APRIL UPDATE 2015
Below is the April update for the ministry, including an update on my health, news from the Philippines, current happenings and future plans. I hope you have had a good 2015 so far. Thank you so much for praying for and partnering with me.
I am so grateful for the many prayers, cards, notes, visits, emails and encouraging words during the past 4 months while dealing with thyroid cancer and the loss of my thyroid. I am also so grateful for your continued partnership with the ministry during this time. Ministry has continued in the Philippines, even when I’ve been unable to do much myself.
After surgery in January to remove my thyroid and radiation treatment in February, the doctors have said that they think I am cancer free. The doctors also have been and currently are working to get me on the correct dosage of thyroid replacement medicine. I am grateful for the medicine. Unfortunately, it is not so easy or fast to find the right levels.
During February and March, it felt like I kind of disappeared from life for almost two months as having zero thyroid levels simply put me out of commission for the most part. During the month of April, I have been getting a lot stronger and back to work, though I am still dragging and have good days and bad days.
I will have to play my return by ear based on how I feel, conversations with the doctors and advice from my board, family, etc. I have been advised to be sure I’m back to 100% or close to it before heading back. I am optimistic about heading back to Asia this summer, and the doctors seem that way too. I’ll keep you updated.
THE MINISTRY NOW
The church plant in the Philippines seems to be doing well. It is summer there, and the youth have been involved in youth camps. After pausing the Sidewalk Sunday School for a while, they are gearing up for that again. People seem to be growing spiritually, and attendance remains healthy and stable for such a young church. Please pray for wisdom, protection and provision for Joseph, the pastor, and the other leaders and helpers in the church. Please pray for continued maturity and growth of the people in the church, for strong leaders to emerge and develop in the church and for financial provision to continue to grow from within the church.
The School of Ministry that I started when I was there will restart the first week of May. (We had finished two months before I left.) I will be teaching via video. So much of my time now is meeting with people, communicating with people in Asia via Skype or email, sharing and speaking in churches, developing and filming School of Ministry curriculum and writing other resources that will be used there. Technology allows me to continue to be part of advancing the ministry in the Philippines while still getting back to full health in Virginia. I am grateful for that.
ENCOUNTER GENERATION’S FUTURE
As best as I envision the next year or so of ministry, I see two phases that I am already involved in and/or will be doing when I return.
PHASE 1 – Four Focuses in Phase 1
1. The Church – The first priority for phase 1 is to encourage, support and equip the local church that we planted in 2014 in Tagaytay City, Philippines, named Highland City Disciples. A good, local Filipino pastor (Joseph Maraon) is leading the congregation, and my first priority in my return to Asia will be to encourage the pastor and leadership and to support the leadership in serving the health and growth of the church family.
2. The School of Ministry – The second priority, of equal importance, is to continue developing and establishing Encounter Generation School of Ministry alongside the local church. The 9-month school will equip leaders within the church and equip some of the young leaders as pastors for future church plants. Extensions of the school will equip leaders beyond the School of Ministry’s normal 9-month program in special training seminars open to the public.
3. Outreach – The third priority in this phase will be continued ministry outside of the local church, including:
A. Sidewalk Sunday School Children’s Outreaches and Feeding Programs
B. Designated Outreaches such as Christmas Parties, Sports Outreach, etc.
C. Development, Production and Distribution of Media Materials, such as videos, books, etc. for evangelistic purposes, for discipleship purposes and/or for training leaders.
D. Leadership Conferences and Youth Camps (i.e. India Trip, etc.)
4. The fourth priority in this phase will be to discern and scout the location for a New Church Plant. There are 3 potential locations for this:
A. An area near the church plant of 2014
B. Another Philippines island about 4 hours from the church plant of 2014
C. India – I plan a trip to India this year to be part of serving and equipping leaders there and to scout the potential for future ministry there.
This will be the period of praying, scouting and determining of a new location for planting another church. This has yet to be determined, but the goal is to discover that place and to begin the planning process for a new church.
PHASE 2- Planting of a New Church
Graduation for the first School of Ministry is targeted for November, 2015. Two months of the school were completed in 2014 before I had to return to the states for medical care. The school will resume via video in May, 2015 until I can physically return to Asia, which should allow us to finish on time in November.
As A) the school is established, and B) as the church plant of 2014 continues to grow, establish leaders and become healthy, and C) as a new location is determined for a new church plant, phase 2 would be the beginning of planting a brand new church in the determined location. The hope is that phase 2 can begin sometime in the next 12 months. But we will not rush that. Please pray for us for wisdom as we steward what God has already given us and as we seek His guidance for what opportunities might be next.
Thank you for believing in me, for praying for and standing with me and for your partnership in the work we are doing together in Asia. Thank you for your patience with my recovery time and for your prayers during this time of recovery. – David Gilliam