, lady workers and pastors wives. Iloilo Baptist Church members, staff, and students worked hard to provide free meals for all our guests. Many of our people gave very sacrificially. Students doubled up in dorms to provide bedspace for visitors. Countless hours went into preparation. Mrs. Eddie Gerodias, Mrs. Billy Caalem, and Miss Gina Pabelico spoke at the ladies conference and were a great blessing. BEAMS Bibles sent 800 boxes filled with Bibles, New Testaments, and tracts. Bearing Precious Seed sent a very large quantity of John and Romans in the Ilonggo language. The pastors were so excited. I wish you could have seen the expressions on their faces when they received all of this. BEAMS Bibles and Bearing Precious Seed have had a huge impact on the Philippines through their great efforts. The pastors here are so thankful for what they are doing.
Pastor Muleta, who we wrote about a few months ago, is starting to build his building. Enough money came into help him. His people are sacrificing also, and giving to the project. We are so appreciative (and Brother Muleta is especially grateful) to those who helped him with this project.
December 15, 2011
Dear Praying Friends,
We were excited to have my sister Rachel and our nephew Landon visit us recently for a few weeks. Pictured above is T.J., Landon, & Ava.
I’ve been busy meeting with our graduate pastors and helping them develop programs that will better help them as they follow up on their new converts and young Christians and teach them to grow in Christ in their churches.
Pastor Charlie Augustino was my barber when I was in seventh and eighth grades here. He was a Bible college student who gave students haircuts when his job didn’t make ends meet. I recall his saying some of his hair-cutting earnings were going toward his missions-giving commitments. Charlie loved basketball, and we played together often; but he also took his ministry work seriously in Bible school. I can remember his bringing kids to Junior Church very early on Sunday mornings and adults to the later services. He graduated from Iloilo Baptist College in 1994 and started a church near his hometown of Tapaz, Capiz, a two-hour trip from Iloilo City. He later started another church in Tapaz and worked at a barbershop on the side in a nearby town to take care of his family, as his church was yet unable to support him as a full-time pastor.
This past November 30 he gave his last haircut to Benjie, a man who was believed to be mentally disturbed. Benjie went home, where some neighborhood underachievers teased him about his haircut. He then returned to the barbershop with a machete to murder Charlie. Benjie surrendered to police immediately, but he himself was killed a week later in the jail with a shotgun by Charlie’s brother (another story). A wife, two boys, and a church are without a husband, father, and pastor this Christmas.
Our ministry staff are doing anything we can to help the Augustino Family and Fundamental Baptist Church of Tapaz, as well as other needy families throughout Iloilo, in the annual Help the Needy Program. We ask you to pray with us that people who are feeling hopeless in Iloilo’s hospitals, who live in extreme poverty, or who are missing loved ones have a merry Christmas and experience God’s presence and grace.
Ricky Martin with Brandie, T.J. & Ava