April 2017 Viewpoint
On January 22, 2017, Debbie and I were among those who celebrated the dedication of a new Philippines headquarters church in Bagong Sikat. (You can read more about the dedication service in this news article.) We had arrived from Portland a few days earlier and immediately had been taken on a nighttime tour. Our first impression of the new building was, “Wow, amazing!” The beautiful new structure stands in stark contrast to our organization’s modest beginnings in the Philippines.
While living as a missionary in Japan in the late 1950s, Reverend Arthur Allen made the initial outreach efforts into the Philippines on behalf of the Apostolic Faith work. He traveled to Manila, where he contacted those who had corresponded with the headquarters church in Portland. He found several small groups that had a desire to go deeper with the Lord, and reported, “They gathered in a place of worship between two houses. A few boards over the top and a little galvanized sheet metal over that for a roof, and a dirt floor—just a humble place—but we could feel the presence of God. As the Word went forth, the people began to weep. Their hearts were open, and God began to work in their lives. They asked that we might work together for the honor and glory of God.”
"The faces of the people revealed their deep hunger for the Word, a very touching scene." - General Overseer Loyce Carver, 1976
In 1976, General Overseer Loyce Carver stopped in the Philippines on a two-month trip through several countries in Asia. In a report home he wrote: “We held a service in a barrio on Saturday evening. It was dark when we pulled up in front of the farmhouse. A little candle was burning in their sitting area and another light in a room above. Soon, down the road came someone with a beaming light that they tied to a rafter, lighting up the whole courtyard. Several boys came along with an accordion and guitars; they put benches out under the mango trees and chairs next to the house. Then the service began. People came—farmers with their wives, young men, old men, and the children. The faces of the people revealed their deep hunger for the Word, a very touching scene.”
In 1984, Reverend Zenaida Ruiz was ordained and established as the leader of the Apostolic Faith work in the Philippines; she continues to serve in that role at our Bagong Sikat district headquarters.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the Harold Barretts spearheaded a number of trips to the Philippines, especially after Brother Barrett “retired” from his years as a missionary in South Korea. Upon returning to his home in Portland, his heart remained in South Korea, Japan, and increasingly, in the Philippines. He would often come into my office when I served as our organization’s treasurer, bearing checks that needed to be wired to the Philippines. Much of those funds were from his own account! From his donations and those of others, along with funds from the people there, groups in the Philippines were able to move their places of worship from under mango trees in rice paddies to newly constructed church buildings.
Branch churches and groups have continued to be established throughout the Philippines since Brother Harold’s death in May of 2005. After his passing, Bill McKibben was appointed Director of the Philippines Work, as well as Japan and South Korea. He and his wife continue to make annual trips to those locations.
It is encouraging to reflect on how God has prospered the work in this beautiful region, and to feel the spirit of our brothers and sisters there as they continue to advance the Latter Rain Gospel in their field of service. It was a vivid reminder that wherever people are willing to consecrate their lives to God’s cause, He will bring the increase.