Monday, January 28, 2013

New students!!

As I sit in the upstairs room of the Manila Center Seventh-Day Adventist Church and listen to my father (the PAFCOE director) teaches our new group of students, my heart fills with happiness and gratefulness to our heavenly Father!

This is only the beginning of our session and yet I feel like saying with David, "The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad." 

Yesterday, we started classes here in Quezon City (the northern part of Manila) with about 35 students. They have come from all over the Philippines - from the northern part of Luzon, to the southern part of Mindanao and some from even farther - like our dear friend from Ghana and others. Many of them are from the Metro Manila area and each of them have a special story about what God has done to bring them here.

Here is one:

Last night, after our meeting in our Week of Prayer, Emily* and I were talking together. She told me that she had heard about PAFCOE from one of our previous graduates, who told her all about it and encouraged her to attend, so she visited our website to check out more about our program.

Then she considered her finances and realized that her money was insufficient to pay for her tuition fees and began praying that if God wanted her to come, He would provide for her. She saved everything she could, and planned to attend - whether she had the full amount or not.

Then two days before she arrived here at PAFCOE, an unexpected phone call came in. It was an old friend and during the conversation, she was told that whatever she was lacking to pay her tuition, the rest would be paid! She was so delighted and thanked God for showing her so clearly to attend this program. She added that she was so excited to learn more about how to work for God!

Praise God for Emily and all the others who have chosen to step out by faith and learn how to work for others!

Thank you for your prayers and we will add more stories soon! :)

*To protect her identity, I have used a false name.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Showing God's love to street kids...

Here is an update Dad wrote:

April was an attractive girl who introduced herself to us when we were setting up for the Health Expo in Barrio Obrero.  She had grown up too fast for her age, and although only sixteen, she carried herself like a “twenty-something” intent on being attractive to the opposite sex.  Beneath the bold forwardness of her conduct however, was the young tender heart of a child, and an openness to the leadings of God’s Holy Spirit.  Although she looked like an adult in many ways, April chose to attend our children’s program.

During the Barrio Obrero evangelistic series, part of our students worked with us in the adult meetings, and part helped in the children’s meetings.  Sandra and Teresa lead out in an evangelistic series tailored just for children, conducted in a large room behind the main hall.  Because Barrio Obrero is a “low-class” area, most of the nearly 100 children who showed up were “street kids.”  These were children who spent most of their life on the streets of the district, playing and getting into mischief.  They were used to getting yelled at, both at home and on the street.  Most were dirty, loud, and unruly.  Home for many of them, was a place to avoid except at mealtime and when sleeping.

During the first couple nights in the children’s meetings, it was nearly impossible to get a group of that size and character under control.  The noise in the room was almost deafening.  The PAFCOE students were assigned to various groups of children to help keep order.  However, the students were reluctant to get too close to the children.  These kids had lice; they were dirty, and some had sores on their bodies.

Sandra, decided that rather than being the program’s “police-woman” she would try a different approach.  What these “street-kids” needed was LOVE.  Most received none at home, and hardly knew what real affection was.

On the third day of the meetings, Sandra and Teresa decided to lead the PAFCOE students by example, and sit in the middle of a group of children.  Accordingly, when they were not leading out with a part of the program, Sandra and Teresa took a group of children (each child was assigned to sit in a group when they registered for the program), and sat down in the middle of them.  The most misbehaved children they would put their arm around and have sit beside them or on their lap.  The PAFCOE student helpers followed suit, sitting in the middle of their groups, with an arm around one or two children and often one on their lap.

The effect was almost magical!  These children were craving affection, and to be able to sit beside a “teacher” with the teacher’s arm around them, or on the teacher’s lap, was a prized experience.  It had a calming effect upon the entire group.  Never mind that we had to use the “lice comb” every day to make sure we didn’t receive the crawling itch!  Our students quickly became “big brother” or “sister” to children who were starving for love, and bonds of friendship were established that will last for eternity.
April is an example.  Ever ready to help where needed, April was an asset in children’s program at the beginning.  The street children all seemed to know her, and since her father was the local policemen, April commanded a certain respect among them.  Not only did she help where she could, she absorbed the truths of the Bible that had been simplified for the children. 

April in her baptismal robe with a little friend.
April never missed a night, and when the call was made for children and youth to make a decision for baptism, she was the oldest of the children to make a commitment.  She was baptized with our group at the end of the Barrio Obrero series, and several weeks later, her mother was baptized too.  Praise the Lord! 

In every seminar that we conduct, many children from the children’s program make their decision for Christ.  Those that are able get baptized, but many are unable to get permission from their parents.  These must wait till they are “of age,” but the seeds of truth have been planted, and will continue to grow in their hearts.

Currently, we are in Manila ready to open a new PAFCOE school here.  The school in Iloilo is continuing under local leadership, and has been accepted as the official evangelism school of the local conference.  Praise the Lord!

We continue to solicit your prayers and support for both schools.  There are many students who wish to join one of the programs, but lack the funds for tuition.  To all our supporters and prayer partners we extend our warmest Asian appreciation—“Thank you kindly!”  In Tagalog, “Salamat!” 

Your friends,

Pastor Lowell & family & the PAFCOE staff

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Just a few more days...

Just a few more days until classes begin here in Manila on Jan. 24! We are looking forward to a new group of students and new experiences from the Lord!

If you are interested in attending the PAFCOE training, registration is still open! More details can be found on our website.

Check back again soon for more stories about what God is doing here in the "islands of the sea"!

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