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,