Corruption in the Philippines

[Editor's Note: Borrowed from Steve Wallace's "White Unto Harvest" report.]

44 Days in the Philippines

Betty and I worshipped with the Klienwood, Houston, Texas church Sunday, April 15th where our youngest son and his family worship. After evening services Betty and Jimmy carried me to Bush Airport where I was to depart for the Philippines about 10 PM.

From Houston I flew to Manila via Los Angeles and Taipai, Taiwan. The second leg of these journeys (across the ocean) is always long and tiring. I arrived in Manila Tuesday AM about 11 and was met by a company of Filipino brethren. Ben Cruz was my host and for the next two days I preached in Navotas to about 70-80 brethren and preachers. Early Friday morning Ben and other brethren carried me north east to San Jose, Nueva Ecija where I preached and then from there a hired van carried me the next day to Cordon, Isabela where I stayed with Domie Jacobs for the next 5-6 days, using Cordon as my base as I preached to area locations.

I was scheduled to preach to a group of institutional preachers on Monday and Tuesday in Quireno province which proved disappointing. Only one came and that for a partial day, but there were preachers and brethren to whom we spoke so the time was not completely wasted. On the other hand, our labors on Wednesday proved very profitable. We had made contact last year with Virgilio Jacob, a preacher of the "one-cup" persuasion and had asked that if it were possible to arrange a schedule for us. During the course of that day I preached to three congregations all of whom had held to the "one-cup" doctrine. Virginilio had already prepared the way and had begun showing the inconsistency of their position and so, by day's end all three renounced their opposition to multiple cups and by the next Lord's Day communion trays had been provided for all three. There are about 100 members total in these three congregations. In addition, four of their preachers renounced their former position as well.

The next three days were spent preaching in congregations in the provinces of Isabela, Kalinga and Cagayan, working out of Tuguegarao City, staying with Rody Gumpad.

It is had been about five years since Ken Marrs had traveled with me. While we were unable to travel together, Ken and I made arrangements that he would come about a week after my arrival and that we would meet in Tuguegarao. Ken's luggage was left behind in San Francisco and it was nearly a week before he finally was able to get it. One can get by with one shirt and one pair of pants if one has to!

Churches are popping up all over the Cagayan valley, a region embracing the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Kalinga, Quireno, Vizcaya and Nueva Ecija. We were told that there are 200 or more congregations in this region. Slowly brethren are acquiring small, humble but permanent buildings of hollow block. One good sister from Tuguegarao has bought blocks, cement and galvanized roofing for a number of these congregations.

Monday, April 20, Ken and I traveled to Pamplona where we preached to about 300 Negritos until noon. That afternoon, night and next morning we hold classes for about 30 - 35 preachers from the area. Danilo Tiongsong pioneered the work here and several young preachers work with the 5-6 congregations the Negritos: a minority from the mountains, called the original Filipinos.

From Tuesday, May 1st to Sunday the 6th we were in Ilocos. Wednesday, May 2nd we spoke alternately to about 100 men and 100 women in Laoag City. There are approximately 100 churches in these two provinces of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. The work is well established and congregations are prospering. Again we saw brethren erecting permanent buildings. The Laoag City church has a very nice three storied building in the heart of the city. Materno Sibayan preaches there. The church in La Paz (Laoag City) also has a very nice, new building. Rogelio Pascual is the preacher. The Escoda church in Marcos continues to improve its building. Vic Domingo preachers for this congregation of 130 - 150 souls. The brethren in Caboga are meeting in a new building (preacher Egdon Sabio) and brethren in Vigan (Rolando Azarin, preacher) have begun construction on their building. A well to-do sister in the congregation gave a lot and brethren had saved over 100,000 pesos (about $2,000) to begin its construction. Other congregations in the region also are in new buildings, as well. Signs of maturing and prospering churches.

Ken and I traveled to Abra Province Sunday afternoon, May 6th, and spent Monday and Tuesday preaching in this mountainous province. The journey was hard and required a 5-6 hour jeepney trip over unpaved mountain road and crossing rivers by makeshift ferrys! We held lectures Wednesday - Saturday in Pangasinang, Pampanga and then back in Manila where Ken helped Ben Cruz on his Saturday radio broadcast and I spoke to a group of about 35 preachers at Makita City.

Sunday, May 13th we flew early morning to Naga in Bicol region. A recently converted preacher named Bernard Tano had invited us to help him teach his congregation on Monday and Tuesday but on Sunday we spoke to 3 of the 4 small congregations of brethren in the region. Very few congregations are in this area and the beginning of new churches at Goa and Naga will help spread the Word and encourage the already existing churches. Thursday, May 16th we flew to General Santos City where we preached for two days to about 200 preachers. Saturday we traveled to Polomolok speaking to another 50 or more. Sunday, May 20th we preached in different churches, then met at the airport after to fly to Cebu City.

Jonathan Carino met us at the airport and we spent the night in a Cebu City hotel. Next morning Ken and I separated for about a week; Ken and company traveled to the island of Negros but I remained behind to spend two days lecturing to preachers from the Cebu City region. Wednesday, May 23, Jonathan and I crossed the straits from Toledo City (Cebu) to San Carlos City, Occidental Negros. Jonathan had carried his van and stayed with me the next week while I preached in a lectureship in Bacolod City to about 40 preachers, then traveled three days preaching to the infant congregations scattered from Bacolod City to San Carlos City. We found Ken in San Carols City Monday, May 28th and our company of six traveled by ferry back to Toledo City where Ken and I preached to over 100 preachers including between 30-40 preachers. Our lectures ended Wednesday 30th and we returned to Cebu City where we spent our last night together, then early the next morning we flew to Manila where Ken was to catch his plane back to San Francisco about 3 PM. My plane was to depart at 1 PM.

Forty Seven Days packed full of preaching! There were at least 236 baptized, 3 churches turned from the "one cup" doctrine and two or three new congregations begun. We preached in 12-14 different lectureships for preachers to between 550-600 of them; to uncounted numbers of churches as well. 12-15 denominational preachers were baptized as well. Two weary preachers returned to the States, glad to be home! We began our travel praying that God would be glorified and His Son's church exalted. So we still pray.

I am thankful for the many churches and brethren who joined heart and hand with me in this effort. I know that many prayers were uttered on our behalf, all which we were deeply grateful for. There were many things happening in the Philippines while we were there: their ex-president was arrested the first day I arrived; a mass demonstration to protest his arrest gathered in Manila and we were told there were upward to a million of them. Shortly before we left a radical Muslim rebel group called the Abu Sayaff took 20 hostages including three Americans on the island of Palawan, an island we have frequently visited. We have heard that they have beheaded one, but that has not been confirmed. But, we were never in any real danger that we were aware of.

But we are home, and glad to be!!

A Pressing Need

In the past few years many denominational preachers have been baptized in various places in the Philippines, the greatest number being in Mindanao in the regions of Davao City, Digos City and General Santos City, [Editor's Note: See comments by a Filipino preacher who went to this area] but by no means confined to these areas. Throughout many other parts of Mindanao, as well as the islands of Cebu, Negros and Luzon many preachers have "put on Christ". These men are warned of the special hardships they must suffer if they obey and cautioned that no support is promised now or ever. Still, several hundreds have been baptized.

As some might expect, the way has been extremely difficult for many of these, especially those who were receiving support from their former denominations. Their joy has been tempered with suffering and some have considered the price too high to pay and have gone back to their former groups. These were, however, a small minority. [Editor's Note: Notice the implication that these men went from preaching for denominations immediately to preaching for the church.]

For some of these new preachers a little support has ben obtained but just for a fraction of them. Yet all of them have the same needs for themselves and their families. I know literally dozens of these men. I feel their frustrations and know their hardships. Over 2-3 years they have shown their steadfastness and manifested their faith.

Fifty dollars will not support these preachers with perhaps the exception of some of the "minorities" who live in depressed mountain regions. But fifty dollars would be a great help to them to carry on and encourage them in the work of Christ.

As I write these words, addressing them to the individual readers of this report I ask, "Could you supply $25 - $50 a month to help some of these men?" How great is the need in this expanding field of the Lord's Kingdom. You cannot go but you can have fellowship with those who are there.

Books for Preachers

Sometime ago Mike Willis proposed a plan to help new preachers with books for their study, called "Adopt a Preacher" Book Club. For one year a book is sent each month to a selected preacher and those who have "adopted" that preacher are then billed for the book. None of the books are more than $25 a month and may range from $15-$20, I am told. This is a good way to help aid the knowledge of these men and the names are never revealed to the Filipino preacher without the donor's consent.

The names of both the preacher and the the one who provides the books are sent to the Truth Bookstore: the book is shipped to the Filipino preacher and its cost is billed to the donor. If you are interested in such a work as this, please let me know.

Sorrow and Disappointments

Every coin has two sides. Since the church began there has been the admixture of good and bad: witness the churches of Jerusalem, Corinth, Thyatira and Pergumum. Jesus predicted this in His Parable of the Great Net cast into the sea. There are preachers and brethren in the US who act in such a way that they reflect upon the Lord who bought them. There are also Filipino Christians and preachers who do not walk worthy of their calling. It saddens me to write this but one of these is a brother named Luth Capicenio. Luth supplied a long lists of widows and orphans to US brethren whose hearts were touched by their needs and they began to provide monthly help for many of them. But Luth never gave some any of the money intended for them and others received just a portion. Luth has been confronted, publicly confessed his wrongs and asked forgiveness. We must extend such to him. But, I cannot recommend that help be given to others through him. Another brother who is a disappointment is Roger Salviejo. Roger has been an effective preacher in the past but his entering into a questionable marriage and more recently alleged charges that he harassed a female employee of his compels me to say I cannot recommend support to Roger [Editor's Note: McDonald knew of this for at least two years Salviejo or Salviego had admited to living in adultery for 17 years, while he was "an effective preacher," and claimed to have repented of the sin in 2000.]. Like Luth, he promises correction in some of the matters that are problems regarding him.

It grieves me to write these things yet I must relate both good and bad. But, wrongdoing on the part of two or three Filipino preachers nor more means the whole work is corrupt there than corruption on the part of two or three American preachers means the work is wholly corrupt here. Someday our Lord will separate the sheep from the goats and the chaff from the wheat. But until He comes, we continue on, teaching, following the instructions of Paul: "Preach the Word. Be urgent in season, out of season. Reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine...."

Displaced Filipinos

"Do you know where Sugarland, Texas is?" my hosts asks. "Yes, of course", I reply. Well---- I know it is somewhere in the Houston, Texas vicinity! DISPLACED FILIPINOS..."Is there a sound church there?" my hosts continues. "Yes", I reply. As it turned out my host had a sister-in-law with her mother who lived there and who were Christians and who were not sure where to worship. We made a call to Gene Mabry in Houston to pass on that information to him.

More and more Filipino Christians ask about places to worship "abroad". We can't always provide them the information they seek but we do when we can. The number of Countries in which Filipino Christians are working is extensive: Hongkong, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Malasia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Canada, France, Italy as well as the US. Often these brethren provide the core for beginning of new works in new fields.

A Word of Caution

We continue to offer the following caution to those who provide help to someone in the Philippines.

Many US brethren receive letters from Filipino brethren and now that e-mail is available in most regions there, many brethren receive e-mails as well. I do not know how addresses either for letters or for e-mails are gotten by these brethren, but they do.

If you help in the support of a brother there, you should insist that that brother provide you all the names and sums of support he might receive from someone else. Warn him that if you learn that he receives support from others of whom he has not told you about that you will cease any help to him, then do it.

If you help provide some temporary relief to someone, ask that others confirm that the need is real. Then, ask that receipts be given you where the bills were spent. [Editor's Note: Receipts can and have been altered in the past.] In addition, before sending help, ask to ascertain whether any help has already been received for the request. Sometimes many people are sent letters of requests and others respond as well as you. No brother who is really in need is going to resent such precautions as this.

Yours in Christ,

Jim McDonald