Islands of Opportunity

by Dr. Waylon B. Moore

In June I flew for the third time to minister in the Philippine Islands. My first visit there I recall preaching in English, distracted by the echo of two pastors interpreting into two different languages. Sleeping on a corn-shuck mattress, air conditioned by my own sweat, the experience was unique.

Missionary leader Bill Wakefield fed me with hot boiled corn, which we shucked as we traveled on a bus from Manila to Baggio. This bus was pungent with the smells of pigs and chickens. Bill encouraged me to try pickled, fertilized duck eggs. When he didn't eat one, I remembered the unwritten rule: Never eat what a missionary doesn't eat!

I recall flying to the south island of Mindanao where the people are hospitable and responsive. Carabao, domesticated water buffaloes, plowed in the fields. A mere boy can tend these giants, which produce food to feed four families. Many houses were on stilts, either 10 feet high on land or almost floating on the water near the shoreline. The fishermen lived close to “business.” In the past 25 years Mindanao has experienced rapid evangelism and church planting rarely seen anywhere in the free world.

The churches on Luzon Island in the north, however, have had much less evangelistic response over the past two decades. Could the flattening of church planting statistics on this island be reversed, and in the capital city, Manila? Eight million people live in Manila, beneath a hazy horizon of skyscrapers which starkly contrast home-made shanties lining the streets. Chrome-plated Jeeps, bicycles, and people-powered taxis crowd the roads. Everything from fried grasshoppers to 5-star buffets are available. Living on the brink, looking for hope, the average Filipino has yet to hear the Gospel.

In the Manila area this June, I shared the same message with national leaders and missionaries alike: invest in and mentor individuals, as Jesus did. The fruit will be new, witnessing leadership. These leaders will, in turn, fill a desperate need — training new converts which will populate hundreds of new churches.

The Philippines’ Potential

I first preached to pastors in the metropolis of Manila. Missionary Dwight Fern had scheduled time for me to meet with 40 warm-hearted pastors. Dwight has a tremendous vision for discipling men. I taught 2 Timothy 2:1-4 on “How to Multiply Your Life,” and “How to Help People Grow: 5 Steps.” One pastor hugged me, “When I was 16 I was touched by your preaching at Clark Field Baptist Church. I've never forgotten you.” The pastor's group was really hungry and a personal blessing.

The next morning I was taken to a large evangelical church, to be teamed with two Filipino leaders. The first dynamic speaker, Rev. Phillip Tarriga, is Dean at the International School of Theology, and the preaching pastor at Capital City Baptist. The other preacher was Bishop Ef Tendero. He told us about having my book, Multiplying Disciples, on his desk the same moment when a missionary knocked at his office door, inviting him to speak. The singing was thrilling, with a praise band and the backdrop of a 500-voice congregation of national leaders.

This young-in-age crowd's response to my messages was instant, laughing and soaking up the illustrations. Later one missionary whispered, “You zapped them! They loved your messages.” I knew the LORD did it all, because back home you were praying for me. The messages on practical mentoring were: “How to Help Others Grow,” and “Building Decisions into Disciples.” During a follow-up session, the 500 leaders bombarded us with sharp questions. For example, “Some of us have two jobs; where do you get time to mentor?” Tendero hit the target: “I've found we can use eating times. We all eat. Sometimes I suggest an early breakfast, or lunch.”

Strength Through Weakness

The second purpose of my ministry in the Philippines was to speak to 60 IMB missionaries who target Manila and its northern island. On the two-hour trip to the outlying retreat area, however, I couldn't fight a bug I'd been struggling with. I began to be really sick. I remembered: “. . . my grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). His strength in exchange for my weakness! This was my first time overseas to be ill, having ministered in 90 nations! Later, dehydrated and speaking from a sitting position, I blacked out.

Was it food poisoning or amoeba? I was soon taken to a local clinic-hospital. This clinic had no hot water, but God gave me the only room with air conditioning — a welcome relief from the steamy tropical heat. Nurses and MD's began plugging in IV's. Four missionary nurses gave me round-the-clock care for 48 hours. Helping was my hostess, Mrs. Diana Clark. I then had strength to walk out — HIS strength! The total bill was only $340!

I began to feel excited and stronger. Your prayers and love strengthened me for victory in the battle. I was privileged to teach four more times on “Multiplying Leadership by Mentoring.” What a special, loving and unforgettable group our missionaries are there! Their public response was so warm, sometimes with applause. And in private times I sought to encourage, listen, and learn from these soldiers of the Cross.

Pray for the Philippines, for tens of thousands to hear the gospel, and then plant new churches. They need more missionaries to sow, water, and reap the vast opportunity for harvest! Are you open?

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