Peace and blessing to you all from the Philippine Islands! I just wanted to share what has been one of the most exciting few weeks of ministry in my entire four year stint here in the mission field. As most of you are aware, my family and I relocated to the greatly feared Island of Mindanao to help start a school that would train pastors, evangelists, and laity to minister effectively among the Muslim community both here and abroad.
I’m sure you’re also aware of the fact that Mindanao is ground zero for Muslim ministry in the country, and the Philippines is geographically located at the center of the largest population of Muslim countries in the world! What many do not know is that only 20% of Muslim’s actually live in the Middle East. Indonesia is actually the largest majority Muslim country in the world with Malaysia also being high on that list. Both of these countries being only a small distance from Mindanao, thus making the location of our school a strategic one.
The first week of February my colleague Asif (the Turkish Muslim/Adventist) flew into Mindanao to be the keynote speaker for a week of prayer at an Adventist institution in a majority Muslim city on the island. I was there to pick him up and drive him to the venue and assist him for the week. What we did not learn until our arrival was that this week of prayer was to be attended by 300 Muslim students that attend the Collage. We we’re excited at the prospect, and Asif quickly enlisted my assistance as a speaker. We soon learned that this would be no easy week. It became very clear by hour two that these students we’re not thrilled to be required to sit through a Christian week of prayer in an Adventist Chapel setting. I praise God as to how He lead Asif and I as the week went on, and we we’re privileged to witness a 1400 year old wall of prejudice and misinformation come tumbling down!
Another amazing detail to this week of prayer, was the Adventist’s that also chose to sit in and listen to our presentations. The president of the Hospital/Collage was so intrigued by our approach that he sat in on almost every meeting. He also phoned a mission president from one of the most dangerous and radical Muslim provinces in Mindanao (one often & recently featured in the news). That mission president also traveled over and sat in on one of our lectors as well. As a result of God’s Spirit and power, a great evolution of thinking accrued during this week of prayer that ended with these Muslim student lavishing us with love and gifts that I will not soon forget. I have never been so graciously rewarded by any group of people after such a short time of knowing them. Plans we’re also laid by the leadership of the Hospital/Collage for our team to return and engage in a training program for their entire staff with our Gospel delivery system.
The following week Asif and I traveled on to our school in Cotabato Province for another two weeks of A.M.R. training (our 4th class since Feb. of 2013) where we we’re joined by Stephen Dicky (our chief instructor). We we’re amazed to discover that 9 of our students we’re the mission president, before mentioned, and eight of his local pastors! We spent the next two weeks sharing the amazing truths that God has revealed to our team, and a delivery system that has previously never existed in the Adventist community. A system that allows our message to be given to the Muslim, in a non-prejudicial way that has begun to bare wonderful fruit in this country. This class we we’re also able to speak with confidence and experience, because of the powerful testimonies that have begun to flood in from our 120 graduates from the previous classes! God is truly taking His work into in own hands, and it’s thrilling to be watching from a front row seat!
Just a couple days before the graduation of our 4th class (bringing our total to 139 students trained), I received an email from the director of World Missions at the Southern Asia Division of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, inviting me and Stephen Dicky to come to Manila for a meeting. A ticket was purchased and away we went to meet with our local Division leadership. To my great surprise not only did we meet with a Division leader, but also two leaders from the General Conference as well? They explained that they had just met with some leaders from the Church in Indonesia, Malaysia, and a couple other Southeast Asian countries, and had discussed options for training denominational workers that are currently (or will be in the
future) deployed in Muslim dominant areas. Our school became the focus of that conversation, and appears that a decision has been made to try and endorse our school at the Division and at the G.C. level! Naturally we are very excited at this development, so I would like to ask all of you to pray for me, and our team, like you have never prayed before! How does a small town Tennessee boy (two truck drivers and a barber) with no formal education get an invitation to teach pastors and seminary scholars? Only the God of Abraham, Issac, & Jacob could answer such a mystery? I have discovered that working for Muslim’s is a lonely work. It is terribly underfunded, and often very controversial, but how will we ever get home, (to Heaven), if the 1.5 Billion Muslim’s are not given the Three Angel’s Message? The Scripture seems clear….”Mat 24:14 and this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” So, it appears I must press forward in faith, believing that God will perform what He has purposed to do! I would like to thank all of you that have supported me and our family in this work…please continue to pray for us, as I have become very busy with this work and more travel will be required. Pray for our safety and that of my family that must often stay behind. God bless us all as we prepare to meet our God!