Rev Dr Jose Lagapa
It has been a prayer of the previously known Filipino Bible Fellowship (FilBF) to reach out to Filipino countrymen in the northern part of the country. Churches and Bible Fellowships are already planted in the southern island of Mindanao (Bukidnon) and the central region of Visayas (Bohol and Cebu). As there are Filipinos hailing from Luzon who attend the fellowship and one became a member last year, the burden to start work in Luzon grew stronger. Luzon, by the way, is the largest island of the Philippine archipelago and is inhabited by more than 50 percent of the country’s total population of 110 million.
The Lord prepared the way by the vision of the RPG Tagalog translation which was finally printed in 2022. Tagalog is the main language spoken on the northern island. Then, the Lord by His providence brought in the right people in His ways, to pave the way for this trip. Dr Ronan Zagado, a researcher working with Philippine Rice Research Institute in Nueva Ecija is worshipping online with True Life BPC since the pandemic started in 2020. Dr Amor San Juan, a professor at Central Luzon State University (CLSU) enrolled in FEBC online classes starting in 2021. In July 2022, Bro Ricardo Mejedo, appeared from nowhere to study at FEBC. In November 2022, Dr Amor requested a gospel preacher to share the Word of God with her farm workers. Bro Ricardo was sent not only to attend to the request but also to reach out to his relatives in Urdaneta, Pangasinan, and Santa Fe, Nueva Vizcaya. In December, a Webinar was organised to get students from CLSU but it did not get their attention. I believed it was for Dr Amor to be grounded in the Bible-Presbyterian faith. It was then decided that worship service meetings should be started at least once a month in a central location to the above-mentioned places. The date set was January 22, 2023.
The team composed of my wife Celeste and myself with Bro Ricardo flew from Singapore to Clark International Airport via Scoot airlines at 3:30 pm on January 20. Clark is the nearest airport to the target provinces. We arrived around 8 pm and proceeded immediately to Urdaneta, Pangasinan which is the place of Bro Ricardo’s father and siblings. A follow-up Gospel meeting was conducted in the house of Bro Ricardo’s father where I preached a message “Come Unto Me” taken from Matthew 11:25–30. Around 10 adults attended the meeting and around 10 children were ministered to by my wife.
After the fellowship lunch, we traveled more than 3 hours up north to Santa Fe, Nueva Vizcaya. This is the hometown of Bro Ricardo and his wife’s relatives. Another follow-up Gospel meeting was conducted at Bro Ricardo’s home with more than 20 adults and young people attending at 7–8:30 pm. The message was “Enter Ye In” (Matthew 7:13–27) as some of them claim to be Christians already. We stayed overnight in the cold Santa Fe which was probably below 20 degrees Centigrade.
Early in the morning at around 6:30, we left off Santa Fe, Nueva Vizcaya towards the southwest which is the neighbouring province of Nueva Ecija. We arrived before 10 am in time for the Inaugural Service of the True Life BPC Luzon Missions. The venue was quite special because we found it only the day before with the help of Dr Ronan. It was in Plaza Leticia Restaurant in Cabanatuan City, the largest city of Nueva Ecija. The worship service was conducted from 10:30 am to 12 noon. The message was “God’s Word Is Truth” taken from John 17:13–19, where I highlighted also the distinctive of the Bible Presbyterian faith. The worship was attended by those who were in the gospel meetings the days before, from Urdaneta, Pangasinan, and Santa Fe, Nueva Vizcaya. There were also friends of Dr Zagado from Nueva Ecija who joined. The service was followed by a buffet lunch.
Bro Ricardo left in the afternoon to catch the flight back to Singapore on the night of January 22. My wife and I stayed back to fellowship with her younger brother Dr Ronan to encourage him in the faith. Coming from a charismatic background he had many questions and he desired that he and others can be ministered to regularly. We also found out that he had not yet undergone water baptism. We also had a memorable time getting in touch again with my schoolmates from Hokkaido University more than 20 years ago. They are now working in CLSU and they heard the gospel when we were yet in Japan. Lord willing they can be followed up also.
My wife and I left Clark at about 8 pm on January 23. We look forward to going back to the place to strengthen the believers and follow up with those who have heard the good news of salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. I truly believe it is the Lord’s opening of the door. No man manipulated these events except God who moved and brought in people, arranged the events, and gathered a flock to minister in the northern part of the Philippines called Luzon.
We thank God for the core group whom the Lord brought together to be part of His work in Luzon. May the Lord continue to guide us in this missions work! Below from left is Bro Ricardo and wife, Jonalyn, Dr Amor San Juan, my wife and I, and Dr Ronan Zagado at the rightmost side.
To God be all the glory and honour!
Rev Zhu Jianwei
Thank God for saving Mr Tan Kwee Peow. Mr Tan is a resident in St John’s Home. He is 85 years old. The Lord is gracious to him, and gave him the gospel through the preachers who go to St John’s Home. The Lord convicted his heart, and he acknowledged that he is a sinner, and sought the Lord for salvation. By God’s grace, he has received the Lord Jesus as his personal Lord and Saviour, and is attending the fellowship meeting conducted in St John’s Home every Tuesday. Here is his testimony, “Jesus is God and He came to save me. Jesus saves me and so I can go to heaven. Only Jesus can save me. I believe that Jesus saves me and so I want to be baptised. I know that baptism cannot save me, because only Jesus is able to save me. Jesus came to die for my sins, and he also resurrected. Jesus saved me and one day I can also be resurrected. Jesus is my God and lives in my heart. My heart is peaceful, and now I can be baptised. Thank the Lord.”
During one of the visits, I had a conversation with him after the fellowship meeting, and thought to encourage him. He expressed his desire for baptism. I was very happy to hear that. Truly it is the Lord who works in his heart. Sis Jenny Kan helped to contact Mr Tan’s family members through St John’s Home to tell them of Mr Tan’s desire to be baptised. His family members were happy to hear that, though they are still unbelievers. We pray for the salvation of his family members.
Sis Jenny arranged with the St John’s Home for the baptism service. The management of St John’s Home were very helpful in the arrangement. They arranged the worship hall for the baptism service. It was nice and beautiful.
The baptism service was conducted on 10 January 2023. It started at 10am, and about 30 people attended the service. I preached from Mark 16:14–16. The focus is on verse 16, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Sis Jenny interpreted the message into English. I pray that more will come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ just as Mr Tan because only Jesus saves. He is “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus has borne all our sins, and through Him all our sins can be forgiven. He can give us a new life, an eternal life.
The baptism for Mr Tan was conducted after the message. I thank God for Elder Tan Nee Keng who assisted me with the baptism. Mr Tan’s son-in-law also attended the service. He is not a believer, but he testified to us that his father-in-law has truly changed a lot after his conversion. The Lord lives in his heart, and he is very joyful. We pray that the Lord will move his daughter and son-in-law, that they will come to believe in the Lord Jesus soon.
Thank God for the baptism service. All glory be unto Him.
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