The Latest News
|12/25/2005||MERRY CHRISTMAS, WORLD!
“The wise men followed the star to where the baby Jesus was, and brought him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Who was it that led you to Jesus? Your teacher? Your pastor? Your parents? Like the wise men, we can thank God for the gift of His Son by giving gifts to others on Christmas, His birthday!” Before the BLC kids performed their Christmas pageant, songs and dances, I challenged them to give gifts to others in thankfulness to God. Later this week, when Greg, Chito and I continued our new jail ministry, we saw a real-life example of his kind of sacrificial giving. Chito and his guitar did a mini concert, and after Greg preached, I gave the invitation. Later we greeted the inmates. “Pastor Paul, this man is from the mountainous Ata tribe. He is doing time for rape. Actually he is innocent. His son was the convicted one. This father will be in jail the rest of his life, for he offered to do his son’s time!” The last few days during this Christmas vacation, I have taken special moments to lovingly look into our own little PJ and Abigail’s eyes and ask myself, “Is my love that deep?”
Please pray this week for our roof vegetable garden to grow quickly. Praise God that the Chinese cabbage is ripe and lush. Also the peanuts, carrots and eggplants are sprouting. If they can be ripe by the time school resumes in January, we’ll be able to feed the BLC children breakfast of vegetable soup and rice each morning, so that they can be alert from the start of the school day.
Present need: $518 for our teachers’ and staff’s medical coverage for January, 2006.
|12/18/2005||HAPPY CHRISTMAS PARTY, FAITH FELLOWSHIP CHURCH!
"J-E-S-U-S!" To the tune of "BINGO", one hundred prisoners sang along as I led, "There is a Savior in my heart and Jesus is His name, Oh, J-E-S-U-S (3x) and Jesus is His name, oh!" Before that, Chito gave a mini concert. Pastor Greg, whom we'd just picked up at the airport, gave the message. As rain poured around us, these 100 men in the Tagum Jail were challenged by my Scottish friend. Chito interpreted Pastor Greg's brogue..." You are behind bars, yet you can be free! Many who are outside these prison doors are still chained to their sin. But the same chains of sin that put you in jail will fall off, once you receive Jesus into your hearts!" Dozens responded that night. Later we distributed 11 bags of food to the hungry "jail family". Though armed guards still patrolled the tops of the walls, the prison warden watched as invisible chains of sin were removed by J-E-S-U-S!
Please pray this week for Pastor Greg, Chito and I, as we begin visits to the five jails in Davao City. Also for direction as we develop and refine Chito's plans to develop a juvenile center for rehabilitating underage minor children prisoners.
Present need: $400 to change the engine of our multicab which is damaged internally.
HAPPY BLC CHRISTMAS PARTY (12/16)!
“Pastor Paul, may I see your roof garden?” Uh oh. Our international visitors from New York had a mini tour of the school a few days ago, and were just about to leave to “explore” more of Mindanao. But when the wife asked to see our new garden, I knew it would be a non-item. Oh, the six huge, 30-ft long dirt-filled wooden planters were already built, but since the concrete roof area is such a wet place (especially in this rainy season), the seeds we’d planted all rotted, except the Chinese cabbage. Watching the eyes of our friend, I could see the disappointment on her face when she saw, not lush, inspiring full-grown plants, dripping with colorful, juicy and crisp tomatoes, beans, carrots, etc. But just six large wooden boxes full of muddy dirt. Yet our friend kindly offered her kind assurance, “I am sure this will be beautiful up here…once the plants grow!” Praise God for kind hearts. As she left, I plead, “Please pray for these plants. They will be perhaps the only nutrition that our 400 staff and poor students have in their scant diet!” The BLC bus drivers and janitors are now removing the dirt to give it an underbed of porous gravel for drainage before replanting. We hope to also restock our mini fish pond, since the last pool of fish we grew died when the construction workers had mistakenly cleaned their cemented tools in the fish’s water. Also we hope to grow chickens to use their dung for fertilizer.
Please pray for our visitor this week from Scotland. We will be traveling with him to prisons and jails throughout Eastern Mindanao. He is interested in how his church can assist the deplorable conditions in the penal colonies here.
Present need: Praise God that sacrificial gifts from friends like you around the world have arrived for us to give our teachers their government-required $4,000 (total) “13th month” holiday pay this Wednesday. Unfortunately, we now have our $800 electric bill due. Praise God that, since half of December is vacation time, the electric bill for next month should only be $400.
|12/5/2005||HAPPY HUMAN RIGHTS DAY!
“We love you!” This morning the congregation surprised Elvie and me with a joyful “Pastor Appreciation Day”. “Put your sermon away for another time, Pastor. We’ll speak instead!” Just before BLC’s 5th grade teacher Richard gave the message, one-by-one the representatives of each age group came to the stage to tell Elvie, me, PJ, Abby and our assistant pastor’s family why they thank God for our work. Finally, representing the youngest children, little Gregory came and grasped the bulky microphone in his tiny hand. Shivering in nervousness before our audience of 282, this little 7-yr old shared, “P-p-pastor Paul…” while great big tears streamed down his cheeks from watery brown eyes he continued, “I thank G-g-god because you t-t-taught me to memorize all the b-b-books of the New T-t-testament!” Now there wasn’t a dry eye in the place! As each member came to shake our hands, I looked into their faces and thought, “Oh Lord, what a blessing that 9 years ago there was no church and no school here for these people. Yet now each one of these precious members are living your precious Gospel day by day!”
Please pray for PJ to perform well this Fri/Sat as he has one of the main parts in the Faith Academy Christmas Musical. Also please pray that our BLC bus driving staff finish planting our roof vegetable garden before vacation so that food will be ripe to feed the poor children early next year.
Present need: $1500 still lacking for our BLC staff’s end-of-year salaries.
|11/27/2005||HAPPY BONIFACIO DAY, PHILIPPINES!
“New underwear for poor kids!” Christmas is coming, and a dear friend in New York sent 4 boxes for our BLC kids. Here is her story: Paul, I have friends that have material they will never use. Here is the message I told our church: “Mom has fabric collecting dust, waiting for the day when we'll find time to sew. She's sending a very large box of fabric and patterns to the Barners. If you'd like to contribute, bring your fabric to church. Want to send a gift to your sponsored child? Please bring one, lightweight gift with your child's name on it. Want to make one of the children who won't get a gift happy? Buy a small gift, and we'll see it gets into the hands of a child that will be delighted, and know God's love through you! Let's Bless Their Socks Off!” (later…) The first box is on its way. The man at the PO is a Christian & a very fine man. This box is for girls with 201 underwear, 170 socks with ruffles, 180 toothbrushes, books, hair bands & material. My daughter sent a gift for her girl & use whatever you think is right for the 2 children I sponsor from the books & other things I sent. I had fun buying the things for the children. The lady even gave me some socks free-- she wanted to do something, too. She is Oriental and very kind. (later…) There are 3 more packages in the mail headed for Davao City, Praise the Lord. Included are 173 tooth brushes, 40 pcs of fabric, 113 socks, small stuff, 6 dress patterns, 249 briefs, 2 bags of buttons, 1 bag of zippers, candy, 13 books & other gifts for the children from sponsors. It was quite a job. When I got tired I would think of the smiling little faces that would be receiving the "small" gift and I would get revived & carry on. God Bless You All.
Please pray for these gifts to get through the mail quickly, as we will have the children’s Christmas party when the boxes arrive. If they are delayed, we will host 2 parties: one for food and the other for gifts. Some sponsors have already given, yet to avoid jealousy among the kids, we will award all the gifts simultaneously. This really means a lot to children who usually get nothing during the holidays.
Present need: $360 for topsoil and seed for the 135 square meter roof vegetable garden at BLC. We plan to begin harvesting the carrots, bean, tomatoes, etc. in January to feed the 400 BLC kids and staff on "Free Feeding Day" which occurs every other Friday.
|11/20/2005||HAPPY THANKSGIVING, USA!
"Shirley, Jesus can heal you!" Heat radiated from the poor young mother's face, as her tears of pain mingled with sweat drops, streaming down her cheeks, off her chin and onto her hands, which were folded in her lap. Trembling from her pain, she struggled: gasping for breath. The wife of our Panantongon church planter reached over with her hand and tenderly brushed aside the dark, damp locks of hair that seemed almost pasted to her forehead. She explained to us that since the baby was born a few weeks ago, this young mom's breathing became increasingly labored and the fever continued to climb daily to blistering heights. Rev. Kuglen, a Canadian evangelist, is visiting this week, so we brought him with us to pray for Shirley to be healed. Already Kuglen had shared with our BLC and Faith Fellowship congregations three times. Now as he prayed, the Holy Spirit began to cool down Shirley's fevered brow. Her breath, which a few moments earlier had felt like the air which bursts from a heated oven upon our arms as we touched her face and prayed, now began to cool back toward normal. As her baby rocked in a duyon (hammock) a miracle took place there before our eyes, and for that, we spontaneously began to praise God.
Please pray for the BLC bus drivers to finish building and planting our BLC garden this week. Since we likely will not have funds to build our 3rd floor library until 2008, we instead are planting 135 sq meters of vegetables on the roof, to be fed (when they ripen) to the 400 BLC kids and staff on "Free Feeding Day" which occurs every other Friday.
Present need: $560 per month for fuel for our BLC busses. Presently friends have pledged a total of $140 per month to help defray the $700 cost of keeping gas in these vehicles so that we can transport the poor BLC children to school.
HAPPY ARMASTICE DAY! HAPPY ELECTION DAY!
“Honey, wake up! They’re singing to you!” Huh? What? It’s 4am! Who’s singing? Are you dreaming this up? “No, no, Palolove (sweetheart). It’s your birthday! The church is serenading you and Abigail!” Sure enough, just outside our door, in the darkness before the sun was even up, there was over a dozen friends from church, playing guitar and singing Happy Birthday! Of course Elvie knew they would be coming, so she had treats of spaghetti and macaroni salad ready for them, along with hot chocolate and sweetened milk. One by one they gave their well-wishes. Most especially touching however, was that from my faithful assistant, Pastor Ezer, who’d walked a ¼ mile to sing for me. “Pastor,” he began, “every evening I bring my three little children out to our front door and point up to your third-floor office. Never fail, your light is on, and I tell them, “GB, GM, and GG, you can sleep now and never fear a wink, because up there behind that light is our very own Pastor Paul, praying for you!” Really, Daddy? For me? “Yes, you. He loves you so much that he won’t go to bed without asking Jesus to watch over you!” Parades, songs, dances and native costumes graced our BLC Foundation Day, but my favorite was that touching wish, early in the morning at 4am.
Please pray for this Sunday when our special Canadian guest speaker,
Rev. Kuglen, will be challenging our people in a combined service of all
three Faith Fellowship church plants to trust in God who answers prayer.
Also for the “SUNRISE 2005” conference on reaching the unreached people
Present need: $497 for repairs/maintenance of our 4 BLC busses: oil, gaskets, shocks, filters, oil wrench, oil, fan belts, tire tubes, tires, 3-ton jack and hub caps.
|11/6/2005||HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ABBY (5), ME (44) & BLC (7)!
"Pastor, where is the road to heaven?" The barangay captain (village chieftain) came from both Catholic and Muslim religious backgrounds, yet was still searching the true way to God. As he visited our cell group (Home Bible Study), we researched Ephesians 2:1-10. "On Halloween, what makes the costumes of the children so scary? Right, the fact that they dress like witches and dead people, who are walking around as if alive! Likewise, as Ephesians 2 says, we are dead people, walking around. We look in the mirror and see a horrid dead person. But when we receive the gift of eternal life, the mask comes off, and we spend the rest of our lives looking more and more like the image of God. Let today be the day that your mask comes off. Become born again right now, so that you will become alive, really alive, for the very first time since you were born!" As one by one I looked into the faces of the two dozen precious fathers, mothers and children present in that little bamboo shack, I began to see the colorful dawning of understanding wash like a sunrise across their faces of all different hues. We prayed, and some were saved.
Please pray for this Wednesday (11/9) which is our school's Foundation Day, and also Abby's and my birthdays. Pray that our missionary speaker, Gita, from Florida, USA, will challenge the guests who are present and that the parades, songs and dramas that the students perform are well received.
Present need: $204 for music shelves for our new BLC music room.
|11/1/2005||HAPPY WITNESSING FOR JESUS DAY! (WFJ DAY)
"Students, what is John 3:16?" As I addressed the 312 BLC pupils
and their parents at our annual United Nations Celebration, they responded
to my challenge by quoting in unison, "For God so loved the world
that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever beleiveth in Him should
not perish, but have everlasting life." Very good! But there are
over 6 billion people in the world! Of the seven continents in this world,
which one do you live on? Right…ASIA. Let’s say John 3:16 again, substituting
the continent we live on for the word "world". In colorful costumes
of sari, Muslim dress, Kimonos, etc., representing a dozen different countries,
the students began, "For God so loved ASIA…" As you reach Asia
for Jesus, think of www: the Word, the Worker, and the World. Now YOUR
world is which one of the 42 countries in Asia? Right, the PHILIPPINES!
So… and progressively, those gathered for the festivities answered my
plea: "For God so loved the PHILIPPINES… For God so loved MINDANAO…
Please pray this Thursday (11/3) as I speak at one of our cell group Bible Studies. The barangay captain (village chief) will be present for the first time, and will hear the Gospel presented.
Present need: $660 for 60 desks needed at BLC ($11 each)
HAPPY UNITED NATIONS DAY!
“STRIKE!” Elvie took the church ladies bowling after challenging them with memorizing Bible verses and competing against each other with Bible drills and Bible games. They were laughing and happy and so very excited! Most of them had never experienced bowling or Bible games before. Sure, bowling balls in the Philippines are only 4 inches wide and live pin boys still set them up. Plus they get three tries per frame to knock the six inch high pins down. But gutter balls still multiplied. The owners of the alley were also happy, as they didn’t have to shine up the floorboards afterward. The ladies fell down so many times that their pants gave the alleys a magnificent shine! These women typically spend 12 hours a day scrubbing their families’ laundry by hand, cleaning, and cooking. Rarely do they get a chance to get out and have some fun “with the girls”. But now that they have been introduced to Jesus, they have over a hundred fellow “gals” like them in the Body of Christ here at BLC’s Faith Fellowship Church to joke with, have fun with, cry with and laugh…and go bowling with!
Please pray this Monday for our BLC United Nations Day, as the kids share how God is working in nations all across the globe. Also pray for Elvie as she challenges hundreds of ladies at a Davao-wide women’s convention this Thursday.
Present need: $492 for 82 chairs needed at BLC ($6 each)
|10/16/2005||“Doctor, do you have Jesus in your heart?” Our little four-year old Abigail
was a miniature evangelist this Tuesday. Due to a virus epidemic in Davao,
half of the BLC students were out sick, as well as many of our staff; one
with typhoid. PJ and Abby also had fevers, and while Elvie too was recuperating,
my vertigo (dizziness) came back to say “hi”. We all took a trip to the
Chinese doctor who has treated our kids since they were born. Yet this Christian
pediatrician had a pleasant surprise during our visit, as Abby’s little-girl
hand reached up to his shoulder, followed by those big brown eyes. “Yes,
Abigail?” Doctor, do you have Jesus in your heart? “Amazed at her straightforwardness,
yet pleased by her love for Jesus, he assured her, “Oh yes, Abby. And what
about you?” Pointing to her chest, Abby quipped back, “Yes, doctor. Jesus
died on the cross and now he lives right HERE in my heart!”
Please pray for our students to recuperate fully before their monthly exams this week.
Present need: $660 for 60 lacking students’ desks at $11 each.
|10/10/2005||HAPPY COLUMBUS DAY & YOM KIPPUR!
"In the past God spoke to our forefathers..." 20 Bible commentaries and research books were stacked on my desk like a mini Twin Towers. For 7 hours I pulled them down one by one to understand the first four verses of Hebrews, my favorite book in the Bible. Sunday morning a dozen Sunday School kids held up cardboard signs like a puzzle, arranging Heb. 1:1 in the correct order. One itty bitty 5 yr old boy had already memorized that one, and verse 2 as well, in his BLC class! In the afternoon I preached on this passage in our Cabantian church plant, challenging them with the superiority of Jesus over all of Creation, and His worthiness as the main focus of this new church. We will preach about Jesus. We will teach about Jesus. We will live like and for Jesus. A few days later on Wednesday of this week, Pastor Ezer and I trudged the half-mile of a muddy dirt path, edged by coconut trees and banana plants. This time in a ramshackle bamboo shack with dirt floor, the richness of another element of Hebrews was brought out: Jesus owns all of Creation, therefore our every need is met in Him. Finally, on Friday night Elvie, PJ, Abby and I visited a dear Korean family of fellow missionaries. As our kids played with theirs, we researched the many different ways God appeared in the Old Testament, and the way that we will preach the book of Hebrews' focus of Christ's superiority in all the various types of outreaches we use to reach the Filipino people. Today, once again a stack of commentaries burdens the corner of my desk. What grand and glorious truths will the Holy Spirit reveal this time from that fantastic book of books, the Bible?
Please pray this month for our influence among the thousands of Muslims who cross our paths daily here in the Southern Philippines (including some here at BLC). They perceive this month as holy, due to their practice of Ramadan.
Present need: $7,500 for our teachers' Christmas bonuses and advance Jan. 1 salary, all due in early December. Already a family in the Southern USA has assisted for a portion of this need. Pray that God will provide for what is lacking.
|10/1/2005||HAPPY ROSH HASHANNAH
"Children…OBEY!" I Challenged 300 boy and girl scouts at their BLC Scout initiation ceremony today, from Ephesians 6:1-3 ("Children obey your parents…") "Kids, as a scout you are obedient to God, your teachers and your parents. When your parents tell you to cook the rice, what do you do?" 300 boys and girls in their handsome new scout uniforms yelled, "OBEY!" Again, a challenge: "Great! Now children, when your teacher tells you to keep from hitting your classmates, what do you do?" Louder now, the pupils from playschool to 6th grade called back, "OBEY!" Finally, the greatest question: "Students, when God commands you to receive His Son Jesus Christ into your heart, what do you do?" With joy on their faces, a mighty army of children roared back, "OBEY!" After I led those who were willing in the prayer of salvation, an official representative from Davao’s scouting headquarters challenged the BLC kids, "Scouts, never forget: God is the Greatest Scoutmaster!"
Before the scout leaders returned to their office, I explained: "Ma’am,
it is a great responsibility to run a Christian school. For out of the
thousands who have passed through these hallowed halls, if there is even
one child with whom we have not shared the message of salvation, then
on judgement day that one will point his finger in my face and say, "I
went to your Christian school for ten years and you never even once told
me about Jesus! I’ll be satisfied with none less than a perfect 100% in
THAT category on MY final exam."
Present need: $7,500 for our teachers’ Christmas bonuses and advance Jan. 1 salary. We have to plan for this now, as it typically takes 2-3 months for the funds to clear.
|9/26/2005||"Barner Learning Center wins AGAAAIIIN!" The loudspeaker in
the large outdoor auditorium rattled with the news. Today was the opening
day of the city-wide sports tournament of schools in Davao. Filling up the
Barner Learning Center bus with gas and excited students, they joined dozens
of other schools in the competitions of ping-pong, math, chess, etc. BLC
was in seven events. At the end of the first elimination round, Rannel (a
BLC sixth grader) lifted his hands up from a sweaty face in victory! Next
was Pearl...YES! With sweaty palms the BLC girls showed that they too could
compete and shine. Their coach was our BLC guard Roger, a real pro. Third
was Melvin. Pitted against a very tough competitor, both were cheered on
by those onlookers from both schools, who often stood with mouths open wide,
holding their breaths. Back-forth-back-forth went the little yellow plastic
ball, more air than ball. For months Melvin had practiced in the BLC gym.
Late into the night after classes, and early in the morning before the school
bell rang. Even Elvie made for some stiff competition in practice, often
until after midnight. At one point they knocked the gym sink off the wall
while reaching for a hit. Now for the moment of truth. And...its...MELVIN!
YES! BLC wins yet AGAIN! BLC kids brought home awards in five of the seven
categories! Sports is a special way of touching the lives of fellow students,
both Christian and non-Christian, and showing them the good sportsmanship
Please pray for our students as they prepare for the scout acceptance day ceremony this Friday, September 30. They'll be showing that believers are to be not only good sportsmen and good Christians, but also good citizens as well.
Present need: $7,500 for our teachers' Christmas bonuses and advance Jan. 1 salary. We have to plan for this now, as it typically takes 2-3 months for the funds to clear.
|9/19/2005||Happy first Day of Fall! Happy Grandparents’ Day!
“Praise God! The FATHER has provided once again!” Check out this email message we got from a very dear sponsor of some of the children in our BLC school:
“Hi Paul, We would like to send the $404 for your Visa for food fund. We sent the check out last week towards the new water tank but since I forgot to sign it, it was returned today by CAM. However, we were so moved by your plight with the electric bill and the need to buy groceries that we will put the check for your Visa payment into the same envelope with the now signed check for the water tank. I am sorry for the delay on the water tank check. I think your work there is truly a glory to God. We enjoy reading your emails each week about all that is happening there. God bless”
God is soooo good! THANK YOU! Our God supplies for all of our needs
Please pray for our students as they prepare for the scout acceptance day on September 29. We are trying to infuse into every presentation opportunity for parents to hear the Gospel.
Present need: $119 for four ink cartridges (black and color) for the 2 school printers.
|9/11/2005||PATRIOT DAY, USA
“Goodbye! Goodbye! Goodbye!” One by one, the occupants of every seat
that our little Abigail passed in the tour bus received a greeting in
her 4-yr old little-girl voice. When the bus door shut behind us,
Please pray for the financial success of the couple
Present need: $237 for 2,000 prayer cards for us to
|9/4/2005||"Yay! You can eat now!" A dozen of the Barner Learning Center
staff and their families had accompanied me to the grocery store. Since
the BLC electric bill unexpectedly doubled from $400 to $800 this month,
I was lacking that $400 for salaries on Sept. 1. Therefore, I agreed to
use my credit card to get groceries for some of the staff to make up the
difference. Last night while in line at the store, we had 8 overflowing
shopping carts with contents worth $404, waiting in line. When my visa card
was "swiped" by the cahier, the machine's readout said, "DENIED."
Uh Oh. 30 bags of groceries had to stay in the store overnight, while I
went home to call VISA. Sitting on the floor of the store this morning,
I finished my university homework assignment as the manager tried once more
to process the card. For 2 hours one of the BLC janitors was looking so
longingly at the buns he'd selected that the cashier finally gave in and
let him nibble on some. "Oh God," I prayed. "They guys are
so hungry! They live every day to serve you. Please let them eat!"
ACCESS GRANTED the machine finally read. "Yay! You can eat now,"
I told our employees. You'd think it was Christmas, as the BLC minibus,
loaded with rice, bread, etc. brought our rejoicing BLC staffers back to
Please pray for guidance for our teachers as they make major cutbacks on electric usage in the classrooms, to defray the recent surge in power rates.
Present need: $404 to pay for our teachers' groceries which I charged on my credit card.
|8/28/2005||HAPPY HEROES DAY, PHILIPPINES!
"Heart to heart." Wednesday’s "daily journal" of our third grade teacher Nimfa reflected the core of our Philippine ministry… "This morning I talked to my pupils heart to heart. Our lesson in "Pilipino" jibes with our memory verse this day, which is "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." I emphasized the importance of being merciful- be merciful to their classmates who have no money to buy snacks during recess time. I told them to share with those who don’t have food. Some of my pupils just stay in the classroom since they don’t have money. Sometimes I give a little amount just for them to take to recess. The worst, I have one or two pupils who have no lunch sometimes. So, I share with them my own food. Thank you Lord for the opportunity to give! This Friday is also "free lunch day" in the BLC cafeteria! PTL!
Please pray for the staff and students at Faith Academy, Davao (PJ’s school). The delightful, energetic new 26 yr old English teacher Julie Chen died suddenly last week while jogging. A typical phrase of hers was, "God and I are proud of you!"
Present need: $290 for a new school water tank. Our old one (on the third floor) burst and soaked the two floors beneath it, including our residence.
|8/22/2005||"Pastor Paul, could you please speak to this group of Manobos? I
will interpret for you." With camera in hand, Elvie, a few pastors
and I drove up to a distant area for a gathering of indigenous Christians.
Before their music and dance presentations on native homemade bamboo drums
and brass gongs, I challenged these poor mountain people. "God called
me as a child in New York to one day become a missionary to the Philippines.
Years later I flew halfway around the world to this country that I'd never
been to before. As a result we have planted 3 churches and have a Christian
school with over 300 pupils! The same God who called me is now calling you.
Reach out beyond your tribal villages. Send pastors to plant churches among
your Manobo neighbors." Later, as I donned the Manobo tribal outfit
and played the drums and gongs, a muscular Manobo man with a powerfully
resonant baritone voice approached me with a big smile. "Thank you,
for I too am a pastor. Like you, I have left my village to tell the "foreign"
unbelievers of distant villages the precious news of eternal life in Jesus
Christ. We are just alike, you and me, in our missionary burden to reach
the lost wherever they may be!"
Please pray for us to be able to find an LCD screen for my Toshiba laptop A15 S127. I use it for my presentations at the university and will also need it for Powerpoint while on furlough next year. I cracked the LCD while on a project. I checked E-Bay, but they did not have that model LCD.
Present need: $20 for lacking motorcycle parts for my interpreter (Rev. Elid) with the Manobos. His grown son was on a mission trip when he had an accident. He is okay, but the bike requires $60 in repairs. This bike is Elid's only access to mountain areas.
|8/14/2005||“Wow, thanks for all the hamburgers. But I only have two kids!” A few
hours earlier the president of the DCL (Davao Christian Leaders
Foundation) called to ask me to attend the funeral of Mr. Yap. After giving the benediction during the ceremony, I looked around at all the flowers. Fifty (really! I counted them!) beautiful arrangements had been sent by banks, hotels, churches and loving friends. This wealthy man had touched many lives. Since I was one of the last to leave, the wife said, “Pastor, please take this food, or it will go bad before tomorrow!” So out to my car I carried a box of 20 hamburgers and sweet rolls. I thought in my mind, “If this holy man, Mr. Yap, were alive today, what would he do with all this food?” As if an angel whispered into my ear, I suddenly knew the answer. Driving to one of the poorest areas of town, I parked in the darkness at the mission hospital and started giving out the food, each wrapped piece accompanied by a Gospel tract. Little children in rags and beggars along the side of the road burst into smiles as their rumbling stomachs were filled. Both families and staff at the hospital didn’t have to thank me, for their faces said it all. It is quite a legacy when, after we have breathed our last breath, our witness for Christ continues to live on in the lives of those with whom we have shared the precious gift of the loving salvation of Jesus Christ.
Please pray for Pastor Callem and his wife Inday, whose church plant began their first worship service last week. Their teenage niece, who has been caring for their 2 kids these past five years, suddenly went crazy this week, and is now in a sanitarium. Tests are being done to see what the cause was.
Present need: $20,370 for our new BLC library’s construction. Praise God that during our surprise inspection this week, the government representative agreed that our smaller library will suffice until we have this larger room built to include space for children to read. Presently, BLC students cannot read inside the library, as it is wall-to-wall bookshelves, each with four rows of books, per shelf.
|8/7/2005||"A new church is born today!" Our Faith Fellowship church was
very excited about starting its first worship service in our third church
plant at the Federation of Homeless People’s refugee-type settlement at
Panantungan (Tibunco). The area is totally unreached by any faith or religion,
and lies about 7 miles from Barner Learning Center. Two weeks ago our church-planting
pastor Callem came to me with a sad face and the bad news, "They won’t
release our permit! We can’t worship there!" So we prayed. Already
we were making payments on a church lot there. Already dozens of men, women
and children had cleared the underbrush, weeds and grass so we could set
up chairs. Already they had built an open-air structure with scrap lumber
from a demolished house in the city. Already roofing materials were in place,
scrap from the scaffolding of BLC’s recently finished construction. Bamboo
beams and a plastic tarp were assembled to extend the structure. No floor.
No walls. Yet this morning we had our very first worship service! How did
God do it? He answered our prayers 8 days ago, when Pastor Callem and many
of those attending home Bible Studies in Panantungan had appealed to the
government reps. "Okay then, we DO need a church here. Go ahead and
worship!" Over 300 husbands, wives and children trudged the muddy paths
to worship our ever-powerful God together, in Panantungan! Are there barriers
in your life today? Pray! God delights to melt the hearts of those who oppose
you, in love. "I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not
prevail against it!" (Mat. 16:18B)
Please pray for Pastor Callem and his wifer Inday as they lead worship services in Panantungan. They’ll be witnessing door-to-door on a daily basis to those living in the 100 huts, shanties and makeshift houses of Panantungan through the use of Gospel tracts, Bible Studies, Sunday/Wednesday worship, prayer ministry, and thru their lives sharing the transforming love of Jesus Christ.
Present need: $1,900 to build a parsonage at Panantungan for Pastor Callem’s family of four. Their daughter Airajin wasn’t present at the service today as she is in the hospital. Their son Artjil is autistic. Callem has been a pastor for over a decade.
|8/1/2005||“Eat right!” Friday was Nutrition Day 2005 at Barner Learning Center.
600 parents, staff and students gathered in the BLKC gym for poster contests,
dances, and dramas, all focussing on proper nutrition. The newly elected
2005-6 PTA and homeroom officers also took their oaths of office. But first,
I challenged all to have proper physical AND spiritual nutrition. “ Eat
right! Remember these seven areas: MILK builds strong teeth and bones. Studying
your Bible also builds your sturdy doctrinal skeleton. MEAT gives you power.
Giving also strengthens you. BREAD and grain give you stamina. Likewise,
Prayer keeps you going, even when others get weak. FRUIT/Veggies give you
energy. Telling others about Jesus makes you cheerful and energetic. WATER
and tooth brushing cleans out your system. Worship at church guides us where
we need cleansing, and keeps us from getting dried up. EXERCISE builds our
muscles. Showing kindness to others also gives you strength. SLEEP makes
us alert, and showing God’s love also opens our eyes to be alert to where
we can help out. But like in the Garden of Eden, from the very beginning
there was good food and there was bad food. Avoid junk food. Spiritual junk
food includes greediness instead of giving, TV instead of Bible, disobedience
instead of prayer, fighting instead of witnessing, and laziness instead
of worship. Kids, how should we eat?” 600 voices called out, “EAT RIGHT!”
Then kids, how should we live? “LIVE FOR JESUS!” Praise God! You all get
Please pray for our church plant in Panatungan. This next Sunday (8/7) all four of our church plants will worship together there to celebrate their very first Sunday service. Praise God that Callem, our church-plating pastor there, cleared up the confusion of some neighbors who did not want a church in their area.
Present need: $6 each for 90 chairs still lacking at BLC ($540).
|7/24/2005||“How much do you need?” My eyes popped open wide as extremely poor families
from the congregation gave to overflowing. One gave a whole day’s pay, another
a week’s pay, and one other, a whole month’s salary! I asked how they would
eat, and they said, “Pastor, you challenged us in your message that God
will supply all our needs if we give to Him. So we are giving. Don’t you
believe your own sermon?” It was after a board meeting in which the Panatungan
church-planting pastor (Callem) was asking to borrow funds from the mother
church (us) to get lumber and nails for a semi-permanent structure for their
first joint worship service, scheduled for August 7. Since other land is
becoming available for our mother church to buy our own property soon, we
couldn’t lend any more to the daughter church than we already had. So we
opened the need up to the congregation. Some gave materials, and most gave
money. The funds started pouring in even before the board meeting (after
church) en ded, by those who were still lingering around after the service!
Please pray for the BLC Nutrition Day this Friday. Most parents attend, since their children have competitions in making displays of proper “food intake”. I’ll share to the group of 500 parents and students about proper “spiritual intake”.
Present need: $250 still lacking for the dirt-floored new church plant’s temporary structure in Panatungan.
|7/15/2005||"Carpe Diem! Imago Dei!" (Seize the day to make me more like
the image of God in which I was created before sin entered the human race).
A month ago I challenged our 4 church-planting pastors ("shepherds")
to wrestle with God daily in prayer until God filled them with the Holy
Spirit. Sometimes this daily time on my knees takes 5 minutes, and on others
it takes up to half an hour. This morning before leaving home to attend
the DCL (Davao Christian Leaders' Breakfast Fellowship), for 20 minutes
God gave me those 4 victorious words, "Carpe Diem! Imago Dei!"
As a sign that I had wrestled long enough with God, when I stood from my
knees to go take my bath, I brushed away the cobwebs that a spider had woven
around me. God had sent his tiny little "messenger" to give me
a "prayer tent!" Have you yet struggled on your knees in prayer
until cobwebs formed on you?
Please pray for our 250 sponsored students at BLC. Because of the increase in enrollment, our four busses cannot carry them all. So until we get a fifth bus ($2500) 60 of the nearest students will have to walk to school.
Present need: $695 for the BLC electric bill for June.
|7/6/2005||HAPPY 9TH ANNIVERSARY, PAUL AND ELVIE!
“The ministry costs the shirt off my back!” It is so hot and humid here in the Philippines that I rarely go through a day without having to change my shirt, drenched with sweat. But Sundays are the busiest, so I have to have an ample supply on hand. Praise God that my parents have mailed me nice shirts each year for Christmas! When I changed into my church clothes that morning, I knew I wouldn’t be wearing these clothes for long. As I taught the 105 Sunday school children, even the air conditioner and two fans were not enough to keep me from sweating great buckets. So like Superman who zipped into a nearby phone booth, I escaped into the house to change while the congregation was singing their opening hymn. Since I was preaching today on stewardship, you can bet that I was sweating! So after church I had to change again. After playing with the kids, Elvie mentioned that she was attending a funeral, so I had charge of PJ and Abby and the other pastors’ kids. Time to change again. Upon her return she said, “Oh, and you are dedicating a baby this afternoon at the church. Please wear your Filipino barong! When the dedication was done, Elvie called me from the hospital, where she was visiting a sick person, “Please change from your barong, when the baby’s family invites you to their house to eat!” After walking home I changed again and went to my office to check the email. One last, eighth time to change, when I got to bed. When you are a missionary, you not only wear many “hats”, but many shirts to match!
Please pray for Elvie’s position as volunteer secretary for the National Christian Women’s group. They will be having an All-Asia conference here in Davao next year with 1200 Filipinas and over 50 others from China, Thailand and other Asian countries.
Present need: $540 for 90 plastic chairs @ $6 each (students in the computer, science, music and shop classes have to stand).
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, USA!
“The witchdoctor is praying to his drum!” During my 2-hr university presentation
on “The Music of Mindanao” I mentioned the prayers of tribal people. “As
the Bukidnon Shaman priest prays, he hopes to reach the god of the drum.
That God, in turn, plays his drum to appease the Great god.” The class
and teacher suddenly became interested as I shared the contrast of the
prayers of missionaries who pray to the One God and Father of Jesus Christ:
"Dear Jesus, I am a sinner.”- notice that we are addressing God personally
and directly. “I know you died on the cross to pay for my sins.” – here,
God is doing the reaching, to contact us, instead of us trying to reach
Him. “Please forgive me and clean my sins away by your blood, spilled
on the cross for me.”- Not only has God contacted us, but He was the one
who paid the price, not through a sacrifice on our part. “Please make
me a child of God, by the power of your Holy Spirit”- Now we are accepting
God’s invitation that we become part of His family! “I promise to live
for you for the rest of my life until I am with you forever in heaven.”-
The commitment on our part is not to appease God, but rather to thank
Him for the work He has already finished. “In Jesus’ name, Amen.” Since
four different faiths are represented by the students in our class, our
teacher spoke up. “So you pray this prayer every day to become a child
of God?” Not at all. To become born again, you only have to pray that
prayer once in your whole entire life! Just like you only have to be born
once to be a human being!
|6/29/2005||“Life begins at forty!” Arturo turned 40 this April. But for Art, life
is truly just beginning! After church on Sunday, Pastor Ezer told me, “Pastor
Paul, let’s go visit Mr. Guinawatan. He is very sick, and bleeding from
strange places.” Since Elvie was at a national ladies’ board meeting, I
brought PJ and Abby along. At one point we parked the BLC multicab on the
side of the road and walked a quarter mile through muddy fields to get to
Art’s hut. When we arrived, our shoes were caked with mud, and we were all
itchy from mosquito bites. We sat on logs at Art’s place, while his four
little boys, all sponsored kids at BLC, peeked through the branches that
supported their thatch hut Before long the kids were playing with PJ and
Abby, while we 2 pastors prayed for Art’s healing. His wife was picking
vegetables for us to bring home. After praying, we asked, “Art, would you
like to invite Jesus into your heart?” Oh yes, he smiled. After he repeated
the prayer…”Dear Jesus… (Dear Jesus)… I am a sinner… (I am a sinner)…”,
we told him, “Now today, June 26, 2005 is your spiritual birthday!” He responded,
“So this means I have two birthdays! For me, life has begun at forty!” Amen,
Please pray for my presentation this Saturday at the university. As I present the “Music of Mindanao” pray that I will have opportunity to share my faith.
Present need: $1050 is still lacking of the $1800 needed for our teachers’/staff salaries on July 1.
|6/20/2005||“BLACK stands for sin!” Neil came up to the front of our class of 80 Sunday
School children and took the large “Wordless Book”. It was part of the Sunday
School supplies given by a church in the USA. “Right! Our lives were filled
with sin before Jesus came into our hearts. Okay, who knows the next color?”
Yllemar came forward. With Neil holding the book above her head so she couldn’t
see, Yllemar spoke into the microphone, “RED stands for the blood of Jesus,
who died on the cross for our sins!” After Neil gave her the book that was
now open to the red page, PJ came forward and explained, “WHITE stands for
clean. Jesus cleans our sin away.” It was hard for PJ to hold the book above
Geraldine’s head, since she is taller than him, but he managed. “GOLD stands
for the promise of heaven!” Finally Jhon stood in front of the class and
broadcast, “And GREEN shows that we are to grow as Christians!” A very special
thank you to the churches who sent your used Sunday School materials to
us. God is using them to touch hundreds of little hearts for Jesus!
Please pray for our teachers this school year, to meet the varied needs of their students. As we are now reaching 300 children, many of the poor sponsored kids are very far behind their classmates. For many, they have been out of school for 2-3 years.
Present need: $1800 for our teachers’/staff salaries on July 1.
|6/15/2005||“Study to show yourself approved unto God!” Tuesday was Orientation Day
for BLC’s new 2005-6 school year. As a spiritual challenge for the incoming
students I read this verse from 2 Timothy 2:15. “Now students and pupils,
what does the word “STUDY” mean here at BLC? “S” stands for SALVATION.”
300 BLC students from 2 years old to 16 called in unison, “SALVATION!” Each
student will be given the opportunity to accept Jesus into your heart as
your personal Lord and Savior this year. “T” stands for TEACHERS.” Every
student and parent present called out, “TEACHER!” Listening to and following
the lessons and lifestyles of our teachers and staff will unite BLC united
in its focus upon Jesus. “U” stands for UNDERSTANDING.” Voices resonated
off the newly painted walls of the BLC gym, “UNDERSTANDING!” The best way
to understand your teachers is to eat a good breakfast, get proper sleep,
and listen carefully. “D” stands for DAILY HOMEWORK.” Even the kitchen crew,
which will be providing over 5,000 free meals to BLC kids and staff this
school year, called out, “DAILY HOMEWORK!” By doing homework as soon as
you get home, you will not have to cram each morning to finish up before
going to school. Finally, “Y” stands for YES!” Even the construction workers,
finishing up the fire escape outside the new 2nd floor, joined the chorus
as they called down from above, “YES!” By saying “Yes” to teachers when
they ask for volunteers to represent our school in citywide competitions,
choruses, and presentations, you will be proud to say, “I go to MY Christian
school, Barner Learning Center!”
Please pray for our church plant in Panatungan, 7 miles away. We hope to have groundbreaking and our first worship service there with 20 families the first Sunday of August (8/7). Pray that the property can be purchased and a small parsonage built by that date. The pastor will be Pastor Callem.
Present need: $340 for repair parts and new spark plugs for the school busses.
|6/13/2005||HAPPY PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENCE DAY!
“You MUST recycle. It’s the LAW!” The government representative explained law #RA9003 to fifty of us leaders gathered in a local public school. Fines of up to $60 (a month’s salary) will be imposed if anyone is found throwing away recyclable trash. We sent one of our poor students’ parents to the follow-up seminar which will give the poor an income. When I was a boy, our church youth group used to have “paper drives” to raise money for summer camp and retreats. This new approach goes a step further, by making things from trash. Since so many people will now have lots of recyclable bottles, cans, plastics and paper in their homes and want to get rid of it, our poor parents will collect them door-to-door and bring home the specific items of clean trash. After sorting it, they will make shopping bags, purses, and other useful daily-use, high-demand items. Since these crafts are often stronger than normal shopping bags, etc., they are in high demand. Now they will have a way to make money, and clean up the environment at the same time! In Genesis, when God told Adam to rule over all the earth, the responsibility of ruling also included protecting it from harm. This new “Livelihood Recycling Project” will be our church people’s small way of carrying out that scriptural mandate.
Please pray for the 300 students enrolled at BLC as they start a brand new year of classes this Tuesday, 6/14. Pray that all will be well acclimated, including BLC’s 6 new staff members. Since we have just finished building three new classrooms for Science, Industrial Arts and Music, we have new teachers for each of these positions.
Present need: $260 for the new wing’s security metal roll-down door at BLC.
|6/4/2005||“Let’s fast and pray all day and all night!” The five pastors in our Faith
fellowship’s church plants were getting together for our first meeting.
We called it the “5 Shepherds Meeting”. I treated them out at a nice quiet
restaurant so we could discuss our masterplan. “We really need to pray hard,”
suggested Ezer, who’ll be planting a church in 2007 in Purok Ocho. “Let’s
take a week and fast and pray around the clock.” Boboy, who is already pastoring
our second church plant with Pastor Orville in Emily Homes, is the comedian
on the team. “Sure, and then we’ll be dead the next week from exhaustion!”
Being the senior pastor of the mother church in Laverna Hills, I suggested
a compromise. “We’ll get together for a full day of fasting and prayer in
a place with no distractions, stay overnight, and then come back to Davao
the next day.” Collem, who will be planting a church in Tibunco this August,
gave a great idea. “I have the perfect place! The church I just finished
my six-year contract at is a few hours from here up in the mountains. Why
don’t we just stay in the sanctuary there for our overnight of fasting and
prayer.” So it was settled. We’ll each bring the weekly reports of our ministry
outreaches on June 24, and pray for every single one of the 600 parishioners
involved with this work. In Laverna Hills, our area of responsibility is
1200 homes, representing 5000 people. But the joint area of responsibility
for the five church plants is over 20,000.
Praise God! The original title for the first four lots of our 7-lot school property was released from the lawyer just a few days ago! Please pray that the seller will quickly pay the agreed-upon refund of our $1500 deposit. A very special thank you to all who prayed for my recuperation from vertigo this week.
Present need: $535 for BLC’s May electric bill.
HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!
“Honeymoon suite for 14?” Well, not really. But today 7 brides and 7
grooms faced their spouses as they said their vows at Barner Learning
Center’s Faith Fellowship Church. Common-law marriage had made each of
these couples legally married 2,5, even 10 years ago. Their children are
even enrolled here at BLC. However each couple, in their gowns and barongs,
decided to solemnize their vows in a church. So seven couples stood on
stage and recited their vows to each other. In hand were real, bonafide
marriage licenses, at two dollars each. Because weddings are so expensive,
many had just shacked up together since they could not afford a ceremony.
But now, they no longer “live in sin.” One of the ring bearers was CJ,
the boy who was in a coma three weeks ago from meningitis. Because of
BLC’s Children’s Emergency Medical Fund, he is alive today. Another breakthrough
happened this week as well, as a wall was demolished, connecting the 2nd
floor hallway from our old BLC building to the hall of the brand-new practical
education wing, doubling the length of the building!
|5/22/2005||"The spirits tell us when to plant our crops." The Matigsalog
tribe that Elvie and I had visited had cultural beliefs that had passed
down from generation to generation through the centuries. Two such beliefs
were agriculturally oriented. "If a certain good bird sings when the
day begins, then we plant. But if a bad bird sings, then we don't plant.
If we disobey, then the crops will not grow." What are their holy items,
I wondered. "The huge, many-trunked balite tree. If we cut one down
to plant our crops, then we will die. The spirit of the tree will take vengeance."
But then how did they plant their vegetables? "The night before we
plan to cut down a tree, we tell the tree we will hammer a nail or an axe
into its trunk. In the morning, if the nail or axe has dropped to the ground,
then we have permission to cut. If it is still in the trunk, we must leave
the tree alone." "You know, God is the Greatest Spirit,"
I said. "He made the balite tree and He made every type of bird. He
even made the metal for the axe. Trust in Him and He will make your way
Please pray for our school's title deed to be released this week. It is due after our 3-day family getaway and with it we can receive from the seller the agreed-upon refund of our $1500 deposit.
Present need: $80 for a video camera for the school.
“I’m in the Lord’s army!” PJ hummed, and then started singing a chorus he’d learned in Sunday School, and other kids who were lingering on the BLC campus after school started to join him in his “mini-parade” through the grounds. “I may never march in the infantry,” they sang, as the line grew to 3 little children, marching up to the empty BLC stage. “Ride in the cavalry,” a few other kids joined them as they “rode” up the stairs on their imaginary horses to the library. “Shoot the artillery,” shooting imaginary guns at the devil and strutting back downstairs, their voices echoing eerily through the empty halls as they were joined by a couple more preschoolers. “I may never zoom o’er the enemy,” with their arms flung out as wings, while they “soared” through the gymnasium, now a dozen strong in their joyous parade, “But I’m in the Lord’s army!” Suddenly the little “troops” all came to a halt, faced “Commander PJ,” and saluted, placing their cute little hands up to their foreheads, yelling at the top of their lungs, “YES SIR!” Just goes to show you, when someone gets excited about following Jesus, others gain inspiration likewise.
Please pray for CJ, the BLC preschooler who was in a coma from meningitis two weeks ago, that his recuperation would be complete. Also pray for Collem and his family of four. They joined our staff this week to plant a daughter church in Tibunco this August.
Present need: $296 for metal pots, utensils, and serving trays for BLC’s free lunch program which serves 300 students.
|5/12/2005||"Pastor, my son CJ is a nursery student in your daughter Abigail's
class at BLC. He suddenly got meningitis and we brought him to the hospital.
But since my husband's employer does not provide him insurance, my son is
in and out of a coma, and we can't afford the treatments. Can you help?"
"Sure, BLC has a Children's Emergency Medical Fund (EMF). We'll help
your son!" Later, our BLC Administrator Dr. C. Ayoc visited the family
in the hospital, and worked out their bill with the head of the credit and
collection. In addition to the BLC EMF funds, the BLC staff took up a collection
to help out. While there, CJ's dad was so touched by the love of Christians
for his son, that he knelt down near his boy's bed and prayed to receive
Jesus into his heart! Two people were healed this week: one physically,
and one spiritually!
Please pray for the speed of BLC's second floor construction to stay on schedule. The poured cement for the ceiling and pillars are now dry and it is exciting to watch as the walls are finished one by one. Windows, doors, blackboards and paint all need to be finished before the new school yr begins in 3 weeks.
Present need: $650 for desks and chairs for BLC's 3 brand new classrooms.
|5/5/2005||“Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing the President of the Republic of the
Philippines, Her Excellency, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo!” In a turquoise
blue-green dress, the highest ranking official of the country walked past
Elvie, PJ, Abigail and I as she made her way down the aisle to the stage.
There, after she greeted the thousands of ministers present in this pastors’
conference, she was prayed over by all who were standing in the university
auditorium. Upon her departure, when I was reaching forward in the lobby
to shake her hand, suddenly the crowd swallowed me up and the opportunity
vanished. After making my way back into the theatre and to my seat next
to PJ, I automatically put my arm around my little boy. Suddenly I pulled
him close as I realized that I had the greatest privilege in the world,
right here, right now. Which is greater, to touch the hand of the president,
or to embrace and transform the life of this little boy, and thousands of
others just like him in our BLC school, who will likely together one day
change the world for the Glory of God?
The cement ceiling of BLC’s new second floor practical education wing will be poured this week. Please pray that Elvie will choose the best new Science, Music and Industrial Arts teachers for this next semester, to begin after Summer School ends, the first week of June.
Present Need: PTL! A sewing machine has been donated to BLC from a friend in the USA! We still need another one, which will cost $175.
"Count Your Blessings!" Sunday I challenged the 395 present in our congregation with truth from Isaiah 63:7. "I realize that most of you do not have enough income to fill out tax forms. But like on a tax form, itemize what God is doing in your life, and you will notice less the things that God has YET to do. Be sure to use the looong form, and not the short one!" Pointing to the construction over their heads, I asked, "This building, see the wooden scaffolding and forms for cement? I ask you, is it half finished...or does it still have a whole third floor and half the second floor to go?" Present this morning in church were many poor destitute squatter families whose children are just starting school at BLC for free. "God is giving your children a fresh new start. Now, take it from there. Tell all your friends about this fantastic God of yours who even gives poor squatter children free schooling, free books, free uniforms, and so much more. Then tell them about that same God who gives eternal life...for free!" Count your blessings, name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord has done!
This week Elvie, PJ, Abby and I are flying to Manila for a 7-day Christian conference. Please pray that the school runs smoothly while we are away and also that we four be refreshed in being together for the meetings.
Present need: $4,000 for the 2nd floor hallway's construction.
“Is school really FREE?” Yes, if you are poor. If not, the sponsorship
will go to someone who really needs it. The question arose this week as
our teachers went to every house within a five-mile radius of BLC school
to distribute ten thousand flyers for the school and ten thousand Gospel
tracts. The Gospel tracts are entitled, “Eternal Life is FREE!” Since
many recipients thought that meant that the school was free for everyone,
our BLC cashier (a pastor’s wife) was inundated with phone calls, back
at the school. Her response was, “Although some people can afford to pay
to go to BLC, there is one bill you have that nobody can afford. Who will
pay for your sins? Yes, eternal life is free. Don’t even try to pay for
it. All the money and good deeds in the entire world won’t pay for it.
But Jesus already paid it! Would YOU like to receive eternal life?” Praise
God that even our BLC cashier Minmin is leading the lost to Jesus! Many
of those on the construction team for our second floor in April and May
Present need: $350 for two sewing machines for our Home Economics building.
|4/13/2005||"Can I please have another cookie?" I led 150 small children,
sitting in the Sunday School class and singing about Jesus. Many had no
breakfast, so PJ, Abby and some friends "helped" me make cookies
on Saturday night. "More raisins and chocolate chips!" quipped
Abigail, whose two arms were already sticky past the elbows with batter.
As PJ squished more dough into the angel and heart shapes, he asked, "Why
are we putting cracked wheat and ground carrots in?" They are good
for you, I explained. These kids rarely get nutritious food in their diets.
Besides, these ingredients add to the texture and flavor. In 3 hours' time,
we'd already fed an army of ants, as the table, chairs and floor were caked
with cookie dough. But on Sunday morning, 150 smiling little faces did not
let even one crumb fall to the floor from their mouths, as they devoured
the chewy delicacies and sang "Jesus loves the little children!"
As hammering and pounding begins on our new building's construction, the rainy season has also started. Please pray that the flooding does not happen this year, so that our supplies will be safe from floating away.
Present need: $4,000 for the 2nd floor hallway's construction.
PS- Please see my United Nations report on the plight of the Indonesian tsunami refugees of Pulau Weh, Sumatra at http://www.humanitarianinfo.org/sumatra/assessments/index.asp. Please pray also that the UN will be able to match up International Aid organizations to meet these refugees' needs.
HAPPY ARAW NG KAGITINGAN!
“Television? NO. Bamboo house? Yes. Car? NO. Bicycle? NO. OK, you qualify! Come to the school and take the entrance exam!” Elvie and Dr. Ayoc visited a dozen villages this week in site evaluations. BLC’s student sponsorship program has become so well known in Davao that hundreds of destitute families have now applied for free sponsorships. Each day Elvie would come home tired, sweaty and smelly (yet smiling) from dozens of clusters of shacks crammed into swamps and alleys, on site visits. “Half of them have no spouses. They put scraps of food and rice on their tables by hand-washing the clothes of those who live in real houses, or by selling fish or vegetables all day from baskets balanced on their heads. Paul, these people are why we are here. They are really, really poor. But they want their sons and daughters to have the chance at an education that they themselves never got! We pray with every single family we visit, that God will heal their sicknesses and supply their needs.” Actually, some with televisions and electricity in their shacks do qualify for our program. But since there are only 250 sponsors, we have to turn away as many applicants as we accept. So the poorer they are, the higher the priority. It is nice that for once in their lives, being at the bottom of the labor ladder is an advantage!
Construction on our second floor starts Monday! Since God answered our prayers, and touched hearts, giving for this ministry DOUBLED this last month (March)! Please pray that Elvie’s new medication will cure her painful endometriosis.
Present need: $900 for Elvie’s medications (injections) for the entire half-year duration.
HAPPY BLC GRADUATION!
"Your salutatorian...is an ANGEL!" A few days ago I spoke to 2000 students, parents, community officials and administrators in the spacious outdoor covered court of Calinan Central Elementary School. I challenged them from the same Scripture that I'd shared with our own 32 graduates at Barner Learning Center a few days earlier. It was appropriate since the name of their second highest honors went to a girl named "Angel". "Last Sunday was Easter. The ladies went to the tomb, but Jesus was not there. The angel told them to go tell the disciples that Jesus rose from the dead. You know, the world needs to know what you have found here in school. At first they won't believe you. Because you are young, they will just ignore you. Like the ladies at Easter, you have to press on with your convictions. PROVE to the world that your ideas will work. Who knows? Maybe you will be an astronaut to Saturn. Or maybe you will develop the cure for cancer. Beyond all else, what you need to show the world is the Jesus in you who did not escape death...he conquered it! Likewise, don't just face your goals...dive into them and CONQUER them."
Praise God, our final permit for construction has been released! Now please pray that all the lumber we need for our scaffolding and cement molds will be available so that the work can begin April 11. Please also pray that the new pope will be strongly evangelical.
Present need: $4,000 for the 2nd floor hallway's construction.
|3/27/2005||HAPPY EASTER SUNDAY!
“Paul, I want to give Jainun his shoes!” A few weeks ago, I mentioned in the email diary that I met a teacher who showed me he had no shoes. I promised him, “Jainun, my God is the Christian God, not the Muslim god. The Christian God will give you shoes before your 34th birthday on August 8th this year!” A friend in New Jersey emailed me exclaiming, “Paul, August 8th is MY birthday too! I want to give him the shoes!” Won’t it be exciting for the ministry that sheltered our tsunami team to see Jainun’s face when they deliver his gift from the Christian God…via New Jersey? God is in the miracle-working business. Next week cement and steel will be purchased for practical education classrooms in our BLC school. This week, a friend in Malaysia and another in the USA said, “you have gifts on the way for your construction!” A Filipino ministry in California is having a fundraiser to see if they can pay for one of the needed classrooms. It is sooo true that “God’s will will never lead you where His grace will not provide!”
Please pray for one last permit that is still lacking, which is needed before construction can start up again.
Present need: $4,000 for the 2nd floor hallway’s construction.
HAPPY PALM SUNDAY!
"Get OFF the car!" With over 40 BLC staff, students and parents inside our two jeepneys, we were traveling the 2-hr trip to the jungle area where Elvie's 93-yr old grandmother's funeral was. She had burned to death earlier this week. But before our BLC bus reached the jungle path, a crazy woman jumped into the middle of the road, bringing us to a screeching halt. To our shock, she started climbing onto the vehicle's hood. The stub of an old cigar grasped between her fingers, she kept yelling over and over again, "Money! Give Money!" As the barangay policeman arrived on his bicycle, I reached out and touched the shoulder of the crazy woman. Looking into her face of rotten teeth, flaring nostrils and bloodshot eyes, I kindly coaxed her, "Get down Ma'am. You are going to hurt yourself." With Elvie deep in prayer by my side, the woman immediately warmed to my light touch and stepped down. God's Holy Spirit calms even the most deranged of souls. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.
Please pray for Elvie's dad. Just after his mother-in-law died, he had a mild heart attack. He is now home, recuperating. Also BLC's 7th graduation exercises are next week, and PJ has chicken pox.
Present need: $84 for the refill of BLC's nine fire extinguishers.
|3/9/2005||"What size shoes do you wear?" Jainun is a 2nd grade teacher
whose school on Weh Island, Sumatra was hit by the tsunami. In my HRNAI
(humanitarian research needs assessment interviews) for the United Nations
report, Jainun and some local officials filled me in on the post-crisis
dilemma. As our construction and medical teams repaired bodies and buildings,
we saw thousands who have been relocated to the island from areas where
entire families are left with only one survivor. My report enumerated three
basic unmet needs of the remnants: fishing boats, animals and Indonesian
schoolbooks. As "Guru" (teacher) Jainun itemized the school books
needed, he glanced down at his feet. "You know, I have no shoes now."
What size do you wear?, I asked. "Indonesian size 40." When is
your birthday, Jainun? "August 8, 1971." Jainun, I know you do
not believe in my God, because you are Muslim. Yet I will pray, and by August
8, on your 34th birthday, my Christian God will supply you a pair of size
40 shoes! "Oh, thank you!" smiled Jainun. "Thanks you, thank
you, many thanks to you!"
Please pray that with me that Jainun's gift from God will soften the hearts of many to see His provision in this time of great loss from the tsunami.
Present need: $102 for the replacement of our Xerox machine's and duplicator, and refill of its toner.
|2/17/2005||"You owe it to your students! A Christian teacher needs to grow!"
Monday (Valentine's Day) saw three terrorist explosions in the Philippines,
and one in Beirut. In Manila, Davao, and Gen San, a dozen people were killed.
But the day had an enjoyable side as well. In the morning the BLC students
performed dramas and songs to thank the BLC staff for "Teacher Appreciation
Day." At noon, all 25 staff went to the beach. After barbecue, fresh
watermelon and games, I challenged them from the book of Hebrews. "You
ought to be teachers [but] you need someone to teach you the elementary
truths" With megaphone in hand, I quizzed our staff on what those "elementary
truths" are. As our group was surrounded by dozens of unbelievers at
the beach, they too listened in as the teachers, secretaries, and bus drivers
cried out "REPENTANCE! FAITH! SALVATION IN JESUS! HEAVEN! HELL!"
Now, I reminded all on the beach, "Jesus said we must grow. Like a
tree, grow your roots deep so the storms of life will not sway you!"
Please pray that when I arrive in tsunami-hit Aceh/Meulaboh next week, that our humanitarian aid team will spread the love of Jesus by working closely with authorities to plan and rebuild houses, a school, a hospital and children's lives.
Present need: $462 for the oven and refrigerator for our home economics lab.
|2/1/2005||"Vanche and Felmar, congratulations! You make us proud!" Yesterday
was a great day for Davao. Not only did a Davao City youth win first place
in the national teen star search of the Philippines, but also our very own
BLC students won the bronze (3rd place) award in the city-wide math contest
of 37 schools! As they competed against hundreds of other students of all
ages in the elimination tournament, Felmar (a poor sponsored child in Barner
Learning Center) and Vanche, (a paying student) kept winning. Round after
round, they were bombarded with questions in addition, subtraction, multiplication
and division. Large schools as well as small and tiny schools dropped out
one by one, eliminated by questions that stumped their kids. Finally in
the last round, only 3 schools remained. All three received trophies. BLC,
this new contender, this underdog, that provides a "quality, Christian,
values-based education," gained even deeper respect for Christians
as we were handed the bronze award. Yes, more and more, people are seeing
that belief in Jesus really and truly does "add up!"
Please pray that on my upcoming trip to Aceh, Indonesia on 2/21-3/7, the dozen specialists on our humanitarian aid team will have opportunity to practice Christian developmental improvement in their infrastructure in the area of long-term mental and medical strength.
Present need: $127 for two new tires for our 20-passenger school jeepney.
|1/24/2005||“You passed!” Elvie turned the telephone away from her mouth and, with
tears of joy coursing down her face, uttered a deep sigh of relief. The
burden of BLC’s 2005 government evaluation was now lifted from her. Our
annual inspection is always an exciting time of triumph. Yet this year,
due to a mistake in our secretary’s paperwork, every aspect of our operation
was scrutinized with a fine-tooth comb. While we received a high overall
score, one result was eye opening: this year we included both 5th and 6th
graders for the first time. Thus our 6th graders were actually the product
of other schools. Comparing “our own” 4th graders to “other school’s” 6th
graders at BLC, “our kids’” scores were very superior, brightly outshining
the newcomers in every subject. This means that our teachers are some of
the most effectual and best qualified in all of Davao.
Please pray for our 6th graders (who came from other schools), who must take extra classes we are offering, to try and “catch up” with their studies so they can graduate. Graduation will be in late March. Also please pray for my plans and preparations to be complete for my upcoming trip to Aceh, Indonesia to provide tsunami humanitarian relief Feb 21-Mar 7.
Present need: $320 for supplemental study materials and overtime hours of BLC staff during the next 3 months to instill lacking knowledge in our 6th graders so they can graduate in March.
|1/15/2005||"Dear Jesus, help them think!" The prayer of 2-year-old play
schoolers, the youngest age group in BLC, joined all the other BLC students
in praying for our Sixth graders on their critical day. Due to a grievous
mistake in our school secretary's paperwork, BLC's sixth grade permit was
in jeopardy. The government representative came to inspect the entire school
and also to grill the sixth graders with a 2-hour comprehensive exam. "If
they fail, you fail. If even one student does not pass this exam, BLC's
permit will be revoked!" Thank you for YOUR prayers. This came upon
us so suddenly, that we could not inform all of our prayer warriors. But
in many Christmas cards you sent recently, you said that YOU pray for us
EVERY SINGLE DAY! Praise God for you! God answered! Although we will not
know the results of the 6th grade test for a few weeks yet, the new buildings,
vehicles, classrooms and paved roads that we have added to our campus since
their last visit, positively overwhelmed the inspector. Her parting words
rang in our ears as our hearts started beating normally again... "You
are doing a fantastic work here. You help the poor. You transform lives.
God is here. How could we possibly go against God's work? Nobody could do
this much with so little, except GOD!"
Please pray for one of BLC's neighbors. This part of Davao is proud to be the home of Barner Learning Center. But B.A. works at a casino in the evening and sleeps during the day. She is like Nehemiah's Sanballat and Tobiah; constantly complaining. She wears us out with her legal threats and bickering about ongoing construction, kids' noises, American colonialism and our workers who are digging out the canal to relieve the community of constant flooding. She is an unbeliever. Pray that B.A. gets saved. Please also pray for guidance for me (Paul) as I financially evaluate the possibilities of joining a 2-week tsunami relief team to one of the hardest-hit areas of Indonesia, in late February.
Present need: $450 for three sewing machines for our Home Economics class.
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2005!
"FREE FOOD!" BLC's administrator Dr. Ayoc attended a meeting as president of Davao Christian Leadership. The mayor's representative proclaimed, "The city will give out 2000 bags of food to poor Muslims to celebrate the end of Ramadan, and 5000 hot lunches of chicken, fish, rice and juice to the general poor to celebrate Christmas!" Catching the opportunity, Dr. Ayoc offered BLC's busses to transport the food. Armed with a megaphone, 6,000 Gospel tracts and four BLC faculty members, Ayoc turned relief into belief. In each of the poor squatter areas, the jeepney (bus) would stop. As lunches were received by dusty hands and dirty faces, thousands in rags crowded around the jeepney, receiving Gospel tracts for their hungry minds, food for their empty stomachs, and hearing Ayoc preach the Gospel, to fill their empty souls.
Please pray for our Tibunco/Communal outreach. We now have enough (30-40) newly-discipled believers there to begin Sunday worship services. They have already gained permission to use the local barangay hall. Pray for guidance as we train the leadership and church board.
Present need: $676 for insurance on our BLC vehicles for 2005.
August 22, 2012