Friday, September 22, 2006


Last weekend as we took a short vacation to the beach we were looking forward to relaxing and escaping from all of the challenges in the Philippines. We were enjoying the ocean, sun, and scenery, and slowly drifting away into relaxation. We decided to take a walk down the beach. As we walked we noticed a small rock island right off the beach with a few trees on it. It looked so beautiful standing alone out there. It almost had a majestic feel, since the beach was so long, white, and sandy. As we neared the island, closer and closer our hearts sank. It was an island just for a groto (as pictured to the right) which means the statue of Mary and the surrounding decorations in the Filipino language. We felt our hearts sink as we realized that the distorted Catholic influence and Mary statues of this culture had followed us to the beach! The idols are everywhere at our home and we have now become used to seeing them, yet they constantly remind us of the dominant Catholicism here. The house that we rented has a Jesus and Mary tile plate above the front door and most homes have a Jesus/ Mary emblem on their front gate or wall. Also, as we walk through the neighborhoods, we are constantly overwhelmed as we frequently see in a lot of neighbor's yards huge, sometimes enormous grotos. Some have elaborate decorations, gold designs, water falls even, but all center around the idol Mary. As we stop at red lights, only on occasion, we look in the taxi driver's or car windows next to us and on the dashboard we see little, small, intricate, sometimes Jade idols of Mary, Jesus, other prominant figures, or saints. I have noticed recently a necklace on a black string which a lot of youth wear. I wanted one for a while, until I saw one up close and realized that it was a small, engraved, or sometimes embossed, wooden carving of Mary. My volleyball teamates kiss their Mary necklaces before they serve, or before coming onto the court. Even in the malls there are idols. At the bottom of an escalator in Festival Mall there is a corner set aside for a saint, it is the saint of blessings. It is set up on a pedalstool, looking down at you ever so lovingly, with one hand extended. It has directions pinned on her dress to come, hold the hand, and make a wish or prayer for whatever you want. We often see a long line of people waiting to hold the hand of the idol and pray to it. Even in some department stores on the hour of every hour, there is a prayer to Mother Mary that is recited over the loud speaker. It is everywhere, and there is no escape from this useless, and blasphemous worship. Not only are we constantly confronted with the idol worship from the outside, but it oozes out from us as well; Daily, even we as believers struggle with idol worship. Tim Keller says 'Something will capture our hearts and imaginations and be the most important thing, the ultimate concern, value and allegiance.' If that thing is not God, then what or who is it? Although our worship may not focus on ceramic, stone, wooden, or a gold plated Mary, which we see daily, we are still contaminated with the sin of idolatry as we set up our time, ministry, achievements, material possessions, human approval, and ourselves as hidden idols in our hearts. As we were bombarded that day with the idol on the beach, we were convicted as well. 'Romans 1:25 says we will worship and serve either God or some created thing (an idol). It is not possible that we should worship nothing.' -Keller We were found even more guilty that day as we ridiculed the groto on the beach. We continue to ask for your prayers as we serve in this country. God continues to work through us to build His kingdom, but He also graciously works in us to convict of indwelling sin. Please pray that God would continue to convict, destroy, and tear away our idols, leaving only space for Him to rush in and claim the throne of our hearts. Please pray that He would be enough for us, and our one and only source of true delight, as we seek and serve Him.  Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Prayer & Praises

1. Please pray for our team retreat in October, that God will use this time to bind our hearts together.
2. Please pray for Pastor Marcelo and Aida Ramirez as they are coordinating a lot of ministry her in the Philippines.
3. Please pray for Aiza, Pastor Marcelo's daughter, who needs $1,100 dollars to complete her senior year of nursing school.
4. Please pray for God to send more funds for the ABP operation account. Also please pray that God would raise up Filipino donors. More funds are needed as the ministry is continuing to grow and expand.
5. Please pray for Steven as he attends a LEAD meeting at Ridgehaven, NC on Sept. 18-23
6. Please pray that God will give him much insight and wisdom as to how to better lead our team.
7. Please pray for God to grant us all His gift of humility and repentance
8. Please pray for God to continue to grant Lindsey and Deborah His grace as Steven is in the states, and we are here in the Philippines. Our hearts feel called here, but at the same time we want to love on our grandbaby Wyatt.
9. Please pray for our wonderful church planters who labor constantly for the Lord.
a. Alex and Linda Mendoza and family
b. Noli and Mayet Hugo and family
10. Please pray for Steven's safety as he travels in the states, and as he returns home to us on October 2 & 3
11. Please pray for us as we feel God strongly leading us to start a Bible study with some women that we have met and befriended. Please pray for His perfect timing, location, wisdom, guidance, and favor for us to love and disciple these women. Please pray that God would build His kingdom in and through us, as we seek to win souls for Him.

1. Praise the Lord for a good 2 day assessment seminar for church planters. There are 4 men which will be employed as church planters soon.
2. Praise the Lord for 7 New church plants, which we are beginning to plant.
3. Praise God that the contractor has been selected for the building of ABP4.
4. Praise God for the building that He has provided for free for Pastor Noli and Mayet to begin their sewing livelihood project, day care, and student center located right by a college
5. Praise God for the free place of worship He has provided for Pastor Nong
6. Praise God for Lindsey and Deborah's involvement in BSF. It has been such a joy to use the gifts God has given us for His glory, and the study of Philippians was so convicting.
7. Praise God for the grace He continually pours out on us as we seek His face in our ministry and lives.
8. Praise God for the sanctifying work that He continues to do in our hearts and lives here.
9. Praise God as He is beginning to provide open doors for Lindsey to witness to her volleyball team.
10. Praise God for the group of christian friends that He has raised up around Lindsey. They are a wonderful support for her, and they have a lot of fun.
11. Praise God that He continues to be enough for us as we work for Him here.

Monday, September 11, 2006


We were bringing Buknoy and Louie back to their ABP3 home in Molino, after a weekend at the Scott house. We arrived late to the home, and surprisingly the boys were all still awake. They were watching tv, playing outside, and just hanging out. We disrupted the whole bunch when we arrived. As we stepped out of the car, we instantly heard shouts and screams of 'Ate Deborah, Ate Lindsey, nasaan ang pasalubong namin?' Which means where is our gift? They were all so excited to see us. So we decided to go in for a little while and visit with them before we returned home. As we walked through the gate into the front courtyard my eyes met two of the most beautiful, big, dark, deep brown eyes staring back at me. It was my first time to see Marlon, and obviously his first time to see us! He was staring as if in amazement that there were other people in his little world with a different skin color. From the look on his face we must have appeared like aliens :o) He is the newest little boy in Ang Bahay Parola 3. He is 8 years old, with the stature of a little 5 or 6 yr old. After a few minutes of playing and talking with all the boys I began to fellowship with Elder Renee, the staff on duty that night. He was telling me stories of the boys and sharing his burdens with me. All of the sudden I looked down and lil' Marlon was tugging on the shirt of Elder Renee. He was asking to change his shorts...again. Supposedly he had done this repeatedly throughout the day. It was a new and amazingly wonderful thing to have spare shorts to change into, so he had gone through several pairs that day. And since there are about 25 boys at the home, there are plenty of shorts to go around! I bent down and asked him his name and how old he was... he would not look at me. I reached out to tickle him... he immediately backed away. I knew then it would take a while for him to warm up to me and be comfortable around me. He watched from a distance as I played with the other boys; almost like he was studying me to evaluate if I was a safe person or not. Elder Renee then proceeded to tell me he came from an abusive family; his father is in jail and his step mother was very abusive. Elder Renee brought him into the kitchen where the light was bright and showed me the bruises on him. My heart broke as I noticed big bruises on the temples of his head, his neck, arms, and I am sure many many more places. He quickly ran off, as I was getting a little too close for his comfort. Immediately this little boy stole my heart. It's so hard to see the struggles of kids here! We are bombarded with it daily, and it tears at our hearts to know of the oppression that they suffer. This precious little boy had stolen my heart in a matter of 15 minutes. After that I began trying to break through to him. I would come within 10 feet of him, trying not to get too close to him; I would then ask him for one kiss, just one kiss. Of course I knew he would not give me one, but I knew that would show him that I love and care for him. At first he ran off, and the pursuit was on! I chased after him, and would stop before I got too close, so as not to scare him. The next time he released a huge grin across his face that sent chills all over me! That smile had enough cute power punch to knock me off my feet. With that wide grin and those big eyes staring at me, I asked again... 'isang halik Marlon, paki, isa na lang! One kiss Marlon, please, just one!' This time he took off running and laughed a cute, raspy, jolly little laugh. As Elder Renee was watching us I heard him let out a gasp of shock. I stopped immediately and asked what was wrong. He told me that was the first time Marlon had laughed since being in the ABP home. Oh the joy that filled my heart!!! As our simple little game of chase continued... I could tell he was becoming more comfortable with me. A little bit later I chased him inside, and exhausted Marlon collapsed laying on the floor. I sat down beside him and asked him if he was ticklish. I told him I was going to tickle him and empty out his tickles, which is a common Filipino practice. So I tickled him a little, and then stopped. He was laughing and my heart was rejoicing, overflowing to a huge smile on my face. Some of the other boys then began to gather around. They started tickling him too, they thought it was a fun game. Although I could tell Marlon was not enjoying himself anymore. I noticed he was now laying on the floor and holding his head, right at his temples, like he was anticipating and trying to prevent a blow to the head. My heart sank, and ached as I watched him helplessly reliving a past experience. I intervened and told the other boys to stop however, he continued to lay there with his hands grasping and covering his ears and temples. We didn't want to leave him there for fear that the other boys would continue to tickle him, thinking it was still a fun game. So Mom picked him up and stood him on his feet. It was like his hands were superglued tight to his head. My heart sank as I thought of the trauma this precious little boy had been through in the past. He recovered quickly, realizing that no one was going to hit him, and he took off running. By this time I was worn out, and it was time for us to leave. So I went around saying goodbyes to all the boys. I asked where Marlon was. He was upstairs, so the youngest, Apol, went to tell him that we were leaving. I waited at the bottom of the stairs hoping to see him, and then to my surprise I saw those big brown eyes peep over the rail. I was shocked to hear a little 'goodbye' (in English) through a big bright smile. I said goodbye and told him I loved him. I sent him a flying kiss, and he threw one back to me! My heart lept in my chest, as I jumped up and down with excitement! We threw each other several more kisses, as he giggled while watching me rejoice over him. Mom and I walked outside to the courtyard, saying our goodbyes, and proceeding to the car. We got in the car, and they closed the gate to the home. As we were about to drive off, I see lil' Marlon climbing up the gate to look through the top railing. He was waving goodbye and throwing me kisses! Oh the joy that God gives us through the lives of these little children. What a privilege to have the opportunity to love them, and impact their lives for the Lord! Please continue to pray for little Marlon. Please pray that while in the ABP home, he will hear the gospel message, feel the love of our heavenly Father, and that God would change his heart of stone into a heart of flesh that seeks and desires the love of God! Please continue to plead with us for the salvation of these little souls; what a joy they are to me, and surely even more of a joy they are to their true Father in heaven!