This trip to the Philippines is going to be one day less than our usual itinerary because we are leaving our home in Upstate New York on Wednesday, June 20, instead of the usual Tuesday. The ticket prices were very high and we got the best deal that we could. It brings us in to Butuan on Friday, the 22nd. Where did Wednesday or Thursday go? They melded into one day. We always have a lost day coming west across the international date line.
So, the next day after landing, will not be a rest-and-recovery day, but we will immediately begin two ministry meetings each day for the next four days. In this very intense agenda, I am very aware of the prayers of those of you who are holding up our arms in the battle for the souls of these dear people. For weeks, I had been specifically asking for the Lord to send the presence of His Holy Spirit for these meetings. Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain.
So, the two meetings on Saturday were held at the KMMS building under the open “auditorium”. This meeting was a smaller group, made up of representatives of the three local fellowships and Jabonga. I spoke first on the principle of Sowing and Reaping, and the second message was comparing the City of Zion with the City of Religion.
On Sunday, we were first taken (by private car) to Brother Lito’s fellowship. My message was that it is High Time to awaken out of our spiritual slumber. It was a smaller size gathering than usual. There were several youth in attendance and I did feel to pray for them at the close of the meeting.
The Sunday afternoon (3 P.M. for bringing the word) meeting at the KMMS location was a much larger crowd: many students, parents and teachers (including two former teachers who said that this is to be considered their usual “home” fellowship). I taught on the Biblical history of the sinful state of man and God’s plan for our salvation. I gave an invitation and two long-term mothers came up to receive Christ and be forgiven of their past sins. It was a good day.
After Rita and I returned to our place of lodging, on Sunday evening we walked to the main traffic intersection of the city and took a seat in the nearby pizza restaurant. Let me add Rita’s description of what happened next:
The news here is that I experienced my first earthquake. Sunday night, Mark and I walked down the street to get a few pictures for Dr. Snider, Mark’s heart doctor who requested to see some pictures. Then we stopped in Greenwich Pizza to get a bite to eat for supper. It is very reasonable there and better food than at the hotel. While there, somewhere between 5:30 and 6:00 P.M., the earth started moving like waves on an ocean. I felt like I was having a hallucination. Tables and chairs moving up and down, light fixtures swinging, metal bars holding window frames seemed to be bending. Everything appeared to be ‘warped’, even the atmosphere; it was like we entered into a different frequency. It was so weird; I can’t stop thinking about it! The quake itself lasted only a few seconds; but the after effects lasted a minute or two until light fixtures and everything stopped swinging. It’s amazing, we have been coming here for ten years and it’s the first time this has happened while we were here. They say they have tremors all the time.
Since then, I have looked on-line and found that the earthquake statistics were as follows: A 4.9 magnitude earthquake hit at 5:41 p.m. on Sunday June 24th 37 kms (approximately 23 miles) north of Butuan City, epicenter in Tubay. It was quite the experience! (Mark: so, I hope this is what is happening also in the spirit realm.) We actually ate our meal in perfect peace and confidence.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, we traveled in our hired van to Jabonga, the site of the former Bible School operated by Edmar and Medlyn. They both live in the community in a small highway-front store which they operate for a livelihood. It had been three years since we have last visited there, mainly due to the political turmoil and martial law that had been imposed on Mindanao Island. They tell us that Marawi (the city that was under Muslim attack) is now under reconstruction. The highway was very busy, more traffic than I remember from the past. It seems that the president is making a priority to make this road a four-lane highway for most of the way from Butuan City. There were considerable construction delays; but we made one-way travel between 75 and 90 minutes.
The four meetings went very well. The first day, I spoke on the Sealing of the Saints and the second teaching was on the Principles of Praise and Worship. On the second day, we followed the Ark of the Covenant, first at the leadership of Joshua in crossing the Jordan and surrounding Jericho. Secondly, we followed the ark from Eli’s corrupt tabernacle in Shiloh, into the hands of the Philistines and then its long journey back to David’s Tabernacle. I found the class (mostly former Bible School students) to be most attentive and interested. Most of those who are family relatives of Edmar and Medlyn are still living in the vicinity, are married and raising young children. Others have moved a distance, have taken employment, raising families and are teaching this message where they live (Michael and Eileen brought 5 teens, new converts, from their new fellowship 50 km away). Two other sisters came a 5-hour bus ride from the south east to attend the meetings. These “Mothers-of-Israel” are also preaching this message and are undergoing intense familial tribulation because of their testimony; but they are holding steadfast. This local Jabonga fellowship is also prospering and needs our prayers and support.
The following three days (Wednesday through Friday, 27th-29th) we spent time at the KMM School. We met the four new teachers and took the opportunity to observe their teaching ability, not only in their classes, but in all of the classes. This school year is only three weeks old, but they seem to be getting off to a good start. We also had a productive meeting with the local school board. We visited the third floor of the new building, which has just been allotted us by the landlord, and we are still in the process of refurbishing and cleaning it. We also observed the beginning of weekly teachings of the true Tabernacle principles at the KMM School, for all students, by Bro Edmar and Sis Medlyn. They will be coming every Friday for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. We believe that this will bear good fruit in the days to come.
Sunday, July 1st will be our last day of ministry here. Then tomorrow morning, we will begin our two+ days of journey home. In the morning, we traveled by van to Bro Ben’s fellowship. It is now about a 40-minute ride on a side road back in among many acres of rice fields, full of newly planted rice “plugs”. Most of the road has been somewhat improved by a paving project, cutting off a good 25-30% of travel time; and it was a good clear and dry day. Brother Ben’s meeting hall has been doubled in meeting space since the last time we visited here 3 years ago; it will become a more solid building with a block base. I brought a message from Matthew 13 on sowing the word of Christ into the souls of men and the various responses to it. We were served an excellent lunch at Ben and Mary Lou’s home just down the road. Then we were brought back to the hotel for an hour’s rest before the next meeting.
The second meeting today was at the KMMS at 3 PM. Again, it was a beautiful gathering of God’s saints. Teachers, parents and students were in attendance, along with other visitors from the community. I spoke on what is (and is not) the kingdom of God. I sensed a good liberty in the preaching and a good attention from the audience. I believe they understood.
We have kept very well here. Temperatures keep rising into the mid-nineties with high humidity and a real feel of around 100; but we seem to be enduring it okay, must be the prayers of the brethren holding us up. The forecast keeps telling of a coming serious heat wave, but it keeps being pushed into the middle of next week. We also see that we will be facing some 90’s when we arrive home. There has been no serious rain here, only small showers. We see the hand of God’s favor in all of this. Again, we recognize the hand of God from the prayers of so many of you. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for this wonderful support.
God Bless you,
Mark and Rita Jantzi