The Air Asia flight was only half full, so got a good 2 hours of sleep by laying out on 3 seats of the brand-new Airbus A320. With these discount carriers, it is good to get a seat near the rear of the plane. Usually the last row, and maybe one more, are reserved for flight attendants, but most everyone wants a front seat, so as to get off early, so usually you can find empty rows near the back. Even with getting off, if, like bangkok, you have go by bus to the terminal, they wait until the last person gets off the plane, so while there may be 2 busses, and those in the very front of the plane get to the terminal 5 minutes earlier, the rest all come at the same time 🙂
The former “Clark Airforce Base” is where the budget airlines come into Manila. Actually, it is around 80km north of Manila, but there is a bus waiting to take you downtown for 350peso (7usd). I try to call my friend, but, similar to last time in the Philippines, things just don’t work right. One telephone doesn’t take coins, and the shop that is supposed to sell cards doesn’t have any, while the other phone doesn’t give any dial tone. Fortunately, a lady in the bus lets me call on her cell phone, and my friend’s smiling face greets me at the PhilTranco bus terminal downtown. I was in the Philippines 15 months ago, but in Manila only a couple of days, so don’t remember it well, except that it seemed very, very third world. Something has changed, and now it only seems very third world – ha!
My first afternoon and already i’m talking with the pastor of a large church about the books, and he invites me to give the talk for prayer meeting that very nite. His brother is the one who gave such a tremendous lift to my friend and i last year when he voiced great approval for this 1858gc book, and while hoping for the same attitude from his brother, i was a bit disappointed. But still very thankful for the opportunity. We are allowed to sleep in a classroom above the church.
It is scary to see the guardman at the SDA Union Headquarters in Manila. He carries a sawed-off shotgun. The real thing. I couldn’t believe it last year coming straight from Japan, and still it looks impossible even coming from the many places i’ve been in the last year. One of the guardmen is very, very nice to my friend and i, and allows us to store books inside etc. We witness to him, and while he seems to know that SDAs have the truth better than Catholics, he sees many SDA people come into the compound, and he says: “I see them, and i don’t want to become Seventh-day Adventist”. We tell him to look to Jesus Christ, but for now, the humans in his eyes are telling a louder story. I pray he comes to Jesus soon, before it’s too late.
My friend has brought many English and Tagalog 1858gc books printed at CVM press in Cebu. He is selling them for 25peso, which is 50cents-usd. We are barely covering our printing costs, not to mention the transportation costs, and his living expenses etc. But what do i hear from many people? “It’s so expensive!” and “Can you give me one free?” and “Can i get a discount?” A funny trend is quickly noticed. People who say the above are usually not interested in the book. They are just trying to get something for nothing. Those who ARE really interested in the book say something like “That’s cheap” and “Can i get a box for my friends?” etc., without trying to haggle down the price. After a few days we raise the price to 30peso, and interestingly enough, there seems to be no change in number of books sold 🙂
And books do sell quite well. It is very gratifying to see many sold. We don’t sell on the Sabbath, altho we do promote then. At the big Tagalog church near the Mission Hospital, i’m given 15 minutes in the afternoon, and having found out that there are some people there from Adventist University of the Philippines (AUP), i’m prepared for some opposition, but very pleasantly surprised to see nodding heads as i talk about the condition of our beloved SDA church, and how God wants to heal us, and make us strong in this time of Shaking. People were mobbing us after the talk, and we had to restrain them, and tell them we would come back after Sabbath to pick up the payments. 142 books sold 🙂
On Sabbath morning we go to a “home church”. The message is good, but my friend and i go back to give the above-mentioned talk, than i come back alone in the afternoon. The PowerPoint program is basically a mish-mash of many things i’ve heard over the last 20 years or so, about how low the Adventist church has gotten – unfaithful preachers, leaders who don’t stand for the truth, changes to SOP, how the pope is 666, and then the topper is that the Vatican flag was allowed to be marched in with the others at the General Conference session held in the Netherlands in 1995. The pastor of this home church says that fulfilled Matthew 24:15 “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand)”. What he failed to read is verse 16, commanding us to flee to the mountains. Sorry sir, but that interpretation is mistaken. I too think it is not good to allow the Vatican flag in our assembly, unless there really is a SDA in the Vatican, which would be excellent news, but this is certainly NOT the abomination of desolation. From that misinterpretation, he went off into “Escape from Jerusalem”, basically saying that we must leave the SDA church now. In the Question and Answer period following, i took about 20 minutes asking him if he was calling people out of the SDA church, and if he was starting a new church. He hummed and hawed. Finally one lady spoke up and said: “No, he is not calling anyone out of the SDA church”. I thanked her for her straight talking. Just after sundown i gave a short promo for the 1858gc book, and around 9 books sold. Then the pastor said “now we have a church board meeting”. I gathered my things and left with a young man. We talked on the way to the bus, saying how many things we heard today were good, but the main one – that we must come out of the SDA church, is not true. It seemed odd that he would say he is not starting a new church, yet has “church board meetings”. I was to find out, in strange leadings of God, that his brother is doing the same thing in a different city.
Many pastors in the Philippines have side businesses, and the one who has let me stay in the top space of a bunk bed, and my friend on some bamboo slats on the roof of his apartment house is no exception. I’m thankful for the accomodations, but sad that no one wishes to have us stay with them, and study God’s words together. We meet one American man who has lived in the Philippines for many years, and he is quite interested in this book, and studies with us many times 🙂
We take a bus to Cavite/Silang, where AUP, SSD (division headquarters), and AIIS (Adventist international theology school). The same bus is held up by bandits just 2 days later, with all the passengers having their money and cell phones taken!!! Thank you Jesus for sending angels to watch over us! A bus, jeepney, another jeepney, it is up quite high, and there is a cool breeze. The SSD president greets us kindly, and has prayer with us, and the publishing director, while being suspicious, purchases 3 books, and prays with us too. We stopover at AIIS for just a few minutes, long enough to find out that they were having 2 days of sports, and “the shout of playing was arising from the camp”. One African man smiles widely at me, so i show him the book. A white lady next to him interjects that all the GC books are good. Here demeanor is meaner. I take leave quickly. AUP theology dept. director greets us nicely, but tells us that the school has more Ellen White books than they know what to do with. My friend and i look for those books in the library, and find a whole shelf of SOP books with perhaps 30 copies on it, over 5 of them are Steps to Christ. Not exactly overflowing, i would say. I donate some 1858gc books in Tagalog and English.
We stay in Daniel dormitory that nite, and a young graduate from Mountain View College is here for spiritual revival week. What kind of revival is this? Most of his talk is about how to sweetalk a girl. It gets lots of laughs, but does it make the angels smile too? or weep? I give a straight testimony for 10 minutes, and the place is quiet. No one purchases a book, but at least they know that we do have a solemn message.
My friend nearly blows out a hernia carrying the big box of books around, but i’m glad we brought it, when the next day we meet a Swiss man. He has lived in the Philippines a long time, and does lots of literature evangelism. I find out that while being very active, he is a bit against the church it seems. I hope that is just my misperception. Anyway, he asks to buy the books for 10peso/each, and we smile. Seems that he had Steps to Christ printed at our Philippines Press a few years back for that price, and thinks that’s what this one should be. Sorry. Also sad to hear his story of how the publishing people were really chummy as long as he came up with funds to print, but when he stopped printing, they stopped being friends. Sounds like par for the course. Sad to see us SDAs doing like the world tho… We finally settle on a 1peso discount from the general price we’ve been charging everyone. I really do wish to help him, seeing that he is in a similar position to mine – an independent distributor of material, not getting much monetary reward for it either.
There are lots of mice where we are staying, and in a lull in the huge fireworks, which are just as good as any in Japan, some of the youngsters catch them and watch them splat on the road 4 stories below. I look for them in the morning, but they are long eaten, stuck to wheels, moved off, gone. Yucko. One toilet is used by people staying in 5 different rooms, so sometimes there is quite a line. Of course it’s a wishy washy, with no toilet paper, and this is also the place to wash your clothes. It is in a middle-class slum, meaning that most of the people live in buildings. Every morning around the New Year period, a rich Chinese businessman gives out 3kg free rice to any woman. So from around 6am you see a long line of woman with their right arms outstretched waiting to get a red-ink stamp so they can go get some free rice. Sure looked like the mark of the beast to me.
My friend and i are busiest on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, as those are the best days to meet assembled SDAs. We go to one church on Friday evening, even walking across an expressway with 3 lanes one way, and 4 the other. It is scary, scary, scary. What? No meeting on Friday nites? oh no! We cross the expressway again, then walk along it around 1km to a hole in the fence where we walk to a bus stop, take it to a tricycle stand, which takes us to a church that is almost ready to let out. They cheerifully give me a few minutes to promote the books, for which i’m very thankful. God is so good, and has things all worked out for us in advance.
One Friday evening we make plans to go to the oldest SDA church in the Philippines – Santa Ana. We go to where my friend’s address says, but it is in a condominium. One man says we need to cross the river, so we take a little ferry, cross the river, take a jeepney, etc. etc. and arrive just before the service starts. They do not give us time to promote, but everyone interested has time to talk with us before the meeting, and they ask us to come back again when they can buy the books. My friend does, and they order quite a few 🙂
A pastor has asked us to talk at his church on Sabbath, but then never answers our many calls for directions. We change plans at the last minute, and go to the largest SDA church in Manila – Manila Center. This is definitely the Lord’s leading. We walk into this 1,000+ member church, not knowing anyone or anything. I go towards the middle where there is an elderly man standing up giving the SS lesson to around 10 people in the pews in front of him. He is very friendly. After the lesson, my friend asks if i can be given a few minutes to promote, and he talks to the pastor who gives an OK. (find out later that the elders gave the OK), i talk for about 3 minutes to the 700 or so assembled. It is scary. When i get back to my pew, there is a man sitting beside my friend. Seems he is “vetting” me (checking me out). He wants to know everything about the book, and why i’m promoting it etc., in a friendly way. After a few minutes he is very friendly, tells me he is an elder, and just wanted to check that we are on the up-and-up, and that he is convinced we are now. Thank you Jesus! He promises us proper time to promote in the afternoon meeting, and talks about things going on in the church and other things. His enthusiasm is catching, and it’s exciting to be with him, as he really loves the truth 🙂
Many people request the books in the afternoon, and we meet this man several more times while in Manila, having 1858gc studies, meeting other on-fire people etc. etc.
Many Filipinos are not interesting tho…. Not all of them, but a large percentage will say the same thing: “How much was your camera?” “You must learn Tagalog” “You must get married”. I can’t say this is only a Filipino phenomenon, as i hear very similar things from Indians and others in third-world countries. I’ve learned to just let it slide, but it is interesting that the less people know of the world, usually the more they are sure that their language, country, culture etc. is the best, and that they are so much smarter than you. So be it. But what’s with the “Get married” thing? I just don’t understand the whys of that one at all. Especially SDAs should not be talking like this. Jesus said it’s best to stay single if you can, and with his coming so soon, why shouldn’t we be promoting singleness?! Yes, i know from some, that everyone wants me to be just like they are, and only then am i really considered “human”. Lord willing, i’ll pass.
We go up to Northern Luzon Adventist College, where the Northern Luzon Conference headquarters is also. Within just a few minutes of arriving on campus, a pastor approaches me, we talk a few minutes, and he asks if i’ll give the talk that nite. I’m amazed, especially after the cold shoulder at AUP and AIIS, and readily agree. The lady who met us in Manila, who invited us here, is in a big worry about where we are going to stay, and our food etc. I finally have to just calm her down, and tell her we will work on it after the meeting, because i wish to have a calm mind to give the talk. About 400 people show up, and i give a 30 minute talk, of course promoting the 1858gc book also. Not many books are sold at first, but while here over a few days, we sell quite a few. This used to be an academy, and even now it has a small-school flavor. A theology major asks me to give a talk to them in a classroom, and i do, and in the closing minutes the professor comes in. He chimes in about the Great Controversy book, saying what i have is abbreviated. I show him the evidence, but he seems like he is more interested in saving face than facing the evidence. That’s OK sir, no hard feelings. Just hope you do read the book and follow it.
By a strange set of circumstances, the librarian, who has graciously let us put out the books on her table for sale (and sold over 10), says her brother has apostatized from the truth, and gone into the Reform Church. She gives us his address in a nearby town, and we go there Friday evening. Lo and behold, the “pastor” is the brother of the home church pastor we met in Manila before!! His talk Friday evening is good, altho it is just from a book by Vance Ferrell. On Sabbath morning early, we study chapter 32, The Shaking, with around 20 people present. When we get to paragraph 5, this pastor quotes Amos, and says “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” I’ve just shown from the book, that Laodicea is God’s church, and that the shaking will take place INSIDE God’s church. So i know what he is wanting me to say — That we should come out of the SDA church. I tell him that we are studying paragraph 5, and that has nothing to do with what he has just said. He doesn’t allow me to continue, so the lesson stops there. This is the worst ever lesson i’ve had. There was one other that was “bad” in my estimation (because of unbelief in the SOP), but at least we could finish it. We cannot even finish this one.
We go to the Ordaneta SDA church riding on the back of a motorcycle of one of the home church members. I’m not too happy about this, as i think it will lead to prejudice about who we are (they came with the reform people…), but the people are quite nice to me, and the elder gives me a few minutes in between Sabbath School and Church, and then in the afternoon around 15 people stay behind to study chapter 32 of the book. It goes very well, and several seem deeply moved. The next day, an elder orders many of the books 🙂
We go back to NLAC campus in the afternoon, and give a little talk at the Tagalog church next to the Conference Headquarters. There are only around 30 people, and only 2 or 3 show an interest, but after Sabbath we can sell some, and they seem very appreciative. Someone should go around to all the SDA schools in the Philippines, and check out their libraries. I’m convinced that there are some old, valuable books hidden there. Well, actually, ALL of their books are old!!!
Sunday morning we go back to the home church. The “pastor” greets us, and talks friendly with us for a few minutes, and even has a lady go get money to purchase 50 books from us. But wait, he is getting wound up again, this time more than yesterday, that the SDA church is bad, and we must leave it. He refuses to listen that the church has not fallen yet, and finally i tell him that his rebelliion is similar to Korah, Dathan, and Abiram’s. His countenance changes, and he looks very angry. We leave without selling him any books. One thing i don’t need, and that is for this precious book of God to get a reputation of being an “offshoot” book. That would be just as Satan would have it. Please sir, don’t fight against God’s church. Let’s lift it up.
I spend most of the remaining time in the Philippines studying this 1858gc book with people. We go back to Manila, and have really good studies with the American man, and with the elder of Manila Center church and his friends. One lady in his group, who is studying for a doctorate at AIIS, after reading a few chapters of this book says: “It is totally different from the current Great Controversy”. Yes maam. You are reading with intelligence. Why is it so hard to show this fact to people, i don’t know, but i remember it took me 4 times of reading it from cover to cover before that dawned on me! (yes, i’m a bit slow sometimes).
My friend and i have been plagued with a terrible cough. He is from southern Philippines, and this smog and pollution is getting to him as much, or more, than to me. Every nite he and i cough up black phlegm – yucko! All the diesel from the jeepneys etc. makes things very, very dirty. But at least we are alive. Coming back from meeting some people one nite, our jeepney driver says something as we come up over a crest in the road. Soon we are slowly cruising past a park, where a white, empty taxi is parked. My friend tells me later that the driver had seen men with guns chasing the taxi driver as he had come up over the crest of the road. I shivered, thinking how close we were to getting caught up in that, and then again, in wondering why our driver decided to continue his driving past the scene of the crime when those guys with guns were still in the vicinity?!! Sure hope that taxi driver was OK.
My American friend goes with me by Genesis bus to Dau the next day, where we catch a jeepney, that takes us to another jeepney, that takes us to Clark airport. It takes maybe 15-20 minutes longer than just a straight bus, but the price is less than half 🙂 The airport departure tax has increased, so i exchange 3 dollars. Onto the plane and out to Kuala Lumpur.
Thank you good friend for all your help for me while in the Philippines. I know you are in a difficult place to work, yet the rewards are tremendous too. May you learn better to plan things out in advance, and then take the leading God provides. May many souls in the Philippines be led to a closer walk with Jesus thru these books.
NOTE: Post timeframe is January, 2007