Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Reaching your family for Christ! (OJT Report, part 6)

Kevin's family
The desire of Kevin, our outreach coordinator was to conduct an evangelistic meeting in his home town on the island of Cebu.   Why? Because he wanted his family to hear all the truths of God’s word (his parents were just nominal SDAs).  But he especially hoped his younger brother would surrender his heart fully to Jesus through baptism. Through some miraculous circumstances, God arranged so Kevin could do his OJT in his hometown. The following story is what God did to help him fulfil one of his dreams.

Before the last session had started, Kevin had already made contact with one of the district pastors in the southern part of the city for the possibility of holding a seminar in one of his churches. The Pastor referred Kevin to one of his churches for an option.

Kevin became so excited about the possibility of holding his evangelistic seminar in Cebu at last! Soon, he came to PAFCOE to continue being the outreach coordinator and because he could not be in Cebu, he asked a friend to serve as his representative and attend the prospective church’s board meeting.

But during the board meeting, the usual common excuses for not holding a seminar in a church came up – “this meeting is too long”; “we don’t have the needed funds,”  and many other reasons. Kevin was disappointed to hear this, but as the outreach coordinator, he understand that actually this was nothing new.

Speaking of the situation, he said, “I recalled the academy where I graduated and immediately made contact with the church pastor and the principal. The pastor was very excited and the principal said he would forward the letter I sent him to the church board. I kept on praying for the meeting to be approved. However, 6 weeks before OJT, I got the response. The board said that the meeting will be too long, and that they don’t have enough time to prepare for the meeting because the teachers will be going on a tour. I was so disappointed. I thought, ‘How can God help me and the staff decide where to send our students for OJT when I can’t even get my own site confirmed? It seems as if He does not care. I have only 2 weeks before we have to print the flyers and tarpaulins/banners.’

“I was so disappointed! Because of some last minute changes on some student’s OJT sites and the resulting headaches, I decided to let Pastor Lowell choose where I would go. After considering the options, he decided to send me to Cavite.” Remember Cavite and Erme Jun? Keep that mind as we’ll come back to that in just a minute.

Back to Kevin: “When I heard Pastor Lowell’s decision, I accepted it as he had been so patient with me already. Soon after as I was allowing one of our students from Cebu recheck the site details before sending it to the printing press the following week, I told her  that I was glad she would be preaching in Camotes Island (a part of the Cebu) and that maybe it was not yet my time to preach in Cebu City. Then suddenly, she told me that she knew someone who might be able to help me! I got the number and gave him a call.

“The person on the phone sounded very positive and said he would present it to the church board. This was just 4 weeks before OJT and at the back of my mind was this, “What church in Cebu City would accept to hold a 4 week evangelistic series on a very short notice and with very little preparation time?” I actually just wanted to hear another church say “no” just to confirm in my mind that Cebu is not for me.  And a miracle took place!

“The church agreed! They told me that they need a seminar like this and they already have some money for evangelism! The youth were willing to help out for assistance and this church was only 5 minutes walk away from my family’s house!”

But what about his schedule for Cavite? God had other plans!

Kevin said, “Hesitating, I humbly approached Pastor Lowell to tell him that I had just found a church that was very willing to hold an evangelistic series in Cebu. I asked him to decide for me what to do because I knew it would hard to find a replacement for me to go to Cavite since this was last minute already. Plus I knew that several of the other site speakers would have to change if I could not go to Cavite. So I told him that I was happy to go to either Cavite or Cebu. I would accept wherever he would decide.”

Just that day, Pastor Lowell called up Erme Jun to see if he would be available. Click here for more about that amazing story of how God worked it out for Erme Jun to come! Because his previously scheduled seminar in Estancia, Iloilo had just been cancelled, Erme Jun agreed. So Pastor Lowell told Kevin that he was free to go to Cebu!  Speaking of it, Kevin said, “It was just a great miracle! I got my new OJT details sent to the printing press just in time!” God knew all about it and worked everything out!

Since his site was located in Cebu (in central Philippines), it was also affected by the super-typhoon who came through on November 8, 2013. Despite the storm, everyone was safe and the church where they were to hold the seminar was not damaged. Because of a city-wide blackout, the first night was postponed until the following day.

On Sabbath morning, the optimistic church decided even though there was still no electricity, they would start the seminar that night. Kevin said, “God allowed His message to be heard, even though the devil did his utmost best to hinder the work.”

So that’s just what they did!  Though there was no electricity, Kevin preached about Daniel 2 and Jesus is coming soon! All he had to use was a white board, a marker, a candle, two not-so-bright emergency lights and a handheld flashlight.

Describing the situation, he remarked: “It was really tough! [Remember, there was no power, so a projector could not be used.] I needed to draw the image of Daniel 2 and include all the necessary details for the people to understand. I had never done this (drawing) before, but I believe it served its purpose.”

You can’t let the devil win! If there’s no power for a projector, use a whiteboard and illustrate the sermon that way! It works!

He continued, “With the absence of electricity, I needed to amplify my voice naturally. I really don’t know what happened, but I was able to hear myself as well as if I was using a complete sound system! But what I really praise God the most for is that after each meeting, I did not even feel like getting a sore throat or like losing my voice! God will always prevail no matter what the situation may be! I have learned that if God wants it to happen, He will make it happen!”

Though there was no power, still the people came to hear the word of God! After 2 nights in the dark, the electricity was restored, making it much easier to preach God’s truths. Also more and more church members began attending, along with the regular visitors. Many of the attendees were older people and as Kevin put it, “It was such a joy to see those quivering aged lips whisper praises to the Lord after each meeting and nothing could compare with the shake of those wrinkled hands.”

But what brought Kevin the most joy was to see his dream fulfilled of seeing his whole family attend the seminar each night! Speaking of his family, he said, “The nightly attendance of my whole family gives me so much joy! It has always been my dream that my family would be able to hear all the truths that I know and God made a way for that! My younger brother (age 13) comes home early after school each day and listens attentively night after night. I praise God exceedingly to see the messages of the Bible being retained in his young mind! Also my mother was so excited about the seminar that she invited other relatives to come, too and they did!

Every night, he continued preaching and during the 3rd week on the topic of the true church, he shared an inspiring experience:

“During the altar call I made last Friday, I was so inspired to see my brother coming down to the front [to show his desire to be baptized into God’s true church].  Some of the people I least expected also came forward. Old and young responded to God’s call and I am so inspired in thinking of how the Holy Spirit can speak through me, despite my weaknesses and faults. Also I was so inspired because I heard my mother tell others that she will now follow God’s principles and not eat the things God forbids. These words coming from my mother are truly a miracle! Praise the Lord!”

God can use the life that we live for Him to be a testimony to others for what He can do through them, too. Kevin said, “One of my high-school classmates came to the meeting during the last Sabbath I was there and I recognized her. When I got up to preach the last message, her eyes grew big in shock as she stared at me. She had not recognized me until the church elder leaned over and told her who I was. After my sermon, the elder’s son (also one of my classmates before) and the other lady came up to me and recalled all the stories and experiences of how different I was before during those days. I shared with them how God led me to a new life despite all the things I did before.”

Through the preaching God’s word, that church was revived. Kevin was filled with joy to hear and feel the thankfulness of the church for the preaching of the Bible that led them into so many truths they had never clearly understand or even known before.

But the greatest experience that took place during Kevin’s seminar is best described in his own words:
“No other thing can fill my heart with joy than to see my younger brother with his heart full of love for Jesus being baptized! He had made his decision after hearing all the messages God intended him to learn by using me – his brother! Oh, how glorious it was to see my brother leave his old life behind and live in the newness of life with Jesus! Though my brother was only 13, he had faithfully attended every night and sat on the front row with a heart full of interest in the presentation. Every time I made an appeal, my heart thrilled to see him raise his hand in response.

“After his baptism, I greeted my brother with a huge hug, tears wetting my eyes. My mission for coming to Cebu was fulfilled! My whole family heard God’s Word and others were also baptized with my brother to show their love for Jesus. It had been my constant prayer for my family to hear the all great truths of the Bible. I learned that God truly answers prayers!

He added: “Your family is a very workable field for you to labor in. Seek to reach them for Christ before it is too late. Pray earnestly and God will help you find ways to bring them to Him.”

There were so many blessings that came as a result of Kevin’s seminar! The church was greatly revived, the conference learned more about PAFCOE, his family heard the whole message, his brother was baptized and he was given an opportunity to share more to that church and even to the surrounding churches.

So just a few weeks ago, Kevin was the speaker for a 10 hour Equipping Seminar for the Cebu City Association of Churches with an average of 70 people attending each day from the nearby churches and some from even distant ones. He said, “It is my desire that the little flame kindled in that little church would blaze higher and higher and light all other SDA Churches in the City on fire to work for the Lord. In the seminar, I taught the people how to study the Bible and follow the Spirit of Prophecy, how to make a sermon and how to preach, and how to give a Bible study. The attendees were so thankful for all that they have learned and are very excited to start sharing God’s word. Now there is an army of people equipped and ready to share God’s word in Cebu. Now, I can do my work in Manila with peace of mind knowing that seeds have been planted and the work of the gospel can go forward even faster in my hometown. Praises and Glory be to God Almighty!”

What a joy to have God answer your prayer and dream to be the instrument God will use to bring your family to Jesus! Never think that it’s hopeless to work for your family. God might want to use you – yes, you to reach them for Him!  If you have family members who are not in God’s true church and you are, pray and ask God what you can do to work for them. He just might answer your prayer by using you!

More stories are coming soon!