Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays from PAFCOE!

Here is the Hargreaves holiday greetings letter!

Christmas in the Philippines!  This time of year, the familiar songs of Christmas are everywhere—the malls, the stores, the radio—but somehow “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” and “Jingle Bells,” seem out of place in the tropics.  The snowmen here are all made out of Styrofoam, and the only snow we’ve seen is a man-made winter scene outside an up-scale subdivision, where the snow is made from cotton!  The little kids love it, and imagine that winter is warm and cozy—like cotton.  Now, a week before Christmas, the only seasonal change is the clogged shopping malls, and traffic-jammed streets of Manila.  It’s a balmy 90 degrees—ah, Christmas in the tropics!

Looking back over 2014, we wonder for a moment what happened to the year.  Yes, the clock still ticks at the same speed that it always has, but somehow 2014 seemed to be set on “fast-forward!”  We rushed past a few milestones in the past twelve months though—Teresa turned 25 this year… and her parents turned… Well, we still don’t qualify for senior-citizen status yet, but with all the “perks” the Philippines offer to those 55 and above… it’s looking more inviting all the time!

The choir
Running PAFCOE (Philippine Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism) has kept us all running, sometimes literally, but the biggest milestone of the year was our 5th session graduation with Pastor Ted Wilson as graduation speaker.  Eighty-four students marched down the aisles of Manila Center Seventh-day Adventist Church, holding their Bible over their heart to show their commitment to God’s word.  Part of the AUP Ambassadors Choir together with a local choir, sang the Hallelujah Chorus for the processional.  The music itself was unforgettable!

5th session graduating class
Pastor Wilson preaching
Pastor Wilson shared how faithful laymen in other countries were witnessing for Christ, some in the face of great difficulties, and then challenged the PAFCOE graduates to “dream big” concerning what they might do for God.  It was truly a memorable “moment” to look back upon.

Personally, we were deeply impressed with Pastor Wilson and his wife Nancy.  Their humble leadership and genuine Christian witness are a testimony that probably has greater influence then their position.  We were also thrilled to see virtually every department of the church, from the GC and division levels, down to local churches, pastors, and laypeople, all working together in a combined effort to evangelize a major metropolitan area—Manila. 

HOPE Manila 2014, was a big event here in Metro Manila, and PAFCOE students and staff were fully involved.  Of the 120 some evangelistic sites around the metropolitan area, PAFCOE students and staff conducted 55 of them, bringing their interests together with many others for the mass-baptisms conducted during Pastor Wilson’s evangelistic series.  The final weekend of the event brought together nearly 10,000 Adventists from all the surrounding areas for a climactic evangelistic celebration. 

Uchee Pines Wellness Center patients and friends
June and July found us back in the States, “moving boxes” as we vacated our storage unit for a small storage shed among the pines on the property of Lowell’s father in southern Alabama.  Lowell spent two weeks in the Uchee Pines Wellness Center, recovering for a third relapse of pneumonia. 

In early August we were back in the sprawling megalopolis of Manila, and Lowell’s pneumonia symptoms returned.  He was impressed with a simple remedy, and amazingly after just three treatments, all symptoms disappeared, and he has remained healthy for the entire 6th session of PAFCOE.  Praise the Lord!

Now “batch 6” (as the sessions are called here) is finished and 54 more students in one of three different training programs, marched down the aisles on December 10 for their graduation.  The stories they brought back with them were truly inspiring. 
6th Graduating class
One iShare student went out after twelve Sundays of training in personal evangelism to do his OJT—a 26-topic, in-home Bible study series with no budget.  His group Bible study quickly grew to over 50 attendees, and when he finished, 35 were baptized!  He testified, “I never imagined that I could be an evangelist, but God has used even me.”

If you’ve not experienced the joy of soul-winning, why not pray that God will use you to win someone to Christ this next year.  God can use you too!

To those of you who have helped to sponsor the work of evangelism here in the Philippines, a warm (tropical) “Maraming Salamat Po” – Thank-you very much!  Well over 1,300 people have been baptized here in the Philippines this year as the result of your prayers and support for the PAFCOE School of evangelism here. 

To read more inspiring stories from PAFCOE students, visit the other posts on this blog.

During this holiday season, PAFCOE and our family extend to you our “best wishes” for the holidays and the coming New Year!  May God help each of us to be ready for Christ’s soon return, and to do all that we can to hasten that event.  God bless you!

Happy holidays from the Hargreaves!
Michael, Dad (Pastor Lowell), Mom (Sandra) and Teresa