September 7, 2014
I’ve asked my wife Becky to write something for this prayer letter:
husband asked me to write about the routes I work on for our church. The one close to the church, back by the river, is walking distance. It’s the one I’ve worked on ever since we
arrived here in 1977. Now I’m bringing kids and in some cases, grandkids, of those kids I brought so long ago. Several of those parents are faithful to church also. Below is a
picture of Remia with some of her kids, nieces and nephews, and grandkids. 37 years ago she started coming to church with me. One day her stepdad accidentally poured boiling water on
her back (she was playing under the window and he didn’t know it). They were too poor to take her to the hospital. Several days later when I found out about it I took her to the
hospital. She’s still faithful and brings lots of children to our Junior Church.
A couple of years ago a lady knocked on my door early Sunday morning, while I was getting ready to go out on the route to bring the children to church. She was holding her little boy, not quite two years old and she was crying. Her son was sick and she asked me for medicine. It was sprinkling so I gave her my umbrella and some money so she could take him to the doctor. She said, “Ma’am, do you remember me? I am Loren. I used to come to church here when I was little.” I told her she needed to come back and bring her little boy as well. From then on, every Sunday, she and her little boy, Nico, were here. (See picture above)
A year passed and we were having our Family Day that we have each year. I urged her to bring her husband and she did. We were thrilled that he got saved that morning, especially since he left the next day for a job on the island of Mindanao. I gave him a Bible and told him to try to find a Baptist Church in the place where he was staying.
One day some landowners demolished this lady’s house, along with others on my route who were squatters. The government moved these people to a relocation site. As the crow flies, it’s not far, but the transportation is somewhat of a problem getting there. It’s across the river, so you have to walk a footbridge, then down a long road, then take a jeepney to our church. I told Loren to keep coming and I’d pay her fare every week. She has been faithful.
This past February we had our Family Day again. I urged Loren to bring as many people as she could from her new neighborhood. I was already working on two other routes so I didn’t have time to go there myself. I gave her money to rent a jeepney. That Sunday morning she showed up with 13 families! She was so excited and so was I! Her husband, Ruben, had returned from Mindanao. Our son Ricky took the five men Loren brought into his house, led them to Christ, and gave them each a New Testament. I led the 11 mothers to Christ and gave them a New Testament as well and invited them back the following week.
We have been going there to pick these precious families up now for several months. I turned one of my other routes (in Tanza near the ocean) over to Mary Ann, a newly graduated Bible student (now staff) who’s been working on the route with me for the past five years. I go out at 7:30 a.m. and bring the children off my other route near the river, to Junior Church. Then after Junior Church is over we take a jeep to the relocation site to get the new families (this is during our Sunday School hour) and arrive about halfway through Sunday school, then they stay for the morning service afterwards.
Loren’s dad became very ill and was sent to the government hospital. Only the poorest people go there. It breaks my heart every time I go there. I went to visit him with some of our workers and Loren’s dad got saved. He needed a respirator but Loren and Ruben couldn’t afford it—it cost P4,000 (pesos) per day, which is almost $100 (U.S. dollars) daily. So you know what they did? Loren and Ruben, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, sat by his bed and hand-pumped air into his lungs. Loren sometimes does odd jobs like washing people’s clothes for a living, and Ruben drives a tri-sikad. They barely make enough to exist so of course, since they were in the hospital taking care of Loren’s dad, they could not work. Nico was left with relatives. They were pretty desperate. I helped them a little with groceries and medicines. My heart ached for them. Finally her dad was well enough to bring home. Rick and I visited him that Saturday but late Sunday night, he passed away. I am so glad he had gotten saved and he is now in Heaven!
I don’t know how to describe the “relocation site” in San Isidro, where Loren and Ruben live, along with the other families we pick up.
The people on the other route I have been working on for the past five years in Tanza, are extremely poor. They work for fishermen or the men who buy and sell fish. However the people
in the relocation site are just as poor, if not poorer, than those in Tanza. The police told Rick that they have a huge drug/crime problem in relocation sites. The families live in
tiny shacks. There is no running water.
In fact, over 60 families in Loren’s section stand in line each day with buckets to have their turn at the hand pump at the well. They also share a community bathroom. Now that we’re in our rainy season, we’ve had typhoons and floods, and the sewer water seeps into the well water. Needless to say people there are sick all the time. It’ssad to see pitiful babies covered in boils and vomiting worms. Although their living conditions are heartbreaking, our main goal of course, is to tell them about Jesus Christ. I love seeing their faces light up when we pull up in the jeepney to take them to church! You can tell it is the highlight of their week. I wish we had a thousand jeepneys and a thousand workers to bring these people to church—not practical, I know. We do have many Bible students and church members who go out each Saturday morning and have neighborhood Bible classes for the children. Many go throughout the week and have Bible studies in the homes, and many go out to the public schools and teach the Word of God. I thank God for my husband, our church, and our workers who have such a burden to reach the lost.
My husband took our orchestra to an elementary school (another school nearby also came) on my route several weeks ago but the weather got so bad they had to reschedule. They did have a chance to have a “feeding” for the children though, and the new police precinct commander was there to help (see picture above). A few weeks ago Rick and the orchestra went back to play at the school and God blessed with good weather. The Gospel was presented and many children were saved (see pictures below). These kind of events help soften the hearts of people when our workers go into these areas.
RADIO STATION UPDATE
It has been 15 months since the radio station, “The Anchor,” began. It seems like the listening audience has increased although at this point we haven’t done any research except for the feedback we are getting from in and around Iloilo City. The Lord is using “The Anchor” to reach people who need Christ. I asked our workers at the station to write some testimonies.
Here are a few of them:
Jaclin Tupaz wrote: “Rose, who lives in Lapaz, is 41 years old. She and her husband have four sons. Her husband has been ill for many years. She told me she has been listening to The Anchor since December 2013, which her neighbor had told her about. She said she ignored the preaching but she liked to listen to the music. One day in April, she was listening to the radio. That day her husband had really been suffering with his illness when the announcer said he was going to speak on the subject, “The Sudden Death.” She started to listen and tears began to roll down her face. She didn’t want to lose her husband. After the message she received Jesus Christ as her Savior. She sent us a text, thanking us for our program.”
Alma Talaman wrote: “On Monday afternoon, January 26, one of our high school church members brought her classmates from Iloilo City National High School. She asked if they could have a tour of the radio station. Afterwards, I was privileged to share the Gospel with them. Seven of them accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior!”
Richard Lontoc shared the following: “Jean and her husband both drive a motorized tricycle (used like a taxi) to support their family. They are very poor. One day she heard about our radio station and later that night she listened to The Anchor for the first time. She was listening to the “Favorite Requests” program. In the middle of the program, I gave a short message about salvation and gave an invitation. I announced that if anyone made a decision to accept Jesus as their Savior, they could text us and tell us they got saved. A few minutes later, Jean sent a text, saying she got saved and she thanked us for sharing the salvation message.”
One day in late July we had a six-hour power outage. When the power came back the transmitter did not operate properly. We called
Gene Sharp of Independent Baptist Media who helped us start the station, and he was very helpful in trouble-shooting the problem. It looked like we were going to need him to come over and
bring an expensive part to fix the transmitter. Brother Sharp called the manufacturer and Ricky was able to download some software and after many hours of working on it, our prayers were
answered. We all thanked God for this. The station was off the air for 33 hours.
We are praying about getting a back-up transmitter and a very good battery that would help us keep on the air during a power outage for about 24 hours. It would also help during a power surge when the electricity comes back on.
There are 10 staff (see photo below) of Iloilo Baptist Church who operate the station and all have worked hard and have been responsible. Over 100 Ilonggo (our dialect) songs have been recorded and this has been helpful. We need some additional training for our broadcasters.
There are four live programs every week totaling 36½ hours. The license is still being processed and we keep praying it will be approved soon. We have had only positive feedback from the government officials involved in this. Please pray for this.
Finally, we wanted to thank so many of you who have prayed or given for this ministry. The members of Iloilo Baptist Church and other churches here are taking care of about 75% of the regular operation expenses and we are thankful the Christians here are helping.
Sincerely in Christ,
Rick & Becky Martin