Recently a pastor asked me what I was most excited about regarding what the Lord is doing here. I told him it was so encouraging to see what God is doing through the Bible Colleges started by the graduates of Iloilo Baptist College in the Philippines. In this prayer letter we want to share with you about one of the graduates who has a Bible School and I want to emphasize the practical ministry work of his Bible students.
Crisanto Arsaga graduated from IBC and started a church in Bacolod City on the neighboring island of Negros. He is quiet but friendly and for years I didn’t hear much about how God was using his life. Some of our staff members would tell me that God was using him to train the married men in his church to go out and start churches. About a year ago I visited his church and on the wall of the church I saw a picture of all the churches started by the men trained in his church. There were more than 20 of them! Several of them were in the area of Negros Oriental where there are few churches. He is humble, unassuming, and really loves the Lord and His work.
When Brother Arsaga started his Bible college seven students enrolled. He had no place to house them so he had them stay in his home the first year. This meant feeding them most of the time as well. His church is located in a very poor part of Bacolod and his church is really out of the way. His wife, who is a schoolteacher, took out a loan to buy a small lot so they could eventually build a dorm for the students.
Another thing I like about Brother Arsaga is the different outreach ministries he has for his church and also for the Bible college students. He has neighborhood Bible Classes for children, Home Bible Studies, a Hospital Ministry, School Ministry, Police Ministry, and a Feeding Program. This is in addition to tract distribution, soul winning, etc. Here are some testimonies from his students:
BIBLE STUDY—I am Reymart Grandia, a Bible student at Trinity Baptist College. Every Friday afternoon we conduct a Bible study in the homes of new converts. On the way there, people stare at us and some of them shout, “Pastor!” and make fun of us but I just go on for the glory of God. Also dogs chase us sometimes! After a while some of those people started attending the Bible study. They were enlightened when they accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. The Bible study is great because it helps people understand the Word of God. After we have a lesson we have questions and answers and everyone enjoys that and they learn a lot.
SCHOOL MINISTRY—I am Rose Ann Sena, a student of Trinity Baptist College and I want to share with you a little about the School Ministry. We asked permission from the school principal to go around the school campus. At lunchtime we go to the school and pass out tracts to students and do some soul winning. Sometimes the pupils refuse the tracts but that doesn’t stop us because there are some pupils who are very interested. Many of these students are attending our church now. Some are active with the youth in our church. I am grateful for the School Ministry. I feel so happy in my heart knowing God is always there beside me. I could never stop serving the Lord because I found true happiness in Christ!
EXTENSION CLASSES—I am Jason Estaniel, a Bible student at Trinity Baptist College. We conduct Extension Classes for children every Saturday morning. It is challenging! There are many children and some are very small. Some cry and some are naughty! But I am encouraged to go on serving the Lord and serving these children. I play the guitar and we sing songs and we tell Bible stories. Sometimes we have “Arroz Caldo” for the children (rice soup with a little chicken). On those days we have a great attendance! Our church members sponsor these snacks for the children. I feel Extension Classes are so important because we can teach children about Jesus. This ministry helps us reach more of them and then we can bring them to church as well. It is a blessing to have one of the leading residents in this area cook snacks for the children so God is also using her. How happy we are in the Lord. I would say that most of our Sunday school children were at first reached through the Extension Classes and now they are active in the church. I love this ministry!
TRI-SIKAD MINISTRY—I am Jomer Mainit, a Bible student at Trinity Baptist College. I thank God for the Tri-Sikad Ministry. Every Sunday I am fetching visitors for church with it. My visitors are encouraged to go to church because they don’t have to pay fare. I pick up both children and adults. After church I take them home.
Jesus certainly put a heavy emphasis on training His disciples in practical ministry. He traveled around doing His ministry work with the disciples so they saw His example firsthand and the Lord also had sessions where He taught His disciples.
One advantage many Bible Schools have here is that most of the students have the same work schedule and this makes it much easier to plan their ministry work. At Iloilo Baptist College our students do ministry work seven days a week. On Monday they go soul winning in the parks and other public places. Late in the afternoon on Tuesdays they have services at different homes, usually homes of unsaved people at least in the beginning. This gives the older men, 2nd, 3rd, & 4th year students, the opportunity to preach and get experience in conducting services each week.
On Wednesday students go out and follow up their converts from 3:00 to 6:00 and invite unsaved visitors to church. Thursday afternoons they go soul winning and Friday afternoon they have Bible studies in different homes. Home Bible studies are for people who are unsaved but interested in learning the Bible. They are often eager to open their homes for a weekly Bible study. The first week the plan of salvation is taught and in the following weeks usually some unsaved neighbors will attend. After a few weeks the Bible studies turn from an emphasis on soul winning to an emphasis on discipleship. After a while the Bible study is disbanded and another location is found. Most of these are held Friday afternoon but others are held throughout the week.
On Saturday morning the students go into neighborhoods and have Bible classes for children all over the city. These are called “Extension Classes” and it is the largest outreach ministry the students work in with over 600 classes being held each week. A class will consist of a song service, Bible lesson, (usually using flashcards), learning a memory verse, an invitation, and a prayer time. In the afternoon they go out to follow up their converts, win souls, and invite people to church.
Most of the students work in one or more other ministries like working with people with disabilities such as the deaf, blind, the lepers, the educable slow, the hospital ministry, and others.
The School Ministry is another ministry that many students get involved in. This is where students go into public schools and give the plan of salvation and have Bible lessons. As I have mentioned before, the constitution of the Philippines allows any religion to do this with students who are willing to attend voluntarily. Students usually go from 11:30 am to 1:30 in the afternoon during the lunch break at the schools. It is an amazing open door.
The students at IBC and other Bible schools work hard. We have a motto that we work had and play hard. There are lots of activities for our students.
We pray when students graduate that they have the faith to go out and start a church, simply trusting God to help them. Most of the students learn how to live on little. They all know Matthew 6:33 where they learn that it is their job to take care of God’s work and God’s job to take care of them.
The students in these Bible Colleges reach a lot of people for the Lord while they are in school through the ministries. But I feel even more important; they are allowing God to prepare them to become more fruitful workers as they go out for a lifetime of service for Him.
As we approach the time for our 34th graduation of Iloilo Baptist College I am reminded once again that it isn’t easy to do what these students do for four or five years—to graduate. We are so blessed to see these young people so full of faith and spiritual energy to serve God and be used of Him. We are grateful for so many of you who have prayed for so many years for the workers being trained here.
A few weeks ago I spoke at the funeral of a police officer. He was an intelligence officer and a humble man. He was valuable to the department but never wanted to be promoted so he was a low ranking officer. I really admired this officer. His wife asked if I would speak at his funeral. There were many policemen there. They had so much respect for him. He won many awards in the department but his work could never be known publicly because he was always in street clothes and had to keep his identity a secret. When his commanding officer looked at him in the casket he said it was the first time he had ever seen him in uniform.
The service was held at a cemetery. One of the officers told me that many who were there were civilians who were his informants who helped him catch many of the worst criminals. Even some the senior officers had a hard time getting through the service as they respected this man’s unselfish life so much.
It made me think that there are so many good pastors here in the Philippines that many of you are helping, like Brother Arsaga. He doesn’t care who gets the credit—he just wants to get the job done for God. Someday in Heaven we will see how much God used them.
Sincerely in Christ,
Rick & Becky Martin