THREE APOSTLES TO THE PHILIPPINES

I’ve just returned from one of the most significant trips that I have had to the Philippines. We (myself, my wife Esther and my good friend Carl Porter) went there to serve some churches with whom we had a relationship – and in the process finished up serving three apostles, three good Filipino men that Christ has given as gifts to the church.

FELIX DE RAMOS

One of them was Felix de Ramos. Felix has been serving as a father in the Philippines for the past 15 years and more, travelling around the country building up pastors and serving the Filipino church. He is one of the humblest, most unassuming men I know. His home church, Peace International Christian Church, sounds grand but meets in the basement of a house in Quezon City, Manila, hidden from view yet immensley influential.

Which is what true apostles are all about. Like the bones of the body or the foundations of the building they carry weight and give strength and shape but are hidden. It’s the flesh that carries the life and is seen. Felix, to my mind, embodies that principle and is a gift to the church.

LHOY EDANIOL

Lhoy and Venus EdaniolLhoy I’ve introduced in the previous post. He met me with tears at Felix’s church and we proceeded to Sapang Palay to meet the two churches that he was fathering in San Jose del Monte, a significant city in the hills above Manila. Five years ago God restored a very broken Lhoy back into ministry and gathered again the scattered flock that he had left – and added another battered flock to him as well. By the time we arrived Lhoy, with the enthusiastic help of his wife Venus,  had formed them into a couple of vibrant churches with equally enthusiastic workers reaching out among the poor and planting home based churches among them.

Part of the reason I went was to check that he had put into place some protections for himself and his family. Church planting is hard work in the Philippines, especially under old paradigms of ministry. I left him, confident that the safeguards are in place (before I came he had submitted himself to an older pastor in the area who loved him)  and confident also that God had restored him from the wilderness to be a key man in the city. For he carries an apostolic heart for the city, for the churches of the city and for the many other pastors who have fallen under the weight of ministry. God is making him a father beyond his local congregations. And I’m looking forward to being part of that process, raising some support back here in Yeppoon and dropping in now and then to strengthen him in a great work.

MOLONG NACUA

Then there was Molong.  But he definately requires a separate post … stay tuned.

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JOSH’S PROPHETIC CHAI VAN

Last week was Esther’s 60th birthday (yes, we have both now reached that illustrius age, even though neither of us look a day over 59!) and we celebrated with a party in our backyard. It was a great party with a roaring fire, a couple of excellent musicians, a feast of  delicious curries and a wonderful turn out of friends. But what topped it off for me was Josh’s chai van – in our back yard. It was a prophetic sign.

To put you in the picture, Josh is the guy who normally runs the chai ‘peace’ van on a Saturday morning at the local produce market, where he serves up his freshly brewed organic Indian chai tea to a happy and chatty clientel, which includes a fair gathering of the local  ‘alternative’ community. The van was built by his dad twenty years or so ago as part of the ‘year of peace’ and Josh has inherited the business (and the passion!). 

A few months back Esther, an avid early morning market person, came home and said, “Josh wants to catch up with you”. Well, Josh and I had had some dealings a few years back when he was going through a rather dramatic time and so I dropped down to the market to find him packing up but eager for a chat. Some events of the last few months had brought him to a stage where he seriously wanted to make some changes and get his life together. We had a great conversation, I prayed with him and left him to think about it. Well, the result is that it was God’s time for him, he started getting involved in our house church, which he loved, and a few weeks ago I baptised him.

Good story, you may say, but what is prophetic about a chai van? Well simply that the van represented for me a whole alternative crowd out there that will probably never be comfortable in a church building – and it was in our backyard. And Josh was as happy and enthusiastic as I’d ever seen him, serving up his brew with an evangelistic zeal and a life changing story to go with it. The party included believers and not-yet believers, friends from across the whole Yeppoon church community and the unchurched community as well – all gathered around the ‘peace’ van. Backyard believers. It’s a prophetic sign.