As I mentioned in the previous update, after a trying time of losing my initial team, I began ministry with a new team in place to help. We began a “Sidewalk Sunday School” program, essentially gathering what has become 65 kids on Saturday mornings for Vacation Bible School types of activities. God has given us real grace with the local government, and we are able to gather in the local community venue where the children live.
We paired the chidren’s program with a feeding program. So we provide the kids with a nourishing meal (12 of the kids had been identified by the local government as “at risk” for severe malnutrition). This has been fun to do with the kids and has proven fruitful as well. In the process, we have been able to build relationships with some of the parents and gain favor with the local government. We plan to continue this outreach. Thank you for being part of it.
In November 2013, I had been on a two-week scouting trip to the Philippines to prayerfully seek where I might come to try to plant a new church. Before I left for that trip, a friend of mine, Andy Hale, was praying for me. He told me after praying that during the prayer, he saw this picture in his mind of a yellow wall with a crown on top. Well, I did not think much of it. What do you do with something like that? I just filed it away.
But as I was driving back to Manila to fly home at the end of that trip and passing through Tagaytay City, I looked over and saw this huge casino whose outside walls were painted yellow and sitting on top of the building was an enormous crown. That began a time of prayer and consideration as to whether this was where the Lord would have me come. After much thought and prayer and the confirmation of my board and other advisers, I moved to Tagaytay City, where I am now.
A year has passed, and the Lord has graciously helped us to see some spiritual fruit. We are planning the launch service for the new church on Sunday, November 23 as the Lord has given us several families who want to join, some new conversions and some simply unchurched. In order to do this, we are looking to move into a commercial space on the third floor of a new building in the city.
As I stood on the rooftop of this new place the other day and looked across a pineapple field, I saw that same old building I saw last year. The big yellow wall is still there, though in a few days, it will be a different color. They are painting it. The typhoon we endured this past July destroyed the big crown that sat on top before.
But as I stood there on the roof of a building we were securing that day in order to launch our new church and looked across at that big yellow wall, I realized it was a year to the day (possibly give or take one) that I had passed by that yellow wall with a crown on top and wondered if this might be the place God was calling. (This is the yellow wall and crown I saw. From other angles, it shows up better. Not the best angle, but this gives you an idea.):
LAUNCH DATE OF A NEW CHURCH
The launch service for the new church will be held on Sunday, November 23. Please pray that God would establish this work as solid and firm. And please pray for those who have received Christ, that they would grow strong and remain rooted and established in Him.
A CHANGE IN PLANS
As the new team began to emerge and I had spent more time in the city, I began to sense that the Lord was showing me something important. Some good advice from my friend Andy Smith helped me see this. But basically I realized that the people we have been reaching and that make up most of the permanent population in Tagaytay City would require a pastor with a level of language skill and cultural understanding that I have not yet achieved. I realized the church would need a Filipino pastor. This may seem like an obvious oversight on my part. But the peoples’ English skills are generally good enough to make a person think English ministry would not be an issue. And many of the local Filipino people also told me that English-language ministry would be fine in this city. But the nuances of language and culture and the depth of emotion involved in pastoral ministry led me prayerfully to the conclusion that a Filipino pastor would be best for the people in this city.
Joseph Maraon has been the pastor of another church he planted in a neighboring city. He and some of his leaders made up most of the new team, and it has been a joy to work with him. This has been very much a team effort with contributions from several people. I have had the gift of the Lord entrusting me with the leadership of the work up to this point. But on our launch date, November 23, I will welcome everyone attending. I will pray. And then, I will hand the leadership of the new church over to Pastor Joseph Maraon. I will remain as an Overseeing Elder alongside him, but he will have the authority as Pastor to lead the church as he sees fit. I’ll just remain as an advisor and continue to serve toward the growth and stability of the church. As a foreign missionary here, this feels so right, and I’m excited to turn the reigns of leadership over to a local pastor, especially one who is also a friend.
So much more is happening that I am now turning my energies toward, but I’ve run out of room. I’ll send another update in just a couple of weeks letting you know how the launch goes, and updating you on other happenings.
Thank you so much for praying for me and partnering with me and standing with us here. Love you all!
– David Gilliam