First Manila Days

Teaching pastors is always fun! But it is even better when  they are Philipino men working as church planters in Muslim areas, in poor barrios as well as the wealthy Ortigas Center area where we are staying. Hope Christian Fellowship meets in a 100 square meter room and packs in 70 people twice every Sunday. But the key is that men who interned at Hope have gone out and planted 21 churches. This small room has become a prayer central for many leaders since Cesar Punzulan is an ordained bishop, head of the Philipino Council of Evangelical Churches (there are 70,000 churches here) as well as a very strategic leader in the country. On top of that, he is a very fun guy who invests everything in his people. Unfortunately I got so wrapped up in the teaching that I forgot to have someone use my camera to take a picture of the guys! I’ll get some from Cesar.

2015-05-04 14.50.10Manila has changed dramatically even since we were here in 2007. The hotel we are staying in is more than 48 floors, the tallest residential building in Manila when it was built in 2011. But there have been many others since and there are many others going up even now as you can see in this picture taken from our window. 2015-05-04 08.04.54There are many solar cells on top of buildings as well as beautiful PGA level golf courses. And cranes everywhere. Oh, yes. And traffic. There are more than 12 million people in the city they tell me. I have also heard 15 million if you count the people with no address.

2015-05-05 08.44.18America has invaded: Virtually every Western restaurant is here from McDonalds (where you can get rice or spaghetti with you hamburger) to Starbucks to TGI Friday’s. But Donn (my son who lives in Kansas City after spending the first three years of his life here) and I were both astonished with Kansas City Ribs! Our daily routine includes a trip across the street to SM MegaMall to get mango smoothies. The twin towers is our hotel behind this enormous mall. It is an astonishing contrast to the huge poverty in the country, which is so easy to forget here in the super wealthy area. But I also remember that this chain began as in Marikina. When we planted Calvary Baptist Church there in 1970, it was a small shoe market (thus the SM) where a small business man has made super good, raising the lifestyle of many others in the process. Odd contradictions.

2015-05-06 14.55.11I walked by Greenhills Christian Fellowship, a church planted by Dave and Patty Jo Yount who we worked with at Calvary Marikina. It was pastored by Luis Pantoja who went to Denver Seminary with me in 1972. I preached there in 2000. Three years ago Luis dropped dead while on a ministry trip to Singapore. I hear the church is dong well, but is no longer THE place to go. I won’t be there this time as I’ll be preaching at Union Church in Makati. Lunch with Pastor Steve tomorrow.

On a happy note, Sherry’s new computer crashed. We tried to take it to a repair shop, but the dealer is in downtown Manila. That’s not a trip for the faint hearted. So she brought it home. Later in the day, she texted me: “It’s healed!” Well, briefly. But since then she has worked with it, muttered at it, worked some more, and now it appears to be working again. Tomorrow will be the test.

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