Thursday, November 29, 2007

November 12

Last night I flew from Ilo Ilo to Manila and stayed at a hotel owned and operated by Christians. They’ve made it into a haven for believers to come and relax. When the taxi brought me through the flashing lights, honking horns and smog of Manila’s Airport area, into the compound, it was like entering a new world—peace and tranquility filled the place.

I slept well till 4:30 a.m. when I had to leave for Quezon City. Only specially licensed cars are allowed to drive in the 12 million people city between 6:00 and 10:00 a.m. so we had to get an early start to Baguio.

Pastors Val and Sally Chavez drove, as we wound our way through the province’s (we call it the country-side) small towns and rice farms to the 5,000 foot high mountains of Baguio. I love the drive—there are oxen pulling plows through the rice fields, fruit and vegetable stands and thousands of smoking motorcycles with side cars. (They call them tricycles, and although most are only 125cc engines, I’ve seen them carry up to 11 or 12 people.)

Along the way Pastor Val pointed out several Foursquare churches to me. We have scores of churches in the mountain region. Baguio is considered to be a resort town because of the cooler weather. I still wore short sleeves but many Filipinos were wearing ski jackets and toques.

The church was packed with about 200 pastors and leaders when I arrived and the atmosphere was thick with worshipful expectation on that first night of the Conference.

On Tuesday evening we were driving with Pastor Sam Pinzon, our host, toward the church and we noted how dark it was. He said that a truck had hit a power pole and knocked the power out a few hours earlier.

When we arrived at the pitch black church and walked in, the same 200 people were sitting quietly in their pews waiting for the service to commence. They seemed to hardly notice that there was no power for either lights or audio. One small candle burned in the entry.

“Are you okay to begin?” the pastor asked me. “We have a flashlight for you to read your Bible.”

I was ready, but asked if they could sing a song before we began. A gentle pastor stood in the darkness and began to lead the crowd in a worship song.

Within ten seconds of the worship the lights all clicked on! What an amazing demonstration of the Kingdom of Light invading the dominion of darkness—and it was my subject for the seminar!

We left Baguio by bus on Wednesday and headed back to Metro-Manila for the last of my venues. Arriving that evening, I entered the Capitol City Foursquare Church to find the large sanctuary packed with pastors and leaders ready to begin the seminar.

Capitol City Church is our largest in the Philippines. It is pastored by a dear friend of mine, Dr. Felipe Ferrez, who served as President before Pastor Val Chavez.

Because the church was to be celebrating their own 40th anniversary on Sunday, there was a strong sense of anticipation and joy among the hundreds of congregants. We had a wonder-full conference over the days that led up to the Sunday services. It was a delight for me to see Pastor Don McGregor (former missionary to the Philippines), who had been such an inspiration to me when I was a young Bible School student. It was he and Sally who’d introduced our home church to the revival that was taking place in the Philippines in the 1960’s. I still remember him speaking about the book “Fire in the Philippines” that recorded the miracles of that season of growth.

One of the highlights of my weekend was a four hour tour of a small church in the slums. This church, pastored by Evelyn Soriano is one of over a hundred that has been planted among the squatters of Manilla over the past years.

I got to visit a Barangay, walk through the muddy streets and speak to the congregation of about 50 impoverished worshippers. The town is built by the Manila garbage dump so you may be able to guess how it smelled in the sweltering heat.

The trade of many is to search the dump for scraps of plastic signs, sew them together and make tarpaulins to sell. They can make 1 or 200 pesos (about $3-$5) on a good day. Others collect plastic containers to trade for a few pesos.

Because their homes are built and furnished from whatever they can find for free, and their clothes are second-hand, the one basic need of everyone is enough rice to satisfy their hunger for one day.

It’s always hard to come back home to our relative wealth after a visit to the homes of the truly poor. I love my family and church, but I tend to leave a piece of my heart with my brothers and sisters in the Philippines. But the world I’ve been assigned to has its own needs—every bit as real as in other countries. This week, I’m back in my new office ready to face the challenges of life in our wonderful nation of Canada.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

November 11.

Today I enjoyed the privilege of speaking at Pastor Joemarie Sulmaca's church. He is the vice-President of the Foursquare Gospel Church of the Philippines. Restoration Life is a happening church. The worship was vibrant and celebrative so it made preaching easy. At least until the storm began! As I was just getting in to my hour long sermon (their service goes for 2 hours) torrential rains began to fall. The sound, because all the windows and doors were open, was thunderous. Thankfully the sound systems in the Philippines are always at full volume! But then the power blew! All the lights and amplifiers went out and there we sat under the shadows of the dark clouds and the stormy rainfall! Hardly able to make myself heard above the natural sounds outside I asked everyone in the large congregation to come as close as they could to the front of the church. When we attempted to close some doors to shut out the storm the congregation sweated profusely, so I was left with no choice except to yell like Moses speaking to the crowds of Israel! Finally after about a half hour, my voice was almost gone, but the lights went back on. What a welcome relief! Thank God for sound systems! I'm now at the Ilo Ilo airport set to fly to Manila. I'll meet Pastors Val (President of the FGCP) and Sally Chavez and we will drive about 8 hours north to Baguio. Baguio is one of the primary vacation destinations of the Philippines. It sits at a higher altitude and is therefore more cool than most cities. Most Vegetables, fruits and flowers, like ours in BC, come from Baguio. The weather forecast there also is heavy rains. Oh well I'll be inside the church from morning to night, praying that the power does not black out! I'll send some pictures later

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

November 15

Today I arrived in the Ilongo speaking city of Ilo Ilo (it means long nose) In this city also I have many friends. I met my hosts, Pastor Joemarie and Nora Sulmaca, on my first trip to the Philippines with Evangelist Don Schellenberg in 1998. This city is considered to be the Athens of the Philippines because it boasts 14 universities. The conference was packed with enthusiastic pastors and leaders who worshipped with great gusto! Again the seminars were action packed and very fun. We laughed till we cried many times. The days zipped by quickly. My time is fully occupied with ministry from about 6 am until 9 at night so other than to call Susan a couple of times a day I don't take personal time. Once I get in the zone I tend to stay there. I'm just finished speaking at this Conference now. (Saturday evening). After I give my Thanksgiving Sunday sermon tomorrow at Pastor Joemarie's church, I'll head for Manila to meet the president of the Philippine Foursquare Church at 6 am Monday. Val and Sally Chavez and I will drive about 6 hours north to get to Baguio for conference # 3. I've attached a few pictures of both the conference and the setting.

November 1, 2007

I left at midnight tonight for my annual pilgrimage to the Philippine Islands. I've been going there every year since 1998 to speak at Pastors Conferences for the pastors and leaders of our 2100 churches in the Philippines. Each year I travel to 2 or 3 venues to teach about pastoral leadership. Because of the 16 hour time change I left on Thursday and arrived on Saturday!. This year I am doing 4 Conferences. . After a brief visit to Cebu, I went to Davao where a strong group of pastors from our largest district registered. Because I've been to Davao in the Mindanou region so many times I have many friends there. My seminar this year was on How to Grow a Healthy Church. We had a wonderful time of learning and visiting together. Although I did teach morning, afternoon and evening I was able to pay a visit to a couple of squatter villages with one of the Bible college students. Its such an honor to walk through their mud streets and visit people in their shacks made of any scraps they can find. I am always greeted with smiles and invitations to eat or pray with them.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

November 1, 2007—The Philippines

Today I leave for my annual Pastors/Leadership Conference in the Philippines. After a brief visit to Cebu, I’ll lead training sessions for pastors in Davao, Iloilo, Baguio and Manila. Hopefully I’ll be able to forward some pictures as I go and keep my fellow bloggers updated on my adventure.

October 31, 2007

We spent our Hallowed Evening at our kid’s home, passing out treats and teaching our 6 grandchildren to share with Papa and Nana. Here’s a picture of our cute Ninja’s, Buzz Lightyear , Princess Belle and our Purple Fairy.

October 24, 2007

Last week was a busy, but very fulfilling week for our Foursquare Church in Canada. We held our National Convention at the Guildford Sheraton Hotel in Surrey, BC. The theme was the transition of leadership from Tim Peterson to me; and then the vision that I have for our next few years. If you are looking for audio and video of the week’s events, please check out in the next few weeks. These recordings will also be available from our National Office.

Most of our special music was from multi-cultural artists. We enjoyed Native, Chinese, Hindi, Spanish music plus two awesome musical dramas from the Northgate (Courtenay) Foursquare Master’s Commission