Sunday, November 15, 2009
I think we can officially label this particular missionary trip as "Goosebump Tour of '09."
This Sunday at Valenzuela City was another experience in God's hot streak of revealing Himself. So far, this trip is batting 1000.
Our friend, Dennis Kniery from Alexandria LA, has never been to the Philippines but has been having dreams and visions about the Philippines the last few months. He has been hesitant to call them visions, but after what we saw this Sunday... Dennis, you had a vision.
He contacted us a few months ago asking about Valenzuela City. It was most unusual, as I knew Dennis could have no earthly knowledge of this place.
He said that he had been awakened in the middle of the night with a voice speaking in his head, "It is coming through Valenzuela City." There was more, but he said it was a realization that Valenzuela City was either a gateway, or a thoroughfare, or a bridge to what God was wanting to do. So we told Dennis that we would go to Valenzuela City this trip and see what we could find out. The goosebumps began as soon as we arrived.
Valenzuela City is about 1,000,000 on the northern edge of Metro Manila. The government has begun a 12 lane super highway, called the C5 to connect the center of Manila to the northern provinces of the main island of Luzon... it goes straight through Valenzuela City.
Not only that. When we arrived, the church was literally on the shoulder of the new highway and as we worshipped, tricycles, jeepneys and automobiles passed only a few feet from where we sat.
Not ONLY that! Pastor Jhimmy Bautista and his wife Rovelynn, who were students of ours at the ACTS Bible School, started the church here about 7 years ago and the highway went smack dab over the exact location of the church, and had to be demolished to accommodate the road.
This is a wonderful couple and all of Hell has come against them. As I already said, the church was demolished, but so was their house, as a result of this new highway. The government offered to relocate them but it would have been too far from their new converts, so they gave up the secured housing and took a step of faith.
8 months ago their baby boy died after living only 2 weeks. They have struggled mightily but have not given up. In fact, they have only strengthened their resolve and told the church, "We will meet for prayer EVERY DAY until we break this thing!"
That is what they did, and began to see immediate results. Visitors have been in every service, excitement is bubbling up out of everyone, and new converts are winning other new converts.
Rovelynn is still grieving over the loss of her baby but is faithfully fulfilling her role of wife, mother and pastor's wife. She played the keyboard (that is woefully inadequate) with gusto and her voice is beautiful and strong.
At the conclusion of my message I told the story of Mark. I did not know until later that many of Pastor Jhimmy's saints come from a situation similar to Mark's. EVERYONE was weeping.
I also noticed that the driver of our car, Marino, had come into the side of the church and was listening to me preach. He is a devout Catholic and is not familiar with Pentecost. As I began to tell the story of Mark, tears began to flow in his eyes.
Then they REALLY began to flow. He was using his tissue to wipe tears, then his shirt, then he had to go to the car and get a towel!
When we were alone with him later in the day he began to weep again. Marino has been a part of this story from the beginning as he has been the driver that we had employed when we began searching for Mark and was with us during all the remarkable twists and turns of this incredible story.
"I don't know what happened to my eyes whenever I think of Mark. I was like Mark. I was raised a squatter's kid. I lived in a place like Mark lives. No one believed in me..."
He wept for a while, while he was weaving in and out of traffic, never releasing the accelerator.
Brenda and I were very touched by his emotion but were also fearing for our lives.
He went on to say, "There is something special about that boy. He is not like the other squatter's kids. The other squatter's kids only care about the immediate, drugs, gangs, treating their bodies without respect. Mark is different. All the people I have talked to, the people at the bus station, the people in his village, they all say Mark is a good boy. He is a hard worker..."
Marino went on, wiping tears and narrowly missing a smorgasbord of vehicles.
After a while he went silent, then he added, "Thank you for helping my people. Thank you for helping Mark."
After the service, we invited Pastor Jhimmy and his family to eat with us. We had more to our plan than food so we suggested we go to one of the large malls in Manila.
Brenda and I knew a good deal about this family and could not get away from the idea that we needed to help them out.
So, after we ate, we took them into the SM Department Store and said, "Pick out the girls a nice church outfit. Don't look for the cheapest, but let's find something nice."
When we found out that Pastor Jhimmy had only one pair of dress shoes, and since that is what he wears almost all the time, these shoes needed to retire.
So, while Brenda took Rovelynn to the women's shoes, I went with Jhimmy to the men's.
What comes next broke our hearts!
I was sitting beside Jhimmy waiting for the next size of shoes to come so he could try them on. Jhimmy had been carrying his briefcase on his shoulder the whole time and set it down long enough to bend over and slip his foot into a shoe. When he straightened up, he looked down beside him and his case was gone.
He jumped up and said, "My bag! Where is my bag?" We frantically searched for it and it was gone.
"Jhimmy, what was in that bag?"
"My bible." That was a crushing blow. His personal bible, with all of his notes and years of markings and underlining.
Then he said, "My secretary usually takes the money from the offering but for some reason, today, she put it in my bag."
Today they had taken up the building fund offering, the tithes and... it was all gone.
The mall was over crowded from holiday shoppers and looking back Brenda remembered a lady had been following them all over the store, pushing a cart, acting as though she was shopping.
The cart she had been pushing was there, right beside us, with all the things she had put in it, and the lady was gone.
We went ahead and bought their items and left the mall feeling like we had been kicked in the gut.
Later, Jhimmy sent me a text message, "Sir, don't worry when we lost something God has a replacement that is more beautiful for us..." He then added some personal things.
Pastor Jhimmy and Rovelynn, I don't know why all of this has been happening to you but I know this... It is coming through Valenzuela City! Hold on to that promise faithful soldiers of the Gospel. Your reward is piling up in Heaven's treasure room.
Pastor Jhimmy points to the center of the new highway... "That is where our church used to be.
This bridge was destroyed in the recent flood and is a connector to two main areas of Valenzuela City.
The highway heading back in the direction of Manila.
The river that flooded this part of Valenzuela City.
Praying for strength for Pastor and Sister Bautista. Rovelynn wept in a travailing spirit when I told the church about the vision of Dennis Kniery... "It will come through Valenzuela City."
Rovelynn had also seen visions and they had dreamed dreams. This word confirmed what they had already seen.
Rovelynn on the keyboard that needs replacing. It has some sort of electronic Turret’s. She is playing it and it just goes, "Ngaaa! Bzzz! Plip!" Something like that.
Marino, the driver, just could not hold it together during the story of Mark.
Jeruzha Mae Bautista
Jeruzha Mae ran from rack to rack, we can't wait to see her in her new dress.
Jerahmeel has very good taste. She is a beautiful young lady who loves God. The Bautista's only have to pay half the regular school tuition because Jerahmeel is the top student in the school.
Notice in the picture above, the bag that is on Jhimmy's shoulder. That was to be stolen about 30 minutes later.
Jhimmy talking to the Manager and head of security about the theft.