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