General Santos City, Philippines
October 27 to November 11, 2000
| 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.
|| 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
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.
|| 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.
| 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. Ill 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."
|| 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
| 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.
|| 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.
|| 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.
| 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
ones 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!
|| 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
| Oh how I wish the Filipino "barong" (right) were used more widely in
the other tropical countries!
| 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.
|| 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.
| 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 years 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.
| 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!
|Totals as of Nov. 11
|Between 11/11 and Dec. 31, 2000
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