FirstLife Blog

2017 Philippines Report by Lucas Hunter

Posted by Lucas Hunter on with 0 Comments

My personal assumption was that I could eat rice every day for three meals and be fine, until I was on my twentieth consecutive meal of rice and it had been only a week. Such is life in Ilijan, Batangas, Philippines, where I lived for two months as a missionary this summer.

I can say where I was this summer, living with eight other people in a two-room house in Barangay Ilijan, because the Philippines is an open country. Basketball is the national sport of the country, alongside boxing, and running basketball clinics was our entry point into the community, though our intention was to share God's gospel. However, there is no persecution for the follower of Christ where I stayed, no resistance to our outward evangelism. Standing six-foot-four-inches with white skin, my teammates and I were instead celebrities, invited into any home.

The hospitable culture of the Philippines welcomed us, and God provided us with countless opportunities to share the gospel. Any home would receive us as long as we wanted to share the good news of Christ. The chance was served to us on the finest plate in the house next to large servings of rice.

As a result of that hospitality, five were baptized this summer: Darwin, Christian, Mauriz, Tatay Lino, and Jaycell. All five of them considered the ramifications of following Christ in their community, and all five reevaluated what it means to have a relationship with Christ and question the ways they were raised. This constant questioning provoked persecution from the Catholic community in which they were raised, but every believer from this summer decided it was a worthy cause to follow the way of Jesus by means of an active relationship with God.

Three of the five were in high school – we handed the duties of public ministry within the community to a fifteen-year-old affectionately called “Pastor Darwin” by his schoolmates. Christian had been to “bible school” in the Philippines, and had stayed with it enough to question his upbringing. He sat on the shore watching as we baptized Darwin the second week of summer. Three weeks later he’d be baptized in Batangas Bay as well. He then joined our house, living alongside  five Americans, two translators, and Darwin in the small, two-room house that Darwin once lived in by himself.

The relationship between discipleship and evangelism is like oars on a boat. Discipleship without evangelism will leads  us in a circle, sharing the gospel without living it puts us in a cycle as well. Darwin and Christian were discipled this summer because they lived alongside us, participating in each available opportunity to have bible studies with our neighbors and actively choosing to live life with us – an active choice that has to be made daily to effectively live alongside Christ. On the days we failed to share passionately with our friends in the community, we approached the next with repentance and vigor to share the gospel again.

Those baptized as believers but not proactively living with us were still raised up to live for Christ; Tatay Lino was not mobile enough to leave his home but he sought to learn the ways of Christ with his granddaughter, Mauriz. The first time our team asked Tatay Lino if he had prayer requests, he wanted to know of salvation. We were very fortunate that he was willing to come forth, and we were thankful God delivered us one who wanted to know.

The realities of what we did and the lessons learned this summer did not bloom in their entirety until I got home, back to Tennessee. I see now the need overseas, that Christ’s prayer was not for souls to magically be saved, but “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matt. 9:38). God chooses to work through man and gives us the command to go in His great commission (Matt. 28:19-20). Do we see the need of people marching headlong down the path without Christ? Are we doing anything about it?

 

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