They’re Here: The Saturn Road Mission Team

IMG_0977IMG_0988IMG_1005IMG_1006Three brothers and two sisters in Christ, the mission team from the Saturn Road church, came on September 24, got their first taste of what it means to lose one American day and gain a Philippine day, messing up their body clocks in the process, and got themselves involved in the teaching at the facilities of Philippine Institute of Biblical Studies in Pit-os, at the church facilities in Talamban, at Jollibee-Banilad, at Helen Uytengsu’s place in Banilad and at Krua Thai restaurant, Banilad Town Centre. Let me introduce them to you.

Firstly, the ladies. We have Michelle Stewart, whose husband Chris and son Chris, Jr. came here a year or so ago to visit the work that Saturn Road church has been supporting in the island of Cebu. Michelle is an elementary school teacher with a Math minor from Texas Tech University, and a Bible class teacher whose skills as a molder of hearts have been put to good use these last 23 years at Saturn Road church’s classrooms. Michelle too has been managing her husband’s anesthesia practice. Chris Stewart Sr. has the looks of a movie star, so we have been told. “Like Alec Baldwin?” I ask; Michelle has a good laugh at that.

Michelle is formerly a Baptist and her husband Chris guided her to the truth, and baptized her. Michelle’s interests include the outdoor and the physical like skiing and soccer. She loves home decorating, and her family definitely has a soft spot in her heart, in much the same way as the family of God does. This is her first time to be away from them visiting Asia.

And Sheila Baker. She is now on her 12th year as senior administrative assistant of the elders of Saturn Road church, with duties that include maintaining the computers, websites and publications of Saturn as well as serving as secretary to the elders. Sheila and her husband Marty are the proud parents of two sons: Marty Jr, who has been youth minister of Van church of Christ for two years and is now finishing his masters of divinity at Lubbock Christian University; and Chad, who is in an internship youth ministry program at McDermott church of Christ. Shiela loves kids and has taught children’s Bible classes for 12 years at Seagoville church, VBS and the older three’s for 3 years at Saturn Road before serving as official secretary of the missions committee.  Sheila’s love interests also include scrapbooking and photography; at PIBS and other functions during the week, you would often see her angling for a good cam shot, and her digital cam flashing.

Michelle Stewart and Sheila Baker teach the ladies at Tea Fellowship, at Helen Uytengsu’s place, Sto. Nino Village, Banilad. Their topics: Ladies as Helpmeets in Evangelism, and Silence in the Church Does Not Mean Taking the Back Seats. They also teach the kids at the Good News Clinic facilities in Mandaue.

Mitchell Bueter, the other member of the mission team, is now in his 19th year as provider of insurance and financial services, having graduated with a business degree from Abilene Christian U. A father of two kids (both girls) he now serves as a deacon at Saturn Road church. Mitchell grew up surrounded by men and women of God who love missions and efforts of seeking the lost in many parts of the world and showing forth the lights from Jesus. His father had served for many years in the missions committee of the old Austin Street church in Garland, Texas (the forerunner of the Saturn Road church). Being in the missions committee of Saturn Road, Mitchell has also traveled to many mission areas that Saturn Road supports, such as Argentina, Romania, Mexico, Chile, Ghana and others.

Then Jimmy Chalk. An air man for 8 years, two and a half of which had been spent first at Clark Air Force Base in Angeles City, Pampanga and months in a small remote station in Polomolok, South Cotabato. Jimmy says he loves pine-apples, and that’s probably one reason why being assigned to the lonely outpost of Polomolok was no big deal to him–he was as close as could be to the Dole Plantation. John Allen Chalk, whose one collection of sermons I have in my library, is the older brother of Jimmy. The Chalk siblings grew up in a farm in west Tennessee. Early on, Jimmy was taught how to drive a tractor by his grandfather but realized farming blood does not run in his veins; he wanted to fly somewhere and see the world.  He indeed has seen places, now as part of the Saturn Road mission team in Asia. He also had seen the church in Angeles sprouting from the efforts of the US soldiers– Christians and members of the church of Jesus–and of American missionaries, in the Clark facilities. Our first taste of American congeniality and hospitality was at Clark.

Jimmy has a BS in Accounting from Louisiana State University; his wife and friend Robbie, whom he had met in his Air Force days, is a teacher. For 25 years now, Jimmy and Robbie have been involved in the business affairs of Saturn Road church, being the treasurer and accountant, installing better control and report of Saturn Road’s financial activities. He led in the financing efforts to acquire Saturn Road church’s new auditorium and classrooms, the purchase of additional property and the construction of new educational and teen facilities.

Last but of course not the least is John Scott, who is now in his 16th year as senior pulpit minister of Saturn Road church. A graduate of both David Lipscomb and Abilene Christian U, this man of God first served, according to him, as “the lowest man on the totem pole” but gradually went up the ranks. John loves missions and the benevolent efforts of the church (he mentioned a date he had with a girl friend that ended up, not in the malls nor in a movie theater but in a church, and he putting the dollars he had wanted to spend on his date on the collection plate when it was passed around).

John spews out gems in his sermons and lectures, sometimes waxing poetic. His reason for alliterating his sermon outline headings is to better remember it. You should hear John speak. Wondered if the late Walter Scott, reformer and restorer, who once scoured the heartlands of the Western Reserve seeking for lost souls, is any relation of his.

John’s wife Teresa is vice president of Christian Care Retirement Center in Mesquite, Texas. Their son Shane teaches at Dallas Christian School; their daughter Lindsay is married to Mark Simmons, youth minister of Burleson church, Burleson, Texas.  John has traveled and preached to Chile, Ghana, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, the Mediterranean, and in China, where his daughter and son-in-law preach and seek to penetrate the walls an authoritarian government has built around its people. One should learn from the experiences of John’s missionary daughter and son-in-law as they encourage Chinese youth to give their all to Jesus, and what it means to be worshipping in a country where your neighbors may at any time squeal you to the authorities, where one sings the songs of freedom in the gospel and joy in Jesus in tones subdued.

The Saturn Road mission team will be leaving on Tuesday, September 30.


Not Everyone Can Be Us

IMG_0965The preacher eagerly doing the job of preaching has certain challenges, opportunities and responsibilities. These I describe as peculiar; others call these extraordinary.  They are a part and parcel of a preacher’s private life that makes him tick— his study life.

The preacher must be a well that doesn’t run dry. It is an axiom that dry wells cannot give forth water. Brethren will long to come to free-flowing springs to have a drink. The fruit of much study comes out of a preacher’s mouth, but the seed of scholarly efforts must first be planted in his brain. We cannot teach what we have not imbibed. In other words, a preacher must needs to have mental industry, or he would amount to any of the following: (1) Producing boring, haphazardly-done lessons in the category of the mediocre. (2) Calling on another preacher to save him— that is, to do the preaching for him.  (3) Coming up with a false doctrine. (4) Falling short of the congregation’s expectations, he may resign his job.

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Obituary Of A Man Age 93

The burial grounds of Mawmaoan, below Babag Uno.

The burial grounds of Mawmaoan.

An old man from Babag Uno, age 93, passed away this week.  Fifty years ago he was the owner of a hundred hectares of mountain land planted to corn–literally fields of green beside a flowing mountain brook. He also owned the largest house in this community of small people living in small houses. His things were the envy of the village underachievers and the talk of the village gossips. No one above the age of fifty today could not say he or she had not worked in this old man’s farm, had not experienced his tongue-lashing when the man complained of back jobs, had not felt being exploited because of his being poor by this man who once wallowed in riches.  He used to ride sky-high on the glory of being lord of a small manor. Now he’s dead.

Another view of the mountain, below which is the valley that serves the burial grounds of the dead in Babag Uno

At the foot of this mountain are the burial grounds of the dead.

What legacy, if any, has the old man left behind? You can name 18 paramours and 6 illegitimate kids, in addition to the 8 he already had with the legal spouse. A chapel in honor of “Mary the Virgin” which he had built using his funds, in the hope of invoking eternal security in the day of judgment. Male heirs who not only inherited his genes but also copied his attitudes, including narrow-mindedness in matters of religion.

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Great Reasons To Be Thankful

IMG_0959I type this post today and I still cannot believe what had happened to me last night as I was on my way home from preaching in the mountains.  I type this post slowly because I still could feel the pain in my left arm and the pain in my left leg.

However, those pains in my extremities are nothing compared to the pain that I had felt in my heart– the pain of fear. Because for one more time in my life—last night— I had felt so afraid. I thought it would be my last day in the land of the living.

Last night, on the highway going home, I fell from my motorcycle. Flat on the pavement.

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