The Lord has been pleased to guide us to establish a fifth mission church in the Philippines. Its inauguration service is held today in Dagupan City of Pangasinan Province, the Philippines. A team of thirty brethren from Gethsemane, Singapore, is here to rejoice and worship the Lord on this blessed occasion. I am glad that Rev Reggor Galarpe (Pastor of Gethsemane BPC, Cebu, the Philippines) is joining me here for the inauguration service. (As you know, Preacher Donald and Sis Se Jin were married yesterday in the mountain resort city of Baguio, which is about 3 hours’ drive from Dagupan. Rev Galarpe solemnised the wedding, and I preached the Word during the wedding.)
Preacher Donald dela Cruz has begun the preliminary mission work in Dagupan in February 2014. An average of 15 people have been regularly attending the Sunday worship service for the past four months. We praise God that a double-storey house was available for rental, and it will be used as the centre for all the present mission activities in this area. The missionary couple will stay in this house and reach out to people in the city and nearby towns and villages. Next to the house is a private maritime college, known as PIMSAT Colleges, which has about a thousand students. Preacher Donald has been making efforts to reach out to students of this college with the Gospel.
How it all started
In 2002, a couple of ladies from Pangasinan, who were working in Singapore, were invited to our Gethsemane Filipino Fellowship by Bro Reggor Galarpe and his team of brethren doing street evangelism. One of them, Sis Cecille Batrina, became an ardent follower of Jesus Christ and continues to worship and serves the Lord in our midst till this day. Cecille, being blessed by the preaching and fellowship in Gethsemane, has been ardently praying for the Lord to open a door for Gethsemane to start a Gospel work in her hometown. In January 2008, the first mission trip was made by Preacher Dennis Kabingue and Bro Donald dela Cruz. Since then, Preacher Kabingue and the Filipino brethren had made seven mission trips to that place. Those who were saved through their evangelistic attempts were directed to attend the Sunday worship services in the Cornerstone Baptist Mission, Villasis, led by Pastor Louie D Hitosis.
In 2008, the Lord started working in the heart of Bro Donald dela Cruz, and gave him a deep conviction and burden to enter the preaching ministry. He enrolled in FEBC for theological studies in 2010, and graduated in May 2013, with a Master of Divinity. Thereafter, he remained with me for pastoral training for about six months, before being sent to Pangasinan as the preacher of the Word, according to the Lord’s leading in his life.
What more shall we do?
Let us praise the Lord for strengthening us to start another mission work. Let us also pray for the outpouring of God’s grace upon us, as we continue to support all these works. In the Philippines, apart from the five mission churches, the Lord also helped us to begin Gethsemane Bible Institute for the training of preachers and leaders for the churches everywhere, and The Gethsemane Care Ministry for reaching out to those who are lost in drug addiction and other social vices. May God help us increasingly to give ourselves unto prayer and generous support of all our Gospel missions. May the Lord also be pleased to raise more preachers from our midst to go and establish churches in more places around the world through the preaching of the Gospel. O sons and daughters of Gethsemane, who will now go to preach the Gospel to the lost sinners in farflung lands?
A Testimony Given at the Youth Gospel Rally 2014
I am thankful for the opportunity to testify of the Lord’s goodness in my life.
My family was introduced to Gethsemane B-P Church by Uncle Chip Hung and Aunty Siew Lian. Over the years, we have been blessed by the Lord tremendously.
However, in the earlier years during my secondary school days, I was not close to God. To me, coming to church was just a routine, just sitting down and listening to sermons. I did not treat God’s Word seriously. Despite being in Gethsemane now for almost 14 years, I only got saved recently (at the age of 17). Some of you would have noticed that in the earlier days, I attended the Youth Fellowship only occasionally. I was always giving excuses, like “too tired”, “having headache or tummy ache” and so on. I was a playful boy, who liked to hang out with some close secondary school friends after school; I was also a prideful boy, who disliked people looking down on me.
However, things started to change after I got my N-level results. Though I felt relieved that I had passed, I was confused and uncertain about what to do next. Shall I move on to Sec 5 to do my ‘O’ levels, or venture into ITE? In the end, I followed my form teacher’s advice and decided to go to ITE.
There were many unexpected, distressing experiences that affected me deeply after I entered ITE. To begin with, my secondary school friends stopped talking to me when they heard that I was going to ITE. When they ignored me, I became very sad. I even have a friend who asked me, “Don’t you feel embarrassed wearing that uniform?” I could still remember my first day of going to ITE. While I was on the bus to ITE, I felt several people staring at me with raised eyebrows. It seemed that people had preconceived ideas about ITE students. These people might be thinking in their minds: “Oh, an ITE student must be a guy who doesn’t study at all”; “He is a guy who doesn’t care about his future.” My heart sank even further when these thoughts rushed into my mind.
It is true that ITE has a very bad reputation. When I went to the toilets of the school, I saw students with tattoos all over their hands and legs, and some were even smoking. I was disgusted. To be honest, I was actually very sad and dared not tell my YF friends what I was going through. I did not tell anyone about my terrible feelings, not even my parents. Sometimes when I was at home, I would cry, “Why am I in this situation? What have I done to deserve this?”
In the deepest, saddest moments of my life, my mind turned towards God. I began to tell myself, “Maybe this is God’s way of rebuking me. Maybe God knows my pride and has put me in this situation to teach me humility.” So I prayed earnestly for God’s help. I began to feel a sense of relief in my heart. The sadness that I felt disappeared, and I felt much better after praying. From that day onwards, I began doing my devotions, reading the Bible and praying more regularly. All of a sudden, going to school wasn’t a problem for me! Eyes that once stared at me did not bother me anymore! People’s thoughts about me did not affect me anymore!
Soon, I started looking forward to coming to church, whether it be Sunday Service, Tuesday Prayer Meeting, Saturday Youth Fellowship or some other church gatherings! By God’s grace, 2 years in ITE have since passed, and the Lord has also given me good results which enabled me to get into Singapore Polytechnic.
The LORD has truly blessed my life. I was once prideful and did not care about God’s Word. It was through God’s “chastening” that I was able to understand my wrong attitudes, and that I am nothing before God. Looking back, being in ITE was just a small trial which God has put in my life. I’m sure there are many more trials to come in the future. But I have this peace and assurance that the Lord is gracious to help me if I trust and follow Him. He will surely watch over me – “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).