Written by Pr Kelvin Lim
Praise God for the opportunity given to Bro. Guesstine Leong and me to attend the 10th Anniversary of The Gethsemane Care Ministry (TGCM) in Cebu, and to fellowship with Pr Edsel Locot in Bohol, another island of the Philippines.
Cebu (Fri-Sun, 4th-6th October)
Our flight from Changi (via Scoot) was smooth, and we landed safely in Cebu at about noon, where we were received warmly by Rev. Reggor Galarpe, who brought us directly to TGCM premises located in Mandaue City. Lunch had been prepared for us by the expectant TGCM brothers. And what a (‘boodle fight’) lunch reception we got! It is a meal that dispenses with cutlery and dishes. Diners instead practise kamayan, Filipino for “eating with the hands”. The food is placed on top of a long banana leaf-lined trestle table, with the diners standing shoulder to shoulder in a line on both sides of the table. Thank God for the fellowship with the residents and helpers (as well as some TGCM alumni whom Rev. Reggor had invited to join us), which continued after lunch. We were so encouraged to witness the bond between them. Basketball was next in the afternoon programme, during which Rev. Reggor and I had the opportunity to reminisce God’s goodness in our lives. After the game, we checked in to our hotel.
The next morning, we had breakfast in the church and Bible Institute premises, which doubles up as Rev. Reggor’s home. We spent a good two hours there being briefed on the Gospel work in Cebu and in Bohol. The Lord has been good to True Life BPC, Singapore, as well, for we heard it has also established mission stations in Cebu and Bohol! May Christ’s Gospel spread throughout the 7,107 islands of the Philippines!
The 10th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service of TGCM was held at its own premises. Currently, there are 3 residents and 3 co-labourers in the ministry. Rev. Reggor chaired the service. Bro. Guesstine shared his testimony of salvation and how the Lord led him to TGCM. I preached from Psalm 105:5 on the theme, “Remembering the Lord’s Marvellous Works”. It was an exhortation to us, who have tasted God’s wonderful grace, to remember God’s works in our lives, and not to forget His words, as well as to admonish one another to tell others about God’s doings in our lives. There were 4 Baptist ministers among the guests, one of whom told Rev. Reggor that his family was blessed by Bro. Guesstine’s testimony. Praise be unto God!
Bohol (Sun-Tue, 6th-8th October)
On the Lord’s Day, we woke up early to catch the 7.00am ferry to Tagbilaran City, Bohol, to attend the worship service of the mission church in Bohol. Pr Edsel welcomed us at the ferry terminal and brought us for breakfast. We arrived at the mission church with sufficient time for Pr Edsel to prepare to teach in the pre-service Bible study, and get ready for worship. Pr Edsel chaired the service, Bro. Guesstine shared his testimony, and I preached from Acts 8:4-5 on the theme, “Preaching Christ”. Among the worshippers were a toddler and 2 young children (who are the grandchildren of Bro. Bucio, one of the founding members of the church), and Bro. Levi (alumni of TGCM), besides others as well. Later at 1pm, Pr Edsel, Bro. Jheyson, Bro. Guesstine and I left Tagbilaran to visit Trinidad, a small town northeast of Bohol, which is a 3-hour bus ride away. There, Bro. Mikhail Gonzales (ex-resident of the House of Hope in Cebu) met us and drove us to visit Pr Rodolfo Gayon, a missionary of True Life BPC. Thank God we could witness the Gospel work in Trinidad and have fellowship with Pr Gayon, as well as for the hospitality of Bro. Mikhail who hosted us to dinner and opened his home to lodge us for the night.
The next day (Mon), we visited Anda (about 110 km from Tagbilaran, in the eastern part of Bohol) to conduct Bible study. This is an outreach, whereby Pr Edsel conducts the Bible study there every Saturday. We went there, first by bus to another town, and then by taking a “Chinook” motorcycle. Such vehicles are like a van fitted on a bike, which can take up to 10 passengers! We reached the village of Casica in Anda safely at about 4.00 pm. Bro. Hansel Timaan welcomed us into his home for the Bible study, where Sis. Roscelle’s relatives also came to join us. Pr Edsel led the singspiration while I shared from Psalm 105:1-4, encouraging the brethren to always give thanks unto the Lord by making His deeds known to others, by talking among ourselves the wonderful works of God, by giving glory due unto His name, by rejoicing in Him and seeking Him consistently, among others. As the sun sets at about 6pm in Bohol, we were not able to spend more time with the brethren there. We needed to find a “Chinook” motorcycle to travel back to another town, and catch a bus back to Tagbilaran. Though the time spent was short, the fellowship was sweet! We reached Tagbilaran after 8:00pm, had dinner and proceeded to Bro. Levi’s apartment (located at Panglao) to stay for the night. Thank God for safety for our day of travelling!
Cebu (Tue-Wed, 8th-9th October)
The next day (Tue), after lunch with Pr Edsel and Bro. Jheyson, we bought the 2.00pm ferry tickets to Cebu. Thank God for calm sea. We were hosted to dinner by Rev. Reggor and Bro. Bono, together with their families. Thank God for the opportunity to meet up with Bro. Bono, whom I’ve not met for at least 5 years. We updated one another about the things God has been doing in our lives, praising God for our friendship forged many years ago in Singapore. Hopefully, our conversation was an encouragement to Bro. Guesstine to press on for God’s glory!
On the last day (Wed), we visited Bro. Tibo in the jail of Talisay City, together with Rev. Reggor and Bro. Alan. The jail was located on top of a hill, and we needed to pass through 3 checkpoints to enter the area where the inmates were housed. At every checkpoint, the jail official would stamp our arm with a rubber stamp, as if our arm is a page on a passport! When we entered the compound, Bro. Tibo was waving to us from the 4th floor of a cellblock. Praise God, we were allowed to minister God’s Word to those who were housed with him. Rev. Reggor preached the Gospel to them, and I shared my testimony of salvation and God’s goodness in my life. Among the 3 jail officials escorting us, one is a Christian, who approved the inmates’ request for Bro. Guesstine to share his testimony. Praise God for such providential opportunity! In fact, the Christian jail officials were hoping for more preachers who would come to share Christ’s Gospel with the inmates. May the Lord answer that good desire! As we made our way out, the guards checked our arm for the rubber stamps at every checkpoint. Later on, I found out from Bro. Alan the reason for doing so is to ensure that the same person who goes in is the same person who comes out. Before leaving, we took a photo together at the main gate.
From there, we drove back to Cebu City. We stopped for lunch with Pastor Manny, a mutual friend of Bro. Alan who was there at TGCM’s anniversary. We packed our things in the church premises before heading for the airport. Thank God for a fruitful trip, blessed fellowship with like-minded brethren, and the opportunity to see the Lord’s work in the Philippines!