We wanted to continue from our last prayer letter in sharing more about Bible colleges started by the graduates of IBC. Marlon Ticar has been a faithful pastor in Bacolod City for many years. Here is his testimony:
We named our Bible school “God’s Word Bible Baptist College.” We had no classrooms, no dorms, and no teachers. We had to conduct our classes when students were available because they were staying with their parents and our culture demands that children are obliged to help their parents as much as possible. This routine went on for several months until one day, Pastor Rick Martin told me that someone is buying us a lot and will build a dorm for our students! We were overjoyed! Some of our church members and students helped with the construction. We now have the dorm and two volunteer teachers to the glory of God.
Sometimes it is hard to find and recruit young people to enroll in Bible School. They are too focused in studying in secular schools and finding jobs. I look for students who are saved and have a burden to serve God and a love for lost souls. Also, they must have a desire to serve God and must not be easily discouraged when trials and tests come. Lastly I look for a willing spirit. Are they willing accept tasks given? Are they willing to accept rebuke in order to improve their Christian character? My vision here in Negros and especially in Bacolod City is that the students someday will have their own institutes to start their own soul-winning churches. Souls are precious and our Bible students are good soul winners. Our church members are united because we have a “SWAT” program-Soul Winning Action Team that goes out every Sunday afternoon house-to-house to win the lost to Jesus Christ.
As for our church our ministries are mainly focused on soul winning. We have Bible studies in the homes of new families so they can grow spiritually. I give lectures to the police also so they can get to know God.
I am touched by the sacrifice of our church members who try to help our Bible students. Our members are poor but they give what they can to our students.
Prince Angelia, another IBC graduate, recently started a Bible school. You may remember a story we wrote about him years ago—he was six months old when his father was murdered. Prince’s dad was a good man, sometimes helping people build their houses without even charging them anything. He worked hard and his family was well cared for. Mr. Angelia was suspected of being an informant so the NPA (communist rebels) put him and his family on their hit list. One night the NPA ransacked the Angelia’s home. The family began moving from place to place to keep safe but the pressure caused Prince’s dad to have a nervous breakdown. People in that place are very superstitious. Mr. Angelia’s own brothers decided Prince’s dad’s mental instability was due to demon possession. They took clubs and beat Prince’s dad to death like an animal. After many years Prince’s mom remarried. Prince’s stepdad was a good man and treated Prince like his own son. Prince and his family got saved through one of our graduates who had a church nearby. After years of wanting to get revenge for his dad’s murder, God began to change Prince’s heart and he surrendered for the ministry. Here is his testimony about his Bible College:
I graduated from Iloilo Baptist College and was hired as a staff member. I taught in the Bible College for two years. After that God called me to start a pioneering work in Mindanao. God has blessed and we have grown. We have good young people who want to serve God. God put a burden in my heart to start the Bible College in 2012. We gathered in a small vacant parking garage, which we rented. We started with three full time students and five part time. The next year we had four fulltime and seven part time. We now have 18. Since we don’t have a dorm, four sleep on the platform of our church and the rest stay in homes. They fetch the water from a pump at our neighbor’s house. I am the only teacher for now. It is exciting to see them learning to win souls and bring people to church. My burden and vision is that all the villages of Davao Del Sur will have an independent, Bible-believing, Baptist Church started by the graduates of our school. I also pray we can someday send out foreign missionaries.
Please pray for the Bible Schools started by the graduates of IBC. The past two years these schools have grown much and have great potential in starting churches over the next decades. In a few years the combined graduating classes of these Bible Colleges should be larger than Iloilo Baptist College’s graduating class. Like IBC, the purpose of these schools is to train men to go and start churches. Please pray the Lord will keep His hand on these schools and the pastors who lead them.
HELP THE NEEDY
Matthew 25: 40”…in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
My favorite time of the year is Christmas time. It’s been that way since 1986 when some compassionate members of the church here started the “Help the Needy” program.
Through the years I have noticed that most of those who participate have very little themselves, yet they sacrifice to be a blessing to the least of these. It is amazing that the people most blessed by this program are the Christians who give up much of their time and money to help others. I shouldn’t be amazed and surprised because Jesus said that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
The students of Iloilo Baptist College are especially a blessing as most of them stay here during Christmas time instead of going home. Some of them find widows or the elderly and help them do repair work or add on a room to their house (mostly shacks). They go out in groups weeks before Christmas and survey and find the people in different parts of Iloilo City and then pray and ask God who they should help and how they should help them.
There were two fires in the city in early December. One destroyed 16 houses and the other 5 houses. The members brought food, clothing, eating utensils and other items to most of these families. Many of the families visited our church and got saved.
Many people who are bedridden, or have physical disabilities, and/or live in deep poverty were helped during this Christmas season. On a few days the weather was not good but the workers seemed to enjoy going out and singing Christmas carols and bringing gifts to people even in the rain. One group rounded up some of the poorest children in the city and took them to McDonalds. It was a once in a lifetime treat for the children. Here is a testimony written by a young lady in our Bible College:
It seems we always think of ourselves and never look around and discover that there are so many that are needier than us. I’m a 4th year student at IBC so I’ve participated in the “Help the Needy Program” for four years. I’ve learned so much. The first week of December I was struggling with my finances. I was praying and asking God, “It’s December again Lord, our time of giving. What shall I give? What shall I do? I have nothing.”
The next week God answered my prayer. I was able to give. I was blessed by God when I worked washing clothes for someone in my route.
Thursday, December 18, I had great happiness. Compassion grows in my heart and pity for the people in the hospital. First we sang Christmas songs to the sick, and then we gave a gift.
We entered the first room and started singing and my heart was broken when I see the sick people lying in their beds without joy, with some of their family. They spent their Christmas time there. After singing, I picked up one of the gifts and gave it to a woman whose husband was confined. I gave it with a smile but the woman who received it had tears. I felt mercy not only for the sick husband but also because of the sickness of their souls. I witnessed to them and they gladly received Christ as Savior—a gift that even Satan can’t rob them of.
We went in the pediatric ward and witnessed to the mother of a child. I took down the names and later counted that I led 17 souls to Christ! This is an eternal gift that never fades. I learned that helping the needy is important. I may be nothing but I can give the greatest gift—Jesus!
The street children had a special Christmas event; nine doctors came and gave them medical checkups. They get a lot of food and gifts. Street children can eat more food than any group of people I have ever seen. This event is always held at the church. This year about 70 members of the IBC orchestra played Christmas songs for nearly an hour for the kids. They were such an enthusiastic group.
Each year I ask the church to not only look for those who are very poor or have physical problems but to ask the Lord to help them find those who have their hearts broken by tragedies or circumstances that come into their lives.
Most importantly we look for people who need Christ as their Savior. I’m so glad for many years to have experienced seeing people who were touched by the kindness of the members of IBC and to see people open their hearts to the Gospel.
In closing Becky and I want to thank you for all you have done to help the Lord’s work here in the Philippines. We are very grateful for Christians halfway around the world that are behind this ministry.
Sincerely in Christ,
Rick & Becky Martin
January 14, 2014
Dear Praying Friends,
We would like to begin this letter by expressing our appreciation for the wonderful response to the need of helping the Filipino people as they recover from Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that devastated many cities, towns and villages back in November. At last count, 119 church buildings were destroyed, 156 pastors lost their homes, and an additional 26 had significant damage to either their homes or church buildings. Thankfully, by God’s grace and through the generous sacrifices of many Christians, a little over 100 of these buildings are being rebuilt.
You can read stories and see many pictures of the damage and relief effort on our website athttp://martinsibc.jimdo.com/typhoon-yolanda-updates/
So much progress has been made in recent weeks, and yet there are so many who are still struggling. Everyone who was affected in one way or another by this major storm is very grateful to the Lord for sparing their lives, and they are very humble, in that they would rather use the money given to them for their homes or churches, to be used to help their church members and others. Not only were their homes and buildings destroyed many of them lost all their personal belongings and church materials. Livelihoods were lost as well. There are people who are hurting emotionally and physically. Please continue to pray for these dear Christians.
As many of you know, my wife Brandie’s dad, Larry Lee went to Heaven on December 9. He passed away exactly 5 months after being diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. She was able to stay in Florida with her mom and family for about 7 weeks. We appreciate the many prayers, words of kindness, and expressions of sympathy shown to our family in this time of loss. Heaven is real and it’s sounding sweeter all the time!
God has blessed and continues to work in our ministries here at Iloilo Baptist Church. We had our annual Police Appreciation Service, an outstanding Christmas Musical presentation and various other “special” outreaches during the month of December. There have been souls saved, baptized and lives changed for eternity and you have had a part in that!
1. Please remember the graduates of our Bible college, their people, and our student’s families who are recovering from the typhoon.
2. Our church’s radio station 106.3 FM “The Anchor”
3. Brandie and her family
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your love and support.
Ricky & Brandie Martin
February 9, 2013
Dear Praying Friends,
Pastor Hermando Abelitado was one of our college’s early graduates and started several churches that reached tribes in the mountains. His life was taken in a roadside accident a few days before Christmas as he was preparing for his newest church’s anniversary. He was married and had four children. The alumni and staff here loved him, and it was quite a shock to us all when it happened. I had spoken to him two weeks prior, and he was excited about his church and a future project we had been planning. The picture above is of a memorial service at our December alumni meeting. We heard some great testimonies from his fellow pastors. Please pray for his family and church as they figure out what to do next.
Yesterday I traveled to Cebaguan, Tapaz, Capiz, to visit with some pastors and to recruit for the college. I was served sweet fried bananas called Banana-Q and Coke, cordially breaking my New Year’s resolution, as I didn’t want to insult my hosts’ limited beverage selection. The village is a few kilometers northwest of nowhere, and I was advised to be out by dark because of some skirmishes in the past with insurgents. I listened. Here is a picture of some of the teenagers who enrolled at Iloilo Baptist College.
Brandie, TJ, and Ava are good, though Ava is developing a strange vocabulary. There was a giant spider in our bathroom (giant even by tropical standards) and TJ tried to shoot it with his Nerf gun (a toy, if I need to clarify). I explained to him that the spider was our friend because it eats roaches and scorpions. TJ had somehow remembered where he had seen a dead roach outside a few days earlier and scooped it up on a paper with his sad/angry face drawn on it and presented his peace offering to the spider. Whatever cognitive, analytical, or critical thinking abilities a spider may have, watching me and TJ have this talk in front of her (we named it Betsy) must have been entertaining. Brandie upset me and sprayed a different one, also a giant, in TJ’s room last night (pictured below). I don’t know who’s the weirdest in our family, probably yours truly. The mission field can do some strange things to your mind.
If I may, there are a few things I’d like to ask you to pray about: our soon-to-be radio station, college graduation in March and church planting by those graduates, Family Day in two weeks, and, as always, student recruitment.
Christmas is my favorite time of the year. There are many opportunities to reach people and see God open hearts here in Iloilo City during this season. Since 1986 Iloilo Baptist Church and College has had a “Help the Needy” program during Christmas. Instead of going home, most of the students of Iloilo Baptist College spend their Christmas vacation helping people in need. It is amazing to see these Bible students and staff, who have so little, do so much.
For weeks the staff plan and pray about what they hope to accomplish. One person took a group of students and searched the poorest neighborhoods in our part of the city and identified 10 of the most needy families. They began to gather used clothing and they saved their money (some of them even donated some of the money they needed for their own food) to buy groceries for each family. They also offered to help repair some of the homes. They went to these homes the week before Christmas and sang Christmas songs and gave gifts to these families. More importantly, they shared the Gospel.
One lady on our staff went to local government officials to help locate the poorest children in our city. The government workers provided 300 names. This staff lady had a meal for these children and their mothers at our church. One week before Christmas some staff and students went out daily on a quest. On Tuesday they found some blind people who beg in the streets of our city and gave them gifts and sang Christmas songs to them. On Wednesday they did the same thing for several elderly people. On Thursday they went to the town plaza and searched out some lonely people and gave them gifts. On Friday they gave food and clothing to poor people in our neighborhood.
One group gave gifts to leper patients; another gave food and gifts to a young man whose arms and legs are so useless, he has to be carried everywhere (see photo above).
Another group decided to help the family of one of their classmates whose father was dying of cancer. They raised an amount that he needed for medicine. One worker took gifts to some bedridden people.
Recently two fires occurred in our city, destroying 10 houses. Most of these families lost all they had. One group had a Christmas party for the children of these fire victims and also purchased a water pump so the people there would have water. Another group went to a government hospital and gave gifts to heartbroken people. The greatest gift they gave that day was to tell them about the greatest gift of all: salvation.
The children of our church staff went to a poor area and had a Christmas party for about 80 children. As with all the other events, people were told how to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
One group from our church went to a primitive tribal group in a rural area on our island to bring food and gifts. Two church members who teach in secular universities convinced their class to forgo their own class party and use the money to have a party for the less fortunate. One had a party for poor children, another for the handicapped.
A Christmas party was held at the church for the Street Children of our city. They received gifts, a meal, and a free medical checkup (pictured left).
Another party was held for about 50 widows with groceries and a meal. Space does not permit me to mention all of the groups and what they did.
Have you ever seen someone who had very little of this world’s goods make such an impact on the lives of others? This Christmas was the best in my life, as I was able to witness so many people sacrificing their time and money to help others, which resulted in many people opening their hearts to Jesus. Below are a few testimonies of some of the workers that I wanted to share with you:
*The students in our group raised money and donated used clothing. After church we met and divided everything; our goal was to help five needy families. One of our church members gave us a lot of groceries to help the families. The next morning we prayed and went to our area. One man we helped drives a trisikad (bike with side cart used as taxi) to feed his family. The mother abandoned her family. He told us he prayed that he’d have something to give his family for Christmas as his job barely provides their daily food. We sang Christmas songs, gave him gifts, and prayed with him.
*On Saturday some Bible students and I visited my route and gave gifts to the neediest families. One was a man named Joseph who is blind. His wife faithfully comes to our church. Joseph had a smile on his face when we left—not only because of the gifts we brought but because he received Jesus Christ as his Savior! Another blind lady we visited has a grandchild crippled with polio. We were so sad when we saw that little girl (see photo below). Some of the family members received Christ as Savior. I know the students in my group have great needs too, but they have seen people with greater needs. I believe we can do great things for the Lord if we are willing to do little things for others.
*Our group went to the poorest family in our barangay (village). We gave rice, used clothing, and groceries. We sang Christmas songs and gave a message about Christmas. We explained that the greatest gift of all isn’t these temporal gifts, but an eternal gift: Jesus! They received Him as their Savior! We invited them to the Christmas Musical at our church and they came!
*There are families that live in a squatter area near the river. The children go to the garbage dump each day to gather plastic or cans to sell to buy food for the family. On Sunday our Bible students go there to gather children and bring them to church. The families we helped were so surprised and thankful for the gifts. We sang Christmas songs and gave them groceries, gifts, and New Testaments. I was touched when one child said, “We don’t have to gather from the garbage dump today because we have food now.”
*Our group went to visit the forgotten people: the leper patients at the leprosarium with some young people from our church. They enjoyed the gifts and the message about Jesus, the greatest Gift.
*I asked my group of Bible students to raise money so we could feed the Aetas—the native people from the mountains who come to Iloilo City at Christmas time to beg. There was a group of them sleeping in Jaro Plaza every night so we went there and told them we’d come the following day to give them lunch. They were very excited. The next day we went there and I preached and then we served lunch. All of us were especially touched by a little crippled boy. Later the students told me they were trying hard not to cry. I can see my students were so blessed by this activity. We went home with joy in our hearts…In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
*For 10 years I have been going to the government hospital every Christmas. I decided when my mother died that I would give a gift to a patient every Christmas. I shared it with the Bible students in our group and they decided to help. I am happy that they have a heart to help needy people. I want them to learn how to sacrifice for others. From wanting to give one gift this project has grown—this year we gave 85 gifts to the hospital patients! But more important, we shared with them about salvation and the real meaning of Christmas (see photo below). People in the hospital certainly need comfort and love and our students were so blessed to be used by God.
*We picked a poor area and started Christmas caroling. Here in the Philippines, many groups of people go around doing that, and ask money from the people that they sing to. After we sang the people said they were sorry, they had no money to give but we said, no, we were the ones to give to them! They were so surprised! One elderly lady started crying, and she hugged each person in our group, thanking them. Everyone in our group and tears in their eyes and they were happy that they sacrificed for that moment. I’m so glad to see our Bible students experience the joy in giving and helping those in need.
*We decided we would repair the little nepa hut of a poor family on my route. Many need help but this family was really hard up. There were no walls and the house was on the edge of a cliff (see photo below). We saved our money and bought materials. Everyday whenever some of the boys had spare time, they would work on the bamboo walls. When it was done they carried it to the place and put up the walls. The family was very grateful.
*All I used to care about at Christmas was what I was going to receive. From a child I always gave to Pastor Martin’s Help the Needy Program. This year I did more than give money; I went to the hospital and played my violin for the patients. While I played Christmas songs, my friends went from bed to bed, in that crowded and pitiful children’s’ ward, sharing the Gospel. Then they passed out gifts. As we were leaving a mother rushed up to me, asking if we had any more gifts. I saw behind her a 3-year-old boy with a baldhead (see photo below), suffering from leukemia. He was crying because he had no gift. We were able to find one for him but I had to turn away to keep people from seeing the tears in my eyes. That day I saw the true spirit of Christmas.
*There is a place in our city called Relocation Site because that is where indigent people have been moved, and those who are fire victims that lost their homes. It is a very poor area and our group went there with prepared food and had a party for the children. They were so happy to see us! We sang and shared a Bible story. We also had some toys for the younger ones. Many of the children were not even wearing shoes. We noticed the children when they are eating. They don’t pay attention to anyone or anything—only their food. There was no leftover food on their plate. Many of them only eat once a day. Our hearts were full.
Many workers expressed how happy this Christmas was for them because they thought more about what they were going to give, as opposed to what they were going to receive; they sacrificed their time and money, so they could give gifts to the poor, and they shared the greatest gift of all, salvation through Christ, with the needy.
For seven years our choir has had a presentation of the Christmas story with a live nativity. At the end we have preaching and many people accepted Christ. We have three presentations with about 1,100 first time visitors at the first and 700 at the second. The third is held when our graduates are here for alumni meeting. One reason we do this is because people who would normally never come to our church will come to see the drama. My son Ricky invited an atheist. He came the first night and brought his children. He came to the second and brought his wife (my wife led her to the Lord.) There are countless stories like this I wish I could share. I love looking around at the audience and seeing tears flowing as people watch the Christmas story!
In closing, please continue to pray for the radio ministry as we work on getting a franchise at a reasonable price so we can operate. Please pray God will give us wisdom as we move forward. Also, please pray for the families of two Iloilo Baptist College graduates who went home to be with the Lord: Florenda Cabaya graduated in 1993 and helped Pastor Billy Caalem (one of our graduates with a Bible college) for eight years. She then helped Pastor George Cabaya (a graduate of Bro. Caalem’s Bible college) who started a Bible college in Mindanao. She died after giving birth. Pastor Hermando Abelitado graduated in 1984 and was killed in an accident December 22. He was a good friend to me for 28 years and a faithful pastor who started several churches. In our next letter I hope to share more about his life. God used him and I will miss him.
Sincerely in Christ,
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!
October 12, 2012
Dear Praying Friends,
Family Update: Our daughter Ava (14 months old) is walking now and, of course, occasionally falling. T.J. is turning 5 on the 24th and is excited about his cousin Landon, his Aunt Rachel, and his Uncle Matt visiting us for a few weeks. Since our last letter, I was admitted to the hospital for eight days with dengue fever and had to undergo platelet transfusions. It wasn’t enjoyable, but there are worse things to have. Thank you to those who knew, prayed, and sent messages and comments on my wife’s Facebook page. Your prayers for us are greatly appreciated.
The church had its 10th Police Appreciation Night with nearly 300 officers. We honored three families and widows of men killed in the line of duty in our city this year.
We just got done with the annual pastors’ conference, where I met with nearly a hundred pastors. One of them, (pictured above right) Ronil Sadam (who started a new church this year), shared this new Christian’s testimony (verbatim):
“I am Ronie Sibuano from Garcia Tapaz, Capiz, 54 years old, married to Terrie Sibuano. I have six children, five girls and one boy. My wife and my four children are already member of Fundamental Baptist Church. I and my two daughters are member of Catholic Church but we are not faithful in attending mass. Sometimes I go to church thrice a year, and sometimes twice. I am very grateful to the lord for not just saving me from hell, but also for changing my life from worst to better. Before I am badly sank to worldly pleasure, like vices and worldly friends which made me worst. Many times my wife talk to me with tears begging me to give up all the vices that I have. I tried, but I can’t because of my friends that keep on forcing me to do it again and again. Until one time Pastor Ronil Sadam visited me and shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ to me. He told me that if I die without Christ in my heart, I will suffer forever in Hell because of my sin. I began to be convicted of my sin and I trust the Lord Jesus Christ alone as my Lord and Savior. Sunday after I got saved, I attended the church service of Pastor Ronil Sadam for the first time. After the service I decide to get baptized. Since I got saved I decided to give up all vices that I have. I am now enjoying my life in attending churchservices and participating in the Lord’s work. Truly real satisfaction is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. Please pray for my spiritual growth and my unsaved loved ones that they may experience the real satisfaction that I have experienced. To God be the glory.”
We pray that God continues to bless you and your ministries.
Ricky Martin & Family
Pastor Jessie Porras has been a faithful pastor for 20 years, starting several churches in the province of Capiz (see photo of Brother Jessie witnessing to a farmer and his wife, and the photo of Brother Jessie with his wife and children in front of their church). He has a great spirit and is on fire for God. Here is his story in his own words:
I was born in 1972 at Dumarao Capiz. I am the 9th child. We were 12 kids in the family—six boys and six girls. My father is a farmer. Although we were very poor our parents tried their best to see that we were educated but some of us weren’t able to finish high school because of poverty. I myself only finished my first year of high school.
I got involved in the NPA (New People’s Army—communist rebels) as a courier. I always knew where they were hiding in the mountains. I would walk 15 kilometers from one mountain to another. They taught me how to use an armalite gun and to throw grenades even though I was only 15 years old. This was very exciting to me. I decided I wanted to fight with the NPA for the rest of my life.
One day, while I was still in my first year of high school, my brother Raymundo came to visit us. He was attending Iloilo Baptist College. Ray wanted me to go to Bible College but I told him I don’t want to. He was very wise—he told me I could work in the boat factory because at that time, some of the students were making wood boats as a handicraft to sell in the USA. This was how they worked their way through school. I was excited about learning this craft and earning money. The only thing was, he didn’t tell me I had to be a student to work in the factory! Ray also told me that I would be going with him every Saturday to teach the children. I told him ok, as long as he would buy me a deck of playing cards to teach the children. Now that I’m a pastor and I think back to those days it is funny to me—how God used my brother to convince me to go to Bible College!
First Baptist Church, Sibarawan, Dumarao, Capiz, under Pastor Lumawag and Pastor Distor, held a DVBS every summer. I always attended as a little boy. During the invitation time, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour. I really did not receive assurance of my salvation until I went to Bible college however. I don’t think that I fully understood it as a child. After arriving at IBC, one of the students, who is now a pastor, Brother Cubar, went through the plan of salvation with me so I received assurance of my salvation.
Two of my brothers, Graciano and Raymundo, also graduated from IBC and are pastors. My sisters, Lynnie and Renelyn, graduated from IBC and are serving the Lord. In fact, Renelyn is the wife of Missionary Josue Satunero, also an IBC graduate. They have been missionaries in Uganda, Africa, for many years.
During my time of Bible college I have to admit there were times of discouragement but through God’s grace I graduated in 1992. Now I am a pastor at Tao First Fundamental Baptist Church in Dao, Capiz.
I don’t regret that I became a pastor instead of a member of the NPA! Praise the Lord for using my brother to recruit me for Bible school. Thank God for IBC and Pastor Martin.
We may have a plan for our life, but God always has a better plan!
MEET A STUDENT OF ILOILO BAPTIST COLLEGE: KIMUEL DETANGCO
I was born into a poor family on November 11, 1991 in Sara, Iloilo. My parents are farmers. Before my dad was saved he was a persecutor of our church. The first one saved in our family was my older sister, then my mom. After my mom got saved she was very faithful to all the church activities—Bible studies, visitation, church services, etc. Our pastor is Michael Balinas.
Every time my mother went with our pastor and his workers to conduct a Bible study, my dad would be there outside, waiting for my mother, drinking his liquor. Then there would be a war in our house after the Bible study. My mom was very patient, quiet, and prayerful.
My father was very angry when my mother was baptized. He took a big knife and chopped up the Bible. My mother cried and asked God to forgive my dad. My father became very ill—so ill that he stopped smoking and drinking. We lost all our farm animals paying for my father’s illness. My mother was a prayer warrior and she would constantly invite my dad to church.
Finally my dad started attending church service until one day he got saved! My mom encouraged him to give his tithe. God blessed that and increased their income and my father was very faithful in tithing. He became very faithful in church attendance until finally he became a preacher substitute now and then. My mother is a Sunday school teacher and also involved in the school ministry.
My parents always taught me that I should be content with whatever God allows me to have. They also taught me to study hard and never be ashamed to share the message of God. I got very good grades and my grandfather helped with the finances of my education.
Since our school was very far from our home I had to board. I learned how to cook and wash my clothes. I learned how to budget my money. Every Saturday I went to the plaza and witnessed to young people and many got saved. I invited them to attend our church. Every Sunday I brought visitors to church.
I am now a 4th year student at Iloilo Baptist College. I am involved in school ministry, Bible study, and bringing children and adults to church on the jeepney. My favorite subject is prophecy and my favorite verse is Gal. 2:20. (See photo of Kimuel leading a soul to Christ- above and another of Kimuel with children he brings to church-below)
News & Prayer Requests:
1. Last month, Richard Gemelian, one of our graduates, died suddenly. Brother Richard grew up in Iloilo Baptist church and enrolled in IBC in 1999. He graduated in 2003. Each year, almost all of the men who graduate from Iloilo Baptist College go out and start a church. For several years I have encouarged the graduates to consider going to two areas of our island that are more difficult to reach because they are very strong Catholic areas. Brother Richard was one who decided to go and start a church in one of these areas that are not so receptive to the Gospel. For nine years he stayed there, starting one church in 2003, and anohter more recently. Both churches still meet in houses of his church members as he has had a difficult time finding land. Patiently he began to win the hearts of people in these two villages. He has been training one of his men to someday become a pastor. After he died I talked to his wife, who is burdened that the work God did through her husband would continue. Please pray for Mrs. Gemelian, and their two-year-old child that the Lord would undertake for them.
2. Please pray for the upcoming Pastors & Workers Conference the first week of October. It has been an annual event for 32 years. Please pray that those who attend will be encouraged and challenged.
3. Please pray for the possibility of starting a radio station here. We are going forward and working on the different aspects of operating one if the Lord opens the door.
4. Please pray for the students of Iloilo Baptist College (see photo of student body below) as they prepare to start churches.
5. FAMILY: Our son Ricky was in the hospital for eight days with dengue fever. We are very grateful for his recovery. He and our daughter Rachel had a lot of sickness growing up but this is the worst I have ever seen him sick. For those of you who knew about this and prayed for him, thank you! Our daughter Rachel, her husband Matt, and our grandson Landon, are planning to be here for the Pastors & Workers Conference. We are very excited to see them again!
August 17, 2012
Dear Praying Friends,
Greetings! We will be going to Manila for Ava’s permanent visa hearing on August 28; please pray that everything goes smoothly and quickly. We’ve been working on this process for twelve months.
Tonight I went with my dad to a wake for an Iloilo policeman who was murdered this week. His widow is three months pregnant with their first child. We’re praying that she will come to our Police Appreciation Night next month, along with two other police wives who were recently widowed and their families.
In recent weeks we’ve enjoyed hosting visiting groups from several churches in the States. It’s always exciting to see young people who are considering the mission field for future ministry.
Pastor Jeremie Repogio is supported by Global Baptist Church Planters. He started new church near Bacolod City and is doing well and reaching people in his area. Here is a testimony of one of his new members:
I am Rodelyn Montebilano, 34, and I am married with two kids. We are neither Catholic nor Protestant. My husband and I don’t belong to any group. We did not go to any church. My mother was a member of an Evangelical church since I was a little girl, and I remember she always brought me when she wanted to worship on Sundays. When I got married, my mother always told me to look for a Christian church, and she encouraged me to join one. I was content to not go to church, and my husband didn’t want to. One day my mother was visiting our home, and she met Pastor Jeremie Repogio when he was visiting houses in our place and passing out tracts. My mother called me and introduced me to him, and then he started talking to me about Jesus Christ, and he dealt with me about the saving grace of Jesus. It was then I realized I was really a sinner that needed to confess and ask forgiveness of my sins. That day I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. Every Sunday I’m now faithfully attending church with my two kids. My prayer is that my husband will go with us someday, but he always makes excuses when I invite him. May the Lord touch his heart one day and he, too, will come to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Thanks to my mother and to Pastor Jeremie that the Lord used them for me to realize that I needed Jesus Christ in my life and that life without God is hopeless and miserable.
For more information about Global Baptist Church Planters, Pastor Jeremie, and how you can help others like him, visit www.globalbaptist.net.
Ricky Martin & family
I’ve asked my wife to share some of her experiences in an area of Iloilo City where she works to reach people with the Gospel:
One Sunday night I was picking up people on my jeepney route for church. I saw an 11-year-old girl who came to church often and I invited her. She told me she hadn’t eaten all day. She has no dad so her mom works as a maid on the other side of the city. This girl and her sister are living with a married sister. The mom comes once a week and gives the married sister money to feed the two younger sisters. If she doesn’t show up, the two younger sisters don’t eat because the married sister and her husband can barely feed themselves and their kids. I gave her some bread when we got to church but I can’t feed her everyday for the rest of her life. That night I couldn’t sleep, thinking about her. I worried all the next day about her. Did her mom finally show up? Would she eat today?
The Philippines is a very beautiful country but it is also a very poor country. Although I know there are other nations around the globe that are worse off, I also know that a lot of people here scramble just to feed their families everyday.
A lot of people are worried about the economy and jobs, in the USA and around the world. A lot of people are hurting everywhere but poverty is relative. People in the USA who think they are living in poverty would be
shocked if they visited a third world country. I know I was the first time I came here almost 35 years ago. In fact, after all these years, I am still shocked by a lot of things. People in the USA are worried about health care. Without trying to belittle their problems, I wish they could visit a third-world country. It is so different from America. People here who can’t afford their daily food, for sure can’t afford doctors, medicine, or insurance. When you go to the hospital, you have to pay for everything in advance—blood, IV, medicine, etc.
A lady on my route had a baby who has a heart problem. They are extremely poor; they can barely feed their children. Although I’ve helped them a little with medicines, there is no way I can pay for heart surgery. Since my husband and I have a daughter with a heart problem, we are especially sympathetic when we meet other parents who have children with heart problems. There is a family on my route, who has 13 children living in a tiny shack. Two of the girls have a heart problem. These girls have been coming to our church for many years; one is 22 years old and one is 13. Sometimes when I go there, they say they cannot go because they are not feeling well. Breathing is difficult for them.
Recently when I went there to invite them to church, Jenelyn pointed to her feet. They were terribly swollen. She had been to the clinic and had a prescription for medicine, which I bought for her. I thought, “She is retaining fluid; she is going into heart failure; she doesn’t have long to live.” Each week when I visited her she was no better, in fact she kept getting worse. The swelling crept up her calves, then up her thighs. She was so thin, except for her swollen legs; she was just a skeleton. She sat in the windowsill with two rags hanging down in loops. She would put her arms through these. I knew it was to help her sit there, in her weakened state, just so she could breathe. She couldn’t lie down because it made her breathing worse. I never heard her complain. She would just smile and apologize that she couldn’t go to church. She would say, “I wish I could go to church Ma’am.” I held her thin little hand, and prayed for her. I hugged her and told her I loved her. My heart was broken, seeing her suffer like that.
The swelling kept creeping up her body until finally, they took her to the hospital. In fact, 13-year-old Janice also had to be hospitalized. (picture shows MaryAnn, a Bible college student-left, who led Janice-middle, as well as her brother-right, to the Lord.) Jenelyn’s suffering finally ended. I am so glad she was saved. She no longer lives in a miserable little shack—she walks on streets of gold. Janice was released from the hospital in time for her sister’s funeral. When a child gets sick, many families face this question: “Do I use the little money we have to buy medicine for one sick child, or do I use it to feed the rest of my children?” It seems so unfair that any parent would have to face that. If my family gets sick, we have money to go to the doctor and buy medicines. They don’t. When we become anxious about our lives we must learn to cast our anxiety on God. I pray with these dear people, and I tell them to cast all their cares on the Lord. If I don’t do that in my own life, how can I teach others to do it? In fact I often think that they are the teachers; I am the student. It’s God’s business to care for us. When we are going through hard times, our fellowship with God will be more genuine. When we are going through the fire, the unbelieving world is able to see that God is real through us, hopefully. Although I can help now and then, I cannot feed everyone everyday; although I can help now and then, I cannot take care of everyone’s medical problems. There is something I can do though; I can bring that little 11-year-old girl, and 13-year-old girl to church and love them. I can give out the Gospel; the best way to help anyone. The mother of the baby came to church one Sunday morning and got saved! Jenelyn and Janice’s dad got saved as well. When I looked into Jenelyn’s eyes, the last time I saw her, I saw suffering but I did not see fear. She had learned a wonderful truth that the unsaved world cannot understand—in spite of everything, God cared for her.
VETERANS OF WORLD WAR II AND ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES APPRECIATION DAY
This past May 27 we had the 7th annual Veterans of World War II Appreciation Day. (See three photos below of veterans.) This year we included the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). This year there were about 25 veterans ranging in age from 88 to 98. It was touching to see these men in the twilight years of their life. There were many widows, relatives, and friends of the veterans of World War II and soldiers of the AFP. One of the highlights was honoring six soldiers who had been wounded this year while fighting with the communist rebels. I asked two distinguished veterans to help give the awards including Ricardo Hechanova (pictured below) who was the officer in charge of burial duty at Camp O’Donnell. He was responsible for burying 25,000 men including many who died after the Bataan Death March. Plaques of Appreciation were given to a representative of the two army camps on our island. Besides the regular soldiers and the ones who were wounded, the AFP sent a team of doctors from their medical staff. About 20 policemen attended. Fifteen of them helped carry the flags including the Allied flags of the United States, New Zealand, Great Britain, Australia, the Philippine flag, and 10 historical flags of the Philippines. Quite a few of the veterans are US citizens and they like to have this event on the US Memorial Day. Many of the soldiers, veterans, and their friends and family received Christ as Saviour that day. I was invited soon after Memorial Day to speak at our local police precinct on Philippine Independence Day July 12th.
News & Prayer Requests
The school year begins in the Philippines in June. Please pray for the graduates of IBC who have Bible schools that God would be with them as they train workers for the ministry.
There are eight groups from churches from the USA coming over the next three months. Please pray that the time they spend here would be a blessing to them. Some of the groups have young people coming with them. Please pray God would touch their hearts and that some would someday return to help reach this open country. Over the past few years it has been difficult physically for me to travel. Since I have pretty much stopped traveling to the USA I am thankful for the pastors who are able to come here.
Last year I wrote about Pastor Florencio Muleta who the Lord has used in a wonderful way in the mountains of Negros Island. The Lord has provided a way for him to build a building to expand his ministry. The building is still being built but the church is already using it as you can see by the bottom photo below.
We are continuing to pray about having a radio station here in Iloilo City. Please pray the Lord would guide us.
Family News: Our grandson, T.J. Martin, got saved! He also started Kindergarten this past June. The second day he was there, he must have had enough of school because he changed his watch from 8:30 am to 9:00 am, which is their break time. He showed it to his teacher, who doesn’t have a watch or a clock in the room and she really thought it was break time! Needless to say, our daughter-in-law, Brandie, bought a clock for the Kindergarten room!
In closing let me say that Becky and I are so thankful for those of you who pray for us and give sacrificially for the Lord’s work here in the Philippines. We are extremely grateful!
June 7, 2012
Dear Praying Friends,
On May 15, our son T.J. trusted Christ as his Saviour. Brandie was talking to him before he went to sleep that night and was going through the plan of salvation with him, when he suddenly said, “I don’t want to go to Hell. I need to pray and ask Jesus to come into my heart!” It was a sweet moment, and after he prayed he wanted to run next door to tell his grandparents what had happened. We thank the Lord for T.J.’s child-like faith and for answering our prayers that he would be saved at a young age.
Another milestone we’ve reached with T.J. is that he just started kindergarten this week. Our church has a small ACE school for the children of our church staff. He’s been so excited about going to school.
Ava will be 11 months old on August 1. She is a sweetheart who loves to play with her brother, sing songs with her mom, eat, and go outside. Sometimes I take her to staff meeting (pictured below).
At our annual Veterans’ Appreciation Day on May 27, there were 25 World War II veterans in attendance. Many of them brought their relatives and friends. There were also many widows who came. This year we honored six wounded soldiers who are currently serving in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (pictured below). They were hurt while fighting rebel groups. Several of them got saved. There were also military doctors, about 20 police officers, and our regular Sunday morning crowd’s first-time visitors. God blessed this special service in a great way.
Thank you for your continued prayer and support for the Lord’s work here in Iloilo.
Ricky Martin & Family
March 21,2012 was a day I will never forget. It was on a Wednesday; the date scheduled for the graduation of the 31st class of Iloilo Baptist College. I enjoy graduation each year but the Lord gave us an especially good group of fourth year students this year. Before the service we all met and each of them gave a testimony about what God had done in their lives. Their words brought tears to most of those listening including me.
Missionary Mario Genada who is here from Zambia for a short time was our speaker. Before he preached we honored him and his wife Dianah (photo above). Dianah grew up at IBC. When she was a child she rode on one of the jeepneys provided for children whose parents did not attend the church. She received Christ as her Savior and as a teenager became a faithful worker. She surrendered to go to Bible College and by faith made it through with a very good record. After graduation she went out to the mountains to work in the Bible College of Pastor Billy Caalem. It was very different from what she was used to here in the city and she probably wondered why God put her in such a place. Little did she know she would end up in Africa. She married Mario Genada and after a few years on staff at IBC they went to Zambia.
During the next 14 years Dianah only came back to the Philippines once, for 3 months. She could have come more but she sacrificed so her husband could make a few trips back to the Philippines to present his ministry in some of the churches here, as the churches in the Philippines were supporting him. Brother Genada preached a great message on graduation night. He had come to IBC for the first time when his brother graduated in 1988. A priest raised him because his family was so poor. He was saved the night he saw his brother graduate. Four years later, he also graduated from IBC. After the service the graduates divide into small groups around the property to eat and fellowship with their families, classmates, and friends. I make it a point to go to each of these places. The graduates will normally give testimonies to those gathered and then eat. These testimonies are such a blessing to me personally. I was just leaving one of these groups when someone came running up to me and told me that one of our students had blood all over his face and shirt. I immediately thought that a gang had attacked him but within a few moments I found out he had been throwing up a large amount of blood. He was sitting in the back seat of a taxi unconscious. He was rushed to a hospital about ten minutes away.
It happened so fast. The feeling of joy I had been experiencing the whole evening was suddenly changed to grief and crying out to God to help this young man. His name was Joebert and he was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. He had just finished his third year in Bible College.
Like many Christians their true greatness is often kept secret by their humility until they are gone and their life story unfolds. Joebert fits in this category. He was already known as a good soul winner and for having a good spirit but the days following his death revealed more about his dedication.
Joebert’s father lives on an island about three hours away by bus plus a 45-minute boat ride. We were able to contact Joebert’s pastor and he was able to locate Joebert’s father very late that night. Joebert’s father is a strong Christian. His wife left him 9 years ago and Joebert hadn’t seen his mom since then. Joebert was influenced by his pastor and had a desire for God to use him.
A couple of years before he came to Bible College he got very sick and almost died. The doctor told his father he didn’t know how long he would live. Joebert told his dad not to worry because he was going to go to Bible College and become a pastor. He did get better and came to IBC. He had a good sense humor and was loved by all who knew him.
While he was at school no one had any idea he was sick. One day he told a classmate about his sickness. He said he didn’t want anyone to know because we would ask him to go home if we knew about his condition. He probably had thrown up blood on several occasions without anyone knowing. He was so determined to finish. Two days after his home going we held a memorial service. Before the service we had the entire orchestra play some songs about Jesus and Heaven. Before the service even started the Lord moved our hearts. During the service students and staff members gave testimonies about him.
Here are some things that were said:
I met Joebert in March of 2009; we were recruiting students for Bible College. I talked to his dad about
Joebert going to IBC and he said, “Yes.” He said Joebert had gotten sick before but he said, “God is good. He has a plan for my son. That is why he got well.” From his first year until his death, Joebert never came to me and murmured or complained about anything. Every time I talked to him and asked how he was doing he said, “I want to stay here. I can sacrifice so I can finish my studies. Don’t worry about me. I’m always ok.” He had a burden & passion in his heart to graduate and be a pastor.
Joebert was a humble person and he loved soul winning. We were to make a sermon outline for class and Joebert showed me his and asked, “Do you think it will be a blessing?” The title was, “The Rest of My Life.” Little did we know his life would end so soon. I’m so proud of Joebert because in spite of his illness he continued to serve God.
Not only was Joebert a soul winner, but also he had courage. He would preach the Gospel anytime—anywhere! Joebert would pass out tracts when he rode on a jeepney. He would courageously share the Gospel with drunkards. He always had a smile on his face. Anytime I felt discouraged he would say, “Never turn back in serving God. Just press on no matter what happens.
That night I spoke on Romans 8:28. I said when God took Bob Hughes to Heaven at the height of his ministry at the age of only 43, many surrendered to the mission field, including me. I told the story of how God had a purpose in the lives of John and Betty Stam who were executed by the communists only about one year after they had started their ministry in China. When a memorial service was held at Moody Bible Institute, 700 young people stood indicating that they were willing to take the Stam’s place. Finally I spent awhile telling about the life of a missionary I respect so much, Bill Borden. Bill Borden gave up his fortune as a young man, and died only a short time after leaving for the mission field. He was the missionary who wrote in his Bible the words “No Regrets” shortly before dying in Cairo, Egypt, at the age of 25. His testimony caused many students to surrender their lives to whatever God wanted for them.
Joebert’s funeral was held 11 days later on the island where he lived. His mother came to the funeral and felt much remorse for all she had done. She told the people present she wanted to come back home to her husband and children if they would forgive her. Joebert’s father asked me the day after Joebert died to pray for his wife to return, as he still loved her. At the funeral Joebert’s teenaged sister said she would go to Bible College and take her brother’s place. While it is hard to see a dedicated Christian such as Joebert die at the age of only 22, Romans 8:28 is still true. God has already changed and challenged the hearts of many. Our staff and students were so inspired to learn about his dedication. His family has been reunited. That would probably have never happened if his mother’s heart had not been broken by her sin because of her son’s death.
March 21, 2012 is a day I will never forget. And many of us here will never forget the testimony of Brother Joebert.
News and Prayer Requests
A lot has happened since our last newsletter when I shared some of the opportunities here. We had three services with our Easter Musical. There were about 800 first time visitors in the first service. On that night a police officer received Christ as Savior and made a public profession of faith. In our last prayer letter I mentioned that our local precinct commander was saved. On the first night of our musical he was baptized. The same night a member who is an officer in the Armed Forces of the Philippines who had taken a short leave from his duty in a very strong communist rebel area, led a soul to Christ. He brought his convert forward and introduced him to the church. It was exciting to see what God did that night. That young man in the army is a strong Christian. He preaches and has led several of the men under his command to the Lord.
Four weeks later on Iloilo Baptist Church’s 34th anniversary the police commander brought about 125 members of the auxiliary police, known as Barangay (Neighborhood) Police Action Team. These are volunteers who help the police in the different neighborhoods in our section of the city. On two occasions the past month the police commander went with a group of our workers into neighborhoods and showed a film on illegal drugs followed by an evangelistic film. It has been an effective way to reach people.
On April 9-11 we had Youth Conference. The preaching was very challenging and about 100 young people surrendered to go to Bible College. The two days following the Youth Conference we had the teenage children of pastors stay so we could have a short camp for them. Brother Mario Genada, our missionary to Zambia, spoke and about 50 of the teens surrendered to go to Bible College. The next week we had a music workshop for workers from different churches in Panay and Negros Islands. The same week we held a Youth Camp in the province of Antique. The next week there were four youth camps held in Northern and Southern Negros Island, Capiz Province, and the Central area of Iloilo Province. Please pray that the decisions made at the different camps will last a lifetime and will have an impact that will affect many people for eternity.
BEAMS BIBLES, along with the help of the Faith Baptist Church of Tacoma, Washington, is shipping a container of 800 boxes for pastors with each box containing Bibles, New Testaments and other items for pastors here in the Philippines. Most of these are distributed to the pastors attending the annual Pastors and Workers Conference held in early October. Others are given to pastors in Manila and also at two conferences held for pastors here in Panay Island. If you would be interested to help with the shipping costs I know it would be a great help to those who have sacrificed to help these dedicated pastors. Beams Bibles has shipped Bibles to over 130 countries and helped thousands of pastors and missionaries around the world. You can send gifts to any of the following:
Beams Bibles Faith Baptist Church Baptist International Missions Inc.
PO Box 10200 5714 NE 29th St PO Box 9215
Gulfport, MS 39505 Tacoma, WA 98422 Chattanooga, TN 37412
Lastly I want to thank you for standing behind this ministry in your prayers. We know you have burdens yourselves, and we are so grateful for you who are praying for the Lord to bless His work here.
Sincerely in Christ,
April 15, 2012
Dear Praying Friends,
Three weeks ago TJ fell and hit his head on the pavement while playing with some friends. Thirty minutes later he began vomiting all over our living room, so we thought it prudent to take him to the hospital where we spent the night, an unforgettable experience. A neurologist ordered x-rays and a CT scan. There wasn’t any serious damage, although we were told that should he have seizures later on, the fall could be behind it. TJ took it easy for a week, and we are now back to roughhousing. Below is a picture of him giving his grandpa a check-up with his doctor toys that he said he needed when he was discharged.
Iloilo Baptist College had its 31st graduation last month. We’ll miss those who finished college but are glad to see them start new churches or serve in other ministries. The church and college staff have been busy recruiting since graduation, through Youth Conference, and will continue to do so until classes start again in June. I went to places where I wondered if I was the first foreigner to ever be there. Pictured above are some of the young people who’ve enrolled in recent weeks. They are products of your faithful support, and we ask for your prayers for them, as they will likely face hardships over the next four years.
Our ministry family lost two servants just a few days apart last month:
Nilo Bayan graduated from our college in 1995 and started a church in Mindanao, where he reached many people. He died of liver failure, leaving behind a wife and two sons. He was forty years old.
Joebert Macna sang in the choir on Graduation Night, witnessed to a visitor, and then went to a friend’s reception where he posed for this picture. He collapsed a few minutes later and was taken to a hospital and declared dead on arrival. He had drowned in his own blood. We learned he had a history of tuberculosis before he came to Bible college. A doctor had told Joebert’s father that he wouldn’t live long, but Joebert replied that he would survive because he wanted to go to Bible college. Joebert joined us at IBC for three years before he was taken at twenty-two. He wanted to pastor. Joebert came from a broken family; his mother left when he was fifteen, leaving his father to raise eight children alone. We presented Joebert’s father with an honorary diploma from the college because Joebert Macna wanted to be a pastor.
We heard some amazing testimonies about Joebert at the memorial service (pictures below), and many students gathered around his casket to pray and make decisions.
Thank you for your prayers for the Bayan and Macna families and for your support of the ministry here.
Ricky Martin with Brandie, T.J., & Ava
In this prayer letter I want to tell you about some of the opportunities here in the Philippines, and include a challenge, especially to young people.
Jesus said, “Lift up your eyes for the fields are ripe for harvest.” Those words make me think of the Philippines. As I look out on my field each day I am constantly amazed. Doors are open everywhere for preaching the Gospel. When you come to the Philippines you will find out that a lot of people will listen to you.
Perhaps the greatest opportunity is reaching students in the public schools. The Philippines is unique in that the constitution guarantees the right of religious groups to teach their religion in the public schools. In some schools the principal will allow you to speak to the entire student body. Others allow you to go back each week and go room to room, giving out the Gospel and teaching how to grow in Christ, once they accept Him as Saviour. The principals decide the schedule that is given and the way you relate to the principal makes a difference.
Recently I spoke at a large high school in Passi City. The principal invited our church orchestra to play for the students and in between the songs I spoke about the message of the songs and also introduced them to the different instruments. Pastor Hermando Abelitado, one of our graduates who recently started a church in that city, was allowed to preach the Gospel and many students received Christ as Saviour. Some of the students got saved before the program started as our workers talked to them in groups. It was exciting to see the responsive young people.
Many of the pastors go to the public schools often. The IBC graduates on the islands of Panay and Negros are divided up into five groups. Last month those pastors went into about 300 different schools. You can see how open the door is and that door is open across this country for those who would come here and take the opportunity.
A new opportunity is going into the precincts of the Philippine National Police. The response has been very encouraging. In our last prayer letter I mentioned that over 120 graduates are involved in this program. In our region of the country the Philippine National Police have made a way for any religious group to minister to the men and women from the PNP. At our local precinct about a quarter of a mile from our church, I recently spoke to the 25 policemen before they went out on patrol. They are a great group of men. The PCR (Public Community Relations) officer later invited some of the staff of IBC to speak in the different neighborhoods when he goes there for meetings to educate the people about law enforcement. They also have feeding programs for the poor. A lot of people go to those meetings. Most weeks two of our men go with the police and speak about the Lord Jesus Christ.
We invited a couple of officers to our Christmas Program for street kids and the officers were touched by what they saw. The next Sunday one of the officers helped our workers bring over 200 first time visitors to our Christmas Musical! Soul winners dealt with many of them.
Last month the regional director of the Bureau of Fire Protection asked us to send a pastor to speak to all the firemen. Two pastors on our staff went and (see photos below) spoke about our Savior and got a very good response. Two weeks ago the church had its 8th annual Fireman’s Appreciation Night and we had the privilege of honoring a fireman who died last year, while fighting a fire. The family, and 60 firemen came and the Lord opened the hearts of some of them to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. On that night our new police precinct commander of Jaro came. He told me he had wanted to come to one of the services for a while. One of our men led him to Christ and he made a public profession to the church at that service. It was really a blessing. I got to talk to him for a long time after the service and found out he has a great desire to learn more about the Bible. He asked me to speak at a meeting with about 1,000 mothers at the Jaro Plaza the following Saturday. He asked me to speak to them about the Bible!
In mid January on a Sunday night, over 500 homes were destroyed by a fire; leaving 2,500 people homeless. Since that day we have had over 400 victims of that fire come to our church and many received Christ as Saviour.
The Social Services Department here in the Philippines is really different. Quite a few of their workers are not only concerned with the physical needs of those they try to help, but also their spiritual needs. Every couple of months someone from that department will bring a group of maybe 25 to 50 people to visit our church so they can hear the Word of God preached and visit a place where people love them.
During the great destruction of Typhoon Frank in 2008, I saw many police officers, firemen, social workers, and other government officials who lost their homes, out helping others. In many cases, the government workers lost more than the people they were helping. I think God has used many of these public servants; they have been put in a position where they can help others hear the Gospel.
I could go on and on. There are opportunities to preach the Gospel in homes. If you look around, it’s not too hard to find a family that will allow you to come into their home and teach the Bible and tell them how they can make sure they are going to Heaven. All around this island and others, pastors and Christian workers are holding Bible studies in houses, offices, and other places.
You can get involved in soul winning on the streets or evangelistic meetings with Gospel films and preaching. Every year graduates of Iloilo Baptist College hold over 200 meetings like this. There are unlimited opportunities to start churches and even Bible colleges. I still can’t believe God gave me the great privilege and honor to start one! I’m not saying it is easy to work here. It is easy to get frustrated with certain things, but the truth is, there are many opportunities. I’ve seen missionaries who have reached so many people in these islands because they walked through these open doors.
Having said that, let me ask: If the Philippines (and other countries) are open and missionaries have almost unlimited opportunities, then why aren’t more men and women going to the foreign mission field?
Maybe there is a misconception that there are so many missionaries in these open countries that there isn’t a need for any more. What is the truth? When Becky and I came to the Philippines in 1977, there were about 200 independent Baptist missionaries here. A few years after that a survey said there were 196. Today there are about 100. The most recent survey I know of says there are less than 100. In 1977 the population of the Philippines was a little over 45 million. In 2011 the population was about 93 million. In other words we are trying to reach twice as many people with half the number of missionaries.
It may be that young people in America are not being challenged as they once were or it’s because America’s economy is so bad. The past 3-4 years have been very difficult for churches in the USA. That is true in this country too—yet they are aggressively sending out more Filipino foreign missionaries who are starting churches and Bible colleges. Or the reason may simply be that there aren’t enough people who are willing to go.
I want to thank those who are praying for the Lord’s work here and for those of you who are sacrificially giving to help spread the Gospel. The Bible says that fruit that comes from what we give to reach others will be put on our account (Philippians 4:16-17).
Let me close by challenging young people. The day I spoke at our local Police Precinct in Jaro, I noticed a group of high school students, about 30 of them, who were taking a tour of the station. Their teacher told me she wanted them to see what the police do and also the consequences of crime. The precinct commander asked me if I would mind if the students joined the police to hear me speak. As I began to speak I told the students that I had come to speak to the police but decided to direct most of my remarks to the students.
I mentioned that the real heroes in this country were not the rock singers, the movie stars, or the sports stars, but the men like the police who each day, go out and risk their lives to protect their freedom that they enjoy. Two days later an officer from that precinct went out to serve a warrant of arrest. When he did, several men grabbed him, took his gun, and shot him five times, killing him. A few weeks later I attend the burial. This officer was 31 years old. He was still single as he was supporting his mother, who was a widow. His father had been murdered in his own home when he was very young and he decided when he grew up he wanted to be a police officer. He was a very good officer according to the precinct commander.
There were many policemen at the funeral and a large crowd of people at the cemetery. The Iloilo City Police chief asked me to pray and they gave him a gun salute followed by the playing of Taps. The policemen folded the Philippine flag and presented it to the mother. Lastly, they removed three medals from the uniform of the dead officer and presented them to the mother. She wept many tears at that cemetery. She was sad but she knew that her son loved her and loved his country.
Young people, when you die and stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Lord begins to pass out the crowns, will you be one of those to receive a crown to lay at His feet? Are you willing to give your life wholly to reach people
so they can be free from the bondage of sin? The doors are still open here in the Philippines. Would you be willing to go and help reap this harvest while there is still time?
PS: Our new website: martinsibc.jimdo.com. Please let us know if you’d like to receive our letter by email. Our email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
February 20, 2012
Dear Praying Friends,
Last night we had our Firemen-Appreciation Service. We honored the memory of a firefighter who died in the line of duty. His widow and two children were able to attend. They are pictured here with Brandie and Ava. There were 60 firemen who were present for this special night. T.J. loved meeting them and seeing the fire trucks.
A few weeks ago, a poor neighborhood near the place where my mom has a jeepney route caught on fire. Thankfully, none of our church people were affected, but over 200 homes were destroyed. Our church has been reaching out to those families and bringing them to church and trying to help with their needs.
We will be having our annual “Family Day” on Sunday, February 26. This has always been a big day for reaching families in our city and getting them to come faithfully to church. Many of our current members were saved on Family Day. Our guest speaker will be Pastor Gerald McKelroy from Bellmead Calvary Baptist Church in Texas.
Our family is doing well. Brandie stays busy with the kids and taking care of our home. She also conducts a Ladies’ Fellowship for our church ladies every other Sunday afternoon. T.J. is getting so big and loves to act out the story of David and Goliath with my dad. He asks a million questions every day and has fun doing some schoolwork with his mom. He can read and write a few short words and enjoys doing some simple math. Ava is almost 7 months old now and is such a joy. She has a sweet personality, and everyone loves her. We will be getting a new family portrait taken soon and will send it with our next letter.
Thank you for your continued prayers for our family and ministry here. We love and appreciate you all.
Ricky Martin with Brandie, T.J., & Ava
Here is the story of Pastor Moimar Lacsao, in his own words:
I was born Dec 30, 1975. My father lived on the island of Mindanao. He was sent to prison because he murdered someone. After six years he was released for good behavior. He went to Negros Island, where he met my mother. He worked on a sugarcane farm. After they got married my father decided to return to Mindanao.
When I was 2 ½ my father was killed by a Muslim rebel. They suspected him of being an informer to the military. They warned him not to go into the city but he was a fish vendor and that was our only livelihood, so he went anyway. My mother was pregnant at that time.
My mother brought us back to Negros Island. She grew a few vegetables to keep us alive. After three years she remarried. My stepfather treated us like we were his own sons. He loved us and treated us well. My mother and stepfather were Christians.
We lived in a mountainous area, six kilometers (4 miles) from the nearest school. We raised animals and planted corn and rice. Every day we walked very far to our school. I was often naughty in school. I had no sisters so my mom and dad adopted two girls.
My parents were faithful to church—rain or shine—and they worked hard on their little farm. They treated the pastor well and were faithful in giving tithes and offerings. They were such a good example to us because they were faithful in spite of the great distance of our church. In spite of this, it wasn’t until I was 17 years old that I received Jesus Christ as my personal Savior through the preaching of Pastor Danilo Condes, a graduate of Iloilo Baptist College. He later encouraged me to enroll at IBC.
Day after day I can feel the calling of God and the burden of lost souls. I was so shy though, and afraid to get up in front of people and preach. My favorite teacher at IBC, who mentored me, was Mario Genada, who is now our missionary in Zambia, Africa. He was a great example and I really admired him. We worked together on a route near the pier and I learned so much from him. He always has a good spirit and is very positive regarding the ministry.
One day when I was on my route with another student, a group of drunk men called to us. I went to them and showed them the plan of salvation. One man joked that he’ll get saved right before he dies. Later I saw him as he lay dying from being stabbed. Again I showed him the plan of salvation and this time he was very humble as he accepted Jesus Christ as Savior. He died a short time later.
While I was in school I drove a trisikad (bike with attached side cart for passengers). Even when I am sick I worked in order to eat. Once I was so sick I didn’t eat rice for three days but I was so determined to finish my studies no matter what.
I was very involved in the ministry—soul winning, Bible studies, extension classes, and jeepney route. My life verse is Ecc 12:1 “Remember now thy creator in the days of thy youth.” There were many hardships and trials but none of it convinced me to change my mind in pursuing my desire to finish school and serve the Lord in full time ministry.When Brother Lacsao graduated he began to serve the Lord in an area near his home. He continues:
After a year of soul winning, training young people, teaching adults, having Bible studies, extension classes, and school ministry, step by step the church grew. Soon we were running 70. The Lord led me to start a Bible college to train young people for the ministry. Now we are conducting extension churches in nearby villages. The church is being blessed by God with people who have a heart for serving Him. Our church has grown beyond all my expectations. For 14 years my wife and I are serving the Lord. I can truly say God really blessed His ministry, His people, and His servants. My desire is to build a big church, with great people of God!
In 2003, Brother Lacsao started a Bible school to train young people. Since that time he has sent out several graduates to start churches. He also started a night time Bible institute for married men. Please pray the Lord will continue to bless his ministry.
OPPORTUNITIES IN DECEMBER
December is a month that, because of Christmas, provides so many opportunities to reach people for our Saviour. I want to share the story of a young man named LT, who found the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour in December, a few years back:
LT was born in 1987 on the large southern island of Mindanao. He had two sisters and a brother. His mom was a teacher and his father had a small store. His parents were Aglipay, which is similar to the Catholic Church except their priests can marry. LT respects his parents very much. He said his mother taught him good moral character and his father taught him to work hard. Since he was very young he had a dream to find a good job and make a lot of money. After high school LT enrolled in a vocational course. After college he went with his dad to Antique, here on our island, to visit relatives. The relatives encouraged LT to find a job in Iloilo City. LT thought at last his dream to find a good job and make a lot of money would come true.
He found a job working with sound systems. One day in December, his company sent him to fix a generator at Iloilo Baptist Church. IBC was having its annual Christmas musical. It was very important to have a working generator to be prepared for power shortages. Lots of visitors come to the special Christmas service and many are saved every year. This was in 2007 during the “Night of Miracles” program.
The generator was located at the main gate and Pastor Mario Mallora was stationed there to greet visitors as they came in. He started talking to LT. He presented the plan of salvation to LT and he got saved. LT says it was the happiest moment of his life. Afterwards, Pastor Mario encouraged LT to enroll in Bible college! LT smiled. After all, it had always been his dream to get a good job and make a lot of money! LT says that he couldn’t sleep at night, always remembering Brother Mario’s words, “The most important work on this earth is God’s work. Why don’t you become a pastor?”
A few weeks later, LT packed his bag and showed up at the front gate at IBC. He asked someone at the gate, “Where is Pastor Mario? I’m going to enroll here.” Needless to say, Brother Mario was surprised, and very pleased.
LT is now in his 4th year at IBC and will graduate in a few months. He is very thankful to God that Brother Mario led him to the Lord. LT believes that God’s plan for our life is better than any plan we can make for ourselves. His life verse is Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
News & Prayer Requests
CHURCH PLANTING – This past year, especially the past six months, the Lord has greatly blessed the efforts of the pastors here in starting churches; as over 100 churches have been planted. Two pastors, Jirel Catalan, and Marlon Ticar, have started Bible schools for young people. More than 30 pastors have started night time Bible institutes for married men. Most of these were started the past six months.
Please pray for the family of Pastor Charlie Augustino, who was murdered by a mentally ill man. Brother Augustino graduated from IBC in 1995 and spent the past 16 years starting churches in the province of Capiz, here on our island of Panay. This tragedy has been extremely hard for his wife, who also graduated from IBC, as well as his two sons, ages 6 and 9.
The Philippine National Police are now allowing pastors to go into all precincts of our region of the country to minister to the police. More than 120 graduates of Iloilo Baptist College are involved in this program. Please pray the Lord will use the pastors to see many police men and women saved.
Our daughter, Rachel, and her one-year-old son, Landon, were able to visit us recently. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what a blessing it was to have them here in November.
We have been praying and working (for the past six months) on the possibility of opening a radio station where we can have programs for 18 hours a day. Please pray we will find the Lord’s will in this. Radio is a very effective way to reach people in this country, with the Gospel.
Please pray for the 17-year-old son of Pastor Billy & Cheryl Caalem, who went into a coma in October.
We are considering sending some of our prayer letters out by email. If you are interested, could you please let us know; and can you please send us your email address? Our new email address is: email@example.com.
We are no longer using our old website. OUR NEW WEBSITE IS:http://martinsibc.jimdo.com