Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Answered Prayer

Mark 10:27 Looking upon them, Jesus said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God."

I really have to give praise to the Lord even though I can't be specific. I have been praying over something for 15 years. It has troubled my heart on several levels. I know that God is sovereign, but right alongside is the truth that man is responsible. When human beings with free wills are involved, they can choose to obey or disobey. His leading and His word can be ignored or implemented. So, I prayed for God to act, and those involved to yield….for 15 long years. I have seen Him answer in a way that I would never have guessed or figured out if I had tried. I am grateful, humbled, and not a little amused at His orchestrations of events to bring about the change. Like a master craftsman He brought all the circumstances and motivations together to bring it to pass. I stand in awe. Truly I do. I am compelled to give Him grateful praise.

This is from my nephew serving in the Philippines.

Dear Rell & Carol,
Greetings from Dakuton Base. It is a sultry 89 degrees outside, the barometer is low at 28.90 inches, and big waves are rolling in from the Sulu Sea. Typhoon Quiel is a powerful category four storm, and has just passed to the North of us. Last week, Typhoon Pedring made a mess of our base, but fortunately caused no major damage. Another storm is now forming to our West. Quiel is the 17th typhoon to affect the Philippines this year, and the season doesn’t end until December!
Some pretty amazing things have happened in our area in connection with these storms. Two weeks ago, the residents of a village to the north of us, awoke to discover that twelve Vietnamese fisherman had washed up on their beach. The fishermen’s boat had sunk during a typhoon and they were very fortunate to have survived. Last week we awoke around daybreak, and were astonished to see a huge waterspout (tornado over the ocean) descending from the clouds. We have seen dozens of these waterspouts but never one so big or occurring so early in the morning. For several weeks now, Billy and Christine have been working with the reality TV show,” Survivor Philippines.” The show’s cast experienced more reality than they bargained for, when the boat they were riding in, sank in huge seas generated by Typhoon Pedring.
On September 10th, we received the news of the passing of Karen’s father. He had been in poor health for some time, and passed away peacefully at his home in Wisconsin. Open Door Bible Church graciously provided the funds for Karen to fly home to be with her family. I am sure they would all appreciate your prayers during this time.
This month we will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of the founding of The Youth Center. It hardly seems possible that we began a decade ago, teaching a small group of children, gathered on an overturned fishing boat. Government officials advised us,” to focus on the children of the village because of the rampant drunkenness and violence common among the adults.” They confided in us,” that they were seriously considering demolishing the entire village.” Through the years, we have continually marveled at how God has worked in the lives of the fishermen of the village Pagkakaisa. As individual lives have been transformed, our village has also changed dramatically. It is now considered a model of development, and we have seen an explosion in growth these past several years. We continue to call ourselves,” The Youth Center” but are actually a functioning church; with as many adults attending as youth.
In our last newsletter, we mentioned that the son of our opponent in our court cases had begun attending church at The Youth Center. Many of our members were apprehensive because some of them had had violent encounters with Bisoy in the past; including a shooting incident. Some of them had also been present when he had slapped Pastor Ongcal, only two weeks earlier. Well, Bisoy has not only faithfully attended church these past three months, but has been an extremely positive influence. Men of our village that we have been unsuccessfully urging to attend church for years are now are regulars, because Bisoy ordered them to come! We are currently having record attendance in our adult Sunday school.
We are also celebrating the tenth anniversary of our Dakuton Base and Camp ministry. Originally, our idea was to have a place to serve as a base for missionary work in Northern Palawan. At that time, the area had almost no churches, and was very wild and undeveloped. As our base developed, a pastor friend encouraged us to try hosting youth camps at our facility. At first we were hesitant. We had no funding, no experience with that type of ministry, and no one to staff it. Also, we felt we would be getting sidetracked from our normal church planting focus.
After much prayer, we decided to try hosting a small camp. It was a simple affair with the campers using tents. It was successful and fun, in spite of the disruption of having two helicopters crash nearby! The next camp we hosted attracted over 200 people. We were surprised at the amazing variety of people that came to these camps; many of which would not normally attend church.
In the following years, whenever we had extra funds, we would use it in construction of cottages. The variety of people that continues to come to these camps is remarkable. Primitive Batak tribal people, missionaries from 11 countries, numerous transvestites, members of the Tagbanwa tribe, a famous anthropologist, Muslims, a group of Chinese doctors, college students, prostitutes, Palawano tribal people, fishermen, a group of young people that arrived with their own military escort, a Dumagat tribal person, farmers, members of the Muslim Molbog tribe, hundreds of members of various street gangs from the city, and Bajao tribal people.
These past ten years, the ministry at our base has evolved into something that is not easy to describe. We thought of using random statistics to give a glimpse of some of what has occurred here.
Number of people that have participated in the camp ministry: 20,000+. Number of meals cooked using firewood: 300,000+. Number of languages and dialects that have been spoken here: 19. Nationalities of visitors: 17. Unreached People Groups taught: 4. Number of people that have entered our facility carrying automatic weapons: 50+. Number of hours spent by campers in Worship and Bible teaching: 15,000+. Units of medicine (tablets, capsules, suspensions, etc.) dispensed from our medical clinic: 60,000+. Number of terrorist attacks that have occurred within a mile of our base: 3. Number of basketballs and volleyballs worn out: 11. Number of live pigs that have been brought to the facility: 23. Number of live pigs that have left the facility: 0. Number of death threats Scott has received: 3. Attempts by individuals, to cause our facility to close: 8. Criminal cases filed against our workers: 12. Number of mission works we have assisted in starting in Northern Palawan: 14. Number of times our facility has been seriously damaged by typhoons: 3. Number of full time workers working with the camp ministry: 0. Number of people that have died at our clinic: 2. Cost to use our facility: 0. Christian bands that have performed here: 50+. Maximum number we are allowed to host per camp: 250.
We are eagerly looking forward to the arrival of Ariel, her husband Robert, and new baby Kaelyn, in November. We are excited not only about seeing family again but also welcoming co-workers.
In spite of the fact that the work here has grown so much in size these past ten years, we have only been able to add one full time worker. None of our six ministries has workers that can focus solely on their specific work. On Sundays, Pastor Oncgal travels to teach in three separate places! As in the time of Christ,” The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.” Our camp ministry in particular is only reaching a fraction of its potential, because of having no full time workers. Please pray for Robert, Ariel, and Kaelyn as they prepare to join us.
What’s the latest from Hanging Dog? Rell, it was good to hear that you have some prospects for new houses. Because of the guys we have had come here to do projects, we hear from all over the country about construction. You are the only one we have heard from that has new building prospects.
Rell you asked about the lady that is harassing us. She is 62 and definitely not mellowing much with age. It is like dealing with a very naughty, but dangerous child. She addresses me as Pastor Demonio and loves to stomp on my foot, when she gets a chance, in court! Yes, her kids (except for the one that attends church at The Youth Center) are also opposed to us, and in addition are regular users of methamphetamine. Amazingly, the one attending church with us was at one time, the worst of them all; there is hope.
Carol, that was a nice picture of Taz on your Blog sight. It is amazing how attached you can get to a dog you have had a long time. While we were on furlough, someone (probably our neighbor) poisoned one of our dogs, and he died on Christmas Eve. The dog we have now is in very bad health after being poisoned twice. Speaking of your blog sight, we recently received an e-mail from a guy that read about us there.
Well, I’ve got to sign off and get back to work. We are trying to get a new roof put on the house Ariel will be living in, in between storms. Rell, the roof is made up of shingles, consisting of palm leaves sewed onto bamboo. The shingles are attached using split rattan. A roof for a small house costs about $30 and lasts for about three years. We are also trying to get the mowing done. We have about an acre and a half that has to be mowed weekly, with a small push mower. The lady that is mowing right now has thirteen kids!
Because of the financial crisis in the U.S., giving to the work here had fallen by half in the previous two months. Normally, such a shortfall would be would be devastating to an organization, but by God’s Grace, we are doing just fine. It is so encouraging to all of us here, when God touches people like yourselves to meet our needs. Everyone sends their love.