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!