On Thursday Esther, Carl and I head off to the Philippines to catch up with I guy that I met on my first trip to Manila in 1992. I met Lhoy at a pastors retreat in Sapang Palay, a Smoky Mountain rubbish tip resettlement area in the hills outside Quezon City, Manila. He was pioneering a church that was meeting under a canopy of sewed together rice sacks and the rains had destroyed the canopy.
He was a talented IT technician who had given up his career and was trying to support his young family by selling sticks of garlic house to house while building a church. Over the next few years we built a relationship with him, bought him a motorbike and visited and stood by him as he built up Reaper of Christ Church, a church typical of many thousands of church groups throughout the Philippines.
However the financial struggle and the pastoral care struggles took their toll on him, on his marriage and the church and in 2000 Lhoy left to work in Saudi Arabia leaving behind a destroyed marriage and a disintegrated church. And I lost contact with him.
How exciting last year then to get an email from him to say that he was back with Venus and his kids and was in the throws of rebuilding his church and planting a new congregation at the same time. How good and faithful is God?
Please pay for Lhoy and for all the other zealous young couples reaching out to their people in the most trying conditions, often following a church planting model that makes them so vulnerable and which I’m not at all sure is the best way to establish the Kingdom among the poor.
Following our time with Lhoy we are travelling to Cebu to catch up with a house church guy I came across on the Internet. His name is Molong Nacua and as it turns out he is a friend of Stuart Gramenz, a well known leader in the Australian house church movement. I’m hoping that Molong will have some keys to help us come along side guys like Lhoy, with a better model and a surer way to bring Christ to the people of this key Asian nation.
I’m looking forward to reporting on our return. Stay tuned.