From the Superintendent's DESK
Director of East Asia Work, Bill McKibben, and his wife, Lori, concluded their trip to the Philippines today. Brother Bill sent a final report telling of this past week’s activities, which included the installation of a board member and formal ordination of a pastor.
On Tuesday, the McKibbens visited two of our branch churches: Parista and Maragol. At both locations, they were greeted warmly and enjoyed good food and fellowship with the saints. At Parista, they noted that many of the young people are university students who travel home on the weekends to participate in the work. They said these dedicated youth are a blessing to the congregation, having an impact on the music, prayer meetings, and church maintenance.
At Maragol, Brother Bill reminded the congregation of his first trip to the Philippines in 1994. At that time, he was privileged to bring a donation from the saints in South Korea, which was used to purchase the Maragol church site.
A Bible study was held on Wednesday evening at the Bagong Sikat headquarters church with over fifty attending. The McKibbens were told that when in-person Bible studies first resumed after the pandemic, only ten to twelve participated, but happily, that number has grown steadily. As the weather was nice, the meeting was held outside at the front of the church. The congregation sang a few songs before hearing an inspiring study on “Avoiding Gossip.”
Another outdoor service was held on Thursday—a youth service at the Tabulac church. The congregation at this location suffered greatly this past year. First, when one of the young people died in an accident on the way home from youth camp, and again when the pastor, Emmanuel Miranda, succumbed to heart issues. Brother Bill said one encouragement has been that “the pain and sorrow of loss has bound the young people in unity as they seek God together.”
The late pastor’s wife, Guadalupe Miranda, continues to lead the congregation as she did during her husband’s ill health. During the service, the Holy Spirit was very present, and the youth were receptive to the message. The sermon was taken from 3 John 1-4 and focused on being loved by God and the ministry, and continuing to walk in the truth.
On Saturday morning, pastors, assisting ministers, elders, and workers gathered at the headquarters church for a conference. The Philippine District Superintendent, Roque Fiegalan, opened the meeting with general business, including discussion of the upcoming year-end camp meeting. Other segments of the meeting included a brief encouragement to remain faithful in service, an exhortation on “Facing Challenges,” and a video presentation. The video was prepared and narrated by Dial and Carrie Keju of Washington DC. It chronicled the January 2023 trip to the Philippines in which the Kejus accompanied Brother Bill, and it included some history of our Philippine churches.
Between 250 and 300 people gathered at the Bagong Sikat church on Sunday. The attendees included representatives from about half of our branch churches (the other half had attended the previous Sunday). After a joyous time in Sunday school, all gathered in the sanctuary for the devotional service, which began with an orchestra arrangement of “People Need the Lord” followed by the Bagong Sikat choir singing “You Are My All in All.” Brother Roque welcomed everyone and after congregational singing Wenifred Lucero, the pastor in Raniag, offered the opening prayer.
During the service, the formal installation of a new board member took place. The Board of Trustees had met earlier in the week and filled the position. Now the congregation voiced their assent to the decision and the Board laid hands on and prayed for Jimandre Torres. He pastors our church in Binalonan. In addition, the Board laid hands on and prayed for Nena Villarta, who leads the congregation at Amabatali. She had previously been ordained, but this was the first opportunity to formally commission her with the laying on of hands and prayer.
The service continued with a Scripture reading from Revelation 15 and a vocal solo by Nancy Fernando of “Speak, O Lord.” Then the message was given from Exodus 15, which tells of God showing Moses a tree for the healing of the bitter waters at Marah. It brought out that God has provided everyone with a “tree” in the Cross of Calvary. When applied to the bitterness of sin, the Cross brings sweet deliverance. After prayer, the saints gathered and enjoyed a joint lunch outside the church.
The afternoon service featured the orchestra on prelude followed by the choir from our Tabulac church singing “God Is Enough.” Following the congregational singing and prayer, many shared testimonies of God’s goodness. One brother spoke of how God continues to bless him after a cancer diagnosis. A young mother said she was saved at age fourteen and later received her deeper experiences. Then God gave her the privilege to work in His vineyard as a youth camp counselor, and now she and her husband lead the young people in one of our branch churches.
Before the message, Ily Fiegalan sang “In Christ Alone.” Then Sister Guadalupe brought the message on loving God with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength. Many stayed and prayed following the service and then later gathered for photos in front of the church before departing for home.
Today, the McKibbens visited two more of our newer branch churches in San Leonardo and Cabanatuan. Now they are in Bagong Sikat preparing for their Tuesday departure to the United States. Please continue to pray for the work in the Philippines.