Church in Gindi, Bacacay, Albay


THE MISSION’S BEGINNING. The work of the Lord in Gindi began almost simultaneously with the work in Bayandong, with the same persons and the same ministry groups involved–that of brother Salvador Cariaga’s “Body and Soul” and brother Chito Cusi’s “March for Christ.” Both churches in Bayandong and Gindi are newly planted. Both Gindi and Bayandong are villages of Bacacay. The distance between both places is more or less six kilometers.

These mercy groups came to help the needy victims of Bicol region, and to point them to the only Savior through whose name all blessings flow. With the distributing of benevolent aids also came the teaching. Teachers included Bonifacio Patricio, Bert Patricio, Buddy Buo, and a host of others including students from Sunrise Christian College and another student from PIBI-Naga City. Coming with the group of Sunrise students was the grandson of brother Erasto Fuentes, Naga City church minister. Maimai Lagria also came.

There is one other factor that needs to be mentioned too. A certain Christian, a military man, who was converted through WBS ministry in Manila, is actually a resident of Gindi. It was in his house that the church in Gindi began to meet. Christians in the place call him brother Emil.

MHALBE NERLO LAGRIA. For reasons well understood by those of us students of missiology, non-native teachers who began the work in both places also had to leave. Maimai Lagria volunteered to stay and continue the teaching. And so it was that a Boholano preacher, a graduate of a British Bible school, became the minister of both churches consisting of Bicolano members. Tagalog was and still is the medium of instruction and communication used. Maimai had to conduct worship in Gindi in the morning of Sunday, and in Bayandong in the evening of the same day. It was a job quite heavy for one so young. Tricycles became the mode of transportation then; now he has a motorcycle.

KEVIN USARRAGA. Then Kevin Usarraga came. He was the first in his family to be a Christian. He endured family persecution, but in the end he won. His younger brother, who drove him away after knowing he had been baptized, later had a change of heart, became a Christian too, and finished ministry studies at Cebu Bible College. His name was Leif Mark, and he was my student when I was still teaching there. Kevin was God’s instrument in converting his whole family.

After becoming a Christian, Kevin studied in the one and only preaching school established by the late Ray Bryan in Mindanao, in which he had a premillenialist and another hobbyist as teachers. But his best teachers were those who came from Memphis School of Preaching, people who could not be guilty of any hobby. From them he learned much Bible.

Enrolled in Manila School of Evangelism, Kevin became brother Felipe Cariaga’s man Friday. What he could he learned from the classroom, and what he could not he learned from the preachers. He learns too from the mistakes of preachers. He appreciates preachers who have “moral ascendancy.” He sympathizes with them in their failures; he also rejoices with them in their triumphs.

Kevin was a military man but had left it for some other jobs more exciting and more challenging. To him there is no job more challenging and exciting than preaching. Discussing an issue is an exhilarating experience to him. And it is in the ministry of God that he at last had found peace, he said.

Brother Kevin presently serves as minister of the church in the village of Gindi.

BACK TO THE STORY OF GINDI CHURCH. For some months the church in this village by the sea continually met in the house of brother Emil.

Sister Siony de Guzman-de los Reyes vividly remembers sending her kids to attend the Sunday school but she herself did not. But when her kids got home, she would ask them a barrage of questions. She was searching for life’s meaning. But curiosity got the better of her, and so she decided to visit the meeting place one Sunday. What she saw and heard induced her to keep on coming.

The church needed a much wider and much better place for worship, and so Siony volunteered her house. She was not yet a Christian then, just a searcher. She invited her neighbors to come and they did. Studies of the Word were made, not just on Sundays, but on any day they had time. Finally Siony had to submit herself to the Lord’s commands and put on Jesus through baptism. Her children too were baptized. They all grew in learning, in faith and in service. Her two boys could now lead the congregation in singing and praying.

Gindi church becomes Seaside Church of Christ. The sea is in fact about twenty meters away from sister Siony’s house. The Lord’s ocean this side of Albay, with its salty waters clear and foamy, became their baptistery.

Sister Siony earned a living selling their own catch of fish. Her family owns two fishing boats, one small, the other not so big. Her husband Jun (he’s from Masbate) had been attending the Bible classes conducted by Kevin Usarraga and had stopped drinking. “Susunod din yan,” she says (Translation: He too will become a Christian later). Jun uses the small boat in fishing. His biggest catch so far was two big blue marlins, which they were able to sell at P11,000 each.

LOVE FEAST. A common practice at the Seaside church is the “love feast,” with some food for snacks that sister Siony prepares for everyone who attends. I am of the opinion that God has also found in these two little corners of Bayandong and Gindi two families who not only love God but love all men also: The De los Reyes family of Gindi and the Longa family of Bayandong. In both places it was the wives who first accepted the gospel of Jesus. In both places the churches meet in their homes.

I conducted a seminar here only for a night, that was on a Thursday, December 6. I was just back from Naga City where I also preached to the church and conducted a brainstorming class with the students of PIBI-Naga. We were late in coming. And we were wet all over. Sister Siony wanted us to eat, but I decided to get on to the Lord’s business first. The meeting place was filled to overflowing. About one third of those who attended were not yet Christians. I spoke on the subject of God’s love for all men, the subject of sin, of death, of the state of the dead, of the judgment, of the new heaven and new earth. While I was preaching, sister Siony’s husband was nodding in agreement.

In the morning when I woke up, I saw a world I had not seen in the night. The place is so beautiful. The church is actually meeting in the compound of the family of sister Siony, but not all in the De Guzmans are Christians. That is no problem though, says sister Siony. The De Guzmans have been noted for being generous and kind to their neighbors and to strangers.

Sister Siony’s house is a one-level affair, with a slab of concrete for its roof. It does not leak when it rains though. “My only regret, brother Ed,” sister Siony said, “is that I became a Christian when I had used up all my money for the education of my daughter and my son-in-law. But someday the Lord will bless us, maybe my son-in-law will pay us back when he gets employed, and I will have that upper room built. There the church will be worshipping.” She smiles.

The Lord has found another Lydia, and she and her family live in this village by the sea.


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