Thursday, August 28, 2014

Outreach blessings in the Rain!

Students on a sunny afternoon on their way to their territory.
Can you find blessings even when it’s raining and you’re getting wet? Yes, of course! This past week, our PAFCOE students started their outreach, even amidst some very rainy, wet days! However, God blessed each one and they are excited to share their stories of what God did for them!

One student said, “This week as we went to out assigned territory for outreach, we saw that the rain was coming. So my partner and I ran to a tiny restaurant nearby to wait for the rain to pass by so we could continue. While we were waiting, we decided to talk to one of the workers in the restaurant. He was really interested in prophecy, so we gave him the first Bible study guide and he was so grateful and promised to study it!”

They weren’t planning to wait in that tiny restaurant, but God had someone He wanted them to meet and share with! Another student had a similar experience and said this:

On the bus to their territory.
“Last week as my partner and I got to our territory, it started raining. We ran the bell of someone’s house, but she wasn’t interested to come out because it was raining. It started raining so heavily, so we ran to the edge of the eaves and there was an old man also standing there to take shelter from the rain. We did a survey on him, but he wasn’t interested at first. However, we kept talking while we were waiting for the rain to stop and he decided to study the Bible with us! So for around 50 minutes, we were standing and sharing from the Bible to him! I think it was a divine appointment!”

Yes, it definitely was! The student’s partner said this, “We had received so many “no’s” to our offer for Bible studies and I was getting disappointed. But it was all for the best because God was using the trials and rejections to bring about His good for us.”

Running into a shelter from the rain and finding an interest for truth seemed to happen more than once as another student added his story to the collection by saying:

“God used the heavy rain to bring about good. We sheltered ourselves in a small restaurant to wait for the rain to stop. Some of the store’s goods were getting wet, so we helped the workers to move them further inside. As we talked we discovered they spoke the same dialect that we did! We talked more and shared ideas with them and then did a survey on them and one lady accepted a drop-off Bible study!”

His partner said, “We were so tired of waiting for the rain to stop, so we decided to talk to the people in the restaurant and we were able to get a Bible study!”

Yet another student told his story. He said, “As we travelled to our territory, we noticed the dark clouds forming and knew it was going to rain. Sure enough, it did! We took refuge under a small tree and waited. As we waited, we noticed there was one gate that was open! We tried to enter and found a young man inside. We asked him if it’s ok for us to stay there for awhile to wait for the rain to stop. He agreed. We stayed there almost 30 minutes while the rain poured so hard! We talked with him and he wants to learn more about the Bible. I really believe God prepared a place for us there inside!”

Another experience was shared by a student, who said, “We had a lot of trials and mishaps this week, but even in the storm, we found blessings! As I was wading through ankle-deep water, I was thinking to myself, “When is this rain going to stop?” I looked up just then, and saw some of my classmates. They were completely dry because they had taken shelter under a nearby roof. They smiled at me and that brought a sense of relief during my trials. I realized that even when we are in trouble, God will put in our way people to encourage us!”

The inspiring experience of one student was this: “We were so blessed to easily find our territory! We prayed and gave thanks to God. Then we started our survey and the first house rejected us. At another house, we approached the maid and she really didn’t want to do the survey because she was afraid she might be fired for talking to us instead of doing her work. We insisted that it wouldn’t take long and just then, the owner came out. I thought she would be angry with us, but she delightfully received the survey and was willing to have a Bible study, even though she is a Muslim! Praise God!”

The last inspiring experience comes from a student who is not from the Philippines and she said, “I saw God’s love in all the people we worked with this week on outreach. But I want to mention one family in particular. We had just gotten a Bible study with a young boy of 8 years old as well as his older siblings. Nearby there was a couple rummaging through a garbage heap. They looked very wild and very dirty. I walked over to them to greet them ‘Hello.’ The man returned my greeting with ‘Hello, Ma’am!’ I felt a sting of emotion run through me as I heard his voice. It was so soft and polite and there was kindness in his voice and a smile on his face. My partner gave him a bit of food and he was very grateful. There was nothing wild in their manner that I could see!”

She continued, “The encounter with the homeless couple I mentioned earlier has inspired me that everyone we meet out in the field must be introduced to Jesus. Regardless of their appearance, we must take a chance to talk with them. It saddens me that people can be down in the dumps without the hope of even the basic necessities of life being met, going through the garbage for food and people just pass them by without doing anything for them. They need hope – hope that Jesus can alone can give them! They need Jesus to put a smile on their face and joy in their hearts to match the kindness in the man’s voice. I want to reach that homeless couple for the Lord!”

Friends, these are just a few of the many more inspiring experiences to be shared with you – coming soon!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

“All Things Work Together…” – OJT Report #1

Did you ever wonder why God allowed you to be placed in a trying circumstance? What He wanted you to learn from it? Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Can God bring good out of seemingly “bad” circumstances? Yes He can! The following is a story from one of our graduates from last session during his OJT (On the Job Training) located in northern Luzon. See how God brought lots good out of some of the challenging circumstances he and his partner found themselves in!

From his first week, he related this experience: “Unfortunately, halfway on our way to our site, I remembered that I had left the advertising tarps [banners] behind! Oh, no! I didn’t tell anyone for awhile and prayed silently, reminding God that I had asked Him before we left to help me not forget anything and here I already had! I prayed earnestly that God would help me to find a way to get my tarps back so we could advertise for our upcoming seminar. When I told my partner about our problem, the person bringing us to our site told us with a big smile, ‘I brought the tarps with us! I knew you might forget to bring them, so I loaded them into the car ahead of time.’ Thank the Lord! I had been praying God would make a way and He already had!”

Yes, God took that situation and worked it all out for him! He truly cares about the little things – even about forgotten tarps!

He continued telling his story from that first week, “Our first few days here in our site were really stressful! We were told from the district Pastor that we could have our seminar in the public hall, for which we were very thankful, only to find out later that such a hall didn’t even exist! The next option was the multi-purpose hall, but it was controlled by the Church of God. We sent a letter to the city’s councilor asking for permission to use the hall and she approved our request, but told us to confirm it with a man who was the caretaker of the building. At first he wasn’t favorable for our request, but finally he agreed to let us use the hall. We breathed, ‘Thank you, Lord!’ Another problem was that there was no electricity at the hall, so we had to bring it in from a nearby place. Finally that was approved, so we could have power for our meetings!”

No matter what circumstance they found themselves in, God always helped them and made all things to work together for their good!

For the second week, the student wrote, “Last week was labeled ‘Stressful week’ and this week should be called the ‘Depressed week.’ I was getting discouraged because some of our seminar attendees dropped off and I ended up having so many extra handouts because I had ordered too many. One morning I read this from Gospel Workers, ‘Do not become discouraged when there are only a few present to listen to a discourse. Do not look at the empty seats…’ I was so blessed reading that! Although my audience is small, God is using me and continuing to work on the hearts of the remaining attendees. Later on in the week, I accidentally left the hall unlocked, thus making the ones in charge very angry. I thought they would not let us use the hall anymore, but praise God, they still let us go on. One inspiring experience that happened this week was that one family who has been faithfully attending our meetings has thrown away all the bad music CDs and asked us to give them good music to listen to. Also near the end of the meetings, the wife decided to be baptized! Praise God!”

He continued, “I also learned this week that home visitation is very important. I learned that one of our interests didn’t want to be baptized because she couldn’t read or write and that was a big hindrance to her. We told her that God doesn’t look at your attainments, even if church members do. God looks at the heart. Finally at the end of our visit, she decided to be baptized. It is really important to visit our interest’s homes!”

In the third week, he added this, “God sustained my voice this week. Though it was very painful and almost went hoarse, still God helped me finish this week. I also remembered that I had prayed God would send me to a place where I could develop a character like His and He answered my prayer! He placed us in a very crowded place, full of drunkards and drug addicts. We couldn’t bring them to the seminar, so we just made friends with them and in the future, we hope to have some personal work done for those people.”

In the last week of his seminar, he wrote, “I saw God’s love in the changes He made in the lives of the attendees of the seminar, in the elder’s family and even in myself! I could not believe that one family in the church decided to stop drinking coffee! Also this week, we have the privilege of preparing candidates for baptism! One of them was an older man who has arthritis. He was so interested in the topics we were presenting, and we brought him every night to the meetings. He was so faithful to come and at the end decided to be baptized! Praise God!”

He added, “This week I really learned that we need to spend lots of time in visitation. In the first 2 weeks of my seminar, I spent most of my time preparing my sermons for the evening meetings. Sadly, I had little to no time left for doing any visitation in the homes of my attendees. I observed that even if I spent the whole time studying for my sermons, that I had a hard time presenting them in the evening. During the last week, my Mom called me and told me to spend lots of time doing visitation and not so much time for my sermons. I did and it was not until I did this that I realized I had much power presenting the sermons. So I really learned to give much time for visitation and the sermons will not be a problem, even if I didn’t have much time to study them.”

He ended by saying, “We praise God for the success of our seminar in bringing us and other people closer to Jesus Christ!”

Yes, friends, God allows us to go through trials and unexpected circumstances to show us that He can work everything out for us, just as He promised!

Keep watching for more stories coming soon!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

PAFCOE has begun again!

PAFCOE session 6 has begun and God has indeed blessed us! We have 43 students from all over the world, from Japan to Korea, from Cambodia to Australia, from the US and of course, from all over the Philippines! It's so amazing how God brought them from their respective countries and places to Manila to learn how to become effective soul-winners for Him!

Many of the students came "by faith." This simply means that they are depending totally on God to provide for their tuition expenses and everything else they need. Some have already been blessed to have their earnest prayers answered as God provided them a sponsor! But there are still a lot who daily pray for God to provide their needs and we know that He will because He has a thousand ways to provide for us of which we know nothing.

For example, two young men were planning to come to PAFCOE from a southern island here in the Philippines. They bought tickets for the ship coming here and on the day they were scheduled to leave, they ran into problems. On the way to the port, there was an accident on the road and because of that, there was a bad traffic jam and it took them much longer to get to the port. Finally they were able to make it to the port, only to discover the gates were closed for boarding, though the ship was still there. Even though they already had their tickets, they were not allowed on board.

What were they to do? We are told, "often our plans fail that God's plans for us may succeed." So they trusted in God's plan for them.

When they went to the ticketing office, they were able to get most of the money from their tickets refunded and then God provided them an even bigger blessing by allowing them to ride on a mission plane from that place to Manila for free! They arrived here sooner by plane for free, than they would have by paying for the boat ticket! So the money they saved from the boat ticket, they were able to use to pay for their textbooks, which they wouldn't have had if God had not allowed them to miss their ship to come here!

God truly has amazing ways of providing for our students and we know He will continue to do so! To those of you who have given to help our worthy students, we say a big "thank-you!"

Soon we will be posting more exciting stories of the students and also from the previous student's OJT experience. Keep watching for more updates.
Worship for the new students

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Miraculous Missing Projector

Imelda and her partner Noeme receiving their OJT money.
This is the story that happened last year and yet never got posted until now. So here it is!

The Mystery of the Projector that Disappeared
as written by Jaime Aguila, an elder of Manila Center SDA Church

"November 8, 2013 marked the start of the PAFCOE On the Job Training (OJT) for students of Evangelism. My wife Imelda Aguila, was one of those students and she was assigned to the adult class together with her partner, Noeme Antiga, who was assigned to the children’s class, and together they served in Plaza Noli, Manila, Philippines. To make their evangelism OJT more effective, they borrowed a brand new projector from a church member, Josie Santos. The evangelism went on as planned and was well attended. On the last day of their presentation, something mysterious happened. The church van was fully packed with attendees, gifts for successful attendees who completed the course, and with the usual gadgets like computers, microphones and of course the projector. 

Upon reaching the venue, it was noticed that the van was not properly closed, and that the projector was missing! This troubled me a lot, first because it meant the meetings will have to end with no visuals, second, because it meant we are responsible to compensate the owner for the lost projector. It was but natural for me to be angry and suspicious as to what happened to the projector.

The first thing that went on in my mind was that somebody got interested in the projector, and took it. I came to this conclusion as the projector was of the latest model and quite expensive. Moreover, it was the only item that was missing. I wondered why the nicely wrapped gifts, or the old laptop did not get lost, but only that projector.

Immediately, I went to the area headquarters to inform them of the lost item and they told me portions of the street leading to the venue had CCTV, but since the driver was not sure where the item got lost and since the Church was more than a kilometer away from the venue, I did not bother to check the CCTV.

After about a week after the event occurred, I was still perplexed, and angry at what happened. I was still very suspicious as to what really happened to the projector, even though the owner was not charging us for the lost item. To calm my suspicions, I included in my morning prayer that God show me if the projector got dropped off the vehicle or if someone really took it, as I was beginning to imagine scenarios as to what transpired. I asked the Lord to show me in a vision what really happened!

About lunchtime that same day, a Sunday, I attended a children’s party with my family, at a restaurant in Quezon City about 7 kilometers away from where the projector was supposedly lost.  I was seated at a long table for guests, when somebody, Mr. Chris Balbuena, started talking that they were able to pick up a projector on the street.

I inquired about the details of the found projector and discovered it was of the same brand, Samsung, and model of the lost projector. I got suspicious it was the very projector we lost, so I described to Mr. Balbuena the contents of the projector bag which included a lapel and microphone. Mr. Balbuena confirmed such were really the contents, so he believed my story that it was the projector we lost.

He related to me the details of how they found the projector. He told me he owned a car wash shop, Hella Stance, located about a couple hundred meters to where the evangelistic meetings were being held. They saw a bag drop off a vehicle which they thought was trash. Then, a couple of cars ran over the bag, but the bag bounced, probably because something solid was inside. They got interested, so they picked up the bag and opened it. They saw it was a projector! They tried to operate it and it still worked despite it having a broken casing as it had been run over a couple of times. In short, Chris believed my story, and told me he would give me back the projector. Before the day was over, Mr. Balbuena was kind enough and sent me the projector.

Looking back, I realized that the odds that I would meet the very person who found the projector were quite impossible. What were the chances that the two of us, the one looking for the projector and the one who found the lost item, would sit at the same table, be at the same restaurant several kilometers away from where it all happened,  at the exact time and occasion. Considering how many people are in Quezon City, how many restaurants are there in this city, how many events were being celebrated that busy Sunday, the probability we would meet is absolutely zero! No one can orchestrate such event but God himself. I acknowledge God’s hand in all of these, and am thankful that God heard my prayer and made a miracle. This is proof that God is in control even in seemingly minor events as this, and that he works miracles if we simply put our trust and faith in him!"

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Next session of PAFCOE - starting soon!

We praise God for another session of PAFCOE is starting soon! Already most of the students are here and we are looking forward to what God has in store for all of us here in Manila! Classes start this Sunday and there will be many exciting stories to share with you all again!

Keep watching for more updates!

You could be one of our future students, if God is calling you in that direction! :) These are the students from last session.