Fishing for Filipino souls July 29-Aug. 28

Ron & Donna Halbrook

3505 Horse Run Ct.

Shepherdsville, KY 40165-6954

 

PLEASE SHARE THIS LETTER ON GOSPEL PREACHING IN THE PHILIPPINES!

 

July 3, 2014th Year of Our Lord

 

Dear brethren,

 

God’s good providence involved me in the Philippine work when Jim McDonald took me in 1995, and now my 55th trip is set for July 29-August 28.  In Luke 5:1-11 Jesus told Peter to launch his boat into the deep waters of the Sea of Galilee and drop his nets.  Though he had fished all night and caught nothing,  Peter said, “At thy word I will let down the net.”  It took two ships to bring in the tremendous catch of fish!  Jesus then promised to teach Peter to “catch men.”  McGarvey commented, “Disciples are fishers, human souls are fish, the world is the sea, the gospel is the net, and eternal life is the shore whither the catch is drawn.”  At Christ’s word we still cast the gospel net, catching souls for eternal life.

 

Much work remains to be done in Metro Manila’s population of 12 million souls.  The first few days will be spent there laboring with small congregations (Aug. 1-3).  This will include a visit to Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City to preach to the inmates Willie Pastor has been teaching (we are hopeful he may be released before my arrival).  Please pray for the Pastor family.  His wife is trying to manage the needs of their four children by running a small shop and receiving some limited help, but she really struggles financially.  Willie’s mother just got out of the hospital, which means more bills and worries. They need our prayers!

 

On Monday, August 4, I plan to fly to Masbate Island where we are establishing a beachhead in Masbate City, a city of nearly 100,000 people.  Jonathan Carino, Jack Jaco, and I were on this island in December, March, and April preaching in outlying areas, but the last trip included one day in the city proper.  Our visitors showed good interest and urged us to return ASAP.  Gregg and Ronnel Jumao-as are Baptist preachers converted last year in the outlying areas and they have solid contacts in the city.  I have just learned we have three brethren somewhere in the city who have been struggling along with very limited success.  It will be a real breakthrough for the future of this work if they can coordinate with Gregg and Ronnel.

 

From Masbate we will travel to Cebu City on Cebu Island where Jonathan lives so that we can travel north to preach in Bogo City August 7-8.  Gil Suico has been laboring there with great success, and Rupert Ramiriz who was converted last year has been baptizing his denominational members and teaching others.

 

The island of Leyte was devastated by typhoon Yolanda last November and many brethren have sent benevolence there.  Saturday and Sunday, August 9-10, we will visit churches at Sogod (a flourishing new work) and Candadam-Baybay, as well as other brethren as time allows.  The main purpose is to preach.

 

August 11-15 Jack Jaco, Rody Gumpad, and I will teach on The Home & Family in Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur in northern Mindanao. Ramon Carino has labored here for many years.  He will be 90 on August 24 but is still quite sharp and active.  The local saints have sacrificed and saved for years to construct a building; it is under way with some help from U.S. saints.  Funds are still needed to finish it.

 

The final leg of this trip, August 16-25, will take us to General Santos City in southern Mindanao.  I plan to work with preachers who have done stable work for a number of years in the city and surrounding areas.  Lessons are planned to edify saints and to convert sinners.  The schedule includes the congregations where the Julom brothers labor including Jolly, Johnny, and Jerry.   Two days will be spent preaching up in the mountains at Lake Sebu where stable men are helping to revive the work.  Another two days will be spent teaching men from the institutional background who have indicated a willingness to study with Rosalito Nardo. I will work with Carlito Abella and Nestor Francisco, longtime faithful evangelists.  After Rene Sandoval died in August of 2010, his widow Sel continued to serve the Lord in the Kitakal church with the help of faithful men.  I will spend a day teaching there, God willing.

 

Without the prayers and donations of the saints, I could not make these trips.  Individuals giving for church buildings and similar needs may write checks to Help A Neighbor for a tax deduction.  Write all other checks to Ron Halbrook. Mail all checks to 3505 Horse Run Ct., Shepherdsville, KY 40165-6954.  Donors receive financial reports (2 Cor. 8:21).

 

In Christian love, Ron Halbrook

 

Phone 502-955-1748 or 957-6726; e-mail halbrook@twc.com

 

P.S. There is a dire need for songbooks!  I can ship new or used copies very cheaply.

 

To see good Bible study material, go to:

www.HebronChurchOfChrist.com

www.biblework.com

www.truthmagazine.com

www.CEIbooks.com

Halbrook Philippine Trip Apr 1-May 1, 2014

May 3, 2014th Year of Our Lord

HALBROOK REPORT: 54rd PHILIPPINE TRIP

APRIL 1-MAY 1, 2014

 

Dear brethren,

 

God blessed my 54th preaching trip to the Philippines April 1-May 1.  By His providence the gospel penetrated the dark veil of sin as many Filipinos opened their hearts in a world where many close their eyes “lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:4).  Not counting presentations by faithful Filipino preachers, I presented 69 lessons, and 33 precious souls confessed Christ, desiring to be baptized.

 

After my arrival in Manila late on April 2, Elias Cruz came to the hotel to help me sort study material in boxes to send to places I was scheduled to preach.  On the 4th about 20 souls gathered at the small church in Paranaque, Metro Manila in the home of Jimmy Battung to hear studies on “Simon Samaritan Sorcerer Saved” and “The Prison of Sin.”  One grandson, Kyle, had already obeyed the gospel.  Another grandson, Troy, struggled because his parents are adamant Catholics. Our study of Matthew 10:34-37 on putting Christ above family members helped lead Troy to baptism a couple of weeks later.

 

The next day found us at Vicas, North Caloocan City, Metro Manila where Ely Ebuenga preaches.  Lessons on “Make Something Useful of Your Life: Serve God” and “Back to the Bible” were translated by Jhun Layusa and by Ely, resulting in two baptisms.  Sunday we worshiped with Willie Pastor and 60 other inmates at Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, Metro Manila.  There are no guarantees, but Willie hopes to be released when his minimum sentence is finished this summer.  Monday morning the Kapitbahayan church in Navotas, Metro Manila hosted a gospel meeting, and the afternoon was devoted to a discussion of the resurrection of Christ.  Elias Cruz is an evangelist there.

 

Tuesday, Atoy Franco, Elijah Sikat, and I went to the Sampaloc church of Christ where Antonio “TonyBoy” Hornedo preaches in Manila for deaf mutes.  Fifty people in a small room for the day saw PowerPoint charts supplemented by comments on a white board and six asked to be baptized.

 

April 9 I flew to Masbate Island where Jack Jaco, Jonathan Carino, and I worked with Greg Jumao-as, a converted Baptist preacher.  He gathered 70 souls to hear first principle lessons for two days.  Mark Klynen from Belgium lives in the area and was delighted to finally receive a Dutch Bible he can more easily read.  On the 11th we preached in Masbate City proper for the first time.  A “pastor” asked me to explain Acts 16:30-31, implying salvation by faith only.  While I was turning to the passage, he burst out laughing at himself, and exclaimed, “I just read the next verses,” which include baptism!

 

The next day Jack and I flew to Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte on Mindanao.  Edgardo Parangan hosted our series on “The Home and Family.”  Rody Gumpad arrived to help with teaching duties.  Also Cyrus Gesulga, Jhun Carpentero, Leo and James Armada, and Leo Entroso traveled far to join us.  An audience of 50-60 heard presentations on Family Life: A Biblical Perspective (from L.A. Stauffer’s workbook), and Harmony in the Home (from Mike Willis’ workbook), “Man’s Leadership in the Home” (my outline), and “The Song of Solomon: A Celebration of Love” (my outline).

 

On the 19th we made a hard six-hour trip from Dipolog City to Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental.  Sunday we preached at Oroquieta City, where Ramon Villamin labors.  The next day we held a gospel meeting with the Malaubang church in Ozamiz City, where Genesis Delos Santos labors.  Both churches are emerging from a background of institutional liberalism.  Both places I preached on “Two Attitudes Toward God’s Word: Conservative and Liberal.”  The lessons were well received.

 

Another hard six-hour trip on Tuesday brought us from Ozamiz City to Cagayan de Oro City.  The next three days found us in gospel meetings with the churches at San Simon, Camaman-an (Jhun Carpentero is the preacher), and Capisnon (Cyrus Gesulga is the preacher).  Several were baptized.

 

April 27-29 found me in northern Luzon at Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.  On Sunday I worked with Efren Ramos at two churches and with Mat Sibayan at the Provincial Jail.  The final two days were devoted to lessons on “The Unity of the Spirit” using Mike Willis’ Passing the Torch as a guide.  This review of false doctrines and factions was hosted by the Laoag City church where Mat Sibayan preaches.

 

I am forever indebted to all the saints who donate to make these fruitful Philippine trips possible!

 

In Christian love,

Ron Halbrook

 

P.S. Thank you to all who inquired about the financial deficit I face on this trip.  I will respond when all the numbers are tallied.  Since several inquired, I will try to suggest how the load can be spread and not put all the burden on any one source.

 

To see good Bible study material, go to

www.HebronChurchOfChrist.com

www.biblework.com

www.truthmagazine.com

www.CEIbooks.com

Ron Home by God’s Providence

May 1, 2014th Year of Our Lord

 

Dear family, brethren, and friends,

 

By the providence of a loving God, I arrived home this evening and it is a great joy to be reunited with Donna!  We went immediately from the airport to visit sister Ruth Roederer who suffered a stroke several months ago and almost died.  She is improving little by little.  After prayer and Scripture reading, we came home so that I can unpack and begin to recuperate from the 24 hours travel.

 

My heart overflows with thanksgiving to God, to saints who donate to make these trips possible, and to Filipino brethren who give me the privilege to labor with them in the gospel.  This was a one-month trip, which taxes my energy, but my spirit is always refreshed by the faith, hope, and love of Filipino saints.  There were 33 baptisms this time, but that is only one phase of the work as the gospel was proclaimed to sinners in the world, and saints were edified as well.  Filipino preachers are engaged in this work year round and my role is very small in contrast to the continual labor they are doing.

 

Important email messages have gone unanswered because of the pressures of this trip.  Please extend patience and I will do my best to address them when I can.  For the next couple of days, I will be busy preparing to teach Sunday’s Bible class on the book of Joshua and to give a report on the Philippine trip.  Perhaps next week I can work on email.

 

May God bless and keep each one of you as you serve Him.

 

In Christian love,

Ron Halbrook

 

To see good Bible study material, go to

www.HebronChurchOfChrist.com

www.biblework.com

www.truthmagazine.com

www.CEIbooks.com

Halbrook Philippine Report Apr. 26-30, 2014

April 30, 2014th Year of Our Lord

 

Dear family, brethren, and friends,

 

By God’s grace, on this last segment of the trip I have the privilege to work in the Ilocos Norte Province where I have been welcomed for many years by brethren who are dear to me because of their devotion to the Lord and steadfastness in the faith. On Saturday, April 26, Jonathan Carino and Jack Jaco began their journeys back to their homes in Cebu, Cebu and Victorias City, Negros Occidental respectively where their loved ones miss them and wait for them. Meanwhile, I flew from Cagayan de Oro City on Mindanao to Manila on Luzon where I took a connecting flight to Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. Mat Sibayan, Sr. and Junior met me at the airport and brought me to the hotel. It was a joy to see them again!

 

On the Lord’s Day, my brother and friend Efen Ramos picked me up at 7:00 A.M. to go to two congregations where he preaches in Ilocos Norte. We have done this several times through the years so that I have had the privilege to watch both churches grow and develop. The first service was at 8:00 A.M. at Binacag where about 100 souls gathered including visitors. I preached on “The Prison of Sin” (1 Pet. 3:18-4:11) and Efren translated it into the Ilocano dialect spoken in this region. The next schedule was for the 10:00 service at the Poblacion church. Their new church building has been under construction for about three years now, as funds become available, and it overflowed today with 115 present. Efren asked that I preach the same lesson and it was well received.

 

A dear aged sister presented me with about 10 eggs laid by her native chickens in appreciation for my visit (just to clarify, it was the sister and not the chickens who appreciated my coming:-) ). Since I have no cooking facilities, I gave them to Efren, but I had my picture taken with this precious saint in remembrance of her love.

 

After the service, we quickly ate lunch and rushed to Laoag City to the Provincial Jail to meet Mat Sibayan, Sr., Junior, Rex Bayaca, and other brethren who work with the inmates incarcerated there. This work began about a year ago and 70 have been baptized. After my lesson on “The Prison of Sin,” which was translated by Junior, three more came forward to confess Christ and to submit to him in baptism. The countenances of all three were very serious, somber, and sober, and one had tears running down his cheeks. One had been on the “Most Wanted” list as a criminal. Efren and Mia Ramos found they had relatives who were inmates, and one of them was also among the number converted today.

 

Normally, the people can understand my English, but in some rural areas and especially in jails there are uneducated people who learn more if the lessons are translated. This is the height of summer time in the Philippines and the temperature was 91 with 73% humidity here in the Laoag area. After preaching all day in this heat, I appreciated Efren finding a place along the road where we could buy fresh coconuts and drink the buko juice which helps counteract dehydration. Though I am exhausted while writing this report at the end of the day, what an uplifting day it has been!

 

On Monday 80-90 people attended the beginning of a two-day series on “The Unity of the Spirit” at the Laoag City church of Christ. Rody Gumpad and I prepared to teach this theme by covering the lessons in Mike Willis’ workbook on “Passing the Torch.” True unity is found in the original teaching of Christ rather than in human ecumenical schemes embracing everything from Hindu to Islam to Catholicism to denominationalism.

 

After my introductory lesson on the restoration of New Testament Christianity, Rody taught on the missionary society apostasy which played a large role in the formation of the Christian Church denomination in the late 1800′s. The only problem with Rody’s good presentation was that he could hardly talk and would not have been heard at all were it not for the microphone. His next topic was instrumental music, but we mutually agreed he should sit down and I should teach in his place. I later “fired” him for these two days because he has been fighting this infection for over two weeks while traveling and preaching with me. When I had the same problem during my February-March trip, I simply had to cancel two full days on my schedule in order to recover. I fear it will take Rody even longer to recuperate.

 

In the afternoon I taught lessons on factions created by opposition to Bible classes, to the located preacher arrangement, and to the use of multiple containers in dispensing the Lord’s Supper, and by the premillennial doctrinal system. All these factions have been planted in the Philippines and the brethren appreciated the opportunity to examine them in the light of the New Testament.

At the day’s end there was a good open forum in which the dangers of compromise and questions about cremation and suicide were discussed. It was a good day, but I confess to being slightly tired after being on my feet for seven of the eight sessions today.

 

Tuesday was the second and final day devoted to “The Unity of the Spirit.” I taught five lessons covering unity-in-doctrinal-diversity, institutionalism, the sponsoring church, grace and unity, and marriage, divorce, and remarriage. Yesterday I gave Mat Sibayan, Jr. my charts on “The Social Gospel” so that he could study this theme overnight and relieve me by presenting that lesson today.

 

The open forum had good participation. Several of the questions grappled with what is the proper response when false teachers appear. I pointed out there should be thorough teaching to educate brethren to the truth and to expose the false doctrine. We should not receive false teachers and work with them. Also, we should recognize some brethren receive false teachers either because they do not understand clearly the truth on certain subjects, or because they are not aware of the false doctrine the teacher holds. Therefore, there should be patient teaching and forbearance to arm brethren with knowledge of these matters, and also consistent efforts to admonish anyone who receives a false teacher so the mistake can be corrected in due time.

 

At different times men who embrace error on instrumental music in worship, on liberalism, and on divorce and remarriage have attempted to penetrate the Ilocos region. In past years the brethren have faced the false ideas of Jim Puterbaugh and Wallace Little regarding divorce and remarriage, and regarding unity-in-doctrinal-diversity. More recently, men embracing error on divorce and remarriage have visited the area in the persons of Randy Hilburn (Rosedale church of Christ, Bakersfield, CA) and Don Wilson (Loomis church of Christ, Loomis, CA). When these men work in the Cagayan Province, they work with the same faction that compromised with Puterbaugh and Little in past years. That faction studiously avoided coming to hear sound men such as Jim McDonald and Connie W. Adams through the years. What does the future hold for the Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte provinces? For the most part, Ilocos brethren do not welcome and work with false teachers due to the many years Mat Sibayan, Sr. and Vic Domingo have invested here teaching sound doctrine. No one can predict the future, but I have confidence in brethren in the Ilocos region for the most part.

 

The last session ended about 6:00 P.M. and I returned to my hotel to pack and go the airport, arriving at 7:45 for the 8:45 flight to Manila. Since the plane comes from Manila, it was delayed for over an hour by the congestion there, but, by God’s grace, I finally got to Manila at midnight and collapsed in the bed for a good night’s rest.

 

By the time this report goes out, I will be making final preparations for the flight back home. A part of my heart remains in the Philippines, but I greatly miss all of my loved ones and brethren at home, and after 3-4 weeks, the body gets weaker and the longing for home grows stronger. I have been taking my walk at night, viewing the beautiful stars, but the moon has been hiding-I look forward to seeing it again from the other side of the world!

 

It appears finances for this trip will fall short of the expenses by at least a couple of thousand dollars. Less money was donated this time, likely in part because many brethren had already sacrificed to provide benevolence to relieve saints who suffered the ravages of Typhoon Yolanda. That help was desperately needed and God will bless and reward all who sacrificed to aid in the relief effort. As to expenses for my current trip, I have put a significant amount onto a credit card, trusting that God will help me to find a solution in His own time and way.

 

Meanwhile, my heart overflows daily with love and gratitude for so many saints who have made 54 preaching trips to the Philippines possible!

 

In Christian Love, Ron Halbrook

 

To see good Bible study material, go to

www.HebronChurchOfChrist.com

www.biblework.com

www.truthmagazine.com

www.CEIbooks.com

Halbrook Philippine Report Apr. 22-25, 2014

April 25, 2014th Year of Our Lord

 

Dear family, brethren, and friends,

 

The previous report summarized activities in the Ozamiz City area. On April 22, Tuesday, our drive across the Misamis Occidental Province from Ozamiz City to Cagayan de Oro City took six hours. It would have been eight hours, but we took a ferry across a gulf when we left Ozamiz City and cut out some travel time. We had to contend not only with roller coaster and bumpy roads but also with heavy traffic, road construction, and police and military checkpoints passing through part of Lanao Province which is heavily populated with Muslims who at times become violent. Our driver, Dondon Mabasa, did a good job negotiating all these twists and turns, and we thank God for our safe trip.

 

Wednesday an all-day gospel meeting was scheduled for the church at San Simon about 45 minutes out in the country from Cagayan de Oro. A few years ago we preached here under the trees to about 100 people and baptized 29. There is now a thriving church in this community and Jhun Carpentero preaches for them every Sunday afternoon. After a terrible flood a couple of years ago, the brethren gathered scrap lumber that washed down the river and built a meeting house where we gathered today.

 

The attendance was 110 and five were baptized. Jonathan Carino, Rody Gumpad, and I all preached. I spoke on “The Resurrection of Christ” and “The Gospel Makes Us Right with God.” We sat all day on benches consisting of a single piece of lumber without a back and set low to the gound on posts driven into the ground. This is typical for many rural churches here in the Philippines. No one complained and everyone was very attentive.

 

Another all-day meeting was held Thursday at the church located at Buntong Camaman-an, Cagayan de Oro where Jhun Carpentero regularly preaches. About 80 people of all ages attended including visitors who are not Christians. My first lesson was “Simon Samaritan Sorcerer Saved” (Acts 8:1-25). Cyrus Gesulga followed me and built his lesson on my first point dealing with God’s providence in our salvation. Next, I presented a study on “The One Hope VS Premillennialism.” After lunch Rody Gumpad preached on the imperative to give heed to Bible warnings. Jhun Carpentero spoke on God’s goodness and severity (Rom. 11:22), then I extended the invitation. Eight precious souls obeyed the gospel of Christ! One was Cipriano Carpentero III.

 

Today, April 25, was spent at the Capisnon church here in Cagayan de Oro as arranged by Cyrus Gesulga. The attendance was 50. I began by preaching on “The Prison of Sin,” then Rody gave an overview of the gospel plan of salvation. After his lesson he immediately left for the airport to catch a flight to Manila, where he will preach Sunday at the new Edsa-Pasay church. Next, Jhun Carpentero discussed grace and obedience, distinguishing God’s part from man’s part in redemption.

 

Cyrus spoke after lunch on the subject, “Jesus Is Coming, Are You Ready?” This lesson summarized a tract he wrote by the same title, and he used PowerPoint presentation for the first time. My last lesson was “Judgment by Jesus: Jerusalem, and All Men,” a verse by verse study of Matthew 24. Preachers were present who are learning little by little the errors of premillennialism, and we had a good open forum following the lesson on Matthew 24. No one was angry and the session went well. Cyrus and others are requesting me to return and present a series on the book of Revelation, which would clarify a lot of other elements of truth in contrast to premillennial error.

 

I will begin the last leg of the trip tomorrow by traveling to Manila and on to Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. When the schedule there is finished, I will return to Manila and prepare to fly home. I miss everyone there, especially Donna, and I am praying constantly for the saints of God back home in the U.S. Thank you to all who are praying for me here as well.

 

In Christian love, Ron Halbrook

 

To see good Bible study material, go to

www.HebronChurchOfChrist.com

www.biblework.com

www.truthmagazine.com

www.CEIbooks.com

Halbrook Philippine Report Apr. 19-21, 2014

April 19-21, 2014

 

Dear family, brethren, and friends,

 

Having finished our work in Dipolog City, we began our trek eastward in northern Mindanao on Saturday, April 19. Two vehicles were loaded with Jhun Carpentero, Bobby Entroso, Jack Jaco, Rody and Tessie Gumpad, and myself. Jhun drove one and Rody, Tessie, and I rode with a fine young couple named Rolando “Dondon” and Melina Mabasa who came all the way Pagadian City to be with us these next several days.

 

The trip from Dipolog City to Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental took several hours, but I slept several times and missed some of the scenery. I was awakened when the roller-coaster road dipped so sharply that my head banged on the roof of the car, but, thank God, the trip was completed safely and without any breakdown. Ozamiz City will be our base for the next few days. In all my years in the Philippines I have stumbled onto Dr. Pepper very rarely, but the little café in the hotel here has it – so all is well that ends well!

 

After traveling over an hour Sunday morning, sometimes on roller-coaster roads again, we reached Oroquieta City, Misamis Occidental, where Ramon Villamin preaches. It seems in past years this church was under some liberal influences, but in recent times they have been open to hear conservative preachers and are moving away from institutional liberalism. Over 100 brethren met in a large room at a high school where one of the members teaches. At the morning service I spoke on “The Resurrection of Christ” and Rody gave an overview of God’s plan for man’s salvation in Scripture and in history.

 

During the afternoon service Jonathan Carino preached on obedience (he arrived by taking an all-night ferryboat from Cebu) , then I spoke on “Two Attitudes Toward God’s Word: Conservative and Liberal.” Passages such as Jeremiah 6:16 and 2 Timothy 1:13 teach us to have a conservative attitude of strictly adhering to God’s standard of truth. The lesson shows the difference between conservative and liberal attitudes toward Scripture in relation to these applications: Revelation Authorizes VS Silence Authorizes, Local Church Action VS Centralization of Local Church Work, Spiritual Work VS Social-Recreational Work, Church Benevolence to Saints VS Benevolence to Sinners, and Preaching All God’s Word VS Worldly Weakness in Preaching.

 

The audience was very receptive to our lessons today. Rody closed with a lesson designed to invite sinners to obey the gospel. Four were baptized.

 

When in the Philippines, expect the unexpected. The meeting today, Monday, was planned to start at 9:00 AM at the Malaubang church of Christ here in Ozamiz City where Geneses Delos Santos preaches. A vehicle bringing many visitors had a flat, so we waited until after 10:00 AM to start to give them time to arrive. The local church has only a handful meeting in a building that could seat 250 (built by liberal brethren some years ago), but today 87 attended including brethren from churches at Libinay and Clarin. Fifteen Catholics from the area attended as well. Brother and sister Ramon Carino rode a bus from Pagadian City to be with us today – he is 90 and still mentally alert and quite active.

 

My first lesson was on “Simon Samaritan Sorcerer Saved,” followed by Rody’s overview of the plan of redemption. He extended that lesson after lunch, then I taught “Two Attitudes Toward God’s Word: Conservative and Liberal.” When Rody was about half way through his first presentation, there was a citywide brownout (temporary loss of electricity), so the projector could not be used any longer. Fortunately, a whiteboard was at hand which both of us used during the rest of the day.

 

Brownouts are fairly common from time to time in the Philippines, especially in Mindanao. President Ferdinand Marcos served from 1965-1986 and was farsighted in building up the infrastructure of this nation including power plants, but because of pressure from environmentalists not one power plant has gone online since he resigned in 1986. This is one major reason the Philippines is so far behind in economic development. This brownout today lasted four hours – how can businesses rely on such an unstable power system? This is a city of about 140,000 people!

 

After returning to the hotel, I have been following a route on three streets to reach the city hall where there is a small paved sidewalk for walkers. I have been making several rounds there, then returning to the hotel. Shortly after dark I was almost ready to return from walking and another brownout occurred. Every light went dark including the street lights (except for a few businesses with generators), and I had an adventure getting back to the hotel because I could not see the surface where I was walking. Vehicle lights only served to blind me even more. I know, I know, I can hear some of you saying, “You should not be out like that at night,” but previously I did fine because the street lights on these main streets gave sufficient light.

 

In the Philippines, expect the unexpected. But, I had a Dr. Pepper again with supper – so, again, all is well that ends well!

 

The two days of preaching in this area have been productive in confirming the convictions and the desire of these churches to take a more conservative biblical stand. The main issue that impacts Filipino churches is whether to distribute benevolence from the treasury to saints as was done in the New Testament pattern, or to include sinners after the manner of Catholicism and denominationalism. There are also some liberal churches sponsoring social and recreational activities, but few have funds for such activities. Sunrise Christian College at Butuan City on Mindanao receives support from churches, and there are Filipino liberals supported by sponsoring churches in the U.S. So, liberal influences are very much present over here and must be countered by teaching brethren to respect “the form of sound words” or “the pattern of sound teaching” found in the New Testament (2 Tim. 1:13 KJV; NIV).

 

I thank God for opening the doors for all of these opportunities, and I thank all of my brethren who make it possible for me to come take advantage of such wonderful opportunities to teach souls who are seeking the truth.

 

In Christian love, Ron Halbrook

 

To see good Bible study material, go to

 

www.HebronChurchOfChrist.com

www.biblework.com

www.truthmagazine.com

www.CEIbooks.com

Halbrook Philippine Report Apr. 13-18, 2014

April 18, 2014th Year of Our Lord

 

Dear family, brethren, and friends,

 

On the Lord’s Day, April 13, we worshiped with the Dipolog City church of Christ where Edgardo Parangan preaches. Though he suffered two strokes last week, Edgardo attended the services today. He moves slowly and awkwardly but is showing improvement. I preached on “The Prison of Sin” and then Cyrus Gesulga preached on God using us as His people in the ministry of reconciliation, i.e., to spread the gospel. The church building was full and appeared to hold around 50-60 people.

 

In the afternoon we drove out into the countryside to the Diwan church of Christ where Chito Calimpong preaches. About 50 people crammed into the little bamboo and nipa hut with a dirt floor, which serves as their meeting place. (Nipa is dried palm tree branches.) My lesson was on “Simon Samaritan Sorcerer Saved.” There were many high school and college age young people present who could understand my English, but Cyrus summarized the sermon in the local dialect for the sake of the older people in the audience.

 

Many of these younger people want to attend the classes on “The Home and Family Life” this week in Dipolog City, but they will have to get up early to take care of the farm animals and go home each day to put the animals up.

 

Today, Monday, at 2:00 PM we began the series in a function room at The Top Plaza Hotel in Dipolog City for five days on “The Home and Family Life.” If the first day starts in the morning, participants coming from a distance arrive all along during the morning, and the audience is not complete until after lunch. This means the late comers miss part of the series and there are constant interruptions as they enter. We avoid these problems by starting at 2:00 PM the first day, and we dismiss the last day at noon, which allows an afternoon of rest at the completion of the series.

 

Over 50 people came today, which is a good sized audience with which to work, though only 40 received workbooks. As an outline or framework, we follow the lessons in L.A. Stauffer’s Family Life: A Biblical Perspective, and Mike Willis’ Harmony in the Home. About half the audience appears to be under the age of 30, which is a good time for them to have these studies. Though the Philippines has a family oriented society, there is much immorality and corruption beneath the surface and Christians are affected. Jack Jaco, Rody Gumpad, and I are teaching the series. Cyrus Gesulga gives early morning devotional type lessons.

The lessons on this first day gave an overview of marriage and of the importance of love in the home. Tony Boy Hornedo, the deaf mute preacher in Manila, informed a friend of his in Dipolog City about our meeting, and she came today.  Since she cannot hear, a special seat was reserved for her at the front so that she could clearly see each of the PowerPoint charts as they were put up on the screen.  She is a Jehovah’s Witness, so I gave her some additional study materials to take home with her.

On Tuesday our attendance went up to 60 including three more deaf mutes. Everyone was focused and attentive as we covered material on the roles of husbands, wives, and children. As well we studied the duty of discipline, honor for parents, and selecting a mate. I taught two very basic lessons on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. Thirteen lessons were discussed in a day and a half, completing the workbook on Family Life. Our participants have enjoyed learning and singing “God Give Us Christian Homes” and “Where Love Is in the Home.” Both songs are sung several times each day during our series.

“Harmony in the Home” was Wednesday’s theme as we used Mike Willis’ workbook by that name as a guide. Different kinds of sins which have a destructive impact on family life were studied as “works of the flesh” and “the old man” of sin. Then, attention shifted to the new life in Christ and principles in the Sermon on the Mount which have a constructive impact on family life. At the end of the day there was a 30 minute Q & A period which was productive with questions from young and older alike.

 

On Thursday, April 17, our rented function room in the hotel was full again and everyone was very attentive as we finished teaching the series on “Harmony in the Home.” I again made applications to home life from the Sermon on the Mount dealing with things like patience in adversity, prayer, and the Golden Rule.

 

The whole afternoon was devoted to “Man’s Leadership in the Home,” a four-part series I developed several years ago. Rody, Jack, and I used Joshua 24:15 to underscore the importance of men fulfilling their duty to be spiritual leaders in the family. We discussed a man’s personal spiritual growth which prepares him to lead his wife, his children, and the family unit as a whole.

 

Friday morning I taught four lessons covering every chapter and verse of the Song of Solomon, “A Celebration of Love.” The story of the courtship and marriage of Solomon and his Shulamite bride is everyman’s story. God blessed mankind with the experience of passionate love within the context of marriage, which is pictured in the love story told in this book.

 

Muslims attack this book as pornographic when they claim the Bible has been corrupted, though they claim to believe it. Pornography is not an expression of the healthy and wholesome passion of love in marriage but rejects God’s gift for a cheap, empty, destructive counterfeit. There is not one pornographic line or word in the Song of Solomon but rather it celebrates passionate love as God intended it within the confines of marriage.

 

The Song of Solomon teaches husbands and wives to cultivate the garden of marriage by giving attention and affection to each other. When these lessons are applied, we will have harmony and happiness in our homes – we will have Christian homes. This is the remedy to much of the rampant sin and immorality engulfing the world today!

 

By God’s grace, Edgardo Parangan, our host, regained enough strength and agility to sit in with us during today’s session. We hope and pray he will fully recover from the two strokes he suffered two weeks ago.

 

As is customary in the Philippines, a certificate of completion is given to each participant at the end of a seminar or series of lessons like this one. The students expressed their appreciation for the teachers’ work and the teachers expressed appreciation for the good participation of the students.

 

Tomorrow, Saturday, we start our journey eastward across northern Mindanao toward Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental, preaching a few days along the way. A week from tomorrow, Rody Gumpad and I will journey to Laoag City, Ilocos Norte to present a series at the Laoag City church of Christ on “God’s Plan for Unity When Issues Divide Brethren.” Then, before we know it, May 1st will arrive, and I will fly home, God willing. Please continue to pray that the trip will be safe and successful to the end.

 

When I have taken my walk on the boulevard at night next to the ocean, I have enjoyed seeing the moon come to its full phase, and know that someone at home is observing the same moon. My family, the saints at the Hebron Lane church of Christ, and the brethren who help to make this trip possible are never far from my mind. I thank God for you, one and all!

 

In Christian love, Ron Halbrook

 

 

To see good Bible study material, go to

www.HebronChurchOfChrist.com

www.biblework.com

www.truthmagazine.com

www.CEIbooks.com

Halbrook Philippine Report Apr. 9-12, 2014

April 12, 2014th Year of Our Lord

 

Dear family, brethren, and friends,

 

On Wednesday, April 9, Jack Jaco and I met at the airport in Manila for the 5:00 AM flight to Masbate City on Masbate Island. We had been concerned that an approaching typhoon might cause the flight to be cancelled, but it is slow moving and has weakened to a low pressure system. Greg Jumao-as was converted from the Baptist Church last year and has been steadily growing and maturing. He met us at Masbate City and guided us to Del Carmen where he preaches and where he has baptized many former Baptists meeting there.

 

Greg has preached in Del Carmen since 1983 and is well respected in the community. The church had been affiliated with a Baptist association which is trying to eject Greg from the property, but so far he has remained because the association did not provide funding to build this meeting house and has only a tenuous claim on it. It is not likely the association will take legal action to eject him because they do not have a strong case, but time will tell. It might be necessary to negotiate to purchase the property in order to avoid a long and expensive legal battle.

 

About 70 souls were gathered for our all day session with lessons on “New Beginnings in Christ,” “Modest Dress” (by request), “The Two Covenants,” and “How Sinners Receive Salvation.” Even though denominational “pastors” were present, there were only a few scattered questions in the open forum because the audience seemed to be satisfied they had heard the truth.

 

One of the main purposes of this gospel meeting is to edify and stabilize this new congregation of God’s people, but we also have a interesting opportunity. Mark Klynen from Belgium married a Filipina and moved to this area. He had little religious training or faith of any kind, but this is my third trip to this area and he has attended all three times. Finally, by the kind help of a brother in the Netherlands, I was able to present Mark a Bible in Dutch, his own language, with some additional teaching material. I noticed during the lessons that his wife was helping him locate the passages I covered. He greatly appreciated getting his own Bible.

 

It is summer here in the Philippines and is very hot with high humidity. My voice was weakened after spending all day in a hot room with our deaf mute brethren in Manila in spite of the fact I did not use my voice! Today the brethren gave me two coconuts with the tops cut off and a straw inserted to drink the fresh “buko” juice in fighting dehydration, which greatly helped in addition to Gatorade.

 

We stayed in a small hotel in Masbate City and drove about an hour to Del Carmen over bumpy roads. About 70 attended again on Thursday. The morning study was entitled “Back to the Bible” showing that it contains God’s plan for our salvation, the pattern for the original church of Christ, instructions for godly living, and principles necessary for family life. Jonathan Carino arrived today and he presented a thorough study on baptism. Next, I presented a detailed examination of the question, “Is instrumental music authorized in worship today?” In the open forum there were a few questions on baptism but many on instrumental music. No one really fought us, but they are working through many false concepts they have been taught for years. Several were nodding their heads to say they got the point as we went along. Mark Klynen continued to show good interest and he commented that he learned a lot from the studies.

 

Was Friday, April 11, the worst day or the best day of the trip so far? Originally, two days were scheduled for a gospel meeting in Masbate City proper, but a festival here complicated our plans and we were forced to reduce it to one day. The studies were scheduled to start at 9:00 AM and by 8:30 people were arriving. About 20 people coming from a distant rural area including our host were delayed by several travel headaches including a flat tire. It was 11:00 AM before we could begin, but delayed schedules is a typical feature of Filipino life. Americans fret over it while Filipinos take it in stride.

 

My first lesson was a study of “The Purpose of Our Life,” followed by Jonathan on “The Three Dispensations.” After a late lunch Jack Jaco preached on “The Seed Principle.” My final lesson was “Jesus Came to Seek and Save the Lost.” During the open forum there were several questions on baptism, because these denominational “pastors” were hearing the original gospel of Christ for the first time.

 

One very attentive “pastor” asked me to explain Acts 16:30-31 where Paul told the Philippian jailor to believe in Jesus Christ to be saved. I began turning to the passage and commented that we need to see the context to get the right meaning. Before I could say anything else, the man burst our laughing and said, “I just the read the verses which follow.” He was laughing at himself because as soon as he read those following verses, he immediately saw the answer to his own question! When Paul explained faith in Christ, baptism was included. Although I answered the question for the sake of other people in our audience, he had already been convinced just by reading the verses himself – a good sign of an honest heart.

 

Mark Klynen was present again and could not get enough. He admitted to me that he is already partly convinced, but he wants to read more of the Bible before making a commitment. As soon as the assembly was dismissed, the audience began to ask when we could return to teach them more. Three men asked if they could return this evening to ask follow-up questions. Of course, we welcomed them to do so. Jack, Jonathan, and I ate a late supper with these three men, discussing various topics as they asked questions, and then we pared off with each of them to give each man personal attention. Thus, these men received an additional two hours of teaching on a wide range of subjects.

 

Greg Jumao-as told me three had decided to be baptized as a result of the previous two days of preaching. Today Willie Pastor sent a text message that several more decided to be baptized in Bilibid Prison in Metro Manila in part because of the lesson I presented last Sunday. It is truly harvest time in this nation!

 

Worst day or best? Undoubtedly, one of the best days we have ever had! There is real potential to plant the Lord’s church in Masbate City if we can strike while the iron is hot.

 

The last two nights I have seen a half moon with a huge halo or circle around it, which means rains is coming according to the old timers. (I trust everyone is keeping an eye on the moon for me.)

 

Today, Saturday, we left the hotel at 5:30 AM to catch the flight to Manila. From there Jonathan returned to his home at Cebu City while Jack and I took another flight to Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte on Mindanao. Edgardo Parangan is the host for the series here on “The Home and Family,” but he had two strokes last week. He is recovering at home but is incapacitated at this time. In addition to local brethren who will step in to help, the following men traveled to be with us and to help in any needed capacity: Cyrus Gesulga, Jhun Carpentero, Leo and James Armada, and Leo Entroso. The classes will be taught by Jack, Rody Gumpad (arrival Monday), and myself. We thank God for safety in travel and look forward to a good week.

 

One thing is for certain. The great harvest of souls occurring in the Philippines is the work of God through the power of the gospel as He gives the increase. No one person is able to accomplish all the good work occurring, but the gospel is spreading through the faith, hope, and love of many dedicated Filipino brethren. It is a joy to work alongside them from time to time. They appreciate the fact that much work being accomplished is made possible by the love, attention, prayers, and financial help of U.S. saints. Above all, let us all give God all the glory for His great plan and purpose for our redemption!

 

In Christian love, Ron Halbrook

 

To see good Bible study material, go to

www.HebronChurchOfChrist.com

www.biblework.com

www.truthmagazine.com

www.CEIbooks.com

Halbrook Philippine Report Apr. 1-8, 2014

April 8, 2014th Year of Our Lord

 

Dear family, brethren, and friends,

 

My flights on April 1 from Louisville to Detroit to Nagoya, Japan to Manila went well. I was exhausted when I fell into the bed at the hotel about 2:00 AM on Thursday (Filipino time). Elias Cruz met me later that day to sort and pack teaching material I brought in four large boxes on the airplane. Then, he sent them via air cargo and the bus to the places I will distribute them on this trip. I spent the rest of the day studying, answering email, and preparing for the next days’ work.

 

Friday, April 4, a service was held at the home of Jimmy Battung, the retired police chief who was converted by Atoy Franco a few years ago. He adapted his garage as an open-air meeting place. It was a pleasant surprise to see Rick Halnas home on vacation from his job in New Zealand. He was here for his daughter’s high school graduation-she was valedictorian and plans to study medicine. About 20 souls met with us to hear lessons on “Simon Samaritan Sorcerer Saved” and “The Prison of Sin.”

 

The open forum included a question faced by a grandson of Jimmy. He has learned the truth and wants to be baptized, but his parents are fanatical Catholics and promised to put him out if he obeys the true gospel. We studied Matthew 10:34-37 about putting Christ above family members. That can be especially hard in Philippine culture which is still quite patriarchal. Pray for this young man to have the faith and courage to obey Christ.

 

Saturday’s appointment was at Vicas, North Caloocan City, Metro Manila where Ely Ebuenga preaches. After driving over an hour, we waited 1 ½ hours at a rendevous point because of some miscommunication with the men sent to meet us. The people were patiently waiting and singing when we arrived. It was past 11:00 AM when my lesson began on “Make Something Useful of Your Life: Serve God.” Though the people understand English, Ely wanted to be sure they got every point, so the lesson was translated by Jhun Layusa, finishing at 1:00 PM.

 

After lunch I preached on “Back to the Bible,” translated by Ely. During the invitation song, two young ladies who had been attentive came forward to be baptized into Christ.

 

Fearing the traffic would be heavy, we did not stay longer, and sure enough it took 2 ½ hours to get back to the hotel. Atoy Franco is my faithful driver and companion in going out to preach in Metro Manila. He was converted by Don Hastings several years ago and has proven himself to be a faithful servant of the Lord, always ready to help in any possible way.

 

I try to force myself to take some exercise every day no matter how tired I am, which boosts my stamina. When I get back to the hotel in the evenings, I eat, take care of details necessary to the work, and then take exercise. Fortunately, this hotel has an exercise room, and I have been going about 10:00 PM, which is much later than I prefer. In other towns I often look for a safe place to walk. By the time I shower and get to bed, I am exhausted and fall asleep almost instantly! (Those who may think these trips are vacations are welcome to join the “vacation” anytime they do not need a lot of rest :-) ).

 

On Sunday Atoy drove me to Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, Metro Manila where we worshiped with Willie Pastor and 60 men gathered with him. Rennie Frazier from the U.S. preached here yesterday, so they had studies for two days with American preachers. My lesson was entitled “Make Something Useful of Your Life: Serve God.” Including Willie’s translation, it took two hours to teach the lesson, so we studied the first part during the Bible study period and completed it during the worship hour. After dismissal we sat with several men for an hour answering questions on baptism and the undenominational nature of the New Testament church. As a result of these efforts, two men asked to be baptized shortly after we left.

 

We drove straight from the prison to Jimmy Battung’s home to join this small church in worship. I taught the same lesson, but there was no need to have it interpreted to this audience. One of Jimmy’s grandsons, Kyle Halnas, led the singing, and he has a natural voice for it. It is almost 1:00 AM as I write this report, so I will sleep well, just not enough.

 

All day Monday was spent with the saints at the Kapitbahayan church in Navotas, Metro Manila. The morning lessons were designed for a general audience as we studied “Make Something Useful of Your life: Serve God” and “Simon Samaritan Sorcerer Saved.” About 100 attended.

 

The afternoon was set aside for elders and preachers in an effort to settle a controversy which has brewed off and on for a year. Did Jesus raise himself from the grave, or was he helpless and dependent on the Father’s power to raise him like any other man? I began by presenting a verse by verse study of Mark 16 on “The Resurrection of Christ” to emphasize it is the foundation of our faith in him as the Savior. Next, I pointed out that in such miracles as the creation and the resurrection of Christ the Godhead collaborated and acted in perfect harmony. We cannot dissect the inner workings of the Godhead but are dependent on what is revealed, nothing more, nothing less.

 

We know there are passages referring to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit working in the resurrection of Christ. Further than what is revealed, we cannot explain this miracle or any miracle, but we cannot deny Jesus affirmed his power to lay down his life and to take it again (Jn. 10:17-18).

 

Next, we all grow in knowledge and understanding, and this growing process does not make us false teachers (2 Pet. 1:5-7). All the parties to this controversy affirm the resurrection of Christ, and yet all can grow in understanding this great doctrine-thus, not all differences constitute false doctrine.

 

The discussion continued for two hours without anyone getting angry or out of sorts. The brethren who differed seemed satisfied, and we pray now the saints will be more united in their efforts to serve God.

 

Today, Tuesday, Atoy Franco, Elijah Sikat, and I went to the Sampaloc church of Christ where Antonio “TonyBoy” Hornedo preaches here in Manila. They have been meeting for many years in a small room at the back of a building, reached by an outside passageway barely wide enough for two people to pass if they turn sideways. About 50 souls including saints and sinners were packed in this room like sardines. This is the deaf mute church in Manila.

 

There was no one present who could hear and interpret in sign language, but a brother signed as he read each PowerPoint chart I presented, and I wrote additional notes on the blackboard as we went along. My first lesson was “The Resurrection of Christ” followed by “The Prison of Sin.” The process moved slowly, but the audience was greatly attentive and constantly signing to each other and to the brother helping me to clarify the points. The heat and humidity were sweltering so that Elijah and a few others went outside for fresh air a couple of times to avoid heat exhaustion, but they returned to follow the lessons.

 

During the open forum there were questions by visitors about marriage, divorce, and remarriage. I showed Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 on PowerPoint charts and gave a simple exposition of each passage. After quite a bit of signing to each other, they all indicated they understood the rule of one man for one woman for life, and the one exception allowing an innocent mate to marry a new mate after divorcing a fornicator.

 

After a review of the plan of salvation and the one true church, six came forward asking to be baptized. We left exhausted by the heat but rejoicing for the souls who responded. There were many expressions of appreciation by smiles, hugs, handshakes, thumbs-up, and sign language. Spending the day in silence watching these people sing, pray, study, and communicate by signing made us reflect on the value of the gifts of hearing and speech! And we greatly admire people who seek and serve God in the absence of these gifts!

 

At all of these places I distributed books, booklets, and tracts for further study.

 

Without the love, prayers, and financial help of many saints, the work reported here would not have been done. Thank you, brethren! And, yes, I’ve managed to see the moon a couple of times, so be sure to keep it in your sights.

 

n Christian love, Ron Halbrook

To see good Bible study material, go to

www.HebronChurchOfChrist.com

www.biblework.com

www.truthmagazine.com

www.CEIbooks.com

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