Below is the February update for the ministry, including an update on my health, news from the Philippines church plant and how God can turn even cancer upside down to show us His grace. I hope you have had a good 2015 so far. Thank you so much for praying for and partnering with me.
KINGDOM STORY – JESUS BUILDS HIS CHURCH
The last letter I sent came from the Philippines, sharing about our Sidewalk Sunday School Christmas Party and how the kids and families were so blessed by it. I also shared about the baptisms and church Christmas party.
After I learned I had cancer and before I left for the states in mid-January, I told Joseph (the man I asked to pastor the church) that I would like to do a going-away party at church the last Sunday I would be there and use it as an evangelism outreach. I told him that I felt this cancer was a spiritual attack from the enemy and that it would be good to turn it back on him (or counter-attack) by using it for the Kingdom.
Joseph liked the idea, so we informed the church. It was an emotion-filled week, dealing with the many things that had to be done before leaving for a while and seeing so many people before departing.
We had been seeing the high 30s in church attendance in the short two months since the church had launched, and Joseph spread the word to those who had been attending about the “David-going-away-evangelism-outreach.”
Well, I arrived on Sunday morning and our little church space was packed with 73 people there for worship. A young lady named Faith who had been attending since the church launched led worship that day. It was her first time doing it there, and she did such a beautiful job. There was such a presence of God in the room as she and a full worship band led us all in praise and worship.
I preached that morning with Joseph interpreting, just to make sure everyone got the message clearly in their language. I preached the Gospel with everything in me, exhorting everyone to remember the Gospel, to guard the Gospel, to be committed to the Gospel even in hard times and to carry the Gospel to those who do not know Him.
“Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel…” – 2 Timothy 2:8
At least 7 of the attendees received Jesus Christ that day, and the going-away party felt like a celebration…not a sad occasion. I prayed for Joseph and for the church. And if that was not enough, it turns out Faith, the new worship leader, is also an accountant. So God had sent Joseph someone to help him with keeping the church financial books organized and accountable.
Joseph and the church prayed for me as well, and though my relationship with the church will continue on, it felt like I completely gave up the steering wheel that day. (As if I ever had it. I think God drove this car from the beginning!) The keys were completely in the hands of a great pastor and capable leaders surrounding Him.
God gave me such a gift that day, as I got to see how HE had put so many pieces into place in such a short amount of time. I felt like I had been a spectator to a miracle.
I was overwhelmed as I reflected that day on what has happened. From the ashes of a dream that seemed burned to the ground in August when my team fell apart, God had raised a brand new church. The new church launched in November with 30-plus people, and in two months, God had already put leaders and helpers in place and had filled the room up with more than 70 attendees and with several new people receiving Him as Savior and Lord.
I honestly had the concern about whether or not that 70-plus attendees and fruit from that day would continue. I thought, “Perhaps it was just because of the evangelism outreach and a special occasion.” But Joseph said they still had over 70 people in church just a Sunday or two ago—more than 3 weeks after my departure! They have continued the work with a fruitful Valentine’s Day outreach and Joseph has instituted fresh and big vision for the church.
I’m so grateful for you. You stood by me and the vision God had given us, both in your prayers and in your partnership, when I first left to go to Asia and even when things fell apart and I was all alone in that city. And we got to watch Jesus build His Church. I hope you have felt as much a part of it in these updates as you are. And I’m so grateful for the miracles we got to see God do together.
As soon as I returned home I had surgery to remove my thyroid, and just this week, I finished radiation treatment as the cancer had spread some and they felt they could get it all with a radioactive iodine treatment. I went for a scan today, and if it reveals a successful treatment, I hope to be cancer free. I’m pretty sick right now with no thyroid, but hopefully by next week, I will start the replacement medicine for that and begin to regain my strength in the coming few weeks. Thank you again for your ongoing prayers and support. Lord willing, I’ll update you again in March as I regain strength and health and look to the rest of this year.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21
– David Gilliam