Sunday, March 31, 2013

Favorite moments from our Philippine trip

Now that we are back home in Dothan, Ala., from our trip to the Philippines, we have been asked what was our favorite part of the trip. That's a tough question to answer, because there were so many favorite moments.

Knowing that more than 500 people decided to follow Jesus was the greatest result of the trip. Nothing is more important than a soul being saved.

It was great seeing fruit that remained from our last trip. When someone decides to follow Jesus and you see them become of true disciple of Christ, that's producing fruit that remains (John 15:8).

There was the time in Molave when 122 people accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior and immediately begged for us to teach them more of God's Word. That was amazing. Within three days the indigenous pastor there, Dandy Begafria, informed us that many new house Bible studies had been formed to meet the needs of the people's hunger for God's Word. He thanked us for making him extra busy.

Ministering to 300 children under the Sindangan Bridge was a great highlight of the trip. How precious it was to see the smiling faces of children living in such poverty. To hear them sing about Jesus just melted our hearts. To see their happy faces, and of the adults as well, as we served them lunch was worth the long trip to the Philippines.

Another great moment and move of God was Muslims deciding to follow Jesus. When they say they are committing their lives to Jesus, they really mean it, because it means their families will excommunicate them. But when you've truly been touched by Jesus, you are more than willing to give up everything for Him. Those men immediately told their wives and children about their decision and what Jesus did in their hearts. They always talk about the great peace they all of a sudden feel, and they know that nobody but Jesus could have done it.

Many of their families decide to follow Jesus as well. Once they hear and see the change in the men's lives, they believe. The stories from our trip last year about the Muslims who accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior are great. Knowing they are not only still following Jesus, but telling others about Him more than a year later is wonderful.

Seeing indigenous pastors, their wives and missionary workers at the second annual LIA Philippines Pastors/Missionary Workers conference was great. Teaching and encouraging them is always a great honor. God really uses that conference to refresh and rejuvenate the pastors. We have received many reports of how much the conference did for them, and how revival has broken out when they returned to their villages, towns and communities.

It was great seeing one pastor in particular, who, before last year's conference, was so discouraged he was ready to quit. God restored his joy during that conference and today is so happy to be in the mission field.

Two young men decided to enter the mission field at the end of this year's conference. To pray for them about their decision was a great experience.

Another exciting part about this year's conference was the shipment of KJV Bibles, glasses and other items we sent in January arrived the day before the conference, so we were able to personally hand out the Bibles and watch our friends try on glasses until they found the ones that helped them the most. God's timing is always perfect.

I did my first baby dedication in the Philippines. What a great honor.

Visiting many of the small churches to meet and pray with the pastors and their wives was a great privilege. It's amazing the dedication they all have. They all live in their humble churches, some with "starry roofs;" given the name because they can see the stars at night through the many holes in the thatch roof.

Sharing the Gospel to the inmates in the Ozamiz jail was an amazing time. Seeing the change on their faces as we told them how much Jesus loves them was indescribable. Then, when they later gave the warden money to give to the American ministry who came to tell them about Jesus was a widow's mite moment.

Just seeing all of our friends was a great blessing, and having "coffee fellowship" under the mango tree in Sindangan was so much fun.

So, what was our favorite part of the trip? Everything. We thank and praise God for the awesome opportunity and give Him all of the praise, honor and glory for everything that happened. And, we thank everyone who prayed for us. God certainly answered a lot of prayers.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

'I was in prison and you came to Me.'

Mama Tuck, Martha Tuck and Ken Tuck preached the Gospel
of Jesus Christ in the Ozamiz City Jail in the Philippines. Nearly 100
inmates decided to follow Jesus. Glory to God!
 
Jesus makes it very clear everything we, as followers of Him, should do. In Matthew 25:35-40, Jesus says, " for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’"

Ministering to the "least of these" is what Love In Action does, and one group we enjoying sharing the Word and love of God with is prisoners. Wednesday afternoon in the Philippines, we visited a jail and preached the Gospel.

We have ministered to the inmates of the Houston County Community Corrections Work Release program in Dothan, Ala., for about four years now. It's awesome when you see someone saved and set free spiritually, even if they are physically imprisoned.

On March 27, as Martha, Mama and I were in Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental, Philippines, Pastor Jun Begafria took us to the Ozamiz jail to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the inmates.

We were excited to be going and ministering to the inmates, and even more excited when we were finished because of the great response.

Each cell block housed 15-20, or more, people. We were able to walk right up to their cells and tell them about Jesus. We divided up so we could reach all of the inmates. The teams were: Mama and Lilia Begafria, Martha and Pastor Greg Begafria, and me and Dodong.

The inmates gathered close to the cells and listened intently as we told them about Jesus and His love for them. We told them who we were and why we were there. Afterward, we prayed with them to surrender their lives to Jesus and follow Him. Nearly 100 inmates made that decisions. Praise God!

In the U.S., we have all heard of jailhouse religion. People say they are saved to try to get out early on good behavior. But, you know when a real change has taken place. We see it often. Those who truly decide to follow Jesus, are completely changed, and when they are released from jail they stay involved with Love In Action and their home church. The ones who don't usually end up back in jail. In Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus says we will be known by our fruit.

The Holy Spirit definitely touched hearts in the Ozamiz jail. You could feel it and see it in their eyes. And then later in the day some amazing things started happening. A man was sitting in one of the cells crying. The warden thought a fight must have happened and the man was hurt, but that wasn't the case. With tears streaming down his face, he told the warden that Jesus had touched his heart and given him peace. He said the message the Americans brought really touched him.

Then, another prisoner called out to the warden and handed him some money. The man had recently received his weekly allowance from his father, which was 120 Philippine Pesos ($3 US dollars). He said he wanted to give it to the ministry from America. Later, other prisoners took up an offering of 105 PhP and asked for it to be given to the American ministry that visited them.

That brought tears to our eyes. It reminded us of the widow's mite. They didn't have much to give, but because God touched them and saved their souls, they felt compelled to give what they had. It was a big gift, because it was all they had. That wouldn't have happened if a real conversion hadn't taken place. Also, a man in jail wouldn't lie on the floor crying, and nobody bother him, if real conversions hadn't taken place.

I told Pastor Jun before all of that happened that it wouldn't surprise me if God raises up some pastors from that group of inmates. I felt that because of the way they responded. I have seen a lot of people respond over the years, and the way they were hungry for the Gospel and responded, I could tell something good was happening.

Pastor Jun's church, Shiloh Bible Baptist Church in Ozamiz, is going to start holding a weekly one-hour Bible study with the inmates, and they are going to start with Discipleship Phase 1. That's the discipleship series written by Ralph Sigler, senior pastor of Harvest Church in Dothan, Ala. Praise God! People are being saved and discipled. That's the Great Commission in action.

God continues to amaze. He is indeed awesome!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Children living under the Sindangan Bridge


 In the U.S. it's not unusual to find the homeless living under bridges. In larger cities you may find a dozen or so homeless people under bridges. However, it's rare to find 300 children living under bridges.

In Sindangan, Philippines, the 1 kilometer Sindangan Bridge is home to hundreds of people, including families. They use bamboo, thatch and other light materials to construct shanties, using the bridge for their roof. Other shanties are built around the bridge, and they use "nipa" roofs (thatch).

These shanties work until the floods come in the rainy season. The two rivers close-by quickly rise and oftentimes the powerful rushing water washes their homes away.

Love In Action was blessed to sponsor and participate in an outreach to the children who call the Sindangan Bridge home on Saturday, March 23. Tears welled up in our eyes as these precious children smiled and joyfully sang songs about Jesus. There were no video games, TVs or anything modern to keep themselves entertained. However, they were still joyful and happy to have us spend the morning with them.

They sang and quoted scripture. Mama Tuck read a children's story to them about Noah, and then LIA Vice President Martha Tuck shared about how much Jesus loves them. Then, Shiloh Bible Baptist Church-Sindangan Pastor and LIA Philippines President Greg Begafria further explained the love of Jesus to them and led them in the sinner's prayer. You can see the videos on our YouTube page by clicking here.

As you can see and hear on the videos we posted from the outreach, the children are learning a lot about Jesus. Pastor Greg, his wife, Lilia, Sis. Ruby and the members at SBBC do a great job working with the children.

They all calmly lined up for lunch as we handed them a delicious meal of manook (chicken), rice and a Filipino type of spaghetti. And, what's a children's festival without candy?

The children also played games like sack races and egg races. They had a blast and many were interested in seeing the Americans. It's not every day an American visits them under the bridge. In fact, this was probably the first time.

Their precious faces lit up as they gathered around us. They so wanted to talk with us, but their English isn't very good, so instead of talking they smiled. And, oh, what beautiful, heart-melting smiles they were.

Praise God for the children. Just looking at their living conditions, one would think these children would have no hope. However, with Jesus Christ in their lives, they do have hope, and it shows.

When you give financially to Love In Action and dedicated the gift to LIA Philippines, you help us reach these children and others like them. There are many homeless children in Sindangan and on the Philippine island of Mindanao. Please help us reach even more of them.

You can mail donations to: Love In Action International Ministries, P.O. Box 85, Dothan, AL 36302 and note on your check that it is for LIA Philippines. You can also donate online at http://www.loveinactionministries.com/financial.htm

Thank you and God bless you.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A modern day scene from Acts

We have watched God do many amazing things throughout the 13 years of Love In Action International Ministries, and He continues to amaze. What happened Tuesday here in the Philippines was nothing short of a miracle. It was a true revival as the Holy Spirit moved mightily among a people who do not believe in Jesus Christ.

 It was like a scene from Acts. We simply preached Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the grave and His love for everyone. Through the love of Christ, the Holy Spirit touches hearts and like in Acts 9:31, the church was multiplied. "And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied."

I won't mention the exact area or any names to protect the people, because their decision to accept and worship Jesus can put their lives in danger. The people I am referring to are Muslims who live in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Philippines (ARMM).

On Tuesday, we traveled inside the ARMM. It's a place that many are afraid to travel, even Filipinos. I'm not saying that to say we are brave; far from it. The point is, everyone needs to hear about Jesus, even those in dangerous places. They all need a chance to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. And, when the Lord tells you to go places, you can be assured He is with you and protects you. We never felt threatened and never were in any danger. It was as if the Lord put us in stealth mode and got us in the area and back out without being noticed, though we didn't try to hide.

About 60 Muslims were in the service, and that alone is amazing as usually hearing the Word of God is an insult to those who practice Islam. One of the men in the service included a Islamic Imam, which is the equivalent of a pastor in their religion. He is a very important leader. He said he was searching for something and maybe he can find it in Jesus Christ.

The people soaked up every word we told them as Martha shared John 3:16 and told them of the love of Jesus. Then I preached a message on salvation and explained how Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead. I explained God's love for them through His Son Jesus Christ, who is the only way to God.

They marveled at how much God could love them and how much we loved them and showed that by traveling such a long distance from the USA to tell them about Jesus.

After the service, a Muslim walked up to Martha and me and quoted John 3:16 and said he loves Jesus. They were so thankful that we came, and smiles were on all of their faces. Such wasn't the case when we first arrived. Only Jesus could touch hearts like that and bring peace to a people living in an area consumed by hatred and turmoil.

Another person walked up to us and told us about his wife who was in a bad accident and still suffered from a head injury. He asked us to pray for her. We asked if we could pray for her right then, and  he allowed us to pray with him in the name of Jesus Christ. He said he loves Jesus.

A tremendous move of the Holy Spirit occurred after we left. The people went back inside of the structure where we met and started crying tears of joy as they fell on their knees and worshiped Jesus. Can you imagine that? All of those people, mostly Muslim (there were some Christians there), on their knees before almighty God crying and worshiping Jesus.

Our indigenous pastor friend said he has never heard of anything like that, and he has been preaching in the ARMM for a while. God is truly awesome. We were all overwhelmed by the power of God and thanked Him for touching the hearts of the people and drawing them to Him. Praise God!

We are praying that the Imam will turn the mosque where he serves into a Christian church. I pray the next time I am in that area I can hear him preach a sermon about salvation only through Jesus Christ.
God is doing a great work among the Muslims here in the Philippines. Many are making decisions to follow Jesus, and it's so humbling to be part of it. It is truly amazing to see.

I wish I had at least a couple of months to stay over here. There is so much work to be done, and for Americans to preach the Gospel is very effective. As we have seen from last year's trip, we are seeing a lot of fruit that remains. Our pastor friend says the people talk about us being there with their families and others in their communities and it really is effective. They realize that for us to make such a long journey to tell them about Jesus, there really must be something about this Jesus. As we all know, there is.

Jesus radically changed my life, and He is doing the same thing to many others here in the Philippines.

Please continue to pray for those we reach out to and for us.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Hungry, thirsty for God’s Word

These precious people in Molave, Philippines are hungry for the Word of God. Look at how many are taking notes as LIA Pastor Ken Tuck preaches.122 people accepted Jesus during this service. Praise God! They begged for more preaching afterward.


Our time in the Philippines has been amazing once again. The hunger of the people for God’s Word makes me want to extend my time here. But, since my job wouldn’t like that, I can’t do that, but I praise God we have another week left.

One of the towns we visited is called Molave. The pastor of the Shiloh Bible Baptist Church in Molave is Dandy Begafria. He does a wonderful job of reaching his community, and God has given him favor with officials in the community. I was blessed to preach to the community at a municipal building. I was amazed as I looked out and saw how many people were taking notes and hanging on to every word. That encouraged me.

After the message, Pastor Dandy gave the invitation to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and 122 made decisions to follow Christ. Praise God! Afterward, they begged to hear more of God’s Word. They hungered for God’s Word. They are thirsty.

In another small mountain village we ministered to people from that village as well as some who walked four hours from a mountain village to hear God’s Word. That means, they walked 8 miles round-trip to hear the Word of God. That blew us away. Their village is inaccessible by vehicle or motorcycle, so they have to walk or ride horses to go anywhere. One of those people who walked to the service was a precious elderly woman. She wouldn’t stop hugging Martha, Mama Tuck and me.

The people here can’t believe we flew 22 hours to tell them about Jesus and to encourage Christians. The people are so open to the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And, what is also exciting is seeing people who decided to follow Jesus last year when we were here who are still following Jesus and are active members of their churches. That’s producing fruit that remains for the glory of God!

God is doing incredible things here in the Philippines, and it’s so humbling to be part of it. Thank you for your continued prayers.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Love In Action in 3 nations this week

When Mike Shroades and I started Love In Action International Ministries 13 years ago, we had talked about how great it would be having outreaches in different areas at the same time. We talked about having outreaches in Atlanta and Los Angeles or in New York and Enterprise (LIA started in Enterprise before moving it to Dothan). And, we have had ministry going on at the same time in places like Dothan and Atlanta, but our dreams were so much smaller than God's vision for us.

Since then, Love In Action has had weeks where we were sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ at the same time in Dothan, Ecuador and Philippines. And, since we have LIA Philippines, which is made up of indigenous pastors and missionaries, every day of the year we are doing ministry in Dothan and the Philippines. Over the next two weeks, Love In Action will be in three countries at the same time - U.S., Philippines and Haiti.

I'm here in Manila, Philippines, with Martha and Mama Tuck as I write this blog. Our awesome leaders and volunteers back home in Dothan are keeping the ministry going strong there. This week, the newest members of the LIA team, Give Us Hope Mission, will be in Haiti ministering to the children and adults in Montrouis, Haiti. Wow! God is so awesome!

Carrying out Jesus' Great Commission is what we're about - going and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world and making disciples. I like what the Rev. Billy Graham said, "There should never be any doubt in the mind of any Christian that the Lord has given us an order. To fail to heed this command is deliberate disobedience and sin. We are told to go to the entire world with the Gospel. If there were no other reason for going to the end of the earth and proclaiming the Gospel and winning souls, the command of Christ would be enough."

That's why we do what we do - sharing the Gospel of Christ to win souls and make disciples. That's what Jesus said to do. The purpose for all of us who follow Jesus is to make God's glory known to the world. Obeying the Great Commission accomplishes that.

It is so exciting what God is doing through Love In Action. For the past three years, He has led us to work hard on raising up strong leaders. Many of our current leaders are those we reached out to when they were homeless or in the community corrections work release program. To see how they are sold out to Christ and doing a great job leading different areas of the ministry is awesome. We know God will continue to raise up leaders as He expands the ministry.

God is awesome and worthy of all of our praise. And, we thank Him for everyone who prays for LIA and who give financially. We couldn't do it all without you. Together we are reaching the world for Jesus Christ.

Please keep all of us in your prayers as we continue serving Jesus and reaching the lost in Dothan, Haiti and Philippines.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

We have the land!

Last week I wrote about an incredible opportunity that God had given us. The opportunity was to purchase land on a Philippine island where there are no Christian churches, only Muslim mosques; a chance to build the very first Christian church.

I asked for help, and you responded. Earlier this past week the land was secured and it is pictured above. Praise God! Thank you, thank you, thank you. This be will where a church will be built, and it will serve as home base to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout that island.

As I mentioned last week, due to safety reasons, I cannot name the island or our indigenous pastor who is sharing the Gospel on this island.. This is a very dangerous island and people's lives would be at risk if I said who and where.I posted this photo, because this is a very familiar view of land in the Philippines. There are coconut trees everywhere, but I wanted to show you the photo of the actual land that you helped purchase.

Thank you again for helping us spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who don't know Jesus, and many who have never heard of Him.

It is still hard to believe we can purchase land and build churches so cheaply in the Philippines. But, that's what we can do in Third World nations. And, it helps when people aren't looking for elaborate buildings. When you live in a bamboo hut with thatch roofing, your expectations of a church building are a lot different than here in the U.S. I like that. The emphasis is not on the building, but on leading people to Jesus and making disciples.

We have more opportunities to plant churches in the Philippines and soon in Myanmar and Haiti. We are going to start a church plant account. As people give for planting churches, we will use it specifically for that purpose. It would be nice to have the money already when opportunities arise, so we can go ahead and plant the church.

If you would like to give to planting churches in the Philippines, Myanmar and Haiti, when you write a check, make it out to Love In Action and in the note put "Church Plant." You can mail your church plant donation to: Love In Action, P.O. Box 85, Dothan, AL 36302. Or, click here and give online.

Thank you again. Because of your giving, thousands of people who have never heard the Gospel of Jesus will have that opportunity now and become followers of Jesus Christ.


Thank you for joining us in carrying out the Great Commission, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” - Matthew 28:19-20