Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked around me in the sanctuary at all God had accomplished in thirty years of OMS ministry in the Philippines. Hundreds of Filipino voices joined in celebrating and worshipping. There on my left was Pastor Roehl, one of the early converts, who was now the President of Faith Evangelical Church of the Philippines (FECP). He hugged me as we sang together. Up on stage was Pastor Eniong who took my place as Senior Pastor of Faith Fellowship church. He and his wife, Sandra, were leading all the people in incredible worship. Behind me I saw other leaders, pastors, dear friends, and beloved church members each with a unique and wonderful story of God’s grace in their life. Hundreds more I didn’t know were there, brought by the same God who had brought the others. My heart swelled with praise and thankfulness because of the movement that was now bigger than me or OMS. I thought how privileged Kim and I had been to be a part of the story of FECP for twenty of the thirty years of its existence. I was also thankful for the other OMS missionaries who had had a part as well. It was most exciting to think not of the past, but the future. The foundation had been laid. Filipinos are now leading their own churches and ministries and reaching their own people. I can’t wait to see what God does in another thirty years! It was truly a great 30th anniversary celebration for FECP in the Philippines last December.
On my trip, I was also able to visit the ministry to the typhoon affected areas in Tacloban, Leyte. Pastor Willy and Vicky Galzote have already started seven house churches, have helped more than 100 people put roofs on their homes, and have started micro-finance projects in three areas to help the people begin businesses so they can rebuild their lives with dignity. Many have met Jesus for the first time. Leaders are being raised up and equipped to reach their neighbors with the Good News! It is amazing to see what God has accomplished in one year. Keep praying for them all. While I was still in the Philippines another typhoon hit near Tacloban although it was not as strong. Many of the people are still experiencing post-traumatic stress and are afraid every time it rains hard.
It is always a joy to return to the Philippines, but the trip in December will probably be my last for a while. I stepped down from leadership of the field on December 31. I did this to allow Filipino leadership to continue to develop, strengthen, and fully rely on God. They are doing so well and I am proud of them. We still love the Filipino people, but God is moving Kim and me in new directions.
During all those years in the Philippines, God equipped us for this next step in our lives and ministry. Kim has begun serving at our church here in Charlotte, though she is still an OMS missionary. For me, that step is much more global in scope than the Philippines. It involves training future missionaries and leaders for ministry around the world. Recently, I was invited to become involved in the Center for Intercultural Training (or CIT). CIT equips missionaries from many different missionary organizations in pre-field language and culture learning. For the last four weeks, I have been observing the training sessions at their headquarters near Charlotte. I have been so blessed to see 28 young missionaries—both families and single—who are just about ready to go to the mission field become equipped for successful ministry in countries like Ethiopia, Thailand, India, Guatemala, and Honduras, among others. I am so challenged to think of being able to have an impact on what God is doing around the world through many different missions and missionaries since CIT is a partnership of mission organizations. Along with teaching missions to seminary students in OMS’ Theological Education department, I will become a facilitator for CIT, and possibly have a leadership role in it as well at some point in the near future. All of this will be done as an OMS missionary, so we still need your financial support and prayers. Nothing changes in terms of our financial support. If you would like to know more about C.I.T. you can check out their website at www.cit-online.org. I will be telling you more about CIT in future letters, but I wanted to let you know so you can be praying with us.
One final thing. We are trying to be more efficient in our communication and would like to send out more email updates than printed ones. This will save us money in printing and mailing costs, and keep you updated more frequently but we need your email address. Would you please do us a favor and send us your email address? You can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up on this website for our e-letters. We will put you on the e-list and you will begin receiving our email updates. Thanks so much!
Thank you for your partnership in our growing world-wide ministry! We count on your prayers and support to be able to serve the Lord. This month, we are praying Philippians 1:3-6 for you: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”.
Blessings in Jesus!