First Stop – Manila
On Tuesday the 20 March I arrived in Manila & met up with Pr. Manuel Giannikouris (from Darwin), & Pr. Joseph Cantong (from Manila). Pr. Manuel is the Liaison Pastor for The Philippines, & regularly makes visits to the city.
There are about 75 Saints in the Manila fellowship. Members of the fellowship in Manila often have to travel great distances to be at the meetings. The greatest difficulty for them is the time it takes to travel to the meeting, via bus or train, plus the cost of public transport. Manila is a city of over 20 million people making it very congested. Some of the brethren travel more than two hours to get to the meetings. The traffic is always chaotic, & as a result, following up the new members, & general visiting can be difficult.
The first few days we were in Manila were spent distributing leaflets for a presentation on ‘The Last Days in Bible Prophecy’. This gave us opportunities to witness to people, & to personally invite them to the presentation. Fortunately, most of the people spoke reasonable English, & were aware of the Bible. About 40 new folk came to the presentation, which was well received.
Brother Zaldy had his 40th birthday that day, & he told his family that he did not want a present, but asked that they came to the presentation instead, so they all came along. Zaldy gave his testimony which really impressed them. They were aware of a great change in his life, as he was previously involved in criminal activities, & had to live on the streets.
Deaf Saints in Manila
The ‘deaf’ Saints in the Manila fellowship were very active in inviting new people along to the presentation also, bringing a number along with them. One sister brought seven friends along to the presentation because of her testimony to them. The result was 15 baptisms that day, & all but one were deaf. So far about 25 deaf people have not only been baptised but have received the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of Speaking in Other Tongues. Generally, they had not made a sound all their life, until after their baptisms. It was interesting to see them confess their faith, with sign language. A couple of the deaf brethren are also starting to hear, & forming English & Tagalog words. The deaf community in Manila make up a staggering 10-15% of the population. They are outcasts of society & find it almost impossible to get work. If they do, it is usually a 6 months contract, at half the normal rate paid to the unskilled worker. It works out to be about 150 pesos [AUD$6 ] a week. There is no social security or Government funding to help them either.
Sister Pearle, Pr. Joseph & brothers Zaldy, Robert, & Ariel have all learned to be competent in ‘signing ‘ for the deaf. After the meetings they divide them up into small groups, encourage them with the scriptures , & pray for them. ‘Signing’ is used during the chorus time, & throughout all the talks.
The Assembly in Aurora
During the second week we travelled to the two other Assemblies, which are in villages some distance from Manila.
The first visit was to Aurora, which is about a 7 hour drive north west of Manila. The Assembly started there in December 2010, through a Sister in the Singapore Assembly, who comes from that village. They mainly grow rice in the district, & the surrounding mountains are covered in coconut trees. The region is the main coconut growing area for the Philippines. There are about 20 Saints who regularly meet in fellowship. We stayed with Brother Philemon, his son Brian & his wife Eileen.
Fellowship in Umingan
We moved on another 4 hours, driving to the east. The Assembly is in the village of Umingan & has been in existence for a few years now. There are about 60 regular members. The meetings are looked after by Brother Yohan, & two other Brothers (Hamis & Boyuer).
Yohan is a school teacher who speaks very good English, plus the local dialect. He & his wife Juliette had a great testimony. About 10 months ago Juliette had a daughter who was delivered prematurely, at 30 weeks of gestation. Hanna weighed 1 kilogram, & doctors told them she had virtually no hope of living. They told the doctor that they believed in a miracle working God, & had prayed for her. At that time, in the neonatal unit, there were 6 premature babies. Hanna I believe was the smallest, & less developed, but was the only one to survive, Praise the Lord!
There were approx. 35 visitors who attended the presentation we ran on the ‘Last Days’, & 4 of them received the Holy Spirit & were baptised. Many others were witnessed too.
Please keep the saints in the Philippines in your prayers.
Reported by Pr. Graeme Hazledine – Wed, 30th May, 2012
Revival Fellowship – Adelaide