A New Bible Study Outreach (Anda, Bohol, the Philippines)

(Our missionary, Edsel Locot, sent the following report about a new Gospel outreach in a place called Anda in the island of Bohol. Let us praise the Lord for yet another Gospel-door being opened. Let us pray for the Lord to bless this work for the furtherance of the Gospel and salvation of many more souls.)

Dear Pastor Koshy,

Greetings to you in the blessed name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

The LORD has sustained and preserved the Bohol mission church, and we thank the Lord for His abundant mercies. We also praise the Lord for bringing back members of two families who left the church several years ago but had recently begun to come for Sunday worship services. The present members of the mission church are persevering in their service to the Lord in spite of the many trials and difficulties they face. Praise the Lord!

A special thanksgiving to God is the new Bible-study outreach in Anda. The town of Anda is situated about 100 km east of the mission church. Anda is the hometown of Sis Roscelle Lim’s mother. The majority of those who joined the Bible study are cousins and relatives of Sis Roscelle. One of her cousins, Hansel Timaan, was a member of Cebu Church while he lived in Cebu. He went back 5 years ago from Cebu to Anda for good. Though he made constant effort to come to our mission church for worship on Sundays, it was difficult for him to travel 100km due to lack of funds to make that long journey. He needed 600 pesos every Sunday for him and his wife to travel for worship.

Pastor Reggor encouraged Bro Hansel to prayerfully consider having a Bible study every Saturday in Anda, so that Hansel could continue to worship the LORD and learn from the Scriptures. Above all, it would provide an opportunity to reach out and share the Gospel with his cousins and neighbours. Hansel shared the burden with his wife, mother and cousins in Anda. All of them expressed interest. So, on the fourth Saturday of July 2017, I went to Anda and conducted the Bible study at Bro Hansel’s house. Since then, the Bible study has a regular participation of 15 persons, though since Christmas, the number has reduced as some had gone away for vacation.

For our Bible study, we use the book “Westminster Standards” as a guide. Those who attend are very attentive and cooperative. They ask many questions. All of them testify that this Bible study is the only opportunity they have to open the Bible to read and hear its words. They have been Roman Catholics. Now having heard and understood the truth of the Bible, their eyes are being opened to see and understand Christ and His Word. It is my prayer that the Lord will continue to work in these people as they hear the Word and learn precious doctrines, so that they will forsake their sins, unbiblical beliefs and traditions, and truly stand for the truth. May the LORD enable me to travel the long distance and to teach them the Word of God.

Pastor, I have also distributed your book, “365 Daily Exhortations”, as well as many issues of Bible Witness magazines, to each of them. They are very happy and have received them with eagerness. Furthermore, the people in Anda were all very happy and excited when I told them that God willing, on April 7, Elder Mah and a group of brethren from Singapore will visit them and join the Bible study.

Thank you very much for your encouragement and prayers!

In His service,
Edsel Locot

         Serve the LORD with Gladness
              (Matthew Peh’s testimony of his call to full-time service in BWMM)

Iwrite this testimony not only to ascertain my calling, but also to give thanks to God for His goodness in my life. I have grown up with sound preaching in Gethsemane, yet I have oft times been distracted by the allure of the world. Indeed, “[t]he backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways” (Pro. 14:14a). For a long time, every waking thought was focused on the things of this earth instead of my blessed Redeemer. While I was frequent in attending church, there was a certain spiritual lethargy. But God is faithful and healed me from my backslidings (cf. Jer. 3:22).

The greatest sin that plagues me is pride — a struggle I continue to face every day. The first sin that disrupted peace in heaven and on this earth was pride. Satan’s pride led to his banishment (Isa. 14), while man’s pride to be like gods (Gen. 3:5) brought death into this world. Alas, while oft reminded of its dangers, I allowed it to fester in my teenage years. A prayerless spirit ensued: ‘Why pray when everything is going well? Why pray when I’m doing well? Why bother with devotion? I’m alright.’ Like the wicked who seek not after God, God was not at all in my thoughts (Psa. 10:4) as I entertained my pride.

Fast forward to university, where by the grace of God, I did well in my first semester. I still remember a lecturer suggesting to me: ‘Have you considered doing a PhD?’ Oh how that comment made me puffed up! While studying in university, I remained regular in church. A part of me was thinking: ‘I better do my church duties well or I’ll lose these blessings.’ Oh, what a Pharisaic view of things! But the LORD is gracious indeed. Because of His love for me, He has graciously chastised me for my pride and sins (Heb. 12:5-8). Looking back, I see how the many experiences I went through were the LORD’s chastising hand upon me. I want to highlight three such incidents.

First, failing to get a scholarship with MOE after my ‘A’ levels. Friends who did not do as well as me could get the scholarship, but I couldn’t. I was disheartened, but I ‘comforted’ myself by saying at least I wasn’t tied down to MOE. Second, not doing well for my honours thesis (HT). My HT was cross-disciplinary, combining insights from linguistics (my major), geography and sociology. I was so proud of it, for few undergraduates would attempt such an ambitious topic. I thought I’d do well, but alas, I didn’t! Third, the struggle with unemployment for half a year upon graduating in 2016. I was very sure that my good results would yield many job offers. Yet, I wasn’t even called up for interviews. Having no choice, I took on a job through someone’s recommendation, but I found little joy and quit in July 2017.

Yet as I reflect on these things, I see God’s providence at work. If I had a scholarship, I would be bonded and wouldn’t be able to serve God immediately at His call. If I had done well in my HT, I would have been overcome by pride and would have furthered my studies. If I was employed in a government agency, I would have been too comfortable earning thousands a month; I wouldn’t quit in eight months. I wouldn’t have had the time to learn the necessary skills and programmes for use in BWMM. As I sit to write and reflect on these experiences, truly, only God can make all things work in such a manner.

Since November 2017, due to the nature of my freelance work, I could help out in the church office. I offered to revamp the BW website, and had the opportunity to review some of the older issues of the magazine. Volume 15, Issue 5 (‘Redeeming the Time’) caught my attention. It contains sermons preached by Rev Reggor during the 2009 church camp, which I was unable to attend due to National Service. An article, ‘The Brevity of Time’, discussed Psalm 90. Verse 10 talks of the years of man being “threescore and ten”. It dawned upon me that should God grant me life till the age of 70 or even 80, I have already lived out about a third of my life. Oh, how the past 26 years of my life have been so poorly used! Oh, what a poor steward of God-given time I was!

The Lord then reminded me of Ecclesiastes 12:1, where Solomon tells the reader to “remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth”. What else can I do but to serve my Creator? If I do not use my time wisely for God, then what point is there in living? Indeed, “[w]hatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work… in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Perhaps then, I can freelance and help in the church office in my spare time? That was my train of thought for a while. But on a Tuesday prayer meeting, Pr Kee How reminded us through his message on Matthew 6:24 that we “cannot serve God and mammon”. Two weeks later, during the YF-YAF retreat, Pastor commented that the work of the LORD is labour and toil, and is ‘no place for volunteers’. Helping out in the office made me realise how time-consuming the Lord’s work is; there isn’t enough time for both my freelance work and the Lord’s work. What then?

The answer is clear: I have to serve God. In the short months helping out in the office, I experienced a joy unspeakable, a joy indescribable. This joy is different from other feelings of happiness. Recently, one of my evening devotions was from Psalm 100:2a — “serve the LORD with gladness”. Psalm 100 exhorts the congregation to praise the LORD for His goodness and everlasting mercies upon His people. After reading that evening’s devotion by Spurgeon, I read Matthew Henry’s commentary on the same psalm, which reflects God’s will “that we should serve the Lord, [that we] should devote ourselves to his service and employ ourselves in it”. I want to experience this great joy every day! Indeed, nothing else can be better than this! I know my own heart: if I continue outside the safety of God’s house, I will easily lose myself in the world. I will lose this joy that I have been so marvellously filled with. If that be so, I would rather die! “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10).

Is there not fear for the future? Is there not fear about financial security? I would be lying if I deny having such fear within me. But in the last 26 years of my life, I see God’s hand at work. Even though I had failed to get a scholarship, the LORD provided for my education through various monetary awards and bursaries. I didn’t have to take any loans, and about three-quarters of my university fees were paid through the awards and bursaries. If the LORD takes care of the fowls and the lilies, what more His own child (cf. Matt. 6)?

What then of hard work? I know that there will be exacting labours, for Paul told Timothy to “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3-4). I pray that the Lord will help me to keep my sights set on things above, and that my service to Him in BWMM would be reward enough for me. What a great privilege it is to serve the One who has created and redeemed me! As the hymn-writer put it, may I “give of [my] best to the Master” and “give of the strength of [my] youth”!

Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy, 4 February, 2018