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!