August 4, 2014
Dear Praying Friends,
Our 2014-2015 school year has begun! We are excited about the many new students who have enrolled in our Bible college this year. Please pray for them as they seek God’s will for their lives and future ministries.
We enjoyed having my mother-in-law visit for a couple of weeks in June. This month marks 10 years that Brandie and I have been serving here with my parents in Iloilo. God has been so good to us. Our daughter, Ava just turned 3 last week. What a joy she is to us! TJ is doing well in school and has started helping out more with jobs around the house.
Thank you for all the birthday cards and wishes sent for my wife and daughter in recent days.
We appreciate you all so much!
Our church also recently held it’s annual missions- conference, where countries from each continent/region were represented in the International Market. Our staff and students worked hard at making displays and costumes from around the world to bring missions to life for our church members. What a great week we had! To see pictures from our conference, you can look on my wife’s Facebook page.
A Testimony From Pastor Roger Falco
I’m Pastor Roger Falco. Because my parents were farmers, we were poor, but we (my three brothers and I) survived. Someone from Iloilo Baptist College visited us, told us about the school, and asked if I want to study there. But before that, they told me about the Word of God, and I was saved. After one week I decided to go with them to the college. My place is very far from Iloilo; it takes three days by boat to reach Iloilo. When we arrived in Iloilo, there was a youth conference in the church. I was blessed by the message of the speaker and was encouraged to serve the Lord.
Life in Bible school was very exciting, and I felt more privileged, because I understood the life of surrender to the Lord. During my first two years, I accompanied the older students to conduct outreach ministries. Later I had my own ministry to handle, and I was very excited even though my stomach was empty. I experienced some hardships because my parents were trying to stop me from finishing Bible school, but still I continued. I graduated in 1998 from Iloilo Baptist College under the ministry of Pastor Rick Martin. I’m so thankful to the Martins.
I was married to Ailen Francisco in 1999—a little adjustment, but thank God I survived. After that God gave us a little boy we named His Roly John, and after this God gave us another child. We have a happy home. And after the birth of my two kids, God put us into His ministry at Brgy. Agdahon, Cuatero, Capiz. God blessed His work in spite of many circumstances. We had trials, such as health problems, financial problems, and other hardships. God allowed us to extend His ministry at Barangay Kalapasan, Dumarao, Capiz. We are enjoying the ministry of the Lord, because we know that God still provides our needs.
A Testimony From a Member of Pastor Falco’s Church
I’m Merlina Hallegado, a resident of Dumarao, Capiz. We are farmers. We are not rich and we are not so poor we can eat three times a day. I was a person of many vices and I hated persond who tried to make me stop my vices. One time unexpectedly, there was someone who introduced a Bible lesson to me but the requirement was is to attend a home Bible study not so far from my house. I was disgusted at first and ignored because l'm not interested about the lesson and the Bible whom they introduce but some other time they invited me again. They were a group of Baptists led by their pastor, Roger Falco. Not to discourage them again, I decided to attend the home Bible study. From the moment that Pastor Roger Falco delivered a message of salvation, I was guilty of my wrong doing and I realized that I was a sinner that needs to repent, and the penalty of sin is Hell, and the way to escape is Jesus Christ. But before I make a real decision there was so many obstacles in my mind- my vices and the ways of my life. If I receive Christ my vices will be gone. But things to ponder in my mind, Hell is my punishment because of sin. Heaven is my eternal home if I receive Jesus Christ, so I made a real decision to receive Jesus Christ as my personal savior.”
For details how to support a pastor like Roger Falco, visit www.globalbaptist.net
Ricky Martin & Family
In last year’s September-October prayer letter, we told the story of three blind pastors. We had planned to tell of three more blind pastors in our next prayer letter but then the typhoon hit in November. Here is the story of those three pastors; the first is Jonathan Aspera:
My name is Jonathan Aspera, pastor of Bethany Covenant Baptist Church in San Dionisio, Iloilo. I have been blind for many years.
I was born into a poor family yet my parents worked hard to provide a way for me to go to school. I had great plans for my life, but they did not include the Lord. I finished my automotive vocational course but I was not content. I worked as a security guard for a while at one of the largest universities in Manila. One year later however, my blood sugar and blood pressure went sky high, and that’s why I became blind.
I became very discouraged. All my dreams and plans vanished. I was always thinking about my four children. I kept asking myself, “How can I be a good father to them and provide for them financially now that I am blind? How can I raise them?”
One day someone invited me to join a Bible study. That is how I got saved—I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and then I was baptized. This church (started by Michael Balinas, a graduate of Iloilo Baptist College) offered a night class for lay people. It was a great opportunity for me and I graduated from that Bible Institute. I had a great desire to be used by God. I started a pioneering work in my home place. It was hard for me to travel from place to place, because of my blindness, but I thank God for giving me a wonderful wife who loves me and helps me with the ministry. My wife reads the Bible to me. Then afterwards I ask her to write the spiritual lessons I’ve learned. Then she reads it out loud to me over and over, so I can memorize it. Then on Sunday preach the Word of God to my church people.
Yet God gave me a burden to do even more for Him—to train men to be pastors through a Bible institute. That year I trained two laymen. I taught them every night about Bible doctrine and other subjects. These men have helped me so much in the ministry. They help me in Bible study, Sunday school, soul winning, song leading, and so on. I have a plan to train more men to start pioneering works in some villages and I want to train more of my members to be soul winners. My wife is my partner in soul winning every week. We go to three different places.
God has given us some faithful church members who have provided our needs. My family and I also raise ducks. I work with the police in our town by teaching values and I want to start a school ministry.
Brother Jonathan’s church met under trees or in different homes, until the day God graciously provided a church building. Brother Jonathan spends three days a week soul winning and three days a week conducting Bible studies! Besides sending students to Iloilo Baptist College, he is still training married men to be pastors in his own Bible Institute.
Another blind preacher, Brother Wilfren Cabanas, became blind as a child when he contracted measles. His mother abandoned him. He grew up in a mountain village with his grandmother, who brought him to church each week. They would walk two kilometers, up and down the hills to get there. Another IBC graduate, Billy Caalem, started a Bible College in the mountains of Leon. Brother Cabanas asked Brother Caalem if he would accept him as a student, even though he was blind. Brother Caalem said yes! Brother Cabanas was so happy!
It wasn’t easy for him, as you can imagine, but he finally graduated. He is now assisting a pastor in that area.
I suppose, like anyone who has lost their sight, his great desire would be to see again. However, he said if this is not possible, he’s willing to accept it. He said that way, when he reaches Heaven someday, the first face he will see will be that of his Savior.
The third pastor, Joben Bigot, was born in 1976 in Isabela, Negros, to a poor family. His father was a farmer and they had 10 children. One day while in elementary school, Joben bumped his head and became unconscious. Later he lost most of his sight. In spite of that he continued with his schooling until he graduated. He received Christ as his Savior when he was 15. Every summer he would go to the youth camp held by IBC and he would always surrender to go to Bible College. He arrived in Iloilo City in 1994. He was an outstanding student and worked hard in teaching children during the Saturday Bible classes and in conducting Home Bible studies. He also worked in the prison ministry. Even though he often had painful headaches, he studied hard. He graduated in 1998 and started his first ministry in his home place. Later he started a second church, New Life Fundamental Baptist Church in Hinigaran. His sight became worse until he became totally blind, but he became even more dedicated to his work. He brought young people to camp every summer, encouraging them to serve the Lord in full time Christian service.
Brother Joben’s life is a great blessing to many preachers on Negros Island. He is passionate in serving the Lord and in his love for people. He never complains and has no regrets simply stating that all things work together for good, and that God has a purpose and plan for each and every life.
News & Prayer Requests
On May 25th we had our annual Veterans of World War II and Armed Forces of the Philippines Appreciation Day at Iloilo Baptist Church. There were 11 veterans of WW II present, all of whom were 90-years-old or more with the exception of an 88-year-old veteran who joined the rebel movement when he was only 16 years old.
Three soldiers who were injured were honored. For the first time we honored a soldier who had been killed by the insurgents here in the Philippines. He was 23-years-old, the only son of his parents who were also present. The father has been in the army for 27 years and he and his wife were touched as you can see in the picture. The mother received Christ as her Savior.
Seventeen members of the Philippine National Police attended including 15 who helped with the flag ceremony, our local police chief and the Public Affairs Officer. Becky led one of the lady officers to Christ.
The pastors and churches are slowly recovering from the devastating effects of the typhoon and I do not believe they will ever forget so many of you who have helped. I thought that the effects of the typhoon would hinder the starting of new churches by the graduates of Iloilo Baptist College and the men they have trained but so far the Lord is still blessing. For that I’m very grateful, as that is our main ministry.
I had planned to write about the radio ministry but hope to do that in the next newsletter. On May 28th we celebrated our first year anniversary as a station.
Becky and I would like to thank those of you who sent cards for her 60th birthday, and our 41st anniversary June 3rd. We have included a picture of me and our grandson Landon (son of our daughter Rachel and son-in-law, Matt deQuina, who work in the Faith Baptist Church, Oak Creek, Wisconsin).
Please pray for the family and church of Pastor Filizardo delos Reyes, who died in an accident. He was in the second graduating class of IBC in 1983 and for 31 years he served as a pastor. He started several churches. He was fruitful, faithful, had had a wonderful spirit.
Sincerely in Christ,
Rick & Becky Martin
August 25, 2013 Dear Praying Friends, Many things have happened since our last letter. God has been good and has blessed us in so many undeserving ways. I’d like to start off this month’s letter with an urgent prayer request. Just a few weeks ago after having stroke-like symptoms, my mother-in-law took my father-in-law to the ER. Tests were run, and a stroke was ruled out. After an MRI and biopsy, a cancerous tumor was discovered in his brain. We were all completely shocked! Please keep Larry Lee in your prayers, as he has already begun radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
We’ll soon be hosting a Pastors’ and Workers’ Conference and Alumni Meeting to plan where to start new churches and reach more people. I’ll meet with some pastors about encouraging their churches’ teenagers to enroll in our college.
Please pray for our radio-station paperwork to be accomplished soon. The most-listened to broadcaster in our city, along with our congressman, is assisting us with getting a license. We’ve already received testimonies from people in our city about the music and preaching they have heard, so we know this will help a lot of people in the long run. Our city has a half million residents, and most will be within coverage. Bro. Gene Sharp at www.ibmradio.com helped us set up our station, and he assists local churches in the States to do the same.
The Lord is blessing the Bible Schools started in this region of the Philippines by the graduates of Iloilo Baptist College. These pastors are making great personal sacrifices to see men trained to start churches.
Pastor Crisanto Arsaga, a graduate of Iloilo Baptist College, started his Bible College a year ago, on the Island of Negros. He had no place to house the seven students who enrolled in his school so he took all of them into his small house to live with his wife and children. For the past year, he somehow fed the seven students out of his own pocket. When his wife saw the need for a dorm, she was able to borrow a large sum of money to make a down payment on a lot for the dorm, because she is a public school teacher.
The enrollment of the 14 Bible schools has almost doubled since last year. These schools are small but combined they are having an impact. I think God has blessed them through three factors: first, eight of these schools have been able to build dorms for students who do not live near the school. Second, these schools have been helped with jobs for the new students coming to school. Most of the students that go to these schools have little or no help from their homes, whereas students who go to secular collage are almost always helped a great deal by parents or relatives. Having a part time job is important for these students to buy some of their food and basic needs. Some of the schools have been able (or are planning) to start agricultural projects near their school. Many of the students in these schools were raised on farms and are capable of helping on farms to work their way through school.
Third, the schools are growing because of the sacrifice of the leaders of the school. The willingness of these pastors to give up their time, finances, and life, is an encouragement to me. I believe God has honored what they and their families have done to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Crisanto Arsaga is only one example. Here, briefly, are others:
Pastor Leody Solomon in Antique Province also started a Bible School a year ago. He recently was able to get a lot to build a larger church building, which is presently being built. Later he plans to turn his old, humble church building into a dorm. It is still being used for their services and other activities at this time. At night it turns into a dorm for all his students. He says he spends a lot of his nights on guard duty since both men and ladies are staying at opposite ends of the small structure.
I think of Pastor Eduardo Cornelio, who has started many churches through the men he has trained. When he started his church in a village near the town of Maayon Capiz, there were no Bible-believing Baptist Churches in the 29 villages that surrounded that town. No one would let him use a building or a house when he started so he gathered his converts around a tree every Sunday and preached to them. He did this for several months. He told me at his first anniversary that Becky, Ricky, and Rachel and I attended in 1990 that his goal was to live to see a church started in every village. Twenty-three years later, more than 20 churches have been started—most of them by men from his ministry. Please continue to pray for these Bible Schools and the men God has led to start them, like Pastor Miomar Lacsao, and his Bible school pictured above.
Much has happened with the radio station since our last prayer letter. Gene Sharp of Independent Baptist Media and three companions, David Weirich, Eric Damron, and Cody Stinson, spent two weeks here in May with the goal of installing the equipment, figure out what to do about the tower, teach us how to use the equipment, train the staff in broadcasting, and actually getting on the air.
By God’s grace, they were able to accomplish all of these goals before going back home. “The Anchor” at 106.3 FM in Iloilo City is dedicated to teaching and preaching the Word of God, encouraging Christians through Christ-honoring music, and reaching out to people who have never accepted our Savior and Friend, the Lord Jesus Christ. The station is operating on a 1000-watt transmitter. Brother Sharp showed me a study done by a company that helps FM stations know where their signal can be heard. According to map coverage, we have a good signal, which should be heard by approximately 668,978 potential listeners, with 431,687 of these being able to pick up a strong signal.
Cody Stinson helped set up the programming and taught us how to use the software to operate the programming. I have very little computer know-how but the staff he taught has learned a lot. Brother Cody was great.
Brother Sharp installed the equipment, which included a large amount of wiring. I had no idea how difficult and detailed it is. One of our church members who signs electrical permits for Iloilo City, installed the grounding materials. Brother Sharp is a capable, determined man when it comes to starting a station for the Lord.
Eric Damron’s expertise is the tower. One day he spent the whole day on the tower, most of the time in a very uncomfortable position, but he was able to install the antenna. He had to stay in his room to recover from being so sore and tired after this. I can tell you one thing—working on radio towers is one job I’m glad I’m not doing!
David Weirich is the station manager of CleanAir.fm in Clyde, Ohio. It is operated as a ministry of the Harvest Baptist Temple. This station can also be heard online and for the past four months I have listened many times to the “Morning Light” program of David Weirich from 7:00 am to 9:00 am (which is night time here in the Philippines). At first I listened to learn more about how to have a live daily program. It quickly became a program that I listened to because it was a blessing to me as a Christian. Bro. Weirich’s spirit is contagious and reminded me of my Dad who was on the radio for more than 25 years, mostly sports and religious programs. Our workers learned a lot listening to Brother Dave at the sessions he held for about 12 of our workers who are volunteers in this ministry.
Presently the station is on 24 hours a day. We play a lot of music and messages from God’s Word. Monday to Friday we have a night program for 2 ½ hours where people can call in their favorite songs. Most actually text in their requests. About an hour into the program one of our staff will give a short message from the Bible about how to go to Heaven. An invitation is given to receive Christ as Savior. Already people are texting in about their decisions to accept Christ. Normally there are more requests for songs than the time permitted.
Most of the songs are in English, which most people can understand. It would be very helpful if we had a good number of songs in the national language of Tagalog, and our local dialect, Ilonggo. If there are Filipinos in your church that have access to recorded, conservative Christian songs and could help us in this area, we would be very grateful. We are recording songs in Ilonggo as well.
The largest regular expense in operating the station is electricity. In our last letter we mentioned that the U.S. dollar still goes a long way here but that electricity very expensive. We are spending an average of about $735 a month just on electricity alone.
There has been a good response from Christians here in helping with these expenses, but we are praying for some outside help. All broadcasters and workers are volunteers and on the church and Bible college staff. Not having this expense in operating this ministry will be an advantage as broadcasters are often the major expense of a station. We are a non-commercial station so we will not be accepting advertisements to generate income.
Please pray for the following:
*That we’ll be able to take good care of and maintain the equipment properly
*Ilonggo/Tagalog music will be provided
*More local programming can be added
*The monthly expenses will be met
*Wisdom in all decisions being made
*Most importantly, many souls will be reached
*That Christians will be encouraged and grow in their Christian life
*That our application will be approved as we are being allowed to operate by the government pending application.
I asked Becky to write about Memorial Day:
“Memorial Day is special to me because my father fought in World War II and in Korea. My dad, Vernon Umbright, after training at the Great Lakes Naval Station, was sent to Quarter Masters School (navigation and communications) in Rhode Island, and then to Camp Bradford, VA, a landing craft base. After taking part in the Sicily invasion, he went to the Marshall Islands. There was heavy fighting in both places, as there was in his next destination—the Philippines. He fought in Lingayan Gulf, and the Leyte Landing made famous by General Douglas MacArthur. He spent a week on the beach with a signal light beforehand. After that his final battle was Okinawa. At our annual “Veterans Day” here at Iloilo Baptist Church, we have a flag parade, the Philippine national anthem, and the playing of “Taps” to honor these men and women of the Philippine Armed Forces.
I love telling them about my Dad, and they share with Rick and I what they did during the war, with a great deal of sadness. Each year there are fewer veterans, as they are quite elderly now. Throughout the year my husband, and our son, Ricky, are often invited to the funerals of these brave men and women. Last year we began honoring Philippine servicemen who have been killed in the line of duty each year. I had the great privilege of leading two young women in the Philippine Armed Forces to Christ that Sunday.” (See photo above)
In closing, Becky and I would like to thank you for the many who greeted us on our 40th wedding anniversary (and Becky’s birthday) this past June 3rd. God bless you all. We appreciate so much your prayers and support!
Sincerely in Christ,
Rick & Becky Martin