News from the Field

September 22, 2007

OUR LINKS LIST
This is the list of websites and blog sites I had visited when I had the chance to surf.

The first, wordministry.wordpress.com, by brother Eusebio Tanicala. From very simple formats it has now progressed into something much better. And a better performer at that too, this blog of his is. For brother Eusebio, the best is yet to be. He did wonders to it that really amazed me when I visited it just a while ago (2:50 a.m. to be exact).

Second, http://www.theseeker.org, is by F. LaGard Smith, Gospel Advocate writer-contributor. Brother Smith has many good ideas of what constitutes true restoration. He however does not impose it. He has many good books to his credit: The Cultural Church, The Radical Restoration, After Life-A Glimpse of Eternity Through the Doorway of Death, and others. See for your self.

Next, http://www.jimmcguiggan.com, by the British preacher Jim McGuiggan. I have read some of Jim’s books and I like them. He has a very fresh approach to understanding the Word. Jim had on one occasion taught at the Manila School of Evangelism, the school directed by brother Felipe Cariaga, located on Instruccion Street, Sampaloc, Manila, Philippines. I had taught in this school for less than a year. I still cherish the good memories I have of that school.

Www.heraldoftruth.org still airs the Herald of Truth program on radios and TVs. They have many good speakers on that program.

Www.cocn.org is the website of the church of Christ in Shreveport, La. I have downloaded some good materials for sermons from this site. You can also place your congregation’s address in their directory.

Www.biblecourses.com is the website of the Truth for Today magazine. It is one paper that has helped me greatly in my teaching and preaching. Some of you guys I have recommended to these brethren that you may receive free copies of the magazine. Click this site and subscribe to their paper if you have not received a copy of their paper yet. It is free.

Www.bible-infonet.org/ff/ is the website of the brotherhood publication, the Firm Foundation, that used to keep us busy, fill our days with its meaty teachings, keep us hungering for a showdown with the sects. The Firm Foundation used to be our training ground, next to the Philippine Bible College, in Baguio City. We had our fondest memories as students of this Bible college among the pines, sitting at the feet of some of the best American and Filipino teachers the brotherhood has to offer.

Oh, and last but not the least, http://www.church-of-christ.org, the website founded by brother Silbano Garcia. This is a very useful ministry by a very unassuming man who has done great for the cause of Jesus throughout the world. American brethren who wanted to come to the Philippines made it a must to first browse the international directory of the churches of Christ. Chances are, there is a congregation of God’s people in the place of their destination.

Brethren, go ahead. Surf. Enjoy.

THE JOY OF BEING WITH GOD
As a church, we are blessed. We are blessed to become a blessing to others, especially to our fellow Christians. We are blessed to be an example to others, to be able to pray for others and encourage one another to grow and reach that stage of maturity in Christ.

Seven days the Lord has given us to use every week have proved the incredible value of that blessing. These who are in Bacayan, in Babag Uno and in Maraag–three young churches–have heard us preach and teach, have heard us talk when out of the pulpit, and have seen our manner of life, and our devotion to the Lord in serving Him and worshipping Him, and our wisdom as shown in the way we handle the Scriptures. Being with these people you will hear nothing but good words, encouraging words, words of admiration for the one who brought them the gospel, for the family who made it possible for Ed Maquiling to preach to them the Word. If you would stop them in the middle of a conversation and tell them you don’t deserve any of these accolades, they would insist that those really come from the bottom of their hearts. Very simple people whose lives have not been stained by the bad examples they saw from other preachers (of the denominations).

Oh yes, they have not yet seen Christian preachers quarreling among themselves. By these I mean preachers of the Lord’s church. I hate to think about the day when they will see us preachers debating and shouting and lambasting each other. They have not seen the rest. They have only seen me. They have only seen how I treat them, as brothers and sisters whom I truly love. I will not let them see that day. That will be a day of our misfortune, the day when we will curse ourselves for not living up to the example of Jesus.

Oh, how they love each other too. No Catholic can criticize a member of the Lord’s church here, in Babag or in Maraag, without any of these Christians coming to her defense. Rodrigo Sacamay, the very first among those in Babag Uno to be baptized, told us it hurts him to hear his brothers in the flesh castigating his fellow Christian. To which all in the assembly agree. Even they themselves, members of the one body of Christ in Babag Uno, have stopped criticizing each other. They all feel that they are one body. The pains of one are the pains of all. The hurts of one is everybody’s hurts.

A question I posed to them during our Bible classes ran like this: Whom would you accept into your home: (1) A man who teaches the truth but does not live up to what he preaches? (2) A man who preaches false doctrines but lives a very exemplary life? They had no choice of either of these! Isn’t that amazing? They would rather have a man who preaches the truth and lives likewise according to the Word that he preaches.

We are here seeing young disciples having a commitment and a deeper understanding of what it takes to be a christian, a true disciple of Jesus, one who is heaven-bound. They are trying to fulfill in whatever way possible, according to the ability the Lord has supplied them, their commitment to God. They in Babag Uno told me that nothing can stop them, nothing can hinder them to fulfill that commitment to serve God and be in heaven someday.

Fulfill a commitment? These brethren do not believe that their work saves them. They know by heart what Ephesians 2:8-9 says. They trust only in Jesus’ power to save, they knew that He saved them by His blood, and they knew the blood would be powerless to make a change in their soul if they did not meet the Lord in the watery grave of baptism, and they knew that they could lose that salvation if they would not remain faithful to Him all the days of their lives. Commitment in its totality. They could not bargain for a much lesser price. It is all or none at all.

THEIR STORIES RETOLD
Boy Noval, Sam Tariman, and other men told me they already have stopped engaging in vices, no smoking, no wine-drinking.

Boy Noval told me that what motivated him to do right, to love his family, to be kind to everyone, and to stop bowing his knees to idols, was his father. His father claimed to be Catholic but did not practice it, was even very critical about idol worship. Boy stopped practicing Catholicism. His father stopped drinking after he got sick; Boy did not even attempt to try taking wine. His father read his Bible but never got to the point of obeying Jesus; Boy read his Bible and obeyed Jesus. There lies the difference.

You should see Boy Noval. His stature as God’s child is spiritually much taller, but physically he is not. For, you see, Boy wears no shoes or sandals. He’s got his feet, the fingers of his feet, and sometimes the fingers of his hand, above the ground as he moves around, and he stands only two feet tall. Deformed feet. Deformed hands. He walks like he is crawling on three legs. A pitiful sight to see, but he does not mind it now. He never pays attention to it at all. It is a physical defect that–he’s happy to know–the good Lord shall make right on resurrection day. On that day, everything about him will be normal, like us.

Sam Tariman. For all you know he could be one who knocks at your door at night begging for a chance to hear you and to be heard likewise. His agony began when he had much money and got very sick. I asked him if he meant that money is evil; he said no. Because he had read from his Bible that the love of money is the root of all evil. But when he got sicker, and spent much money for being sicker, Sam was jolted into his senses, was startled into reality that something was wrong with his soul. You see, prior to the time he had gotten into a hospital, a man (a denominational preacher for sure) came by his house with a Bible and wanted to talk to Sam about his soul. Sam never paid attention. Sam did not even invite him for coffee. Very unkind of me, he confessed. A week after that, they got him into a hospital. Hundreds of thousands of pesos spent for a sickness whose origin or cause the specialists did not even know. But anyway, Sam was given a new lease of life, so to speak.

A week after he came home, Sam visited the bookstores looking for a Bible. He bought one for himself, and devoured it, so to speak. He stopped reading only because his wife brought him his lunch, or his snacks, or his dinner. He had read the whole Bible in a short period of time.

One day Sam visited Boy in his shop, and saw Boy was reading his Bible. That story is one for those who have kindred spirits. They joined each other to listen to the Calvary church preachers. As they kept listening to the man, they found out that the man was doctrinally skewed in some places. They stopped inviting him. They stopped coming to his class. Sam asked Boy if he has a church affiliation, and Boy said yes, he had been attending a church but had already stopped going there.

And then I came.

PRAYER REQUESTS
I will need to have long hours to do this, but I am happy to do it just the same. This shows the spirit of caring that should characterize God’s people. They pray for one another.

We agreed that we are to pray for those who have been absent because they were downed by flu and other sickness, and for others who are still experiencing difficult health problems.

For those who are having difficulties with their relatives, with their neighbors, with their sons and daughters who are not Christians.

For those who are new Christians, that they may see the good examples of those who have become Christians ahead of them, and that they too may grow.

For those who are looking for jobs.

For those of us, Edward, Ed, Federico, Rodrigo and Armando, who are involved in leading many effective ministries like visitation, preaching and teaching, and counseling.

For the ladies like sister Panfila, sister Mery, sister Nene, sister Godelia, who are leading an effective ministry of counseling and visitation of the sick and praying for them.

For those who have been hurt by the criticism of non-Christians, that they may remain strong.

For the visitors who had visited our assemblies the first time, that they would be encouraged by the good that they see in us.

For those who promised to visit us in our assembly but did not come, that our courage to stand in the faith may also be an encouragement to them.

TWO NEW VISITORS TO OUR BACAYAN STUDIES AND WORSHIP LAST SUNDAY
We had two new visitors attending the Bible class last Sunday in Bacayan, both of whom are Samuel’s nephews. They are Joseph and Ryan. Hence we had three of Sam’s nephews attending, two Josephs and a Ryan. Sam has kept on recruiting more people to attend our classes not only on Sundays but also on Wednesdays. He believes that we are teaching what the Bible teaches, and since the Bible is truth, then we are teaching the truth. Those are actually his words, quoted indirectly.

Two ladies who had been attending the Calvary church in Talamban are now attending church here in Bacayan.

Furthermore, brother Boy Noval has been inviting his neighbors too to listen to the Word. All in his family, by the way, are attending our classes on Wednesday and Sunday.

The weather was not good last Sunday; it rained that morning and the ground was very wet. Wearing my rubber boots, I grabbed my raincoat and slipped it inside my knapsack, ready in case of a downpour. Safety precautions, too, because the path going to the house where we worship is muddy and slippery.

VERY CHALLENGING AND INTERESTING QUESTIONS
Very interesting questions had been asked of me in the Bible classes in Bacayan, questions which pose a challenge to my ability to give satisfactory answers. Here are some of the questions, in case you want to try your mettle and skill:

“What is the true church and where is it now?”

“The phrase ‘added to the church daily such as should be saved’ is found only in the King James Version, not in my Cebuano Bible. If the phrase is scriptural, then the KJV is correct but my Cebuano Bible is wrong.”

“The Calvary people and the Royal Christian church people are good, kind, and helpful. You mean to tell me they are going to hell?” (Note: These two sects have their group meetings here; they had been ahead of us in Bacayan by about a year).

“Show us by the Scripture that it is wrong to lay hands on people today.”

“Are all those going to heaven only baptized people?”

“There was yet no church in Old Testament times. How could they avail of the power of Christ’s blood to save them?”

Let me tell you that I had not left home without praying to the Father for help and guidance in case I find myself in very difficult situations. This is one of those very difficult situations a Christian teacher could be in.

And so I answered each of those questions. I mean, all those questions. I answered all because I knew the danger of leaving even one question unanswered. I answered each question with tact so as not to hurt, with my tone of voice quite moderate, and with a smile on my lips to show that I am a friend. In many instances I just quoted Scriptures, and allowed the listeners to make their own conclusions. Chances are, their conclusions are the same as mine.

And I tried not to argue. A brother from Banilad attended our midweek study one time, and argued with Sam. If I allowed their argument to continue, one of these people, or both of them, could lose their chance to be in heaven. But my direct action, my smile and happy mood helped to disarm both. Tact. Patience. Happy disposition. That is the secret. We need to have a large supply of these everyday.

We left each other with the promise to come back again same time, same place next Sunday.

BIBLE DISTRIBUTION
We had given away many Bibles to friends in Bacayan, in Babag, and in Maraag this week. These Bibles belong to that batch of Bibles sent to Good News Clinic by the brethren from Spokane, Wa. Thanks to the Lord’s church in Spokane.

EMAIL FROM A YOUNG LADY OF BANSALAN
Her name is Sharigift; she’s the daughter of brother Abner and sister Leah Sabute, both of whom were my students in the Bible college among the pines. I had once mentioned in this blog that I had sent lessons to brother Abner for use in teaching people in prison or out of prison (I surmised that brother Abner is connected with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology [BJMP] in Digos, Davao del Sur). And I sent those through Shari’s email address. Now she’s asking for other favors, favors I cannot refuse.

Shari told me that many of the young people from Bansalan church have no Bibles to use during their Bible classes. She also said that the church there made do of whatever was left of the songbooks donated to the church when her uncle Tony Visitacion was still living. Now they have tattered songbooks, no covers, with pages torn, which they with patience and care repaired in order to still use them. They may have lost a great preacher, but they have not lost their zeal in serving God.

I only have four Bibles left (New King James Version), and I will send these to Bansalan. This is not enough. I have three English Songbooks (Songs of the Church) to send. Again, this is not enough. They need more than I could give.

Brethren, may we ask you to donate Bibles and English songbooks to the Lord’s church in Bansalan, Davao del Sur? For the songbooks, whatever title will do: “Songs of the Church,” “Christian Hymns,” “Sacred Selections,” etc. They will greatly appreciate your help.

You may send your Bibles and songbook donations to them directly, or through me. But I would rather that you send those directly to them. Their address is:

Bansalan Church of Christ
c/o Abner and Leah Sabute
1515 Forget Me Not Street
Poblacion 1, Bansalan, Davao del Sur 8005

MOUNTAIN VIEW CHURCH DONATES ITS CEBUANO SONGBOOKS TO MARAAG
I mentioned in this blog about a week ago that the Lord’s church in Babag Uno had bought themselves 10 copies of the Cebuano Hymnbook, the one issued by the Baptists. I got those hymnbooks at a discounted price at the OMF Literature. Their store is located on F. Ramos Street, Cebu City.

Now the Mountain View church has donated those songbooks for the use of the brethren in Maraag. They are going to have their own, a reprint of the songs that we lifted from brotherhood hymnbooks and which we translated into Cebuano. They are songs we have chosen with care, translated with much care, songs we always cherish. They are very excellent songs. Copies of those songs we have translated are stored in my computer, and in my email accounts, ready to fly on the net in case someone asks for it. Like the lessons I am distributing, those hymns also are free.

DISCOUNTS AT OMF BOOK STORE
For the information of brethren, this store is Protestant-leaning but it offers discounts to ministers of the Lord’s church. Just go there, identify yourself, make your purchase, ask if they could give you discounts. They will make you fill up a form. Then they will issue you a card. When I applied for discounts there two weeks ago, they gave discounts and bonuses: “Pastor’s” mug, nice and durable-looking, with letters embossed, and a copy of a book by Harold J. Sala, titled “God Said, So What.” Dr. Sala’s book is good defense of the authority and inspiration of the Bible. See for yourself.

FOR THE INFORMATION OF THOSE WHO WRITE ME BY EMAILS
The lessons on denominationalism we are giving for free on the net are:
(1) Roman Catholicism in the Light of the Scriptures
(2) Questions Concerning Catholic Doctrines and Dogmas Answered
(3) The Church of England in the Light of the Scriptures
(4) The Lutheran Church in the Light of the Scriptures

We also have lessons you could use in Home Bible Studies: The Truth that Saves, consisting of ten lessons.

Sermons ready for distribution are available in my sermon blog; visit this site: http://sermonsforliving.blogspot.com.

We also have lessons on the Baptist church, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Iglesia ni Cristo, and the Mormon church. All four are about to be finished.

SERMON BLOG MINISTRY IS GETTING MANY RESPONSES
I have been getting responses through text messages that brother so and so downloaded this sermon and that sermon. We will keep adding to that collection. For those of you who have not heard of it yet, you may visit http://sermonsforliving.blogspot.com. Many of those sermons were skeleton outlines of sermons I lifted from denominational literature, which I changed; some came from brotherhood websites; others from Truth for Today (one by brother Olbricht, by the way, and I gave him credit for that in the blog).

Brother Neph Sico, my brother-in-law and my brother in Christ (his wife, by the way, is my wife’s sister) made a comment in one of our blogs, and asked permission to copy some of our materials in those blogs, and I told him to go ahead and copy what he wants to copy. We are happy to be of service to everyone.

WHERE IS THE MOTHER?
A piece of news that moved us, of a little boy two years old who was out playing in the rain, no, in the storm that came this week with its great outbursts of winds, showers and rain, flooding the city. The scene is near the Capitol site, where sits the head of the provincial government of Cebu. One error in construction. One defect in design. Or just plain, simple negligence. A manhole without a cover. Had anyone ever thought that that one defect would cost a life?

Where was the mother? is the next question. She was in another house, busy with something, and never noticed his son was no longer around. Someone said he saw the boy playing on street. They suspected something. The manhole without a cover. So the helpful neighbors did what they could. Some crawled into the manhole. They inched their way through the sewer, their bodies smelling of the foulness of the sewer, their faces muddied, till they reached the spot kilometers away from the Capitol site, and their search ended there. A search that took more than a day. At the mouth of the sewer by the bay fronting the city of Lapulapu, they saw a body, the body of the boy, lifeless, bluish, in its early decomposing stage. A very terrible end for so young a life.

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