Love In Action Pastor Ken Tuck (left) is with Pastor Bhoy Baguinda and Pastor Mario Montero. These are two of many mighty men of God doing amazing work to reach the lost in the Philippines.
"Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" - James 2:5 (KJV)
I have read that verse and heard it quoted many times, but I never really grasped what it was saying until I traveled to the Philippines with wife and mom last week.
On the Philippine island of Mindanoa live some of the most precious people in the world. It is an island of 23 million people and a place many westerners will not visit because of the Muslim influence. They are missing out on a life-changing experience.
The Christian pastors and indigenous missionaries we met were gracious, loving, caring, and full of faith. We already knew some of them before traveling to the other side of the world. This past year we have had the honor of helping them reach this island for Jesus Christ. But after meeting all of them, we fell completely in love. I am honored to call them my friends and my brothers and sisters in the Lord.
We spoke at their first pastors/missionary workers conference, and what a blessing that was for all involved. Then we preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ and saw 127 people make decisions for Jesus. Praise God! In the Cebuano language, praise God is spelled, Dalaygon ang Diyos!
By American standards, they are extremely poor. Many people live on an average wage of about $2 a day. That is hard for most Americans to understand. Even our poor are rich by those standards. While the people are poor financially, they are the richest people spiritually I have ever met. I would dare say they are among the most spiritually rich people in the world. They are "rich in faith."
I didn't hear any grumbling about not having enough. They live off the land. Many of the people raise their own fruits and vegetables and animals. They share with one another. One church received an offering of pigs and chickens from people who live in the mountains. They don't have money, so they gave their best and their best was animals.
They put their lives on the line to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They put God first, no matter the struggles. If I had to choose between being rich financially and rich spiritually, I'll take spiritually rich. Money cannot buy the faith witnessed in our friends in the Philippines.
Most of the pastors live with their families in a room at their churches. Usually it's a room in the very back or to the side. It's not uncommon for multiple families to live there. That's home and church. For some it's also school. They like to call their churches "multipurpose" buildings, and they are.
These pastors are reaching the lost daily. One told me he baptizes people every day. They do a phenomenal job of training people to go out and be missionaries in different parts of Mindanao. And they do all of this with hardly any money.
The only thing keeping a full fledged revival from happening is resources. They need KJV Bibles, hymnals, Sunday school lessons, etc., all in English. They need finances to purchase land and construct churches. Imagine having 5,000 people but only room for about 80 in a rented building. That's the case for one church in Punta.
A church in Ozamiz has rented the same building for 15 years and the need for expansion is great. A church in Sindangan has the opportunity to purchase their land and then construct a new building, but has no money to do so.
The buildings they have are very modest. Many are made out of bamboo with thatch roofs. One has a creek running under it. Actually, the pastor and his family live in a room under the small building and the creek runs under their room. They say when the heavy rains come they have a "water bed."
Land and buildings are not expensive. For example, we can construct one church for $1,300; buy a nice size lot for another church for $6,000, build a parsonage for $1,300, and another lot for $4,000. Land and buildings for two churches in larger cities would run close to $500,000 each, but that is still a great deal. For the price we spend on just one church building here in the U.S., we could build many churches in the Philippines. In some cases that would mean hundreds of churches.
Still, these great people of faith don't complain. They don't even ask. They pray and believe God will provide. God has used Love In Action to answer some of those prayers. We were able to purchase a lot for a church last year and help expand another one. In all, that cost about $2,500. We stood on that lot last week. It's a beautiful piece of land.
Together, we could be the answer to many of their prayers. I believe God blessed us in the U.S. to help spread His Word throughout the world. Never have I seen such strong faith. Never have I seen so many people open to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Never have I seen an opportunity this great to see thousands, even millions won to Jesus.
Will you join us and help us help our brothers and sisters in the Philippines reach their nation for Christ? There are approximately 65 million people there who have never heard of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Wow! What an incredible opportunity!
I will post more in the next week on how you can get involved and store up treasure in Heaven in the Philippines. This is the most exciting opportunity to win the lost I've ever been a part of. Please join us, and please pray for our brothers and sisters in the Philippines.
Salamat (thank you).