Following more than two years of Covid-19 restrictions, the Apostolic Faith Church in the Philippines was able to hold an in-person summer camp meeting from April 12-17. The theme was “Redeeming the Time,” and the theme verse was, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). There were 271 registered campers from various branch churches in addition to a number of local attendees. Everyone was excited to see each other as Robert Ruiz presented the orientation program titled “Make Heaven Our Final Home.” After welcoming everyone, the camp director, Lamberto Dollente, explained the camp regulations and activities program, gave food and accommodation assignments, and encouraged the campers to observe the health protocols required by the government officials.
The following morning, the Bible study series started with the theme, “Time Management,” presented by Guadalupe Miranda. She discussed the importance of prioritizing time and using it responsibly. That afternoon, a Bible study titled “Preparing to Meet Jesus” was given by Wenifred Lucero. He emphasized the need to be more like Jesus while preparing to meet Him. In the evening evangelistic service, Jamindre Torres preached a stirring message on “Jesus in the Midst.” Several took the opportunity to testify of the goodness of the Lord in their lives.
On Thursday, the Bible study presented by Roger Amansec was titled “Knowing Your Enemy.” He brought out that spiritual enemies can be categorized as: (1) the devil; (2) yourself; and (3) the world. That afternoon, the long-anticipated ordinances of the Lord’s Supper and Washing of the Disciples’ Feet were held. They were facilitated by Miguel Carganilla and Carlito Valdez. Indeed, it was a time of sweet communion and fellowship! A highlight of the camp meeting was the “Children’s Hour” that evening. Recorded performances by children from branch churches brought smiles and inspiration to all. The children showcased their talents with singing, playing instruments, and even a short drama, all to the glory of God.
On Friday, the final Bible study titled “Be a Watchful Servant” was given by Richard Cruz. He used an acronym of the word “WATCH” to emphasize five areas where Christians should be watchful: W-ords; A-ctions; T-houghts; C-ompany; and H-eart. That afternoon, a service focusing on the “Seven Last Words of Jesus at the Cross” was well attended by the campers, as well as friends and neighbors from the village. It brought tears to the eyes as the congregation was reminded of God’s great love and plan of redemption though Jesus’ death on the Cross. During the “Night of Music” led by Robert Ruiz, live and recorded selections from the branch churches were presented. The presence of the Lord was felt, and God was glorified as the congregation sang inspiring choruses.
A pastoral meeting was held Saturday morning via Zoom with the participation of Bill McKibben, Director of East Asia Work, from Seattle, Washington, USA. It was followed by the Philippines General Assembly, where reports, plans, and programs were presented. During the water baptismal service, twenty-three candidates were water baptized, signifying their comittment to follow the Lord.
That afternoon, the first ever “Bible Character Portrayal” contest was held. Ten branch churches participated, with each church submitting a short five-minute video featuring a Bible character of their choice. All of the presentations exhibited creativeness, and the Maragol church received the grand champion award for their portrayal of “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in the Stable.” The second place award was given to the Tabulac church for their portrayal of the “Woman Who Touched the Hem of Jesus’ Garment.” The third place award went to the Simimbaan church, which portrayed “Hosea.”
The camp meeting concluded on Sunday beginning with Sunday school. During the devotional service, Joseph Ruiz, Philippines District Superintendent, read 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 for his text, bringing out that Jesus died for everyone, and His Resurrection gives victory and hope to all who accept His plan of redemption. Once again, the Lord poured out His wonderful blessings of salvation, sanctification, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In the afternoon evangelistic service, Josefino Aban spoke about “The Power of Testimony.” During the service, some shared their testimonies of victory.
God’s presence was evident in all of the services and the prayer meetings that followed. The camp meeting was a joyous time to reconnect, not only with one another, but most importantly, with the Lord. Indeed, He is risen, alive, and living in hearts! To God be all the glory!