Anticipating the Lord’s presence, the Filipino saints gathered at the Bagong Sikat headquarters church December 28-30. Hearts were hungry and looking toward Heaven, and the Lord did not disappoint! Though only three short days, they were days filled with teachings, exhortations, consecrations, and praise as well as plenty of fellowship.
The theme for this year’s Winter Camp (also called the year-end camp meeting) was “To Be Like Jesus.” About three hundred were in attendance from the Philippine churches. In addition, Bill McKibben, Director of East Asia Work, and his wife, Lori, were present, accompanied by Dial and Carrie Keju of Washington, DC. In every service, the church sanctuary was filled with hungry hearts—the majority being young people.
Spirits were high as everyone gathered for the first teaching on Wednesday afternoon. The session’s focus was on “Surrendering Like Jesus.” The prelude brought all into a spirit of consecration with “I Give You My Heart” and then “Today,” sung by the choir from our church in Tabulac. Though most of the congregational songs were rendered in Tagalog, they were primarily familiar hymns. The teaching was given by Roger Amansec, pastor from Salay. He said the first step in becoming like Jesus is to surrender self, and he emphasized the benefits of living fully surrendered to Christ.
The evening’s evangelistic service opened with “How Great Thou Art” followed by the “Hallelujah Chorus,” both excellently performed by the orchestra. Then choirs from our Cavite and Bagong Sikat locations sang “Mighty to Save” and “The Mission,” respectively. In the testimonies, several branch churches were represented, including Washington DC. The evening message was given by Christopher Mendoza, the pastor at Bulacan. Using the account of Naaman the leper, he focused on the Israelite servant girl who had been taken captive. In that environment, the young girl still glorified God, telling of His power to heal (2 Kings 5). Brother Christopher challenged the congregation, as children of God, to share the Gospel in every circumstance.
The Thursday morning teaching was on “Living for Jesus” and featured the Binalonan church choir. The session was taught by Richard Cruz, pastor of the Cavite church, and covered ten necessary godly practices for living Christlike. These were: to love unconditionally (John 15:13), live prayerfully (Luke 5:16), exude forgiveness (Luke 23:34), walk humbly (Mark 10:45), study and know God’s Word (Luke 2:45-46), demonstrate compassion (Matthew 9:36), put God first (Matthew 6:33), practice self-control (Acts 8:32), know yourself in God (Mark 1:23-26), and be obedient (Philippians 2:8).
The afternoon session opened with the Baguio choir singing “More of You, Jesus.” Mila Caliboso from Sinimbaan gave the message on “Loving Like Jesus.” She reminded the congregation that Jesus named the two most important commandments as loving God and loving others.
A consecration night was held in the evening with Brother Bill delivering the message. Taking his text from John 3:33-36, he spoke on “Answering the Call of God.” He emphasized that believers must decrease in self, so Jesus can increase in their lives.
On Friday morning, The Maragol choir sang “Go Light Your World” before Miguel Carganilla, the Parista pastor, gave the teaching on “Serve Like Jesus.” Throughout the message, he called on members of the congregation to give portions of their testimony, including Zenaida Ruiz, the retired District Superintendent. She told how the Lord gave her the ability to remain consecrated and to meet her calling in service. Another testimony came from Teresita Torres, the Infanta pastor. She spoke of how, after the death of her husband, she had no desire to continue in the ministry. However, God restored her hunger for Him and she renewed her consecrations. The Cavite pastor, Richard Cruz, was also called on and shared about doing street ministry, which has led to regular meetings in the squatter camp. The testimonies were a great encouragement to all.
In the afternoon, a water baptismal service was held. Before the message, the Sinimbaan and San Luis choirs sang “Grace Unmeasured.” Then Carlito Valdez, pastor at Cabituculan, exhorted the new converts, stressing that becoming a Christian means living life delivered from sin. More than fifteen candidates were baptized. An Ordinance Service followed with music provided by the Isabela Province choirs (Raniag and Ambatali). They sang “Broken and Spilled Out” preceding the message on the Lord’s Supper given by Emilita Torres, the Tabulac pastor. And they sang “Behold the Lamb” before the Foot Washing message by Rizaldy Caliboso, the Sinimbaan pastor.
In the evening everyone enjoyed a “Night of Music & Children’s Hour” coordinated by Julius Grospe and conducted by Robert Ruiz, both of Bagong Sikat. It began with congregational singing interspersed with videos from our Philippine churches of children singing and giving Christmas and New Year greetings. Then Sister Carrie gave a brief message on how the choices a believer makes can result in taking back consecrations made to the Lord. She demonstrated this by clipping back a beautiful large plant until it was a small stump. She closed by saying God will keep those who continue to look to Him. A sweet time of prayer followed, and then the campers bid one another goodbye.
Many from outside Bagong Sikat returned home, but others remained for the New Year’s Eve Watchnight service on Saturday, December 31. For the message, Fernan Fiegalan [appointed Philippines District Superintendent on January 8, 2023] encouraged all to look past the challenges of 2022 toward the opportunities of 2023 should Jesus tarry. Many prayed afterward and then went outside into the tropical warmth for hot chocolate, donuts, and fellowship. The evening ended with everyone wishing each other “Happy New Year.”
Without doubt, the 2022 Winter Camp and Watchnight service were blessed! Each time the saints gathered in Jesus’ Name, He was within their midst. After each service, prayer around the altars was sweet and a time of discernible consecration as souls sought to draw closer to God. We pray God’s Spirit continues to encourage and strengthen all who were able to attend and all who were looking this way.