Even before the River of Life (ROL) Foursquare established a Missions Ministry in January 2015, several missions trip were already attended by its core members specifically in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato in a missionary organization in Davao City.
But on November 2015, the Missions Ministry, with the approval of the Church Council, decided to focus on an area where the Gospel has not yet readily shared.
So by the discerning gift of the Spirit, two of the core members envisioned the highlands of Talaingod knowing the grace and love of Jesus Christ; that they may be saved. That was why we launched the first evangelical activity in December 2015 at the Cabadiangan Foursquare Church, Talaingod.
It was not an abrupt planning or decision. All things have been planned according to God’s purpose – it was really His move. Beforehand, our pastor, Ps. Brendo Medina, met a pastor who led a church in an area in Talaingod in a gathering of Foursquare pastors in Tagum, Davao del Norte. There they exchanged stories, vision and mission about missions.
This pastor named Eric Morales is a consistent highland missionary pastor who is the overseer of the Cabadiangan Foursquare Church. He, together with his buddy in Christ, Bro. Sioning, a Lumad in Talaingod who was saved and is now serving the Lord, walk miles for 2-3 hours every week just to share to the Ata-Manobo the Word of God. By the help of Bro Sioning, Pastor Eric has been able to share the Gospel to the Lumad especially to the tribal chieftains. And because of his great compassion to the lost Lumads and the commitment the ROL Church has, he has been declared as adopted missionary to the Manobo. Accompanied with this adoption is a monthly support from the Church.
Lumads, on the other hand, are just like any other unreached peoples who are so attached to their culture. But because of the grace and love of the Almighty Father, calloused hearts of our brethren in Sitio Damuluan, where a church of ROL was planted just last March, were already pruned.
Last Holy Week was the third immersion trip planned and coordinated by the Missions Team. And that time, they already opened it to the members of the church who also prayed to take part in the Great Commission. To God be the glory, eight people answered the call. And these participants were first enjoined on a cross-cultural orientation, and next were informed about the ministry, program and logistics as they, together with the core members, were divided into these tasks.
When the team settled in the ROL Damuluan Church, we had the courtesy call with some of the datu (tribal chieftains) and also the chairman of the said sitio.
Astonished by how God pruned their hearts for them to receive the seed of the Gospel, tribal chieftains and even the chairman of the sitio deeply expressed their gratitude of bringing into them not just clothing, food, sanitation and fun but also the Light and the Truth of God (Manama) in the body of Jesus. They were so happy telling us that “we” have opened their “spiritual eyes” to see things despite their isolation in that part of the mountain.
The team were so enthusiastic in doing the tasks assigned to each one – the ministry of every department (men, women, youth and children), the Evangelistic Night, the morning devotions, the beautification of the area, and even the chores from sun up to sun down.
On the last Evangelistic Night, the team was so surprised at the same time full of joy seeing the head of all the chieftains in the area. Though he is not to be named for his security because the highlands of Talaingod is also a battlefield between the government troops and the guerillas. Yes, we are almost inside the warzone but fear has never upheld us because we boldly believed that God has always on the cover.
We had God’s fullness and fun-filled night. Every ministry presented different numbers. But the best presentation we have witnessed was of the kid’s ministry as the children sang the official soundtrack of the Tagalized version of Superbook. I almost cried out when they started singing. They sang so pure, their faces were so gentle, their actions were so wonderful. So blessed to hear them singing for the Lord!
There is no physical comfort in the mission field, especially when you’re on a mountain trip. No soft beddings, no decent bathe area, there’s even no cell site or signal that you can connect to the tech world. But thanks be to God for despite of these all, still we found peace, comfort and joy.
That was a 4-day trip to remember. So many things happened most especially that God really talked with me privately. I had many realizations but also motivations all for His glory.
A 4-day immersion trip may be a seasonal missions work but it won’t be for the Ministry and the Church for we are pressing forward to see all the Lumads in every sitio in Talaingod worshipping Jesus as the true Manama in their lives.
To God be all the glory!