Introduction to the Philippines Missions work..…
My dream of working in the Philippines began October 2006 when I first went there to
meet Deborah. This was my first trip to the Philippines and I was only going there to plan our wedding but during that visit and the next couple of visits I had many opportunities to preach and visit prospects. I quickly feel in love with the Filipino people and I saw a great need for
A Little About us..…
Deborah and I were married on December 28, 2006 in Sogod, Southern Leyte, Philippines. We both grew up in Christian families. We were both taught that there is no greater calling in life than to serve the Lord our God with all our heart, mind and soul. We may have grown up in different cultures; on different continents but our hearts are still in the same place. Our only desire is to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to those who are lost.
Deborah was born November 11, 1980 in Bontoc, Southern Leyte Philippines. She is
the second of five children. Her whole life she was raised in a missionary family. Deborah has also been very active in helping spread the Word of God. She decided to take up nursing as a second major because she saw a real need to not only teach people about God but to also demonstrate God’s love through medical missions work. Her only desire is to help the Philippine people. After returning to the Philippines in 2012 she realize that while her nursing skills are a great asset to the work she could help even more people if she was a doctor. She is now finishing her 2nd year of medical school. Her dream is to someday be a missionary doctor.
I was born January 7, 1971 in South Bend, Indiana but I spent nearly 25 years in Alaska when I was growing up. I attended a Christian school through eighth grade. I later served in the United States Coast Guard and then the Army. The military helped me to see the world in a whole new way. It was at that time I decided I wanted to dedicate my life to helping others but it was not until almost 20 years later that I decided to attend Sunset International Bible Institute. At Sunset I meet a Filipino student who had come to America to study Bible. He introduced me to Deborah (who was still living in the Philippines). While attending Sunset I also learned about the desperate need for missionaries in Southern Asia; as a result, I left for Cambodia in May 2006 for a six-‐month missions trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In November 2006 I left Cambodia to go work with my soon to be father-‐in-‐law, Samson Octobre. I had planned to stay in the Philippines for at least two years but after much prayer and mediation Deborah and I felt God was calling us back to America for her to finish her nursing school.
Part-time Missions Work 2006 until May 2012..…
Leaving the Philippines was one of the hardest decisions either of us had ever made. To
Deborah, the Philippines was her home of 26 years. To me the Philippines was a country of 80 million lost souls desperately searching for God’s love. After we returned to America we still continued to support two full-‐time preachers in Southern Leyte. Later it became three. Through their efforts the Liloan Church was born and a year later the Hillian Church was born. They worked hard laboring for the Lord. Teaching the lost people about Christ. In 2007 Deborah and I returned to the Philippines for five weeks, in 2008 we returned for 8 weeks, in 2009 we returned for 6 weeks, in 2010 we ret rned for 7 weeks. During those trips we conducted gospel meetings and feeding programs.
In May of 2011 we returned to the Philippines to conduct a five-‐week working survey trip! During that trip we coordinated a three-‐day medical mission in which we treated more than 900 people and received request for more than 400 Bible studies. We conducted several gospel meetings and feeding programs and by December 2011 more than 30 had already responded to the gospel. We discovered what Jesus said was true, “The Harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few”. That trip set in motion our return for full-‐time missions work.
Full-Time Missions Work May 2012 to Present..…
Our focus has always been Church planting and church edification. We use many
techniques to help the work. We conduct medical missions, feeding programs, and gospel meetings; we pass out school supplies, conduct a yearly VBS and a family camp. All these are effective tools to open the door for evangelism. Since our work began here back in 2006 we have helped establish several churches in Southern Leyte, a church in Isabel, Leyte (March 2014), and one in Tagbilaran City, Bohol (September 2013). Our goal is not to just establish churches but to establish New Testament churches patterned off of the example we see in Acts. From May 2012 until November 2012 we worked in Southern Leyte but, in November 2012 we found out about the great need for workers in Bohol and we were asked to relocate to Tagbilaran City. We prayed about it and decided that was where God wanted us to be. When we first arrived in Bohol there where not any full-‐time preachers and the Sunday service averaged 18 to 20 people on a good day. We worked with that congregation for eleven months until we pulled out to plant a new congregation inside the City. When we left them they had three full-‐time preachers, an average attendance of 60 on Sunday, an active youth and mentoring program and they had started a campus ministry.
On September 2013 we held our first worship service with the Tagbilaran City (downtown) Church of Christ. Tagbilaran City has a population of over 100,000 and we are the only Church of Christ in the City. It’s been almost 18 months since our start and we are averaging around 50 to 60 members each Sunday. We have 1 full-‐time preacher and are actively searching for a 2nd full-‐time preacher. The Tagbilaran City congregation has also reached out to Loon, a small mountainous area about 45 minutes from the city. We started worshiping there January 2015 and our average attendance is 10 to 15 people.
For the past seven years we have been supporting three full-‐time Filipinos who preach and do evangelism. Last year we added a full-‐time preacher for the Tagbilaran congregation and in 2014 because of the workload we added one more full-‐time preacher for Southern Leyte, Leyte and Bohol. We now support a total of six full-‐time preachers. The church has grown during these past seven years and God is being glorified through the work.
This was the strongest earthquake in the Visas Region in over 100 years. The house we lived in was damaged but everyone was safe. In the town of Sagbayan the preacher’s home was totally destroyed and the chapel was damaged beyond repair. Reports continued to come in throughout the day of all the massive devastation. Entire villages and towns were in ruins. There was a shortage off food and clean drinking water and people needed immediate help. From October 17 until November 5 we spend every day except Sunday packing and passing out food, water, cloths, medicine, mosquito nets and candy to children. Most days we left at 6AM and didn’t get back to Tagbilaran City until after dark. We ate dinner with the volunteers, and rushed off to the store to buy more supplies before they closed. We spent many long nights packing. We usually finished packing around 9 or 10PM. During those two and a half weeks we passed food and relief to over 2,000 families, and water to at least twice that number. We provided tarps for shelter, clothing and mosquito nets. We were able to conduct many Bible studies and encourage many people through prayer. The death toll in Bohol from this earthquake reached close to 400 people. The damages were estimated to be over 90 million American Dollars. In the Philippines only the rich have insurance, government aid is almost none and what little aid is available is controlled by corruption and politics. The only help these people often get are from organizations. So when the Church reached out to help, the people where sincerely thankful. The Loon Church is a result of this outreach.
On November 5, just 2½ weeks after the great earthquake, news came in of a super typhoon heading towards the Philippines. The Philippines news reported a strong category 4 typhoon while the world news warned of possibly one of the strongest storms in history. By November 6 the Philippines finally upgrades their category to 5 but downplayed the severity of the storm. Because of this thousands of people lost their lives.
On November 7 thirty people from the Tagbiliaran City (Downtown) church came to our house in Bohol to take shelter. By midmorning Typhoon Yolanada gained power just before making first landfall in Eastern Samar and second landfall in Leyte.
Tacloban, a city of 250,000 people, not including the surrounding areas, was turned to ruins. 90% of the city totally destroyed. Power was lost in 60% of the Philippines and reports of massive devastation in Samar and Leyte where reported.
On November 8, the first pictures start coming in of the damage from the typhoon and storm serge. Tacloban City and other surrounding areas in Leyte look like a war zone. Thousands are already reported dead and the people begin to blame the government for downplaying the storm. There where reports of rapes, murders, militia groups and looting in Leyte. The government had no way to control the people.
On November 9 we tried to send the three preachers from Southern Leyte, Rey, Julito, and Neicing, to Tacloban with food and relief, but they could not get close to the city because of debris on the road. They left at 5am and got back to Sogod at 3am. This is a 3-‐hour trip, at most, each way on a good day. When they arrived home they reported seeing dead bodies everywhere they looked. It was hard to find the road in many areas because debris was everywhere. There was no way to take relief to victims by road or air. Many towns and cities where totally isolated, and there was no power and no communications with anyone inside the effected area. All we could do is pray for our brethren. We had no way to know their needs or their situation.
We have many brethren living in Leyte and Samar but it was not until November 10, three days after the storm, that we where finally able to visit a couple of the members in bothTacloban City and Ormoc City. Both areas suffered much damage. Many of our brethren lost their houses completely, many church buildings where lost completely and the few houses and church buildings that were not totally destroyed suffered massive damage.
This was a defining moment in our missions work. We came to the Philippines to plant churches and edify the Christians. We had never planned for anything like this and we where not prepared but, but God used our weakness to glorify His Church. The trip we made on November 10 turned into a yearlong relief effort and God did more in that year than any of us could have ever imagined possible. After Typhoon Yolanda left the Philippines I immediately returned from Bohol to Leyte to focus on the needs of our brethren. We had many friends and contacts in that area and they needed our help. We made immediate pleas to the brethren around the world for help and the Church united together worldwide in a way I have never seen before in my life. The meeting places may have been destroyed but the Lord’s Church was alive and well. To God be the Glory! Because of the generosity of our brethren throughout the world I was able to stay in Leyte full-‐time for almost nine months coordinating relief and outreach. More than 50% of our brethren lost their homes entirely and more than 85% suffered severe damage. When I went to Leyte our goal was not to just provide food and shelter; our goal was to encourage and strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ, to be a light into the community and to seek and save the lost. Everything we did was simple a tool to share the message of Christ to the world.
Many more were added to Christ through the efforts of the local brethren. A new congregation was planted in Isabel as a result of our outreach. The Church in Natubgan that was only 1 year old at that time Yolanda struck. They lost their building and many of the members lost their homes but this area saw enormous growth and they have since has gone on to start 2 more congregation with a 3rd one already in the works.
Anyone who is interested in helping our work or who would like to find out more about our work please contact either me or our sponsoring congregation. Currently we work with six congregations and six preachers in Leyte, Southern Leyte & Bohol, plus many other congregations in Leyte that we have been helping recover and rebuild after the typhoon. Our sponsoring congregation is the Boiling Springs Church of Christ 143 W. Hampton Ave., Spartanburg, SC 29306. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because of Christ,