“Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23).
“He who wins souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30).
FIRSTLOVE MISSIONS OUTREACH TO THE PHILIPPINES
April 3-20, 2017
April 15, 2017 Report
The twelve member missions team arrived safely in Manila on Friday morning, April 7th.
The team consisted of Pastor Joe Jacowitz, Christ Bible Church, Dublin, CA; Pastor Paul Nelson of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, Morgan Hill, CA; Dr. Edward Dalcour of "The Department of Defense" (an apologetics ministry based in Southern CA); Thomas Smith, a teacher from Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, Dale City, VA; Ben Walden from Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, Lexington, KY; Mike Stockwell, an evangelist with Jeremiah Cry Ministries, Eric Santos, a radio broadcaster from Vacaville, CA and Victa Santos, his wife; Pastor Austin Huggins from Pensacola, Florida; Brian Luzny, a pastoral candidate from Central Point, Oregon; Eric Baxter and Gerard Limtiaco, members of Christ Bible Church, Dublin, CA.
After we arrived in Manilla, we made contact with Pastor Manual Vergara (an indigenous pastor affiliated with SGBC, Morgan Hill, CA). He drove all night with 7 students and one teacher from his seminary. At 3:45 AM Manuel called Pastor Nelson from the hotel lobby and said they made it to the hotel and were waiting for him to come down and meet them. They discussed his seminary with the students. He is teaching a full curriculum including beginning Greek. All the students had read Dr. Nelson's apologetics book and were excited to meet him. The amazing thing is that the students had done all their studies, using photocopies and are in desperate need of books. At about 4:30 AM, in God’s providence, I walked into the lobby where they were talking. I was introduced to Manny, and after talking for some time, I invited the students to my hotel room and gave them 10 cases of books (over 500). The joy on the student's faces as they loaded the books into their van, was unforgettable. Manual and his men followed us to the pastor's conference. He and his men were introduced at the conference as having come the farthest distance. Manny met Pastor Leo Galanza and they too were of a kindred spirit. They are planning a conference(s) in the northern part of the Luzon island where Manny is located.
The pastor’s conference on Saturday, April 8, was well attended with 250-300 pastors. I was able to give a PowerPoint presentation of FLP to a very enthusiastic crowd. Well over 10,000 books were given away to joyful and shocked pastors who could hardly believe what they freely received as they walked away with stacks of books in their arms. Other pastors could not make it because of a parade in the streets - the traffic was terrible. Pastor Leo Galanza uses the apologetics book for both graduate and undergraduate courses. All his students were very familiar with the book. Dr. Downings catechism has also been incorporated into their curriculum. Both books are main titles listed in FirstLove Publications doctrinal category.
After the conference, we spent two hours in traffic trying to get to the airport. Our plane was late and we didn’t arrive in Midanao until after midnight. We had to pass through a terrorist check point. Mindanao is the Muslim part of the Philippines. On Sunday, I gave a FirstLove Powerpoint presentation to 700 people at Lapazan Baptist Church. Several men preached and taught at surrounding churches. A few other taught Sunday school classes at Lapazan Baptist.
Today we preached all day for the pastor’s conference at Lapasan Baptist Church. At the end of the conference, thousands of books were distributed to hundreds of pastors and attendees. There were faces of joy and thankfulness as the book line stretched all the way to the back of the large auditorium and around the corner. The catechism, the OT surveys, and the apologetic books were in high demand. What a blessing! I turned to Pastor Nelson and said, “This is what I live for.”
Pray for the books. So far, thousands of books from FirstLove Publications were placed into the hands of the Philippines. And they love them! Praise God!
We are currently staying in Cagayan de Oro city, which is in the northern part of Mindanao island. This city has a minimum Muslim population, somewhere around 10%. It is safe and there is no terrorist threat here. As you go south the Muslim population increases. There are radical Islamic groups there. On Wednesday we travel up into mountains in central Mindanao for a pastors conference where 300 are expected to attend.
So far we distributed over 10,000 books at two conferences, and we left Pastor Leo Galanza in Manila with 10,000 more books. We are taking thousands more on Wednesday to the third conference. We have made many new contacts with other churches. The doors are wide open and we are already planning another trip and estimates a need of over 70,000 books. The need is so great and the Macedonian call of the people to come over and help them is heart wrenching.
The preaching atmosphere is unique. Lizards and cockroaches climb the walls and run across the floor. Birds fly overhead in the building. Sometimes you have to wave off hornets flying around you. In one church that Pastor Nelson preached in, there was a neighborhood dog sleeping in the center aisle during the service.
Wednesday was a very long and exciting day. Some of us were awakened in our hotel by a earth quake at 5:30 am, which measured at 6.0, the epicenter being within a few hundred miles away. We drove 4 hours south into Muslim territory. We finally reached Bible Baptist Church, and we had some time to fellowship with Pastor Cube before the preaching. He was the first missionary in the region in 1983, when it was a war zone with fighting against both communists and Muslims. Since then he has trained men and planted 31 other churches in the area, and gives a daily radio broadcast. He has built a large church building that seats 1400. We preached that night to an attendance of about 500. After all the preaching, we handed out the books. Our book supply is now depleted. 35,000 books have been distributed in the Philippines. To say it was unique to see the people eagerly and joyfully scrambling for the books would be an understatement. Sadly, we didn't have enough books for all that wanted them and we had to turn some away empty handed.
Tomorrow is Resurrection Sunday. I am scheduled to preach at Lapazan Baptist church and others at area churches. On Monday begins the Youth Camp with a minimum of 700 expected.
Thank you for your prayers and continue to pray for our health, strength, provision, and for God's blessing on the ministry of His word.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Joe Jacowitz