Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy New Year!

Here's another update from Dad:

Happy New Year from PAFCOE!  We invite you to visit our website, to see what is happening with Amazing Fact’s Schools of evangelism in the Philippines. Yes, schools is plural because God has opened the way for AFCOE to have two schools in the Philippines—one in Iloilo City in the center of the archipelago, and one in the heart of the sprawling city of Manila.  The school in Iloilo City will be a continuation of the school that we established last year.  Manila will be a new AFCOE school, hosted at the Manila Center SDA Church.

But stepping back for a moment into the events of last year, come with me again to the hovels of Barrio Obrero.  Our students began working there in August of 2012.  The PAFCOE training begins with two weeks of Literature Evangelism practicum each afternoon.  Early in the first week, students memorize and practice their canvases in class, and by the middle of the week, they are on the streets selling books.

Near the end of the first week of our fall session at PAFCOE, Flora Mae and Flordelyn, two student partners, knocked on the door of a home near to the covered gym which would later become the hub of our evangelistic outreach to that barangay(district).  An older woman hobbled to the door with a cane.  The girls greeted her and launched into their canvas.  But the poor old woman had little money. 

As they talked, the girls learned that the lady’s name was Maria.  Maria had suffered a stroke recently, and was partially paralyzed on her left side.  Since both girls had been through a medical-missionary training program prior to attending PAFCOE, they offered to come give Maria treatments in her home.  Thus began a friendship between this old woman and our two young students.  Each week, they would visit Maria and give her hydrotherapy and massage treatments. 

Later when we began our evangelistic series in Barrio Obrero, Maria was on the front row with her two new friends—the PAFCOE students!  The girls introduced her to me as a contact that they had met during outreach.  They told of how they had been giving her regular treatments.  As I shook Maria’s hand, she gave me a broad, nearly toothless smile, and told me in broken English how happy she was that the girls were visiting her.

Maria never missed a meeting from then on.  Each day, she would come slowly walking down the street with her cane to the covered gym, dragging her partially paralyzed left leg.  Near the end of our meetings, the girls informed me that Maria wanted to be baptized, but not in Barrio Obrero.  Her husband, a devout Catholic, was strongly opposed to her joining the Adventist Church, so she wanted to be baptized somewhere further away where she would not have to fear her husband’s opposition. 

We made arrangements for Maria to be baptized a month later in a baptism that we held on the south end of the city, about a half-hour drive from Barrio Obrero.  It was a Sabbath-afternoon beach-baptism.  Maria, with a helper on each side, slowly made her way out into the quiet waters of the sea.  Together with seventeen others, she took her turn to be buried in baptism.  On the shore, Flora Mae and Flordyln beamed with joy as they watched the fruits of their evangelistic labors.

It was Maria who said to me at the end of our evangelistic series in Barrio Obrero, “Pastor, God sent you here.  Of all the places in the Philippines that you could have gone, and of all the barangays in Iloilo that you could have held meetings, God directed you to Barrio Obrero so that we could learn the truth!”

Another “older” person that our male students worked with was a man we’ll call “Frank” (his Filipino name failed to stick in my memory).  Frank was baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist at the age of ten, but wandered away from religion in his early teen years.  He had been away from the church for nearly 60 years.  When our PAFCOE students met him, and learned of his history, they invited him to attend the evangelistic series and return to the Adventist church.  Frank came, and was another faithful attendee that didn’t miss a meeting.  

A quiet man who was missing all of his teeth, Frank spoke little English.  When I would greet him after the meeting at the entrance to the gym, he would give me a toothless grin and a warm handshake, and say something akin to “farewell.” Since we had an on-stage translator, and since our PAFCOE students sat with him, I never had to worry concerning his comprehension of the message.

At the end of the series, Frank happily rejoined the Seventh-day Adventist church family and was rebaptized after being out of the church for nearly 60 years!  He is now a part of the new church being established in Barrio Obrero.

On the other side of the time-span from Frank and Maria, were the many children and youth baptized at the conclusion of the evangelistic series.  April, a sixteen-year-old street girl, was one of them.  We’ll tell you about her and the other “street kids” that came to the children’s evangelistic series in Barrio Obrero in our next report. Till then, Happy New Year, and thank you for your support!

Your friends,

Pastor Lowell & family & the PAFCOE staff