Church leaders and members in the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) continue to witness God’s power and His saving grace even amid obstructions and roadblocks. People are being led to Christ continually through the Total Member Involvement (TMI) and the “I Will Go” initiatives of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Under pandemic and travel restrictions, people yearn for God, His strength, and the fellowship of a faith community even more.
Unable to travel far within or outside of the Philippines, we saw many doors opened by God for us to reach His beloved people, the tribal groups of the Mangyans in the highlands of Mindoro. Through God’s faithful and dedicated frontline workers, the gospel is reaching the corners of the island of Mindoro even under a raging typhoon.
The SSD leadership, along with departmental directors, the Adventist World Radio (AWR) team, local pastors, Bible workers, youth, and even children, are intentionally and prayerfully seeking, saving, and making disciples of people of all ages, tribes, languages, and socio-economic backgrounds.
During the pandemic, we have adopted different strategies and intensified our efforts to reach people. We have used media ministries, visitations, faith-sharing care group meetings, and the friendship ministry with interfaith communities.
September and early October were set aside for the evangelistic series on-site under the theme, “Hope for Mindoro.” The evangelistic series took place at two locations in Oriental Mindoro province before moving to Occidental Mindoro. We planned these evangelistic meetings to be sequential, starting from the eastern side of the island in late September when the weather was good and moving on to the western region for a combined effort, with 16 evangelistic meetings happening concurrently on site. We moved in faith, not knowing at the time that Maring, a large tropical typhoon, was on its way.
We battled the strength of Maring from the very first day. During the entire week, we were in a heavy downpour and relentless winds. Umbrellas were useless. As some places were not accessible by cars due to narrow roads, our means of traveling was a motorbike, and we had no choice but to preach in wet clothes. Many of our temporary evangelistic shelters were flooded with water up to our ankles. Under such weather conditions, we were not very optimistic about the number of attendees for the remaining days.
To our surprise, the number of attendees was larger than we expected, even in the flooded areas. In some halls and churches where the meetings were taking place, we had between 200 and 300 people attending every night. From wearing shoes to the meeting in the evenings, we shifted to wearing slippers while preaching. We were inspired and moved by the great interest of the people.
The combined efforts of SSD and AWR 360 have been successful. The series of meetings ended with 1,380 baptisms. We are reminded repeatedly that in Christ and under God’s love and grace, there is no distinction between people from the lowland or the highland areas. There are no Mangyans nor other natives. Everyone is called to be a disciple of God, to be gifted with abundant life, hope, and salvation.