All I have to say after my trip to the Philippines is "wow, what an experience"! I believe I spoke around 12 times in a span of 4 days! I say 'I believe' because to be honest it was a total blur and I lost my voice due to a cold after the first main session! But what a joy!
My travel companion for the week was a very good friend, Jerry McManus, from one of our supporting churches in New Jersey, Victory Bible. Victory Bible Church and one of our individual supporters provided the funds for this trip and both Jerry and I thank them both for their giving towards this amazing, once in a lifetime experience. I'm glad I had Jerry to share the experience with and I know God stretched him a lot as well.
We left on a Monday and went to bed Wednesday morning at 3:00AM and had "only" been traveling around 24hrs straight. Travel for the most part was without incident and Jerry and I joked at the end of the trip that the only form of transportation that we did not use on our trip was a train. We traveled by: plane, bus, taxi, jeepney, motorcycle sidecar, and boat. A few Filipinos wanted us to ride one of the bike taxis but we determined we didn't want to kill a 15 year old trying to peddle 2 fat white guys up-hill on a bike!
I learned sooooo much from the Filipino believers there and I am so glad that I went and that Jerry was able to accompany me. What a joy it was to not only be able to share God's Word with them but to learn from their lives and the way they do ministry. I'd like to challenge you with just a few things I learned about missions that I hope will be an encouragement and a challenge to you as well.
1. Their understanding of 'true sacrifice' and 'counting the cost'. I had one college student tell me he didn't have any other way to give more (I say more because he was already giving as much as possible) towards missions but he felt that if he skipped a few meals a month and ate even more rice than normal, he would have more to give to his local church and missions. We have no idea often times what it means to 'sacrifice' for the cause of Christ.
2. Their understanding of the importance of prayer. Jerry and I participated in a prayer meeting and I wish you could have seen their 'prayer list'. They spent time corporately in prayer for the salvation of lost family, friends and co-workers and missionaries around the world. They told us two very important things. First, they felt that their times of corporate prayer should be more about emphasizing the salvation of lost people than 'health related' prayer requests. That's not to say they don't pray for those things they just choose not to spend the majority of their time as a church focusing on those things, as they are all about reaching lost people and seeing them discipled for Christ. Secondly, they are financially unable to support as many missionaries as they would like, but they still view these people as 'their missionaries' and pray regularly and fervently for them. Yet they don't feel that prayer is the 'least' they can do but rather 'the most they can do', regardless if they are able to help financially or not.
3. Their missions budget exceeds their overall church budget. They see missions (reaching lost people both locally and internationally) as not something that 'we do' but rather a mindset of 'everything we do is about sharing Christ'.
There is much for us to learn regarding missions from our brothers and sisters in Asia and South America. After all, they are the ones sending the most missionaries around the world these days! Just a few things for you and me to think about...