The Latest News
|12/30/2004||HAPPY NEW YEAR'S EVE!
"The earth kept shaking, and the water seemed uneasy..." The sea gypsies ("Badjaos") were surprised to hear of the devastation in the Indian sea from Sunday's tsunamis which killed over 118,000 people. After church Sunday I was invited to visit the Badjaos, considered the poorest of the poor in the Philippines, and spent six hours with them, along with three other international researchers. Visiting their homes was an experience, as their entire village of over a thousand bamboo, thatch and tin homes is on wooden stilts over shallow ocean water 2 feet deep. Since their toilets are just holes in the floor, the "fragrance" was pretty intense. Typically, the Muslims are considered the poor, and always live near the water. But these Badjaos live BEHIND the Muslims, on the ocean itself. Because of the danger of kidnappers, the Badjaos invited a dozen police to act as our bodyguards. After a time of ministry, visitation and prayer, I asked a few Badjaos to come and work for us temporarily at BLC, to help dig our canal even deeper to keep the flooding situation under stricter control. "Praise God," relayed the leader when he came to BLC, that the quake was not a few hundred miles closer to the Philippines. If it was, our village would not exist today, and I would be in heaven!"
Please pray for guidance in our congregational witnessing. I've decided to focus my preaching in 2005 on evangelism, and the church will be practicing aggressive outreach to our communities progressively and systematically throughout the year.
Present need: $350 for the new drainage system we are installing along the side of the road we have cemented in front of our school.
|“He made it!” As the tricycad eased his way over the hump,
we cheered when it did not sink into the freshly laid dirt. Sunday evening,
after an exciting time of worship with a record 502 in attendance, our joy
was dampened as the rain clouds poured a deluge on BLC. At midnight the
floodwaters poured through the front gate, depositing feet of water and
inches of mud on the floors of the classrooms. Until 6 am we cleaned up.
On Tuesday we had a mason build 3-foot high steps to keep water out. Meanwhile
laborers earned some Christmas cash by digging bucket after bucket of gravel
from the canal that borders the school. They dumped the dirt on the road,
to make the road 3 feet higher, so children will step down as they come
into the entrance of BLC. One bucket at a time, it would take months to
build up the dirt road that high. Suddenly we heard a deep roar, gradually
getting closer. The canal builders heard of our predicament and brought
a dump truck and backhoe! Four massive truckloads of canal sediment were
dug out and dumped on the road for us! The laborers smoothed it out, tampered
it down, and today will be capping it with cement. Because of gifts that
you gave for flood relief, our classrooms can now stay dry! Thank you for
this blessed Christmas gift!
Please pray for our annual school inspection. We prepared all the classrooms in December, yet the government inspector postponed her visit until January. Then the flood hit, messing up many of our preparations. Parents and teachers have cleaned up and are prepping their classrooms once again.
Present need: $227 for our BLC medical outreach to the poor in our community, January 3.
|12/19/2004||"Who was the most important person in Bethlehem on that
first Christmas when Jesus was born? Was it the shepherds?" Over 300
children and parents boomed back, "NO!" Was it Joseph or Mary?
"NO!" Again, a correct answer. Surely, the angels? Once again,
the response was a resounding "NO!" Maybe Santa Claus? "NO!"
Come on! What about King Herod or the rabbis? And now for the final, "NO!"
which made the wide, tin roof of our BLC gym reverberate. Well then, if
not Joseph or Mary or the shepherds or even the angels, then WHO WAS the
most important person there that first Christmas when Jesus was born? Hundreds
of BLC pupils, ages 2-16, along with their parents, shouted out, the littlest
ones with their arms reaching toward the sky, almost lifting into the air
with their feet off the ground from their efforts, "JESUS!" I'm
sorry, who was that again? "JESUS!" I can't hear you! "JEEE-SUUSS!!!"
Not one single soul within a mile radius of Barner Learning Center, during
the morning message of our school Christmas presentation, could doubt that
our BLC kids know without a shadow of a doubt who the most important person
was that first Christmas...it's Jesus. Of course!
Please pray for our BLC outreach to the poor this Christmas. Our school jeepney all this week will be carrying thousands of meals, provided by the City Mayor, Hon. Rodrigo Duterte. Our vehicles have Bible verses with the gospel message clearly printed on each. We will also distribute over a thousand gospel tracts during the holiday vacation.
Present need: $300 flood relief and canal expansion, lacking of the $600 total needed.
|12/13/2004||“And Manny Pakyaw pounds his opponent into the floor!” A
few dozen friends sat around the TV cheering on the world champion featherweight
Philippine boxer as he beat his gloves into his competitor. We’d just finished
our BLC SK (sponsored kids) parents’ Christmas party, and were now celebrating
the 30th birthday of one of the moms until midnight. As she playfully took
handfuls of cake frosting and started a food fight in her living room, it
was hard to imagine that she had also just defeated a powerful enemy: depression.
2 weeks ago Satan had cornered her into convincing her to take her own life.
Like Manny Pakyaw the boxer, we pounded the devil down with scripture, pounded
him again with prayer, and pounded him again and again with godly counsel
for his intended victim. This birthday is more than the commencement of
another year: it is a victory celebration! This birthday girl’s joy knew
no bounds during the SK celebration as her voice cut through the night air
with, “Yet in my dark street shineth the everlasting light: the hopes and
fears of all the years are met in thee tonight!”
Please pray for our friend. Sometimes the most difficult time for a depression victim is immediately following a victory. Pray that she lives by the scripture, “When I am weak, He is strong…His yoke is heavy, His burden is light.” We will also begin in 2005 a series of seminars on how men and women can uplift their spouses.
Present need: $213 still lacking of the $1,841 needed for 200 BLC sponsored kids’ Christmas gifts (clothes).
|12/10/2004||Just a short prayer “heads-up” for you today. Elvie and I
have a meeting this afternoon with our school lawyer, along with the owner
of a small house right across the street from the school.
We can assume her mortgage at $100 a month and turn her house into much-needed special-education classrooms until our new practical education floor is built on our new building in April of 2005. After that time, we can use the house for overflow classroom space.
This comes at the same time as the final tax due for the purchase of our present property, and also our teachers’ Christmas “13th month” bonus.
We were praying yesterday morning for a surprise from God…a needed 250,000 pesos ($5,000). In the afternoon I received an email that a church is considering giving our ministry $5,000!
No joke! But they are only “considering”. Please pray that God will “nudge” them a tad in our direction…quickly. Of course, God’s timing is always perfect, right?
"Walay eskwela caron adlaw!" The radio announcer proclaimed in the Philippine language that all schools were closed in the whole country! Why? Typhoon Yoyong was nipping at the heels of his brother, and the muddy floods of both "super typhoons" brought landslides and high water nationwide. Many banks, schools and businesses halted. Since Davao City gets these floods secondhand, we have time to prepare: 2 days. We knew the floods were coming, so we had a community meeting in BLC's Grade 2 classroom to discuss digging the drainage canal 6 feet deeper. I have personally dug 200 buckets myself, and BLC's bus drivers dug another 500 buckets' worth. The rain is coming again, and we are not yet done. We are hiring sea gypsies (Badjaos) to dig the rest, but are racing the clouds. Floods usually come in December, yet a month ago there were rafts floating in BLC's gymnasium. We WILL solve this dilemma.
Please pray that the digging will be done before Yoyong reaches Davao. Each rain washes fresh gravel into our canal and must be removed before the next one hits. Also please pray that the 500 corpses of those who died this week in Manila's floods will be contained until the rains end so they can be buried to avoid spread of disease.
Present need (Flood Management): Badjao digging team salaries: $500/Cementing of BLC's canal-side doors: Blocks:$10/Cement: $10/Paint: $15/Mason's wages: $30/Extra Shovels, pails and ropes: $35/Total:$600
|11/30/2004|| “Dear Jesus, please empower these new leaders!” 95 parents
stood in agreement with tears of joy as I asked God to consecrate our 4
new leaders. This was our last combined Wednesday night prayer meeting.
Instead of meeting altogether as one large group at BLC each Wednesday night,
the midweek worship service will now meet in these 4 places. Neighbors in
squatter huts made of bamboo and coconut leaves will hear through their
walls prayers and worship songs right next door to their homes. For 2 months
now, I have been preaching on the prayer of Jabez in the Old Testament.
Now, like Jabez, we are asking God to “expand our territory,” reaching the
lost in areas unreached before now.
Please pray that these 4 leaders; Ezer (Purok 8), Collem (Tibunco), Sauro (Mandug) and I (Laverna Hills), will see many souls saved as a result of our request that God will “enlarge His territory” here in the Philippines!
Present need: $69 BLC office supplies.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, USA!
"Oh Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me... Thou formest my inmost being..." Since Elvie's and my morning graduate courses were both postponed today, we brought PJ & Abigail to the hospital to visit our dear friend Ina who'd had a stroke. At her bedside I opened my thin black preaching Bible to Psalm 139 & read its words of encouragement. As I finished the chapter PJ tried to poke his head between my arms to see the page. While praying, I noticed that he removed the Bible from my hands. After the "Amen" a hint of a warm smile brightened the ancient wrinkled face of our patient, beneath her closed eyes, dextrose tubes & oxygen hoses. The reason? PJ's distinct, 7-yr old little boy voice rang out the complete 23rd Psalm: "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want..." He'd found this comforting chapter in my Bible & decided that it was just what Ina needed. Elvie and I felt tingles as Ina's son reflected our feelings with, "Ah, Little Pastor PJ!"
Please pray for the recipients of 4,000+ Gospel tracts that we distributed during the month of October; that they both read them & receive the gift of Eternal Life through Jesus' atoning sacrifice on the cross.
Present need: $115 BLC water & phone bills for October.
“I caught you in the act!” When working with the very poor, security is a must.
Since BLC’s sponsored kids are utterly destitute they occasionally become desperate. During flag raising, Teacher Derly noticed one of her students was missing. After the prayer, Teacher Elna rushed to her classroom. As soon as she opened her Kindergarten door, there was Derly’s student, digging through the purse from Elna’s cabinet. She’d noticed a day’s pay missing the day before, and now he had her wallet in his hand. How did Derly know that this student was missing? On Sunday I preached from 1 John on how it is impossible to fathom the depth of God’s love. On Monday we began “CCS”: BLC’s Child Control System. To give each child the personal attention he or she needs, a list has been made of each child and which staff person is responsible for him each hour of the day.
As “surrogate parents” the staff meets the ever-changing needs of these kids on an hourly basis. Jesus said, “Whatsoever you do to the least of these your brothers, that you have done unto me.” These precious children are receiving our constant personal love and attention.
Please pray for our Wednesday evening worship service. This week 3 BLC
staff will be starting Wednesday night prayer meetings on location in
Mandug, Tibunco and Purok Ocho, in addition to ours in Laverna. These
will both solve the need for dangerous transportation in the evening (on
unlighted dirt squatter roads,
Present need $411: BLC Electric bill for October.
|11/9/2004||HAPPY BIRTHDAY ABBY & ME & BLC!
"Praise God for BLC!" Thanks boomed through the sound system across the Davao Bible College compound, as the National Men's speaker invited visitors to stay at our school. The three-day event brought over a thousand Filipino men from all over the country to converge on Davao City. But the Bible College was sorely lacking for places for them to sleep. "Why not here?" I asked Elvie. "Sure!" She then rented a hundred folding beds and set them up in BLC's elementary classrooms. These men drink a lot of coffee, so we rented a hot water dispenser. At the college she made hundreds of mango shakes for the men. Each night as we bussed 73 men to BLC in our 4 BLC jeepneys, dozens of the men stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, sipping coffee and discussing what they had learned that day. "Rev. Nebab said in his message that he thinks we men can spearhead reaching all barangays (villages) in the Philippines for Jesus in our children's lifetimes. Think we can do it? YES WE CAN!" Together, truly, we can.
Please pray for our BLC kids' sponsors. Christmas is coming up and many have given for a small gift for their sponsored kids. However, we pool together all the funds and get clothes of like value for each child (to avoid jealousy). Many wait until Christmas to give, but we need to purchase them now.
Present need $900: Lacking for gifts for 200 sponsored kids at BLC.
|10/31/2004||“Ladies, what is your need? No matter how great, no matter
how overwhelming, God will meet it!” Thirty poor mothers from BLC, many
of them single, had been invited to the Christian Women’s conference in
Davao, at the Bible College. But how could they possibly attend? It was
difficult enough to have food for the table, let alone come up with the
$3 registration fee. That was the equivalent of 3 days’ salary. Yet just
at that time a dear friend from New York sent me an email out of the blue.
“Pastor Paul, is there a small need that you have right now, that I may
help you with?” When I mentioned the conference, he said, “Sure. I’ll get
the $90 the ladies need to you by the end of the week! Praise God that I
was able to help in this small way!” As the BLC women made eternal commitments
at the conference, God revealed in a very concrete way that HE is always
able to answer every need that we have “according to His glorious riches
in Christ Jesus.”
Please pray for our men. Their conference is this week. Dozens of others will also be coming from all over the country and sleeping for free on the floors of our BLC school, so will not have to pay for hotels. This week is semestral break at BLC, hence the availability of the classrooms.
Present need $300: Elvie’s university classes, Nov-Mar semester.
Until next time…
|10/18/2004||“Let’s help each other!” The men in the church were meeting
together after the worship service, as were the women and the youth. We
do this each 3rd Sunday. “Bayanihan is a Filipino term” directed the men.
“It means that we help each other. When someone has a hut that needs to
be moved, we cut down huge bamboo poles and slide them under the house.
We then lift the poles up onto our shoulders and carry the house to its
new location. When we help, we expect no pay. But in thankfulness, the owner
of the house feeds those who have helped.” We decided to practice a new
form of Bayanihan. From now on, whenever someone in the church needs a few
hours worth of help, the men will come and do so for free, expecting only
in return a free meal. It could be a small outdoor “dirty-kitchen” built,
or perhaps a new sewage pit dug. This practice of Bayanihan will be a good
foundation for the future when our church buys a lot. The men can have workdays
in which they work together to build a place for worship.
Please pray for understanding and clarity of mind for me next week as I will attend a week-long evangelistic seminar to learn how best to lead Muslims to Jesus.
|10/8/2004||"God is doing a miracle!" Lalaine is the Nursery
I teacher at our BLC school, our church pianist, and also the wife of our
assistant pastor. This Sunday she was in tears as we asked her to the front
of the stage so the congregation could pray for her. We also took a benevolent
offering for her. 8 months pregnant, her body has developed pregnancy diabetes.
Each day she requires expensive insulin shots. On Monday her triumphant
school journal entry read: Indeed, God is doing a miracle!. The result of
my prenatal yesterday is very encouraging. The amniotic fluid of the baby
is already normal- from 25-20. Then yesterday 17.5- the doctor was amazed
with that sudden progress. I believed God is working- and it's because of
your prayers. Thank you for your full support in prayers, morally and even
financially. With the proceeds of the benevolent offering, I was able to
buy ten injections and my medicines until Oct. 16. Praise God!
Please pray for Our Barner Learning Center's Annual Boy and Girl Scout Acceptance Ceremony this Friday 10/15. With many parents and officials present, it is a perfect opportunity to share the Gospel.
|10/2/2004|| “Wanna go to China?” It was a question posed to Elvie by
the other officers for the national women’s organization that she is on
the board of. Elvie had attended a prayer and fasting meeting last week,
and during the meeting was informed that she was expected in Manila the
next day! Having been out of the country for three months on furlough, she
was not able to be reached, so they informed her this way. Once in Manila,
after the mtgs ended they asked, “Now, we are headed to Beijing. Wanna come?”
However, while they’d reimbursed her tickets to Manila, they could not do
so for China. Nor could they get a visa on such late notice. So she kindly
refused. Being the principal of a growing school like BLC has given Elvie
the advantage of influencing millions of women throughout the entire Republic
of the Philippines. Carefully, this Women’s Organization evaluates the needs
of Filipina ladies, and unlike the other board members, who work with upper-class
citizens, Elvie brings forth the needs of the destitute and homeless squatters,
some of whose children are enrolled at BLC.
Please pray for our two BLC bus drivers. Their chief driver left when offered a better paying job driving tractors for a banana plantation. Short one driver, we have had to divide up the third route between the other two. Also our 6th grade teacher, whose husband is a church planter, left when he was transferred to a distant area. Thus we need a 6th grade teacher and a new bus driver.
|9/24/2004|| “God provided!” I just read the daily BLC school journal
of Dr. Ayoc, our BLC administrator. Still suffering jetlag, at 2 am I reviewed
his notes from the 3 months Elvie and I had been out of the country. I sat
wide-eyed as he shared the miraculous ways that God had bound the school
and church together while we were away. One pressing need was finances:
a month after we left, the funds that we’d prearranged to be released for
the teachers’ salaries and school utilities were delayed by the International
Bank in California. As the bills began to pile up at BLC, the pressure intensified.
Finally red-letter day was when a call came demanding payment by noon. Our
4th grade teacher Olive’s husband Jun was at the bank, waiting in line to
make the monthly payment on his Taxicab. She called him there, and he immediately
decided to delay payment so he could lend the money to BLC. Yet the line
was so long, and it was already 11:30. He looked down and noticed the gold
necklace around his neck, a gift from his wife. Getting out of line, his
raced to the nearest pawnshop and brought the money right to our bank…with
five minutes to spare!
Please pray for wisdom for our church and school’s new believers. After four years of one-on-one discipleship, five of these men and women are ready to start discipling others. This is a big step, and they are excited about the opportunity of serving their newfound Savior in this way.
|9/11/2004||September 11, 2004 Diary- Paris, FRANCE (American Patriot
"I've been redeemed, Tve been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb,
by the blood of the Lamb" The easiest way to get around Paris is
by subway (Metro). During this mini-vacation of 7 days, Elvie, PJ, Abby
and I are putting in many hours of travel on the rails. Donned with our
French berets, we're taking every advantage to share the Gospel. The kids
are a natural draw, and their cheerful voices attract the attention of
French adults and teens alike. Dour faces behind dark business suits draw
a smile when they hear PJ and Abby singing the songs they'd learned in
four weeks of Vacation Bible School this summer. Praise God that, whether
viewing the Arch De Triumph and La Defence at the top of the Eiffel Tower,
or in the halls of the Louvre, being followed by the eyes of the Mona
Lisa, our two little
Praise God that our travel documents, which were left 3 days at the airport,
have been found! Please pray that on our return to Davao next week, we
will be able to smoothly transition the 35 new students for whom we found
sponsors during this 3-month furlough in the USA, Malaysia, France and
|8/30/2004|| “Daddy, this is the most fun I’ve had on a car trip in my
whole entire life!” PJ and the other three of us were soaking wet. We’d
been on our way to a family reunion, four hours from home, and were lost.
Coming up to a red light, we noticed my brother Bud in the car right in
front of us! Also lost, we both drove into a parking lot and each rolled
down our windows as we pulled alongside each other. SPLASH! Bud and Ginger
started squirting away with toy waterguns! After the reunion we headed out
another 7 hours to Vermont so we could present the “missions moment” in
a church there. One little 8-yr old boy named David looked up into my face
and said, “Mr. Barner, ever since you spoke at my church last year, I have
been praying every single night for you before I go to bed.” What time does
he pray? Eight o’clock every night. That’s 8am in the Philippines, just
when our school day begins. Praise God for little guys with big prayers!
Please pray for our flight back overseas, scheduled to leave the USA on American Labor Day.
“Beryl, the music room in Barner Learning Center’s new building will be in memory of your daughter Jan!” Jan was a classmate of mine in college 20 years ago. She died a few months ago from cancer. Since we were in the area anyway, Elvie and I stopped by with the kids to Jan’s mom’s home. “Thank you so very much for coming!” she shared.
“Having Jan’s friends around is such a comfort. By the way, Jan was an
avid reader. Would you like the books she left behind?” What a question!
A local church offered to box them up, and the new volumes soon to be
added to our BLC school library will number over a thousand! On our way
out the door, Beryl handed us a check in memory of Jan. “With these funds,”
I told her, “A new music room will be built at BLC. And Jan’s name will
be on the door!” Praise God for the legacy that Christians provide, both
while they walk this planet, and even after they pass on into heaven!
|8/9/2004||“31 kids!” With 800 children cheering, Pastor Bob announced
the final tally of Vacation Bible School. Each day the children brought
in their sacrificial offerings. And each day as well we shared with the
kids, 80 to 100 at a time, about the lives that are being transformed for
the good on the other side of the ocean. Every time the offering reached
the $240 total, another pair of colored paper hands were taped to the wall.
They represented another poor boy or girl who would now be hearing about
the love of Jesus at Barner Learning Center, and also getting a quality,
Christian, values-based education. “Magandang…” I called out into the microphone
for all the children and their parents who were present. They responded
with one booming voice, “Umaga po!” Translation: “Good morning!” I explained:
“You may wonder why we are saying a Filipino “Good morning” when it is evening.
But the Philippines is on the other side of the world, and morning here
is evening there. Because of your VBS offerings, a new day is dawning in
Please pray for our last two VBSes: Delhi, NY and Albany, NY. God uses these to touch children’s lives and challenge them to one day become missionaries themselves. Pray also for Tricia, a girl who, after hearing us share about foreign missions, feels that God is calling her to become a missionary when she grows up. Pray that her vision will grow over the years.
|8/2/2004||"Yay! It's missions time!" The little girl came
up to Elvie and with
excited eyes looked into hers and said, "You know, Mrs. Elvie, I love
Vacation Bibleschool here in Princeton. And my very most favorite time is with you and Pastor Paul in Missions, because we have so much fun!" Each day the kids are also bringing in their offerings to send poor Filipino kids to BLC. One little 9 year old was earning money last week to help out. "Honey, where is Troy?" "I thought YOU had him!" "He said he was going to sell lemonade to the neighbors. But the table in the front yard is empty. Oh, there he is!" Sure enough, unsatisfied with waiting for business to come to him, Troy
took his little red wagon and went door-to-door to sell lemonade at a
quarter a glass to raise money for the VBS offering! He earned $13!
Please pray for our visas, which are in the processing stage right now, to be approved this month before we head back to the Philippines in September.
|7/25/2004||"Hey, look! A hundred-dollar bill on the floor of the
subway!" We watched from the platform as a teenage girl reached down
to pick up the money. Suddenly it "blew away" of its own accord.
From behind a pillar a burly construction worker laughed as he wound up
some transparent fish line that was tied to a clip on the bill. Each day
this week our family of four has taken the train to New York City to process
our visas for the Philippines. Blended with our sightseeing laughter on
the subways and sorrow at the World Trade Center 9-11 site, we've been able
to "recycle" Gospel tracts given to us by Jews For Jesus representatives
by giving them to others in Times Square.
Please pray for the series of four weeks of Vacation Bible Schools that we will be assisting in this summer: Painted Post, NY; Princeton, NJ; Delhi, NY & Albany, NY. Pray especially that many children will be challenged towards praying for and participating in missions. Maybe many will become missionaries themselves when they grow up!
|7/12/2004||“Boiled incubated duck eggs? Really?” At Delta Lake Bible
Camp last week, each morning I gave a lesson on missions to the 75 or so
fifth and sixth graders. Little did I realize that just over the wall at
the Christian Publications (CPI) display many adults were listening in to
my presentations. After packing up my PowerPoint presentation I passed the
CPI salesman “Pastor Paul, you are providing daily entertainment for those
browsing my book tables. But today they looked like they were getting sick.
What do you call that food- balut? Do Filipinos really like spitting out
feathers when they eat matured hard boiled eggs?” I assured him that not
only is balut a delicacy, but also it is quite common to see vendors on
the side of the road also barbecuing the intestines of chickens. Yet I assured
many, “We are called to the uttermost parts of the earth to preach the Gospel.
But as you send us to distant lands, it is okay if you stay on the side
of the ocean where chickens with feathers are cooked OUTSIDE of their shells!”
Please pray for our BLC teachers. Because the bank was slow in depositing funds I had transferred from the USA to our Philippine account, the BLC staff has had to wait two extra weeks for their salaries. Also pray as we share in four VBSes and 15 churches this summer in the New York area. Finally please pray that our efforts at the embassies in NYC next week will bring about our needed visas.
|7/8/2004||July 8, 2004 Diary-HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, USA! Rome, NY
"Time for a refill!" PJ and I had arrived in Manila a few days before Elvie and Abigail and then heading off to Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. We had to process PJ's final travel permits. Having brought hundreds of Gospel tracts with us from Davao, we gave them to everyone we saw. "Excuse me sir. here, this is for you!" Smiling faces of old and young were happy to receive these small "gifts" from an American. On that Friday we'd given out our last tract, so we walked to the Manila Philippine Bible Society. "Can we please have a refill?" Armed with a few hundred more, we gave them to beggars, businessmen, and bellhops. Needing another refill on Sunday, after preaching at a church in Baclaran we were given our "third load". Although we gave out some in Malaysia and Dubai, we now are at Delta Lake Bible Camp, with more of opportunities to give out the Good News!
Please pray for Rev. Garcia, a denominational church leader I met in Manila who is trusting God for funds before next week to get an MBA so he can train pastors in how to organize church resources. Also pray for Gary, a pastor here in New York who fell off a waterfall while hiking with his wife. We prayed for him in the hospital here in Albany this morning in ICU, and there is severe internal damage, especially near his spinal cord.
“Sir, they are chasing me!” The young mother had adopted her son a few years ago. Desiring to raise him properly, she started bringing him to the nearest church she could find. Little did she realize that it was part of the large “Quibuloy” cult, rampant in the Philippines. Even though she was previously unchurched, after a few months she could see that there was something wrong with what was being taught. The fellowship and joy of a normal church family was not there. Instead, the teaching focussed on the cult leader Apollo and his false predictions and heretical doctrines. So she and her son left. “Ever since then, they have been hounding us to return. They have even threatened us that if we don’t come back, they will curse death upon our home!” Patiently and lovingly in his office here at the Barner Learning Center, Dr. Ayoc shared with this mom and her son the precious Gospel of our loving Savior Jesus Christ. “Jesus loves you. He died on the cross to pay for your sins and accepts you into His very own family,” he said. Together they prayed. As if the sun had dawned in their faces, bright smiles of warmth emanated from the mother and son as they made their way home, free from fear and worry. Now they are children of the King!
Enrollment of paying children at BLC is up to 28, with dozens of inquiries. While we have 200 sponsored children, we do need 152 paying children to meet our bills. Please pray that before the new school year begins on June 14, we will have the 124 that we are lacking. This week our 2 brand new classrooms, stage and canteen will be painted.
|5/28/2004||“Pastor Paul, we have an emergency.” Dr. Ayoc ushered me
down from my office to the front of our BLC school, where our 3 blue multicabs
(minibuses) sat, lined up in single file along the edge of the road. Over
the past 4 months these vehicles have clocked over 4000 miles, bringing
poor children into BLC to learn of Jesus. In the past month, nearly 60 people
have accepted Jesus into their hearts through the bus ministry, which has
carried those distributing gospel tracts, brought mourners to funerals,
brought ladies to evangelistic meetings, and also brought kids and their
parents to school. As I walked by the BLC gym, I saw the installation being
completed for our roll-down garage door, so these busses would be safe behind
walls overnight. But all this work is being completed a day too late. Last
night a thief broke into the 3 busses and stole the distributors ($200 each)
from every single one of them. We are already penniless from the ongoing
construction of our new building, plus furlough airline tickets for June
14, so we are praying for a miracle. Often however, when a bane comes, it
is back to back with a blessing.
Please help us pray that those distributors will be returned or replaced. The kids are on a 2-week vacation now and will return to campus soon.
|5/23/2004||“Good morning, Mickey Mouse!” The cute little 4-yr. old girl
greets me every morning at BLC with the only words she knows in English.
Yesterday, after hours of distributing gospel tracts in the hot sun, we
were driving our sweaty team helpers home. One young mother lives half an
hour away, amidst a muddy field of squatter shacks. “Why don’t we visit
some families?” Elvie suggested. One by one we touched needy lives. A pregnant
woman’s baby was overdue. We prayed. A small boy had a broken foot from
falling out of a mango tree. We prayed. We greeted a woman in rags who paid
ten cents for a dried, salted fish, and then pulled some grass to boil with
it to make soup for her family. Finally, we approached a dirt-floored cardboard
shack with dirty cloths as windows to keep mosquitoes out. We prayed for
her and her four runny-nosed, fevered kids. After “Amen”, I looked into
the eyes of one little girl and suddenly recognized her. “God bless you,
Mickey Mouse!” I said. And she smiled.
Please pray for 152 unsponsored children to enroll at BLC (beyond our 150 sponsored kids). After the first of four weeks of enrollment, we have 12 enrolled. 140 to go! Praise God that the walls of our new elementary building will be plastered, and the Windows installed this week.
|5/15/2004||“Uh, where did that man get that Gospel tract? I didn’t give
it to him!” The family had gone out to eat together for Mother’s Day, and
of course I brought some Gospel tracts along, just in case the opportunity
arose to give some to some bored unbelievers. There are so many lines to
wait in here in the Philippines, that you don’t have to go far to find someone
who would appreciate a little temporary reading material. I had some really
interesting colorful tracts in the Cebuano dialect, yet I’d misplaced them.
Then Elvie pointed her finger over to our little 3 yr old daughter Abigail.
She could barely see over the tabletops, yet she was making her rounds from
table to table, reaching up her tiny little hand to those who were busy
with their meal, offering them from her free handful of tracts! Who could
refuse that curly-headed little charmer?
Please continue to pray for our preparation for furlough. Already many churches have requested that we speak on Sundays, or even stay a whole week and help out in their VBS. What a glorious opportunity it is to be a missionary and share our faith in so many different capacities around the world! The walls are up, ceiling is poured, and plaster is being affixed this week to prepare for painting of BLC’s new building. We also need 152 paid (unsponsored) students this year to meet our bills. Enrollment starts this week.
|5/8/2004||“I am not sure I like this!” As I handed a Cebuano Gospel
tract to a taxi driver who was waiting outside his cab for passengers, he
looked at the title which referred to heaven: “Tinuod nga walay bayad” (Surely,
no payment. It’s free!) Since occasionally passengers leave the cab without
paying, the driver said, “It’s a good thing that this taxi does not go to
heaven! Otherwise I would go broke!” And from the Captain’s Log via our
2nd grade teacher Derly: “Just this week another destitute free student
was added to my summer class. It is challenging because she doesn’t even
know how to read simple words. We need to start from basic sounds. Pastor,
I believe it is an opportunity!”
Please pray for discernment as we try to squeeze into our budget for furlough travel next month. While we had not previously planned on travelling this year, it is necessary due to the fact that last year’s visit to the USA was too far in advance to renew our visas and permits. Praise God, the cement ceiling of the new building should be poured next Friday.
|5/2/2004||“Pastor Paul, we are campaign evangelists!” After today’s
worship service, the church youth group asked for gospel tracts so they
could go to the mall and tell people about Jesus. I’d preached about Gideon:
how his 300 soldiers defeated hundreds of thousands of Midianites after
sneaking into their camps in the middle of the night and blowing trumpets
and breaking pots with torches inside, yelling “A sword for the Lord!” “You
are the pot. Jesus is the torch, shining within you. Overcome your pride
and allow God to break the earthen vessel of pride that silences you. The
more pot that still surrounds the light, the dimmer the light of Christ
shines to unbelievers.” Philippine presidential elections are May 10, and
one of the candidates is a minister. Some in the youth group had their own
flyers promoting the preacher for president, and the youth passed out both
tracts and flyers at the same time. Hence, the campaign evangelists!
Please pray for our daily activity not to be hindered by the increased security this last week before elections. Since criminals usually act up if they are afraid their candidates will lose, the necessary police checks make day to day details a drudgery. The second pouring of cement on our construction site is delayed since the trucks that carry the wood for the molds have not yet come down from the mountains.
|4/25/2004||"Except me." It was Jesus talking. Or rather, it was what Jesus
would likely have said. The final term paper in my Anthropology graduate
course was due his week. Months of research were finally coming together.
In the final document I placed thirty anthropologists from the past few
centuries, in a debate. In order to use it as an opportunity to share my
faith, I included Jesus as one of the anthropologists. After all, He not
only came from heaven to earth for fieldwork, but also provided the avenue
for eternally sustainable development through his death on the cross. As
the anthropologists contrasted Claude Levi-Strauss’ theory of myth and ritual
with the Barner Learning Center’s outreach project for the poor, mention
was made that there are some standard elements that are similar across all
cultures. To which Jesus replied, “True. All men have sinned and fallen
short of the glory of God. With only one exception…Me)”.
Praise God that last week’s waist-deep flash flood actually helped us in our construction project, for the areas that had yet to be demolished and dug for additional footings were cleared of debris by our church crew and the ground was now tender. With hammers and saws going day and night, please pray we finish before our departure in June. Also for speaking engagements 7/11-9/5.
|4/18/2004||“Sir, you work all day long for only 50 pesos (less than a dollar)?” “Yes,
Madame Elvie.” The United Nations considers anyone who makes less than $2
a day to be in dire poverty, the poorest of the poor. This whole month,
Elvie is interviewing and praying with hundreds of poor families to determine
which qualify for our free schooling program. In one day this week she interviewed
36 applicants! Though their pockets are empty, their hearts and souls are
full, with the love shown to them by the staff here at BLC and by you, their
supporters (in prayer and finances) abroad.
Please pray that we are able to finish cleaning up the mud, debris and damage from the flash flood (waist deep) last night before classes begin on Monday. The flood guards we built two years ago developed cracks, and some had been removed by staff who got tired of moving around them.
|4/10/2004||“And Jesus sighed, ‘It is finished!’" It was one of those special
moments that a pastor has, while preparing a Good Friday message for the
congregation. God showed me a deep personal truth for my own life. Of the
four gospels, only John quotes the words of Jesus on the cross, “It is finished”.
The other three mention His “cry” (Mark), His “loud voice” (Matthew), and
His “breath” (Luke). The finality of Christ’s death as payment for our sins
is complete, finished. But as I poured over commentaries and concordances,
it suddenly hit me: What about when I take my last breath? Will I sigh,
“finally, this exciting bunch of opportunities to live for Christ, this
thing called life, is finished. I am done.” I laughed inside as I pondered,
“I know there is one who will sigh a deep, deep sigh of relief, and that
will be my arch enemy, Satan. He will sigh, “Finally that troublemaker is
gone. No more prayers from Paul for the sick. No more of his challenges
to have sinners pray to receive Jesus into their hearts. Finally, he is
finished!” Well, hold that thought, Beelzebub. God still has plans for me
for at least another half century or so!
Please pray for the construction of our new 5th and 6th grade classrooms to be completed by June, when we leave for a three month furlough to the USA.
|4/3/2004||"Jesus Never Fails..." Promise Ebenezer’s youthful 4th-grade
voice echoed through the BLC speakers as only a child’s voice can. His solo
graced the graduation and baccalaureate exercises for his classmates and
relatives. As the son of a poor church planter, he would otherwise not be
able to afford an education, were it not for his international sponsor.
His shiny black shoes looked like new as he sang, although an American child
who grew out of them had donated them. After Ebenezer’s solo, I dedicated
the school’s new rostrum (PTA’s 2004 gift) to Jesus. On its front was the
BLC logo, which has a bright red cross in its center. "May every word
that is spoken from this lectern be like our school logo: first and foremost
leading people to Jesus."
Please pray for the construction of our new 5th and 6th grade classrooms to be completed by June, when we leave for a three month furlough to the USA.
|3/20/2004||“I waited until she finished her exam before telling her that her father
died.” As the BLC faculty has been sending me daily notes through their “Captain’s Log” red notebooks, I have been praying specifically for their trials and triumphs. The grade three and Kinder 2 teachers (Daisy and Phoebe) had a very special request for me this weekend. “The father of Colleen and Pearl passed away last night. But until now they did not know it. I felt so much pity on them when I heard this news after the flag raising ceremony. I saw Colleen taking the exam without knowing. Please pray that God will comfort them in their agony now, so they can accept it. God has a purpose in the lives of these two small girls, even at their young ages.” On Saturday Elvie and I attended the first night of the week-long vigil with Colleen and Pearl’s family.
Please pray for Elvie and I this week, as we both have our major research papers due this Saturday in our university graduate courses.
|3/13/2004||“GOOD AFTERNOON, PASTOR PAUL!” In unison, the 2nd grade BLC class greeted
me as teacher Derly opened her classroom door to my knock. “Teacher Derly,
is Lovely Joyce in your class today?” I had to ask, since many students
are home sick, due to the incessant rain. “Why yes, Pastor Paul. She is
right here!” A sweet little face curiously popped up from the 2nd grade
students as her classmates all took their seats. A smile of wonder spread
across her visage as I explained, “Lovely Joyce, is it true that you have
a birthday this month? For I have a surprise which came all the way across
the ocean for you, from your sponsor in America!” From behind my back I
pulled a bright and shiny card filled with colorful stickers. At the nod
from teacher Derly, all her classmates got up from their seats to see Lovely
Joyce’s treat. In Philippine style of hospitality, she shared her stickers
with her classmates and all were thrilled. As Elvie finishes up sending
out the 150 sponsorship packets around the world, the response has been
overwhelming as this special thrill of sharing mail from sponsors with their
kids makes me the daily BLC mailman.
Please pray for the healing of about one-tenth of our BLC pupils who have been sick on and off during this rainy season.
|3/7/2004||“When peace, like a river attendeth my way…whatever my lot, thou hast
taught me to say, it is well with my soul.” I’d been practicing my French
horn half an hour & while putting it away, this hymn I’d practiced rang
in my head. My voice echoed down the stairwell, “It is well… it iiis weeelll
with my soooooul!” Entering the house, Elvie was on my cell phone, trying
to get in touch with the person who’d stolen her cell phone that morning.
Suddenly our deacon & his family burst through the door. “She made contact!
God is answering our prayers!” We 5 sat around the table praying for God
to touch the thief’s heart. The next day, anonymously, Elvie’s cell phone,
crucial to our ministry here, was returned. On my phone, one last message remained: “Sorry, Madame.” It hurts when things are taken. But our joy is not in material things. It is in Jesus. Truly, it is well with my soul.
Please pray for understanding this week among the BLC staff. I will
|2/29/2004||“Wait, Ma’am Diana! I have something for you!” Amid clusters of poor wooden
shacks, we had just finished a Bible study with the neighbors of the two
sponsored children that Diana supports. She is finishing up her 11-day short-term
missions trip with us, and brought some Hershey’s kisses for her BLC pupils.
The week has been exciting, as we have passed out gospel tracts at the beach,
crossed streams and walked a few miles in the dark on muddy trails to pray
with sick people in the jungle, picked up our new fleet of FOUR vehicles
for the school, cheered on our BLC students at an elocution competition
against other schools, and joined the BLC field trip to a nature park. Next
week at this time Diana will be back in her New York office, working. Yet
a fond remembrance of pleasant and fun-loving people will warm her snowy
days there. And on her wall, a beautiful momento… the cross-stitch picture
that this poor mom spent hours on, to show her appreciation. After all,
had it not been for Diana, this young mom’s son would be illiterate.
Please pray for Diane as she adjusts to the cold weather once again, as well as her jetlag. She plans to share with her own Bible study and with friends some first-hand experiences of what to pray for and what it is like to be on the mission field in Asia.
Praise God for these beautiful four “busses” that we have now at BLC! Each one has Bible verses painted on the sides, as well as the logo of our BLC school.
|2/21/2003||"He’s reading it!" The old man at his small wooden outdoor shoe
repair stand accepted and read the Gospel tract that Diana handed him. Diana
was delighted. She had arrived here from New York on Wednesday, with over
a hundred Gospel tracts in her bag. But giving out Bible tracts isn’t all
she’s done these past four days. She’s painted walls, given toothbrushes
to BLC kids, sorted through hundreds of shoes to give to the poor, and helped
on the BLC office work. A very special treat was when she joined us on visitation
to the poor squatter area. Winding through the dirt paths between bamboo
shacks and over sewage canals in the half-light, we stopped at home after
home of the poor families from our church. After socializing, we prayed
for their needs. Diana’s prayers touched the hearts of these ladies who
felt privileged to have a foreigner step into their humble abodes. On our
way back to the school, we stopped to give out one more tract, and prayed
for a small new family business: pots of cooked blood pudding and fish/pork
tempted passers-by to eat. The owner was so thrilled to see us that she
promised to come visit our church.
Please pray for our BLC field trip this Thursday. The children’s parents will be joining us as we go to a nature park, and it will be a great opportunity for the teachers to share one-on-one evangelism with them. Plus this Sunday (2/29) is our church’s 7-yr anniversary. Many visitors will also hear the gospel as I share with them about the faith of Moses.
“True love waits!” Elvie challenged 40 of our young people and their friends at a youth rally here in Faith Fellowship on the eve of Valentine’s Day. “Jacob waited seven years, working hard, for Rachel. And he was so looking forward to that day when they would be married, that those 7 long years seemed like only a few days! Imagine it! Seven years!” After the message, the youth had a blast doing dramas to demonstrate what they learned from her message. When the clock finally clicked to midnight, I closed with prayer and the following challenge: “Yes, true love does wait. Many things are worth waiting for. But there is one thing that we are commanded NOT to wait for: SALVATION. Jesus said, ‘TODAY is the day of salvation. Behold, NOW is the accepted time.’ Don’t wait! Receive Jesus into your heart NOW, on Valentine’s Day, 2004.”
Praise God that all 98 children immunized against measles last week are now strong and healthy.
Please pray for Diana, a sponsor of some BLC kids, who will be arriving this week here at BLC for a short-term missions trip of two weeks. One of her projects will be to categorize and distribute the 300 pair of shoes we collected last year for the poor children in the school. Her trip over the ocean will require about 15 long hours of layovers in airports of Manila and California. She will also officially present the handsome ARIA guitar that she generously donated to BLC.
Jeepney Update: Our Four new school vehicles are being shipped from Manila and should arrive before the first of March! PTL!
|2/8/2004||"Do you want to go to heaven?" The question was posed to a potential
applicant for a teaching position at BLC. "Or would you rather go to
hell?" The choice seemed obvious. Heaven, of course. As I presented
my Power Point research presentation at the university yesterday, I was
using this illustration to portray a hypothetical case where an unbeliever
might apply to teach at BLC. "An unbeliever cannot teach at a Christian
school because BLC’s main foundational text is the Bible. If he doesn’t
believe in the Bible’s author Jesus, then how can he teach students within
a Biblical framework? So we will ask him…" At this point a passer-by
glanced into the door of the classroom and heard, "Why wait any longer?
Would you NOW like to receive Jesus into your heart?"
Praise God, your prayers are being answered and my father’s condition is gradually improving.
Please pray for the 98 pupils who were immunized against measles at BLC this week, that the medication will be effective. In BLC’s 6-yr history, only once did a pupil go to the hospital after his measles shot. That was because he already had measles when he received his dose.
Jeepney Update: Our Four new school vehicles are coming from Manila and should arrive before the first of March! PTL!
“Please pray for my Daddy!” Pearl Marie’s big brown eyes, framed by her long, shiny black hair, had an intensity of compassion as she pled for her father. "Pastor Paul, Mommy told me to come to your office and ask you to pray for my Daddy in the hospital. He might not live! The doctors can’t figure out what is wrong.” The three highest administrators of Barner Learning Center gathered around this little 7 yr old and prayed for her daddy. Dr. Ayoc (administrator), Elvie (principal) and I (president) poured out our hearts to God, interceding for Pearl’s dad.
Each day I pass hundreds of students in the halls of BLC, en route to my office. They greet me in unison with, “Good morning, Pastor Paul”, and I respond with “Maayun buntag” (good morning). “How’s your daddy, Pearl?” Now that Pearl’s daddy is healed and out of the hospital, it seems that there is compassion, a deeper appreciation, in the dark brown eyes of Pearl Marie. She may not attend our church, yet she now has a deeper love for the Jesus whom we represent.
Please pray for Elvie and I to finish the research papers for our university courses these next two weeks, so that we will have time to plan our church’s 7th Foundation Day in February.
|1/18/2004||“Who are those children?” A group of a dozen
children in colorful blue, red and white school uniforms were jumping around,
dancing and playing with their mothers in the tall cogon grass next to the
dirt shoulder on the side of the road. We saw them Friday on our way home
from downtown, where we’d been checking fares for a short-term mission trip
coming here to Davao next month. Upon closer examination, Elvie realized
where these little children had come from. “Those are some of our BLC kids!”
Sure enough, even though it was after 5pm, these pupils, still in their
school uniforms, were waiting for a ride. Their hut is in Mandug, 10 miles
away. They awake at about 4am before the sun is up each morning to get ready
and wait for a passenger jeepney to pass by their rural area. The first
ride brings them down to the city, and then this miniature delegation waits
for a second ride at the Davao terminal, to bring them to school. The kids
range in age from 2 yrs old to 11. Their moms help out in the school until
the kids are finished with class and then make the trek home again, often
arriving after dark. Praise God for you and the other families who gave
sacrificially so that we could purchase vehicles for our school to transport
these students back and forth.
Please pray for Elvie this week as she and I make the final arrangements to buy three multicabs and one jeepney as school busses. Won’t they look grand, as they stand lined up outside BLC? And no longer will Barner Learning Center children be waiting alongside the road for hours at a time! Praise God for you!
|1/11/2004||“As Eve picked the fruit,” I stepped forward
to the edge of the stage, microphone in my left hand. With right hand reaching
up, I pulled down a large red balloon from the church and school’s holiday
decorations. “Eve and Adam ate it. When they stole from the tree in Eden,
sin and death entered the world. But 4,000 years later, from another tree
(the cross), Jesus offered the fruit of life. Take it! It is a gift! By
the way, one of the curses of that first sin was that women would be in
pain through childbirth. So when you give birth…” Olive, who’d just given
birth a week ago, smiled with her newborn baby in her arms, “Don’t blame
your husband for the pain…blame Eve!” Two days later we dedicated Olive’s
precious Oliver to Jesus in the church.
Please pray for Elvie and Dr. Ayoc (our school administrator) as they began this week their 3 months of interviews of hundreds of poor families to determine which are poor enough to qualify for the free schooling program we have here at BLC.
|1/4/2004||“Thank you very many!” The grammar was not
quite correct, but happiness filled in the gaps as a huge smile erased the
wrinkles on her face. The elderly woman is our neighbor. Her boys, all grown
up, had been helping us to lay cement for our new fifth grade classroom.
2004 was now only 20 minutes old. Both Elvie and I had ideas in our minds
how we would fulfill the challenge I’d given the congregation to make our
lifestyle reflect the “high octane” fuel that God has pumped into it. Shifting
into high gear, I handed a Cebuano language gospel tract to our neighbor.
Then Elvie brought over nearly a dozen gifts, all wrapped up. Two-dollar
shirts (they were on sale) for the boys and toys for the kids. A purse for
the grandmother. Joy for all. This morning they were over at our place for
breakfast. Elvie’s explanation: “I want to be reachable this year for Jesus
to use me!”
Please pray, as BLC classes resume from vacation this week, that the details will fall into place (passports, schedules, funds) for those who are planning to come out to help us on short term missions trips. The team of builders and doctors from West Virginia had to cancel, and the college student from Schenectady, NY had a foot operation. A single girl from New York is coming later this month to teach a week of life skills to the poor parents here, and a family from Hong Kong stopped by last week.
August 22, 2012