Sowing And Reaping

About seven years ago I wrote the following column. Due to its relation to Bin Ladin’s situation, I decided to publish the column again. Let us all learn from the principle of sowing and reaping.
Proverbs 22:8 – He who sows wickedness reaps trouble, and the rod of his fury will be destroyed.

For the past 3 years a man known as Abu Sabaya filled the Philippines with terror.  Sabaya was the recognized leader of the terrorist group  Abu Sayaf. The Abu Sayaf was a radical Muslim group that had connections with Bin Laden.  They were known for their kidnappings.  Over the past three years, the Abu Sayaf was involved in the kidnapping of over 20 people.  In most instances the kidnap victims were held for
ransom.  Hence the Abu Sayaf and their leader, Abu Sabaya became wealthy through this “business”.

With this money that Abu Sabaya accumulated, he eventually ended up purchasing speed boats.  He used these speed boats to kidnap more people.  When people were kidnapped, Abu Sabaya would call up authorities using his satellite phone and tell them his ransom demands.  Because of their wickedness Abu Sabaya and the Abu Sayaf became well known around the world.  This was really true when in May of last year they kidnapped American missionaries, Martin and Gracia Burnham.

The beginning of the end for Abu Sabaya came a few weeks ago.  It was at that time that the Philippine military made an attempt to rescue Martin and Gracia Burnham and one other hostage. The attempt was only partially successful.  Martin Burnham and the other hostage were killed.  Grace Burnham was rescued. Abu Sabaya and a few of the remaining members of Abu Sayaf managed to escape from the Philippine military during the rescue attempt.  But their days were numbered.  The military eventually caught up with them and a few days ago, Abu Sabaya was shot and killed.  His days of sowing terror had come to an end.

Abu Sabaya sowed terror for three years.  He sowed wickedness and he reaped trouble.  He was effectively destroyed by the Philippine military.  Actually his problems have just now begun.  Now Abu Sabaya must face the judgment seat of God.  He must give an account for the wickedness he committed while on earth.  He will be without excuse before the judgment of an Holy God.

A man will eventually reap what he sows.  Abu Sabaya seemed to think that he could escape the principle of sowing and reaping.  He believed he could sow wickedness yet not reap the consequences of his actions.  He had the idea that somehow he could get away.  Abu Sabaya thought wrong. People cannot escape from the principle of sowing and reaping.   Sooner or later it will catch up with you.  Abu Sabaya lived the “good” life for a while, but his sin finally caught up with him.  He sowed wickedness and he reaped destruction.

We would do well to take heed to what we sow.  Let us not be deceived and think that we can sow evil and not reap the consequences of our actions.  You will reap what you sow – sooner or later.

Galatians 6:7-8:  Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Amen!

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Following God’s Orders

Isaiah 6:8 – “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am. Send me!”

This verse is a common scripture that is often heard in sermons concerning missions. It was Isaiah’s missionary call. God was looking for someone to bring a message to a group of people and Isaiah said, “Here I am. Send me!”  If you continue reading in Isaiah 6 you will find something that is often overlooked in sermons. Essentially Isaiah was called to bring a message to people and the people would only reject the message and be hardened for judgment. In other words, Isaiah was called to go and preach and no one was going to listen to him!

How would you like that for a ministry call?  By today’s standards, Isaiah might have been considered a failure because no one paid any attention to his preaching. The fact is sometimes God calls folks to go to difficult ministries in which people might totally reject the message. Yet still we are called to follow God’s orders no matter what the response of the people. We are to be God pleasers; not people pleasers. We are to be people who obey God no matter what happens. Such is what a group of us did this past week.

This past Thursday and Friday, a group of 21 from our ministry was called to go and preach the Word of God to a people who would primarily reject the message. For 13 straight hours, overnight, from 5:00 pm on Thursday until 6:00 am on Friday, our group of 21 proclaimed God’s standards to over one million people in downtown Antipolo, Rizal.  Throughout the night, these people were walking to visit an idol in downtown Antipolo. It was definitely a challenging time of ministry.

Our group was stationed on the narrow, main road leading to the idol. We had scripture signs, tracts and megaphones for preaching. The numbers of people going to the idol were absolutely incredible. Hour after hour, wave after wave of people passed down the road. At times, some of those in our group were literally pressed against the walls on the street by the mass of people. More people would pass by me every 15 minutes than live in all of Dodge County!

As I mentioned, we proclaimed the Word of God for 13 straight hours. It was an exhausting time. Several of us never sat down the whole time. Some in our group totally lost their voices from preaching so much. We didn’t sleep or take a break. It was “marathon ministry.”

What was the response of the people? It was kind of a mixed response. Some mocked us. Some got mad. Some totally ignored us. Others listened and then continued on. There were those that stopped and asked more questions. Others gave us the “thumbs up” sign signifying that they liked what we were doing. The vast majority, though, of the 1 million plus people seemed to reject the Word of God.

When we finally finished the time of outreach, our group was full of joy. Our joy was found in the fact that we obeyed God; no matter the response of the people. Our responsibility was to “follow God’s orders.” God will take care of the hearts of the people we shared with.

Friends, I challenge you to follow God’s orders to you, whatever they may be. Obey God above everything else. Obey God no matter how people respond and react. Amen!

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Don’t Do A Dumb Thing

Over the years, Celi and I have had a variety of youth live with us. Usually these youth come from difficult backgrounds or bad family situations. One such youth was a girl named Dylyn. Dylyn stayed with us from around 2004 until 2008. During those years she was in high school. Dylyn was very smart. She was one of the top students in her class. Dylyn looked to have a bright future ahead of her. She desired to go to college and pursue a career in the medical field. Dylyn was also very active in our church. But then, just a few short months before she graduated, Dylyn did a dumb thing. Her actions changed the course of her life.

Only 3 months before she was to graduate from high school, Dylyn fell in love with a guy from the neighborhood. To put it directly, the guy that she fell for was a bum. He had dropped out of school and just “hung around” the area. He was known to have “many girls.”  Dylyn was young (only 15 at that time) and she was also dumb or not wise. Against the advice and correction of many others, she still was drawn to that guy. Dylyn was warned, challenged and counseled; yet she refused to listen. The smooth talking “bum” convinced Dylyn to sleep with him. Before she graduated from high school, Dylyn eloped with the guy. She did not attend her high school graduation ceremonies. Dylyn’s bright future was snuffed out by a dumb decision.

A year after running off with the guy, Dylyn had her first child. She was 16 at the time. The guy still would not find regular work. He continued “hanging around.”  Dylyn and her “husband” lived with the guy’s grandmother whose house is located near us. Dylyn is now 18 years old. About a month ago, Dylyn had her second child. Two days ago, the “hus-bum” got mad at Dylyn and beat her up. From the reports we get, Dylyn had something like a black eye and bruises on other parts of her body. She has now left the “hus-bum” and sought refuge at her relative’s home in Manila. Dylyn is now eating the fruit of her dumb decision.

Lord, keep me from doing anything dumb! That is actually a prayer that I regularly pray. Over the years that I have been in ministry, I have watched as countless people have destroyed and ruined their lives, families and futures by incredibly dumb and unwise decisions. Almost every month I hear of someone else doing something amazingly dumb and hence messing up their whole life. I have been left thinking, “I can’t believe he (or she) did that!”  Yet dumb decisions are a “dime a dozen” and proliferate in the world and in the church today. Hence I pray and plead to God to keep me from doing anything dumb; to keep me from making any foolish decision or action that would destroy my life, family and ministry. Maybe it is a good prayer for you also to pray.

I realize that God can still work something positive in the lives of those who make unwise decisions. God is gracious and compassionate. He makes something good out of something bad. My hope is that God will do that also in Dylyn’s case.

Friend, if you have made dumb decisions in the past that have messed up your life, then ask God’s forgiveness and cry out to Him to work something good in your life. And folks, let us all seek the grace of God and pray that we might not make dumb decisions and that we would always be guided by His Word and will and not our own desires. Amen and Amen.

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The Great Architect

In the poorer communities in the Philippines, about the only job available for most men is construction work. Men get jobs essentially as laborers in the construction of a variety of houses and buildings throughout the country. It is basically very hard manual labor and the pay is not very high, but the work does help provide income for them.

The responsibility of a construction worker is to do the job that is assigned him. Sometimes that job might be a simple thing like digging a series of holes for the foundation of the building or moving bags of cement. The construction worker doesn’t have to think about what the building will look like when it is finished. That is the problem of the architect. The construction worker must simply be faithful in doing the task that is given him. Eventually when the building is completed, the construction worker can look at it and say, “Wow, I had a part in that building!”

A similar thing is true concerning the work of God in the world today. God is the great architect. He has a work that He is accomplishing; a purpose that He is fulfilling. In this work, God uses human instruments. If you would have it, God uses “spiritual construction workers.”  These are God’s people and each of them has a role or task in completing God’s work.  Sometimes that task might seem simple or even menial. But, in the end, a great work; a great spiritual building will be built for the glory of God.  In Ephesians 4:16 we read the following: “From him (Jesus Christ) the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”  My friend, are you doing your part in the work of God?

This past week I was able to re-establish communication, via Facebook, with a lady whom I went to college with at Valdosta State. This lady’s name is Beth. I met her back in 1983 during my first quarter at Valdosta. At that time I wasn’t a Christian. Beth had a big impact on my life. She was also a student at Valdosta and she was a solid follower of Jesus. She really lived the Christian life. I could see Christ in her and through her. She witnessed for Christ through her words and through her actions.  Beth had a part in me becoming a Christian. I haven’t had any communication with Beth in over 25 years. Beth is now also a missionary. She was incredibly happy to find out that I was serving God in the Philippines. She was also so blessed when I told her about the impact that she had in my life.  I know she was surprised.

Think about it. Back in the early 1980’s, Beth was simply just “doing her job” in being a Christian witness at Valdosta State University. She just let the light that was in her shine; the light of Christ. That light shined and it touched a skinny, shy student from Eastman, Georgia named Derek. Beth had no idea that I would end up becoming a missionary who would be used by God to touch the lives of people in the Philippines. Beth just did her work and witnessed for Christ. God, the great architect, took care of the rest.

Brothers and sisters, are you doing your job in the construction task that God, the great architect, has assigned you? Don’t get weary at the task in front of you. Work hard at what God has you doing and one day you will see the finished product; an incredible work of God. Amen!

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Used And Dumped – The Perils of Student Sponsorship

Have you ever devoted time, energy and finances in order to see a person’s condition improve only to have the person completely turn their back on you? If that has ever happened to you, then you will relate very well to today’s column.

My wife and I are now on our 18th year of ministry in the Philippines. A majority of our time has been spent ministering in poor areas. We have been involved in helping the poor in various ways. We have sought to help the poor spiritually and also materially.

One of the difficulties in reaching the poor is that it is hard to assess their spiritual interest. A person who needs something materially might give the appearance of interest in spiritual things. People will show up at the church and seem to show an interesting in knowing more about God. They may initially appear to be very zealous in following after God. In reality though, the person is more interested in the material benefits that they can get from the church or ministry or us.  This is something that we have experienced several times over the years that we have been in ministry. I would say that this is especially true when it comes to things like student sponsorship. Here is an example to help you understand.

One of the first students we helped sponsor to go to college was a girl named Angel. Angel and her family were originally from Smokey Mountain, the former garbage dump in Manila. Angel had made a profession of faith in Christ and became part of our church. After Angel graduated from high school, we made a decision to sponsor her to go to college. In hindsight, it appears that was a wrong decision. It now looks that Angel’s whole interest in spiritual things was related primarily to her interest in material things – ie the possibility of sponsorship.

Over the course of a 4 year time period, we spent approximately $4000 (close to 175,000 pesos) on helping Angel get an education. Some of that support came from a friend in Eastman who committed to sponsoring Angel each month. After Angel graduated, she got a job in our community. Then we assisted Angel in getting a job in Thailand teaching English. We thought she would be involved in ministry there. In fact that was the whole intention in her going to Thailand in the first place. It is a long story, but for over 2 years now, Angel has totally cut off communication with us and our church. When it comes down to it, Angel appears to have used us to get an education and a good job. Once she had those things; she then dumped us since she no longer needed us. Her present, unrepentant actions demonstrate the real condition of her heart and life. Angel continues to attend a Christian church, yet by her very actions, she denies Jesus Christ. We still pray that God will bring Angel to repentance for what she did.

As missionaries, my wife and I have been used and dumped by several other people including some other students that we helped sponsor for college. For instance, there is a girl named Negi in a place called Montalban who has done basically the same thing as Angel. There is another former student named Nelcy who also used and dumped us. I could mention others, but that is enough for now.

The truth is it is very painful to be used and dumped. But such is the life of those who seek to help the poor. We realize the help we give will sometimes be abused. People will take advantage of your generosity and then later totally turn their back on you and God. By God’s grace, Celi and I press on and seek to assist the poor. God is bringing healing to the wounds that have been given to us by those who have trashed us. God’s grace is awesome! His grace continues to flow even in the student sponsorship program. God continues to provide sponsors for more and more poor students to go to college. To the glory or God, this past year we were able to help 15 college students attend school!

Ironically, a few years ago, we also helped sponsor a cousin of Angel to go to college: Lea-ann. Lea-ann has turned out the exact opposite of Angel. Lea-ann graduated from college about 3 years ago and is now a teacher in a public high school. She is now the main youth leader in our church. She remains thankful for the sponsorship that was given her and she is an incredible blessing to us and the church. Lea-ann did not use and dump us, but has remained faithful to the Lord and close friends with us. We believe there are many more “Lea-ann’s” out there. Celi and I are always keeping our eyes open for potential students who have a real heart for God and who need help.

And as a word for those students who are presently part of our sponsorship program or those who have already graduated. (Many of them will be reading the online version of this column) Here are some questions for you. Will you also use and dump us? Will you one day turn your back on us and the church and effectively trample on the kindness of God that was shown to you through the student sponsorship program? Or will you be a person who has an “attitude of gratitude” and remain thankful to God and to others who helped you go to school? Will you seek to fulfill God’s purpose for your life and strive to impact the world for Jesus? Or will you instead be a self-centered person focused only on “what you want?”  After you graduate will you attempt to further help the church and ministry and also help assist in sponsoring other students through the sponsorship program?  Or will you instead chose to focus only on your needs and the needs of your family?

By the power of God, Celi and I have lived to help others. We want to see that same spirit developed in the lives of those we help; in the lives of the students we assist with sponsorship. We want to see students raised up who will totally surrender their lives to Jesus and be used by Him to change the world. We believe that God will raise up more and more students from the sponsorship program to do greater and greater things for the glory of God in the future. We also believe that God will provide more and more sponsors for qualified students. To God be the glory for what He is doing in the student sponsorship program!

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God Moves In Sapa

Mandy and Judy Ortillo are a Filipino couple who play a major role in our ministry in the Philippines. We met them in 1993 when we first arrived in the Philippines as missionaries. At that time Mandy and Judy were living at the Smokey Mountain, the garbage dump of Manila. It is a long story but God has raised Mandy up to be a pastor and church planter. From 1998 until 2001, Mandy and Judy helped out with our ministry in Dasmarinas Cavite. This is a place that the Philippine government relocated residents from Smokey Mountain. In 2001, Mandy and Judy were sent out to a mountainous area called Montalban in order to begin a church.

When Mandy and Judy first moved to Montalban, they stayed with their 4 children in a small, one room house that had a broken septic tank.  Because of the septic tank, the house stunk all the time. Their whole family lived in that little bitty, stinking house for about two years as they initiated church planting work in Montalban. It was not easy for them, yet they persevered. After a few years, God enabled them to start a church.

At that point, we were able to buy a small piece of land and put up a little larger house which had a meeting area for the church. This building wasn’t too large, but it was a big improvement over the other place. Mandy and Judy and family moved to the new building. They were extremely happy to be in the new place; although the whole building was only about the size of a typical American garage. Mandy and Judy continued their outreach in Montalban. The church grew more and more.

Mandy and Judy were led to reach out to an area further up the mountain called Sapa. Doors suddenly opened there to share the Gospel. People responded and became part of the church. Sapa was a good distance from where Mandy and Judy lived at. It was also hard for the people in Sapa to go down the mountain to attend the other church. Hence we decided to get a piece of land in Sapa with the idea of eventually putting up some type of ministry center. God provided the resources and we were able to purchase a piece of land.

In 2006 we were able to put up a small building which essentially looked like something you would see at a picnic area. At that time, it didn’t even have decent walls.  But it was a beginning and the new and growing church in Sapa began meeting at that building.

Mandy and the group envisioned having a nice ministry center in Sapa. They began praying for that. It seemed to be an impossible task considering the amount of money needed to construct a decent ministry center. But folks, God can make the impossible; possible!  In 2009 God began to touch some people back in Dodge County to help out with the construction of a ministry center in Sapa. Money began to come in. Work was begun on a ministry center

This past March 11, Mandy and Judy and their family moved into the Sapa Ministry Center! The ministry center serves as their home and the central location for our outreach in Montalban. Quite a bit of finishing work (painting, etc.) still needs to be done on the center, but a majority of the basic construction has been finished. Mandy and Judy are so happy! It is really the first time in their whole life that they have lived in a decent house. God has answered their prayers and the prayers of many others. To God be the glory! Amen!

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Laughter And More

      My mother-in-law is 84 years old and she lives with Celi’s (my wife) sister – Babi. About every 2 weeks, Celi visits them for a few days. Recently I accompanied Celi on one of her visits. While there, I decided to have my hair cut by a lady who provides home service. As I was having my hair cut, my mother-in-law noticed and she blurted out, “Derek, you are already bald and now the hair cut is making you balder!” I could barely hold my laughter in. :)  My mother-in-law certainly has a way with words. My mother-in-law actually likes me a lot. Once she asked Babi, “What is Derek’s wife’s name?” She had remembered my name but had forgotten the name of her daughter – Celi. :)

     Recently another group of missionaries gave us a goat named Hershey. The other missionaries could no longer take care of Hershey and we offered to take her to our church in a mountainous area called Montalban. The only way we could figure out to bring Hershey to Montalban was to load her up in our car (van). So early one Sunday morning on our way to Montalban, we stopped at the other mission and picked the goat up. Hershey is a female goat and is quite large with a big appetite. I was worried that she would attempt to “eat our seats” or “fertilize our back seat” or “water the inside of the car” while in our vehicle. But, amazingly Hershey was well behaved and she lay down and rested the whole trip! Now Hershey is the “official lawn mower, bush trimmer, and landscaper” of our church in Montalban. :)

     A young man from Eastman, named Josh Stewart, is presently here helping out in ministry. A few weeks ago we were having an outreach on the sidewalk in front of a large, public high school. We were standing on the sidewalk giving out tracts and talking to students as they came by. Josh noticed a large sign, written in the Filipino language which was attached to the fence right where were standing at. Josh asked Jec (one of the Filipinos who was in our group) what the sign meant. Jec told him, “The sign says, Don’t pee (urinate) here, Fine – 1000 pesos!” Those types of signs are common in the Philippines because Filipino men have a habit of “taking a leak” just about anywhere. Josh, though, misunderstood Jec. He thought she said, “Don’t BE here, Fine – 1000 pesos!”  That caused Josh to wonder why in the world we were doing ministry in a place where we could get fined 1000 pesos ($20) for just being there.  He then decided that if we were willing to pay a possible fine of 1000 pesos for being there; then he would do the same thing. :)  Later on the miscommunication was cleared up.  To his credit, Josh also avoided peeing in the “No pee zone.”  :)

     Speaking of miscommunication, Elena, one of the young ladies that stays with us, had a taste of miscommunication a month ago while she was chatting with a friend from Eastman. The friend said, “Elena, you never know, the person might be just under your nose.” Elena asked me what “under your nose” meant? If you take that phrase literally (as those who don’t know English very well, often do) then you could come up with a very “interesting” picture. There is a person standing right under my nose? I was tempted to tell Elena that “under your nose” was just “over her head”  :)  but I didn’t say that and I explained to her the correct meaning.  Ah, the fun of southern English. Friends, have an awesome day!

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Trust Through Trials

A few Sundays ago I shared a message with one of our churches here in the Philippines. The message was entitled, “The Purpose of Trials.”  At the beginning of the message I asked those in the congregation if they had ever experienced a trial that was so difficult for them; a problem in which they had almost lost hope. At an afternoon service at a different church, this was also the topic of discussion.  It was interesting to hear the responses of my Filipino friends.

One lady shared that she had been married twice and that both of her husbands had been shot and killed by other people. The lady had actually witnessed both of the shooting deaths! Another lady told of the time when she had a large tumor and it seemed hopeless that she would get better. The daughter of that lady shared about how she thought her mother would die.

Trials and troubles are almost like a built in part of our life in this world. Everyone reading this column has experienced a variety of trials and difficulties. Some of the things that you have faced would even be considered overwhelming. It is very likely that some of you have faced “no hope situations” in which it appeared there was no solution or help to be found.  Some of you probably feel that your whole life is one series of problems. You have one problem and when that is taken care of then another problem comes along.

Why do we face trials and difficulties? Does God have a purpose in them? In the Bible we get a little insight about why God at times allows us to face various trials and difficulties. In II Corinthians 1:8-10 we read the following concerning the Apostle Paul: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9) indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;  10) who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us.”

Paul and his companions faced some type of incredibly difficult situation. They even thought that they might die. You might say that it was an almost hopeless situation. But then Paul mentions why the trial happened. In the last part of verse 9 is says; “….so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.”  I like the way another translation puts it, “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” The purpose of this incredible difficulty that they faced was to keep them from trusting in themselves and to cause them to trust in God.

Friends, it is so easy to become self confident. It is so easy to trust in our own abilities and resources. It is so easy to be dependent on our own wisdom. But folks, God doesn’t want us to have “self-trust.”  He desires us to have “God-trust.”  And sometimes the only way God can get us to fully trust in Him is to allow things to take place in our lives that cause us to feel almost hopeless. When we are hopeless, then there is only one place to look and that is to God.

I challenge you to look at trials as a tool of God that will cause you to trust Him more and more. Brothers and sisters, trusting in God fully is the best place to be and He will never let us down. Amen!

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Spiritual Squatters

I Corinthians 6:19b -20: “…you are not your own. For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

One of the major problems in the Philippines is squatters.  A squatter is typically a poor person, family or a group of people that suddenly moves onto property that they don’t own. A typical squatter will move onto a piece of property and quickly build a small shack. Once a squatter does this it is very difficult to get them to move.

Squatters are all over the Philippines. If you look around you can see whole communities of squatters. The squatters “take over” government owned land and even private property. They are very quick in what they do. I recall a situation that happened several years ago to a fellow missionary. This missionary helped a Philippine pastor construct a small church building in a poor community. They finished the building one afternoon and went home. The next morning when they came back, they were surprised to find that a squatter had come at night and put up a 2 storey shack right in front of the church building!

In some areas, the only way to keep squatters off of your property is to always guard the property. The owner of the property must keep a very watchful and careful eye, lest squatters suddenly invade. In more than one instance, I have seen people actually hire security guards to patrol their property to keep squatters away. As I mentioned previously, if a squatter does manage to get on a piece of property then they are very hard to get rid of. Sometimes it involves a lengthy legal process.

As I considered the problem of squatters, I began to realize that there is some spiritual lesson here for Christians. Consider the scriptures above. The Word of God teaches that Christians “are not their own.” If you are a Christian, then you have been purchased or redeemed by God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You do not own you. J God now owns you. As such, a Christian’s responsibility is to take good care of God’s property. A Christian does that by glorifying God through their body and life.

Look at it this way. If you are a Christian, you have a lifelong responsibility to keep squatters off of God’s property. You need to keep God’s property (your life) clean and free from “spiritual squatters.” A “spiritual squatter” would be any type of sin that tries to take residence in your life. Before that “spiritual squatter” can build a shack in our life, we need to clear him off quickly. Because, once the “spiritual squatter” takes up residence; it can be very difficult to remove him.

Let me give you an example. Take, for instance, a Christian man named Juan.  One afternoon Juan is walking down the road and on the side of the road he sees an open   X-rated magazine. Immediately a “spiritual squatter” named Mr. Lust tries to build a shack on Juan’s mind. If Juan doesn’t watch it and take immediate action, Mr. Lust will build a very strong shack in Juan’s mind. What should Juan do? He should immediately tell Mr. Lust, “Get out of here now! This is God’s property and you are not allowed to construct a shack here!”

Friends, if you are a Christian, I challenge you do not allow “spiritual squatters” to build shacks in your life. Remember, you do not own you. God owns you and you must keep God’s property clean from squatters. Amen!

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On Valentine’s Day night, February 14, a group from our ministry headed to a place in Metro Manila known as Pasay City. There were 10 in our group and our purpose in going to Pasay was to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the standards of God to the people in one of the wickedest areas of Manila. Pasay City is known for its bars, beer-houses, prostitution places and “short time hotels.” It is a place that has a reputation for every type of sin. Valentine’s Day is a particularly active time for immorality in Pasay City and hence the reason for us going there to preach the Word. Pasay City certainly lived up to its reputation as we spent over 6 hours on the street until after midnight challenging people concerning the Word of God.

Pasay City is a place set-up for sin. In Pasay City there are numerous “short time hotels.” A short time hotel is a hotel in which you can rent a room for only 2 or 3 hours. Now why in the world would anyone need to get a hotel room for only 2 hours? The answer is sexual immorality. Prostitutes and their customers are regulars at these hotels. Also unmarried, boyfriend/girlfriend couples flock to the “short time hotels” to engage in illicit sex. Married men also bring their “number 2 girl/mistress” to these hotels for adultery. Homosexual couples, as well, are regular customers at these hotels. The business at “short time hotels” booms on Valentine’s Day night.

Our group of evangelists was “armed” with various scripture signs. A majority of the signs had things like the following written on them: “Warning, God Will Judge The Sexually Immoral. Hebrews 13:4,” and “Sex Before Marriage Is Sin.” We also had tracts with us to distribute to people. Our tract title was, “SEX IS FOR MARRIED COUPLES ONLY!” Then the tract had a list of the various sexual sins. On the back of the tract there was more information concerning the Gospel. We also preached specifically against the variety of sexual sins. It ended up being an unforgettable night.

The later it got, the more the sin in the area increased. Our group of 10 was divided into 2 smaller groups of 5 each. The group I was with ended up being based very near the entrance of a short time hotel. The wickedness there was amazing. Prostitutes were all over the place. They were basically on all sides of us. Just in our little area there were at least 15 to 20 prostitutes.  Pimps were just about as numerous as the prostitutes. The pimps (who were usually male) would approach almost every single guy that would walk by and offer the guy a girl. The pimps would literally point out the girls standing along the alley…pick your own prostitute. It was so wicked. “Couples” were continually going into the short time hotel just in front of us for illicit sex. Another person was selling condoms to the prostitutes, “customers” and “couples.” I was amazed at how bold the pimps and the prostitutes were. It seemed that none of them had any shame whatsoever. It was absolutely incredible. On a side note, we saw one policeman the whole time we were in that area and it seems all the prostitutes knew the name of that police officer!

In the midst of this filth, we stood with our signs, preached and shared and gave out tracts. We were attempting to be light in the midst of much darkness. It wasn’t easy. It was a real spiritual battle. There was resistance to our preaching and sharing. But good things did happen while we were there. I recall one instance in which a pimp approached a guy offering the man a prostitute. I began preaching the standards of God. The guy would look at the pimp and then he would look at me. It seemed like a battle was going on in his soul. I told the guy not to listen to the pimp. I challenged the pimp to repent. The guy ended up hanging around and he listened to me preach for a good while. I don’t think he went off with a prostitute. You could tell other people were also getting convicted by the Word of God. Another person in our group named Paul spent a considerable time counselling and praying with a guy who came under conviction. This man went there to get a prostitute but then he heard the preaching and sharing. The next thing you know, the guy was confessing his sins and Paul was praying for him. A number of people gladly received our tracts. One man came back and requested more of our tracts so that he could give them to his co-workers. My cell phone numbers are on the back of the tracts and I have had some people text me wanting more information concerning spiritual things. Seeds were sown. The Word of God was proclaimed and planted and friends, that Word will not come back void.

The pimps and prostitutes and “short time hotel” were not happy that we were there. We were affecting their “business.” Valentine’s Day is the biggest day of the year for the “sex industry” and here we were messing up the business! While we were in the area the number of “customers” dropped. One prostitute commenced to chasing one of the guys in our group and tried to grab his “you know what.” It was really evil what she did. It also seems there was a tie-in between the short time hotel and the pimps and prostitutes. The hotel security guard appeared to call the hotel owner/management to try to find out what to do with us. As it neared midnight, one homosexual pimp simply went crazy and became violent. He ended up standing directly in front of me and Josh (Josh is a visitor we have now with us from Eastman, Georgia).  The pimp was shouting and calling us false prophets. He went on and on about how were destroying their business of selling girls. He said they had few customers that night and that they should have had many. We were the cause of the “lack of business.” This guy’s eyes were bulging. I think he might have had demonic influence. This wild-eyed pimp then stood beside Jec while she was proclaiming the Gospel and threatened to push her off the stairs (which were kind of high). His threat was real. He also got in the face of Roselyn and shouted and screamed at her. The pimp picked up a large rock and threw it. Roselyn thought that he might also have gotten some type of weapon (knife, etc). He was going crazy. Then he came back to where me and Josh were at. He loudly kicked a nearby door. We had no idea what he would do next, so we began to pull out of that area. The pimp followed us shouting and screaming. His target was me. :) I headed to a nearby McDonalds with the pimp following closely behind. I went into McDonalds and the security guards at McDonalds restrained the pimp to keep him from coming in and attacking me. It is good that the McDonalds in the Philippines usually have security guards at their door.

We eventually got the others in our group into McDonalds and we waited there for a little while until the pimp cleared out. After that we went and joined our other team. The other group had been sharing the Word of God in front of other prostitution places. They had a lot of stories of their own. After another 30 minutes of ministry, we decided it was time to eat and head home. A meal at another 24 hour McDonalds refreshed us physically and we made our way back to our place in Dasmarinas, Cavite. We arrived home at 3:00 in the morning. We were exhausted but full of the joy of the Lord because we were able to accomplish His purposes and share the Word of God in the midst of a wicked and dark place like Pasay City. We were also thankful for God’s protection. God had been with us even in a very difficult place and situation.

Please keep us in your prayers as we continue to share the Word of God here in the Philippines in a variety of places; even exceedingly wicked places like Pasay City. God bless you all!

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