I’ve just returned from great trips to the Philippines, Israel and Japan working with several of our national missionaries. I’ll be heading to England and Iraq for concerts and ministry in a few weeks. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers as I travel. Here’s a recent report on my latest trips;
Visits to the Philippines and Japan
“I shall return!”
So promised General Douglas MacArthur as he left Bataan during the Battle of the Philippines on March 20, 1942. On Oct. 17, 1944, the American war hero landed in Leyte, Philippines, and declared, “I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil.” This is a classic story known to Filipinos, of how their American friend kept his promise to come back and help them win their freedom after decades of occupation and oppression. It offers hope, joy and peace, three things we surely need today as well.
Randy Mayfield, Central’s missions pastor, elder Andy Gunn and Central member Mary Ann Stark recently visited our missionaries in the Philippines. “Relationships are impor- tant to Filipinos, and that was the main purpose of our recent trip,” said Randy. “Across the board, Filipinos put a high priority on interpersonal relationships and value words, promises and loyalty.” Our team spent a week in Mindanao in the southern Philippines, meeting with and encouraging our eight nationals who minister on the southern re- mote islands. These islands are populated by predominantly Muslim unreached people groups. This year, after four hard years of sowing and watering, our southern Philippines team witnessed the first four converts to Christianity in the history of this people group!
Randy, Andy and Mary Ann took our team members to dinner, prayed with them, helped them with some needs and sent them back to the islands–where they will continue to labor without clean water and electricity and with very little food and continuous threats from rebels and others who are not happy with their work of bringing the gospel to these remote islands. Please pray for all of our missionaries who are serving these unreached people groups (S. P., I. R., and K. peoples).
Randy spent four more days with the Quimbos, our missionaries in the city of Cagayon de Oro. They rode motorcycles for more than three hours over rivers, broken bridges, and up steep, muddy hills to reach the “hilltop” mountain village where the Quimbos provide food, clothing and spiritual guidance to many villagers. Randy spoke with the families and sang for the children. Then they killed a duck and a chicken for dinner before slipping under the mosquito nets to sleep (by the way, the nets also kept out rats, bats and snakes!).
Randy went from the Philippines to Tokyo to visit our Japanese missionaries, the Aoyagis. These people are planting a church and also minister- ing to tsunami victims in northern Japan. While the tsunami happened more than a year ago, many are still without homes, and there is much work to do cleaning up and rehabbing homes. (If you are a carpenter or would like to help with the cleanup, let Randy know, as teams of workers are still needed.)
Central Elder, Andy Gunn offered his comments on the trip:
This trip, made in conjunction with 40 other American believers, was an incredibly rich fellowship journey with national missionaries reach- ing the southern Philippine islands. God is doing great work in that part of the world; it was an amazing opportunity to see it.
I experienced Filipinos to be loving, gracious, humble people. Though many have little materially-speaking, they are thankful and joyful. Their prayers are filled with expressions of thanksgiving!
Many of the national missionaries, including the eight whom Central supports, are young, single women. I was amazed to realize that these young, innocent-looking people were the ones God had raised up to carry the torch of the gospel to dark and dangerous places, places where Westerners are usually not welcome. These chosen ones have left homes and families for the sake of Christ and are truly doing frontline missions work.
One of our main purposes was to meet and encourage our missionaries. As so often happens with mission trips, the ones who go are of- ten the ones greatly blessed and encouraged! This was certainly true for me; there was bonding of hearts with some very special people, and I felt spiritually refreshed. Shortly before our departure from the Philippines, one of our missionaries, Myra, gave me a note saying “my heart was overwhelmed with joy to see the faces of those who had come from far away to encourage us”; she knew she was not alone, knowing that we (Central) were kneeling before God on her behalf.
God has brought us into partnership with many missionaries in our community and around the world. They are praying for us at Central; I encourage us to continue to pray and reach out to them!
Christian Day at the Ballpallpark
Christian Day was a great success this past July at Busch Stadium. For photos and a report, go here; http://www.christianday.freehomepage.com/ Special guest speaker was Cardinal manager, Mike Matheny. Several players also shared. Look for upcoming information on next years “Christian Day” event with special guests!