DEAR FRIEND,Below is the January update from the Philippines. I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas season. Thank you so much for praying for and partnering with me.
THE CHURCH & SCHOOL MOVING FORWARD
Since the last update, the new church continues to grow and develop. The ministry school keeps moving forward as well. Over the holidays, Joseph hosted a two-day “spiritual makeover” for the young people in the church. They studied “The Journey” discipleship book, which Joseph and I developed together.
In the Encounter Generation School of Ministry, we just finished studying Old Testament Survey and are venturing into the New Testament now. It has been a busy season all the way around!
SIDEWALK CHRISTMAS PARTY
Thanks to my friends Wade and Sarita Robinson and their home church, Congregational Missionary Church in West Virginia. Wade and Sarita were visiting during Christmas and offered to throw a Christmas Party for our Sidewalk Sunday School children.
We had a great time playing games, showing the Superbook video cartoon that tells the Christmas story and sharing the meaning of that story and the Gospel message with the kids. We were able to throw a party with great food and a gift for each child. The kids and their families seemed to have a great time and listened intently to the message. As a result of the party, more families inquired about the church. It was a blessed day!
Sidewalk Christmas Party 2014 Team Picture
One of our Sidewalk Sunday School girls enjoying Christmas party lunch!
BAPTISM AND CHURCH CHRISTMAS PARTY
On Sunday, December 21, we held a Christmas party and Baptism for the church. It was the combined Christmas party of the two churches, the new one in Tagaytay City and its sister church in Trece Martirez. (You may remember from the last update that I installed my friend Joseph Maraon as the pastor of this new church plant, and he turned his former church over to his assistant, Dion. We made them sister churches that we hope and pray will grow into the mothers of future church plants).
We held the churches’ Christmas party at a public picnic and swimming area. It was a special day as both churches held our Sunday morning service together under a picnic shelter worshiping God. At Joseph’s request, I preached on the Christmas story. After the service, I taught on the meaning and significance of baptism, and Joseph and I together baptized 8 new believers. Several more wanted to be baptized, but they are young people and there are issues with some resistance from their parents. (Please keep that in your prayers). After the baptism, we swam and ate and had a great day of fun and celebration together.
COMING HOME FOR A WHILE
I write all of this with somewhat of a heavy heart. A couple of months ago, I noticed a lump growing on my neck around the area of the thyroid gland. On December 22, I found out that this is thyroid cancer. So not long after you read this, I will be on a plane coming home to deal with thyroid cancer.
The School of Ministry will continue on. Via video, I will be able to continue to teach, and Joseph will facilitate the class and be able to lead discussion with the students after they watch the videos. I will continue to assign projects and reading and Joseph will continue to mentor them as well. So, though I cannot do as much as I can when I’m present, the school can still continue and accomplish what we want.
Of course, I am so grateful that I assigned the pastorate of the church to Joseph instead of doing it myself. God knew what He was doing in guiding me in that direction. The church will continue to move forward with Joseph’s leadership while I am gone. We will check in with each other regularly to discuss things and pray. I have assured him of my continued partnership with him in what God has enabled us to start together. The church is in good hands with Joseph. Of course, both of us are happy knowing the churches are in God’s hands.
I will also be working on some other writing projects that I intended to work on this year to help the churches as they make disciples. Also, I hope to see all of you and share with you (family, friends and church partners) what God has been doing. Except for times when medical treatment prohibits me, I plan to continue working hard and full time at this ministry. And we will be continuing to help fund a portion of the work there as well while the church is still young and needs time to stand on its own feet. So your continued partnership is appreciated.
I am at peace with this. I believe in divine healing, no matter how or when or where God wants to do it. No matter how this unfolds, my prayer is that God uses this to further the Gospel. The greatest way you can help me during this time is this: Every time you think of me please pray for the churches, for the new believers, for the leaders and for the school. And every time you think of me, pray that the Lord of the harvest sends more workers into the harvest field in Asia and around the world. Thank you for your prayers for me as well.
Graduation for the first students of the School of Ministry is scheduled for around October 2015. My goal is to finish treatment and return back to the Philippines as soon as possible to complete the first year, to graduate the first students and to check in with and encourage the churches. But our times are in His hands, and we will trust Him through this and see what He does. Thank you for standing with me and thank you for your continued partnership in the Gospel. Happy New Year!
– David Gilliam