The days with the Hope Advance youth retreat were so full of energy. I was delighted to hear that 14 young folk followed Jesus in baptism on the last day. Too bad I wasn’t there to enjoy the fun. That would have been much more fun than spending the day working on class schedules and revising syllabi for Western’s On Line campus! I still am Professor Gerry.
Sunday was my opportunity to preach at Union Church Manila (http://www.unionchurch.ph/). Pastor Steve Ruetschle is an amazing man. His story of healing after a motorcycle accident left his C6-C7 near complete separation. He went from total paralysis from neck down to walking and preaching though with lots of pain and challenge. You can read his blog at http://www.steveruetschle.com/.
His schedule through the parables in Luke had Luke 13:1-9 for today, the parable of the barren fig tree: “unless you repent, you will likewise perish.” A very difficult parable and especially on Mother’s Day! But I love Scripture and dug into it to find God’s word. You can watch it on the church web site. The three sermons went well though my cold made the exercise more difficult. A snack of fresh mangos after second service helped a lot!
Monday was with long time friends, Rene and Carla Chanco. They took us up to Faith Academy where I got to see the next round of changes. They say the Cadd Auditorium has the best acoustics in the Philippines and it may well be so. The Manila Symphony comes to do recordings here. They were just starting to build it when we were here in 2007. Now it is absolutely beautiful. They bless the whole neighborhood as well as the city by allowing groups to use the facility. The arts program is flourishing now that they added an arts period where students can do arts or nothing. With the the shift of the missionary cadre from North American to Asian, there are fewer Anglo students, even higher academic achievement and (sadly) lesser sports involvement. Tine Hardemann, the 50 year basketball coach and now sports chaplain just shook his head. Ken Kiehlbauch and I came to Faith the same year (1969) but he stayed and built an amazing science program. Now the wing is named for him. And the Arts students crafted quite a portrait of him. Dave French, the 27 year art teacher was proud to show us his first floor workroom where students hang out creatively. The entrance to the main classroom building hasn’t changed though all the interior has. I am very glad to see the school improving, but a bit sad that “my classroom” isn’t even a part of the math area any more!
We went to the CB guest house and saw the improvements there and then on to Asian Theological Seminary, where Rene uses a good part of his time. As we waited to close the gate at the seminary, I took some street pictures and pondered the contrast with the erupting sky scraper behind the older buildings and tricycles. Wonder how long it will be before the area here looks like nearby Cubao or Ortigas Center (as viewed from Faith)?
The evangelical explosion here in the past generation has transformed the country with many churches including world class mega-churches like Christ Commission Fellowship with a 24,000 member base gathering, 30+ other CCF gatherings but has also planted hundreds of churches all over the Philippines and China. Peter Tan-Chi, who was in my D.Min. class at International Graduate School of Leadership, began the church as a home Bible study in a living room near Faith Academy and the rest is history.
Tuesday was our “off day.” We took it easier and went out to a nice supper in a local restaurant before Wednesday’s trip to Cebu.