You have undoubtedly already read Bro Burt’s report of our arrival at the Manila Airport Tuesday, June 24. The team of five (the Asbills, Bro Herrig and us, the Jantzis) coming again after such a long tiring air travel. After a night at the nearby hotel we fly the next morning on Cebu Pacific Airlines south to Butuan City on Mindanao Island. The next day, being Thursday, some of us went to the school to do business there, but in the afternoon I went with Sister Cherry to the bank to deposit money that we will be using to purchase the new bibles.
I then called Ruben, the bible man, to inform him that the money was on deposit and available as soon as the bibles are delivered. He informed me that the bibles are not yet printed due to the congestion and backlog of shipping deliveries at the port of Manila (the special paper for printing is still on a ship in the port). We are praying and believing for a quick release of that paper at the shipping port. Once delivered, the actual printing will take about two weeks and then a little more time for binding and such. Ruben will then deliver our 500 bibles personally to the school in Butuan without any delivery charge. The good news is that he still has a number of the more expensive interlinear (KJV English/Cebuano) bibles available and will meet me with them next Thursday here at the Hotel.
On Friday we begin our very busy schedule of ministry of the word, one of the main reasons we came here. Our team of five joins with Sis Merlinda and two local elders to travel via our sister’s old van up to the bible school in Jabonga, a little over an hour’s drive one way. At the bible school we meet the directors, Bro Edmar and Sis Medlyn. The new class of students is smaller than the previous; nevertheless the room is full including families and fellowship neighbors, about 60 adults in all. After Bro Burt brings the morning word on our covenant relationship, lunch is served, and I bring the afternoon message on the importance of our preparation for the coming of Christ. Sis Rita also taught a couple of new songs to them. We had previously delivered to the Philippine brethren some of the newly printed song books. On this visit we were also able to bring them the CD recording of many songs, which was made by David Wickboldt. We also brought a printed booklet, an index for making cross reference between the book and the CD, painstakingly created by Bro Gordon Gerber. Now they will be able to learn the songs by both seeing and hearing all of these songs.
I could have said that the trip was uneventful except for what happened on the way back to the hotel in Butuan. As we are traveling along the highway at normal travel speed, suddenly the van’s left rear tire exploded with a loud report and the van begins to careen from side to side. I thought for a moment that Bro Lito could have lost control and we could go into a roll, but the overshadowing hand of the Lord was upon us and he brought it to a safe “landing” on the shoulder. It was a good place to change the tire but the spare tire was also showing bare steel belts and was not really safe. So we drove along slowly for a few more miles and considered whether we should try to flag down one of the local buses. But then Bro Rudy had us stop at the home of a minister friend of his and that man then drove us down to the hotel, Bro Lito alone bringing in the old van. By the next morning the van was outfitted with good safe tires to continue serving our needs while here.
Saturday (June 28) we went to the school where we had a meeting with the local elders, a tradition Rita and I started last year when we were here for about two months. There were to be two meetings, morning and early afternoon in the upstairs classroom, separated only by a delicious lunch served on the children’s desks/tables under the awning at the front of the school. Bro George and I spoke at these two meetings and challenged these brethren to feed God’s sheep according to the pattern of the word of God and to continue to mature into the sons of God. There were about 20 elders in attendance, including some of their wives plus the five of us at the meeting, making for a very full classroom; one overhead oscillating fan and open louvered windows made our “natural” air conditioning on this very warm day. When we first came to the Butuan area we recognized four elders, two of whom are no longer with us. But the group keeps growing, three new men with their wives are at this meeting, some are pastors of nearby congregations, most of whom were at one time in one of our past hotel meetings. But we are strongly preaching God’s order in the church and they are choosing to sit and affiliate with us. It is the washing of the water of the pure Word of God under the unction of the Holy Spirit that will bring about the change in them and in us.
Sunday takes us to two separate locations for meetings. Bro Bebe and Sis Merlinda drove us out of town to Bro Rudy’s home fellowship in Buena Vista, about 20 minutes drive northwest. Bro Burt brought a very powerful message on true religion, much being said about and exposing the false teachings that the old order church has been fostering. After the meeting we had a brief rest stop at the hotel, then we went for the afternoon meeting at the children’s school. A very large crowd had assembled under the large metal roof awning in front of the school, consisting mostly of families of the school children (the school having added some 40+ more new children this year). It was a mixed multitude with much distraction and continual highway noise (motorcycles and loud truck horns). Despite all this, Sis Nancy managed to bring a flannel board teaching for the children and then Bro George brought a message, a call to salvation which will bear much fruit next Sunday.
Monday is now the last day of June. After our breakfast at the hotel, Bros George and Burt went with some of the school staff to shop for computers for the school’s new computer lab, now required by the state. In the afternoon we made a visit to a lawyer’s office to accomplish some of the necessary legal business for the Kingdom Message Ministry School. The school has already outgrown its space in the old “hospital” building and something will have to be done in the near future if we intend to try to meet the demand of the people wanting a quality Christian education for their children.
So on July 1st we all travel back to Jabonga where we will minister for a three day stretch at the bible school. Bro Burt brought the morning word on “Time and Eternity” and Bro George brought the afternoon word on the righteousness of the bride of Christ as seen in the tabernacle. But on the next two days Bro Herrig and the Asbills are busy with administrative business in the city of Butuan; so Rita and I travel alone with Bro Rudy to the bible school. Bro Rudy drives us in his old blue four door Kia (his wife joins us the first day). Again God gives us grace and traveling mercy. As we travel this scenic stretch of highway we see many flooded rice fields and many workers out attending to the fields. We see water buffalo pulling rice field plows, wet land “rototillers”, people planting and even some harvesting with a hand sickle. Rice is a very important staple here and many eat it three times a day.
The word I bring here on these four meetings is oriented to bring the students into a higher spiritual understanding. I am speaking much from Revelation, making the distinction between natural and spiritual things. We speak on Mount Zion, the heavenly New Jerusalem and the three churches in Revelation 12. I would believe that 80-90% of the students are grasping what we are saying, especially those who have heard the kingdom message a number of times. We are beginning to hear most of the praise and worship songs that we have introduced, and it is now much easier to enter into true worship with them. I believe that this is turning out to be a very good investment.
The students of the school, with Bro Edmar’s help have translated “The Pattern” into the Cebuano language. At this time Bro Rudy is editing and correcting the translation, making it ready for printing sometime in the near future. Later on Thursday afternoon, after returning to the hotel, we met with Ruben, the man who is overseeing the printing of the bibles. Since the smaller bibles have not yet been printed, he was able to deliver to us a box of the larger parallel KJV English and Cebuano bibles with the promise that more are available and will soon be delivered.
Friday, July 4th has us back in Butuan for the whole day, attending to the children’s school business and other chores. Sister Nancy also met with and interviewed the three new teachers. On Saturday we had the elder’s meeting at the school and it didn’t take long for each one of the elders to want one of these parallel bibles. The few more that we have will be sent up to the bible school for some of the bible students. Bro Burt brought a strong word to the elders on being an ensample. I also brought an end time message from 2 Peter, the fullness of time at the coming of the day of the Lord. Sunday, July 6th was our last full day of ministry. For the morning meeting we went to Bro Lito’s home fellowship, just a few miles beyond the school in Ampayon (suburb of Butuan). Bro Burt brought a word concerning the new covenant that God spoke to Jeremiah, a covenant that began with Abraham. The mid afternoon meeting was at the school again. First Sis Nancy taught the children two songs. After this Bro George gave his testimony of salvation and then gave an invitation for the parents to respond. Seven adults gave response, receiving salvation by the blood of Jesus and praying the sinner’s prayer. Then Bro George gave a second invitation to those believers who needed to rededicate their lives to Christ; for this there were 20 respondents. It was a much better meeting than last Sunday, much less noise and confusion. A few brethren came to the hotel to say their farewells after the school meeting.
On Monday we are leaving the hotel in Butuan at 7:30 AM for the flight to Manila. At 4 AM on Tuesday morning we leave the Manila Airport Hotel to board the planes back to the USA. Our brethren will be flying slightly earlier back through Detroit. Rita and I return to the US via Japan, Los Angeles, Detroit and then to Albany. We arrive some 30 hours after we leave Manila, but not without incident. Our last leg of the flight to Albany is held up for an hour because of violent storms in central, upstate New York (near where we live). We actually arrive home a few minutes after midnight on Wednesday. The other thing is that two of our pieces of luggage failed to follow us from Detroit. We are told that it will take another 18 hours for them to be returned to us.
It is good to go out but it is always also good to return. Again we thank everyone for the prayer support that was given; so many have written telling us that we are being held up before the throne of God. This was a good trip. We are able to see the Philippine brethren absorbing the kingdom message and beginning to function as a body of believers, not as a separate group of churches or individual kingdoms.
May God Bless You,
Mark and Rita Jantzi