in the Philippines
January 2, 2010
Christian Greetings! Peace be with you!
Recently I decided to hold a public crusade in lower Timonan, Dumingag Zamboanga del Sur. Shortly after I set about to lay all the plans for the meetings, I could see God’s hand in the program and was convinced that the whole plan was His. Praise the Lord!
I found that there were so many people in that area who were longing to hear the message. One day, I accidentally
ran into the barangay captain (village mayor) and found that she was a Seventh-day Adventist. I spent some time visiting with her about our plans and she readily gave us permission to hold meetings there.
During the first week of July, I began doing house-to-house visitation with the elder of the church, Brother Patricio Bacsan, and the son of another elder, Brother Tonton Barnido. During our visiting time, we all three rode on a single motorcycle from San Jose Mahayag Zamboanga del sur (where I live) to Lower Timonana Dumingag Zamboanga del Sur, which takes about twenty minutes. When we arrived, we would say a prayer together, and then we do visitation from 2 to 6 pm.
In the course of our visitation, we found many Seventh-day Adventists who had backslidden. Some of them even told us that they were weary because the Lord has delayed His coming. Others had just been drawn away by worldly amusements and attractions. Visiting with these folks brought vividly to my mind the Word of God to Peter: “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.” 2 Peter 3:3-5. I couldn’t help but realize that this prophecy was being fulfilled before my very eyes. I knew that these poor people did not realize what it said in the next few verses about them. “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” II Peter 3:8-9. What a wonderful promise of God that some people do not understand, that even if we are sinners He will invite us to come. He says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear.” Matthew 11:28. Isaiah 59:1.
Once I thought about all these things, I knew I must offer a special invitation to these backsliders to come to the meetings to hear the everlasting gospel.
One day, while visiting, I met a man who was very devoted to his religion, known as Iglesia ni Kristo. He was telling me that the only way that one can be saved is by joining his religion. Then he went on to share some of their beliefs with me, which left me in shock. He actually told me that they are not allowed to read the Holy Word of God, that only the minister is authorized to read the Bible and then exhort them from his studies. Again a verse came forcibly to my mind: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” 2 Timothy 3:16, 17. Acts 17:11. (See also John 8:32 and Psalm 119:105.)
If we cannot read the Bible, how can we obtain knowledge of God? How can we discern the snares of Satan in this last day? What a big deception for a minister of any denomination to teach that members are not allowed to read and study the Holy Word of God! After this man shared all of this with me, I shared with him that the only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ. The love of Jesus only can save us. “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:10-12.
I also shared with this man about the importance of commandment keeping, because Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15. I also read to him from Revelation 14:12, John 12:50 and Matthew 19:17.
After I finished reading to him, I could see the confusion on his face. I could see that he felt like a sheep without a shepherd, so I invited him to come to our upcoming crusade.
Finally, the first night came and I was so nervous. It seemed like nobody would come to the meeting, which was very discouraging, but I went ahead and got up front and began the meetings. All through the meeting, one-by-one the people trickled in and took a seat. I just prayed that the Holy Spirit would touch each of the people who attended.
Not too many of the brethren were able to help with this crusade, because transportation was so difficult. A few did manage to figure out ways to get there, and what an encouragement it was to have their support!
The transportation situation was quite interesting. Sometimes several of us crowded onto the motorbike. The road was in extreme disrepair and we had to pass under a very dilapidated, old bridge. It was a bit scary, but we trusted in the mighty arm of Jesus, and He took care of us.
We would always arrive at exactly 4:30 pm. We would spend thirty minutes setting up, then at 5:00 pm, we would offer free health consultations to those who arrived early. During these we would check blood pressure, share simple remedies as well as rules for a healthy lifestyle. The meetings started at 6:00 pm and ran until 8:00 pm.
This series of meetings ended on August 9, 2009. Since then I have been daily visiting in the homes of the people who came and helping to answer their questions from the Bible. Please remember these dear people in your prayers.
By Edmar Vertudez. Philippines. Donations for this work can be sent to Mission Projects International, PO Box 59656, Renton, WA 98058.