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All posts for the month December, 2023

We made a big announcement, and our congregations have received it well, albeit with some tears. Inspired by Acts 13:1-4 and Matthew 28:18-20, Gina and I will move in January to Luna, Apayao, in the northernmost part of the Philippines. (We’ve been living in Davao City, in the south, for over ten years.) Our goal is to start a church and raise up disciples who will minister to animist tribes there.
I will continue to pastor the congregations here in Davao from a distance. I have complete confidence in the fine leaders here that God has blessed us with. They will ‘run the show’ quite well, and if they need guidance, I’m just a message away. If Paul could continue to oversee churches from a distance 2000 years ago, then by the grace of God, I can in the age of internet and easy travel.
Our leaders have known about our vision for some months, and they have been praying with us. I also have wise, godly advisors who have guided and encouraged us along the way.
God is good! We’ll miss our many dear friends here in Davao very much, but we’re excited about the future.
Red dot, where we are going. White dot, Davao City:
They are 1400 KM or 870 miles apart. We’ll put our vehicle–packed with our stuff–on a ferry for part of the trip.
“John, you’re 62. Why are you starting over in a new place at your age?”
Because God is leading us that way. Why is he doing that? Probably because not enough younger people are doing it.
Luke 10:2 “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
We already made a deposit for three little studio apartments that we’ll live in for P4K ($70) each per month. ($210 is close to what we have been paying for rent in Davao City.) One studio will be our kitchen/dining room, one will be our bedroom, and one will be where we will host Bible studies and church services until we grow and need something bigger. Imagine: “John, I’m going next door to make lunch.” “OK, I’m going to our other place to study.” 🤪
(The ATV is the landlord’s.) More about our move at the end of this report.
I’m thankful for young men who would rather hear God’s word than play basketball or video games every Wednesday evening. Marc, who took the photo, has been discipling them, but I get to teach them once a month or so. Most of these boys also are faithful at church as well as the adult weekly Bible study in this home.
On every Sunday, in our Buhangin location, the second of three services is for youth. It was Bee’s idea, and she totally runs it… Well, she did, but she has trained the youth so well, they can now manage it without her! Bee had to be away for a recent youth service, but it went very well. That’s discipleship.
“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2:2)
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7)
I’m thrilled to see Jayr and Chona teaching plus organizing and raising up volunteers to minister to kids in several places, and to adults in some places as well. They minister to about 100 people on Saturdays, plus many more throughout each week.
Jayr, Chona, Bee, and Marc are four of the reasons why I’m fully confident that the congregations in Davao City will continue to thrive after Gina and I move to Apayao.
A politician was murdered last month at the fast-food place we go to more than any other–the Jollibee near our church building. Giselo Castillones had once been mayor of Canteel in Davao Oriental.
A very high number of politicians, journalists, activists, and judges are murdered in the Philippines. And throughout a recent six-year stretch, Davao City was the number one city in the Philippines for murder, according to Wiki.
Kim had never heard of Dorothy or “The Wizard of Oz” before. She just decided to wear a blue checkered dress over a white shirt. With pigtails. (We handed her the basket and stuffed toy for the photo.) 🙂
We ministered at a funeral/wake for some dear friends. Many unsaved people heard the gospel. I preached about how God comforted and helped Naomi after her loved ones passed away, and how God has sustained me despite losing my parents, two brothers, my father-in-law, and my daughter within the past 11 years. See 2 Corinthians 1:5-7.
During a scary few days at the beginning of December, of 50 earthquakes above 5.0 worldwide, 48 of them were here in the Davao area. The other two were in nearby Indonesia. The one that started them all was a 7.5. There were not many casualties, but there was much property damage.
It got to the point where we felt what turned out to be a 6.8, but we were tired of running outside, so we stayed and kept working. ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’ syndrome, I guess. 😵‍💫
(Davao City is in the black circle; quake sites are red dots.)
We’ll be leaving Davao City’s earthquakes but moving into Luzon’s typhoons. As they say, out of the frying pan and into the fire! 😀 But if we do encounter disasters, God will use us to bring emergency relief as well as the gospel to those in need.
I’m so blessed by this young man’s dedication. Jerico was supposed to be at our Buhangin church building at a certain time for a practice, but traffic was stopped near his home… for a long time. I know, because I was driving the other way, towards his house (to teach a Bible study). So Jerico got out of the jeepney (public transportation) and started running. I know, because I saw him. I asked him later, How far did you run? He said he was able to catch another jeep at a mall. I looked it up, and that mall is 5KM (3.1 miles) from his house.
I’m a bit envious of Jerico, because he has a nice, deep voice. (I think he’s 17 or 18.) I keep telling him he will be a preacher one day.
This is one of the tribes we plan on ministering to when we move up north next month. The photo is from 14 months ago, when Gina and I went up to ‘spy out the land’ like Joshua and Caleb. The Bayugao tribe is mostly animist* but is 8% Christian.
*Animism is belief in many spirits and demigods which live in things such as trees or rocks. Animists typically live in fear, always trying to appease these entities by rituals and sacrifices. 
Please pray for Luna, for the nearby Bayugao tribe, and for the Pudtol Atta tribe in the area (1% evangelical, 94% animist).

We’re moving to another island, with islands in-between. If we put all our stuff onto a big moving truck, it would take them nine days of driving and riding ferries. So that would be way too expensive. We have to sell most of our stuff (at garage-sale prices) and try to replace it all at our destination. Therefore, for our airfare, shipping some stuff, plus buying furniture, etc., we need approximately $6000. Wanna help? 🙂 

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