The brethren from four different churches in the Bogo area had gathered at a hotel where we have held lectures several times. The church in central Bogo City also meets in one of its function rooms each Lord’s Day. We found a corner of the lobby where we could get aside and discuss the needs present. Not all of the members of the Libertad and Libjo churches were able to come due to the distance, but the benevolent help was put into the hands of faithful brethren from those churches for delivery to each member. The recipients signed for the amount given and the purposes for which it was intended. The same was also done with those from the other congregations within Bogo receiving benevolence where most of the members were present.
The average in the Bogo area was that about two thirds of the homes were either destroyed or damaged, the majority being damage rather than destruction. In Leyte, virtually every house was affected, with the vast majority being destroyed. Yet, the benevolent funds needed were not that different due to the much larger number of brethren in and around Bogo. The church in Libjo alone has 72 members, with a much larger attendance due to the number of smaller children who have not yet obeyed the gospel. The need for food continues to be great in the area as well. The brethren expressed great gratitude to all of those brethren in the U.S. who had sacrificed so much to help them.
One quick point might be good to add here. One of the brethren with whom we spoke today was immediately familiar to me, but not as a brother in Christ. When I came to Cebu last August for some lectures with denominational people, Fredricko was a Baptist preacher very vocal in his opposition to our teaching on the necessity of water baptism for the remission of sins. In the question/answer session, I pressed him after reading 1 Peter 3:21 as to whether he could say "Amen" to the passage. He said that he could not and we suggested to him that there is something wrong in our beliefs if we cannot say "Amen" to the reading of any passage. When I saw him this time, he told me that he was so disturbed by what he heard in that one day that he could not sleep and did not return the next day. It bothered him so much that he could not escape the clear teaching of Scripture and its refutation of his belief in the "faith only" doctrine. Within a few days, Jonathan Carino baptized him into Christ at the beginning of September! Praise God for the power and clarity of His word!
We returned straight from Bogo to the airport in Cebu City where we caught a flight to Bacolod. Jack Jaco and Shem Tagapan met us there. We crammed all of our bags and all 4 of us (plus the driver) into a small taxi, then proceeded to the hotel. The other brethren and I then went our separate ways so we could all finish work that had to be done and preparations for the work on the Lord’s Day.
We left the hotel at 7:30am on Sunday so we could be at Victorias City by the 8:30am start of their services. They usually begin the worship at 7am, but delayed to make things easier on us. I preached the lesson for this morning on “Breaking Temptation’s Hold” and the local brethren led in the remainder of the worship.
After services, we left immediately for Escalante City to meet with the brethren of several congregations about their needs. This is where things got interesting. Jack had not understood my question when I asked how many churches had needs in that area which we needed to address. He said there were three, but thought I was asking about only those in Escalante City itself. After a couple of hours where we discussed and provided for the needs of those congregations, I thought we were ready to go, but it was obvious several others were waiting to talk with me. As it turned out, those from15 different churches had needs to present as a result of much damage done to our brethren on
northern Negros. So, I sat in the same chair for 8 hours straight, without a break of any kind, in order to discuss the needs presented and attempt to meet the essential cases that we could meet. I was not aware of the extent of damage done in this region until I came here today. We could not meet all of the needs presented, but did what we could to discern the cases of the most pressing actual ones. Again, the brethren left with much gratitude for the benevolent help extended. We were so late leaving Escalante that we could not get to Bacolod in time to address the needs of two congregations there. Since I had had nothing to eat since the 6am breakfast and no break from the work, my mind was exhausted and I could not have continued anyway. Brethren from those churches will meet us tomorrow morning.
As happened on my November trip, the internet connection at the hotel in Bacolod is weak and sometimes totally down. Such was the case last night when I could not get it to stay connected long enough to send the emailed report. All attempts to do anything with posting on the blog were totally hopeless. So, I am attempting to send two reports at the same time tonight.
Thank you again for your very loving help sent to these brethren in need. May God bless your every effort in His service.