On Tuesday (4/14) and Wednesday (4/15), Ron and I spoke in a gospel meeting at the church of Christ in Tuguegarao City, located in the Cagayan Valley of Northern Luzon. Rody Gumpad has labored with this congregation for many years. On the first day, attendance exceeded 150. On the second, the crowd was smaller, but the audience manfisted good attention, especially during the question and answer sessions.
In the morning, I preached on the need for speaking gracious words. In every circumstance, the Master Teacher said the right thing, at the right time, in the right way. Exhorting men to prepare for the coming kingdom, He spoke gracious words. Rebuking hypocrisy and sin, He spoke gracious words. Encouraging the fainthearted, comforting the afflicted, He spoke gracious words. We can learn from His example.
In the afternoon, I spoke on the Relationship of Marriage. Ron presented two excellent lessons, challenging and exhorting the audience to obedience. Three individuals responded to the invitation, and were baptized.
It was great to see brethren with whom I have labored in times past. One brother, greeting me with a warm smile, said, “Sir Mark, do you remember me? I am the one you previously rebuked.” I struggled to recall the event; if memory serves, it occurred 10 years ago, involving the importance of being accurate and honest in reports, and in appeals for support. Evangelists are called to reporve, rebuke and exhort with great patience and instructon. What beautiful fruit is borne when such words, designed to bring about positive change, fall into good and honest hearts.
We shared lunch with the Mayor of Tuguegarao City, Ingle Bert (JoJo) Caronan, recently elevated from vice-mayor to his present position after his predecessor was removed from office, having been charged with wrongdoing. Political corruption is a sad fact of life in much of the Philippines. JoJo struck me as sincere, a good man seeking to institute reforms, recognizing the enormity of the task before him, and the perils involved. As often as possible, we turned the conversation in spiritual directons, offering various Biblical passages and principles that would help him better serves the city of Tuguegarao.
It was great to be with the Gumpad family again. Rody and Tessie, Jerome and Kathy Forelo, Ody and Lizel Gumpad, Jay and Michelle Gumpad, Mark and Rosie Joy Daquioag, and their growing families are good friends. Sister Tessie always provides delicious meals. I was encouraged by my association with this family of preachers.
On Wednesday, I preached on 1 Kings 11-13, entitling my lesson Fear vs. Faith. We focused upon the failures of Solomon, who married many foreign women, and turned aside to idolatry; we considered the folly of Rehoboah, who heeded the counsel of young men instead of the elders of Israel; we noted the various innovations of Jeroboam, who caused Israel to sin; finally, we pondered the lesson of the young and old prophets in chapter 13.
On Thursday, I travelled with Junior, Mark and Jay to Kalinga, where I preached in a gospel meeting with the Ganela family. The church in Alvin supports Gerald Ganela, who works with several congregations. The church in Dickinson has long supported his father, Geronimo Ganela, who is a faithful preacher at Centro church, where he also serves as one of the elders. I preached two lessons: (1) The Lord is Coming! and (2) The Conversion of Saul. Afterwards, four were baptized.
The baptism occurred in a very remote area. The place I preached was in a remote mountain-top village. Slowly driving down a deeply-rutted dirt path, we travelled 1-2 miles further into the back-country, where hardly any sign of civilization was evident. Exiting our vehicles, we hiked another ½ mile or so down into the wooded valley, looking for water in which baptisms could occur. April is dry and hot, summertime in the Philippines. The first stream-bed had no water. We traipsed further into the bush, until we found a place that was suitable. I was constantly on the lookout for snakes, and other creepy-crawlies. Once I hesitated, thinking a coiled snake lay in the path, until a companion assured me it was a just twisted branch… Having rather poor eyesight, the next step was definitely one of faith. I took a video of the baptisms, and hopefully can upload it to this website.
On Friday, I participated in gospel meetings at Palca, and also at Maguirig, where Mark and Junior both preach. Efrin Respicio also spoke at the first place, and Virgilio Bocarile preached at the second. Both men are faithful evangelists, and brought good lessons. During the song immediately before I stood up to preach, Mark whispered in my ear. “The prospect that I hoped would attend is not present. Could you offer a word of exhortation instead of preaching a sermon on conversion. So… I shifted gears, and preached an extemporaneous lesson on Hebrews 1-3. At the second place, many young people were in attendance, so I preached a lesson entitled, “Questions of Life for Young People.” No one responded to the invitation, but the brethren were appreciative of the lessons. We had a very good question and answer session afterwards. I love my Filipino brethren, and enjoy the opportunity of seeing so many friends and faithful gospel preachers.
Today, Saturday, is a long day of travel. We hope to be in Laoag by tonight, where we will labor week. So… I wish you all the very best. God speed and may His richest blessings be yours to enjoy. Yours, Mark