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General Santos City, Philippines

October 27 to November 11, 2000

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     It was in February, 9 months before we arrived, when funds were provided, when "the Campaign" actually began. With the resources provided our dedicated members gave thousands of Bible studies and, together with the pastors, they held 270 evangelistic series. The pastors held 60 and the laymen held another 210. The four Campaigns held by our four guest-evangelists climaxed this year-long plan. While this report will focus on the activities of the concluding three weeks it is vital to note that our success was due to the work of the laymen and pastors for the last ten months.
     Recently Mindanao has suffered violence due to the struggle for independence of several Muslim groups. To ensure our safety, church leaders met with military officers and representatives of two Muslim organizations. Both gave assurances we would be safe and the Muslims provided us security during our time in Mindanao. We met with the representatives of two Muslim organizations. One was led by Prof. M. M. Bajunaid (right in the picture to the right), Director of Islamic Studies for the University of the Philippines and the Director of the Center for Peace, who leads the Islamic team in negotiations with the government. 00-10 017 Philippines-GSC welcome-Muslims-w.jpg (14889 bytes)
00-10 036 Philippines-Drug free parade-w.jpg (20338 bytes)      Just before the Campaign began the Mission organized an Adventist youth parade (Left) promoting a drug-free city. The media reported the event which was attended by a well-known congresswoman.
     In addition to the meetings in General Santos City at which I spoke, two laymen and a pastor from North America, each supported by his wife, did the preaching for a Campaign. Let me introduce you to each of these and their activities in the Philippines.  Ben Kochenower (right, with his wife, Susan) C.P.A, is a senior partner in a public accounting firm in Gaffney, South Carolina. Though startled when I invited him to preach a Campaign he and Susan accepted the challenge. 00-10 278 Philippines-Kochenower-w.jpg (25457 bytes)
00-10 302 Philippines-Alabel-w.jpg (17699 bytes)      Kochenowers held their meetings in Alabel, about 30 miles from General Santos City and the district pastor, Lorenzo Rodulfo (left) translated his sermons for him.
     Many mornings Kochenowers attended Bible studies conducted by the local laymen – which began at 5:30 and 6:30 each morning! They were surprised at the soul-winning role of the laity in soul-winning and to find church choirs (right) attending these early morning Bible studies! He discovered choirs are also very involved in soul-keeping! When a member misses church the next Sabbath a choir goes to their home and serenades them between 2 and 4 a.m. and invites them to church! No wonder their apostasy rate is low. 00-10 106 Philippines-Alabel-BS-w.jpg (24792 bytes)
     When I asked Ben what he would say to other North-American laymen who might consider doing what he did, he wrote, "This has been one of the biggest ‘wins’ of my spiritual life, for witnessing and sharing the truth about Jesus Christ. I would have never believed I could or would preach a complete Campaign by myself. The sermon material is packaged in such a way that all that remains to be added is my time for careful review. I’ll never be the same. There is no longer any need for a Seventh-day Adventist layman to feel guilty about not sharing his/her faith. You can do this too, and I promise you, it will forever change your life."
00-10 277 Philippines-Powers-w.jpg (21758 bytes)     Dr. & Mrs. Bruce Powers (left, with his wife Carol), operate an executive and professional placement business in Mesa, Arizona. They too were astonished when invited to preach one of the Campaigns. But, with the easy-to-use sermon notes and the coordinated graphics, they accepted the invitation to preach in "Tupi." Pastor Alitao took Powers to visit some of his other churches. The 18 congregations in his district increased to 21 at the Campaign's close! They visited two new congregations, each in a previously unentered area.
     One group they visited was in the village of Saboy where Bro Tuli (in the black & white shirt below) began to work only a few months ago. The villagers gave up their land to the Dole (Pineapple) Company and so they now work for minimal wages and live in the houses (seen beyond the group in the picture to the right) along embankments where the land is too steep to grow pineapple. 00-10 307 Philippines-Saboy-w.jpg (25238 bytes)
00-10 312 Philippines-Saboy-w.jpg (28533 bytes)      As a result of the work of this layman seventy villagers were baptized on Nov. 11. The believers in Saboy must meet outdoors (above) sitting on "benches" placed into notches in the trees.
     Sadly, Saboy is so far from any school the children are condemned to illiteracy. Needless to say, they need some help. They have land for a church and a school and needed only some galvanized steel roofing. The cost to provide roofing for BOTH a church and school was only $3,000, and the members can provide the rest. Imagine the difference a few pieces of roofing can make in the life of this little girl (right) and many more. Though the roofing has been provided yet there are thousands of similar situations that need urgent attention. 00-10 315 Philippines-Saboy-w.jpg (21889 bytes)
00-10 280 Philippines-Waltons-w.jpg (20211 bytes)      Lawrence Walton, church pastor in Albemarle, North Carolina, with his wife Ann, a secretary in the Carolina Conference office, also accepted our invitation to preach a Campaign. The Lord richly blessed their Campaign with 389 souls baptized on November 11.
     Each evening Ann not only made presentations to hundreds of children she also handled the graphics (right) for Lawrence during his sermons.


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     I asked Elder Walton to describe his experience and he wrote: "Our Campaign at Polomolok, Mindanao, in the Philippines, was a thrilling moment for Ann and me. To witness so many people in action for Jesus Christ, to talk and work with those whose lives have been changed, to be a participant in mass baptisms, all of this is such a blessing that it is difficult to find words to convey one’s feelings. Nevertheless, it is one I wish every pastor and layman in North America could experience."
     It was fascinating to see how the crowds arrived at each of the meetings. The tricycles (motorcycles with side-cars) were filled to overflowing--even riding on the roof (below left). I counted eleven getting out of one!   Jeepneys, for which the Philippines are famous, carried loads (below right) that were difficult to believe even while seeing them!
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00-10 050 Philippines-GSC gym-w.jpg (32566 bytes)      Attendance at the Campaign in General Santos City gymnasium was extraordinary regularly exceeding 10,000, due in large part to the personal witnessing activities of the members.
     Oh how I wish the Filipino "barong" (right) were used more widely in the other tropical countries! 00-10 346 Philippines-GSC gym-w.jpg (15800 bytes)
     Each Sabbath baptisms were held in different parts of the country. In the first on October 28, in Matalam (left) 198 were baptized and on November 4 in Tacurong, another 396 were baptized.
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00-10 445 Philippines-bap3-w.jpg (21155 bytes)      Though concerned it was too big, the Mission rented a sports complex for the Campaign climax on November 11. They need not have worried.
Sabbath morning every type of vehicle imaginable brought members and baptismal candidates from all over Mindanao. Soon the stadium (left & right below) was filled to overflowing with over 20,000 people, the largest crowd ever assembled by Adventists in Mindanao.
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     Sabbath morning 1,795 were baptized bringing the Campaign total to 5,480 with many more still preparing. Elder Serrano, Mission president expects the total to reach between 6,500 by year’s end! In spite of a painful back Elder Walton (below left) decided not to miss this experience and joined 29 other pastors in the pool.
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     One of the outstanding choirs that had sung for all our meetings met us at the airport. Their magnificent harmony mingled with our tears as we bid each other fond farewells before beginning the long flight home across the Pacific.  All of us cherish the memories of our time in Southern Mindanao.  But even more, we wish it were possible to transport our experience of rubbing shoulders with the inspired and inspiring pastors and laymen who truly make hastening the return of our Lord their highest and best priority.  Of, if only theirs was a contagious disease!
Campaign Results
  Metro area Satellite Mtgs. Totals
Alabel 375 646 1,021
Gen. Santos 1,020 1,299 2,319
Polomolok 390 645 1,035
Tupi 385 648 1,033
Totals as of Nov. 11 2,170 3,238 5,408
Between 11/11 and Dec. 31, 2000     902
Grand Total     6,310

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