“Making room for the glory of God” Stories and reports from ministry teams
After the Holy Spirit in Mission Conference, the international guests split into ten different teams and joined Filipino leaders for three days of ministry in five different districts of the IMC.
All did not go as planned. There were unanticipated strains among the six bishops who lead the work of the IMC. But the Filipino leaders met with an international ministry team, and there were heartfelt confessions, followed by forgiveness and reconciliation. Later the entire IMA group joined in a moving time of blessing and prayer for the bishops, who committed themselves to work together with increased collaboration and unity.
After his visit to a remote village in the northern Philippines with Indonesian and Filipino teammates, Penn Clark, a Mennonite pastor from upstate New York, told the group, “We are called to be carriers/containers of God’s glory. That way when we touch people, something beyond words is left. We make room for the glory of God.”
Juan Arauz, a missions leader from Nicaragua, was touched by the poverty he witnessed in the Philippines not unlike his own country. His team visited a Mennonite pastor who had lost his home and was living in a makeshift shelter under a tarp. (This report sparked a spontaneous collection from the IMA group which raised $800 enough for the homeless pastor and his family to move into a government subsidized dwelling. The last several hundred dollars needed came from the Amor Viviente Church of Honduras.)
Moses Otieno, a bishop and mission leader from the Kenya Mennonite Church, was amazed to visit a fishing community on a northern Philippine island, where the IMC is reaching out to 20,000 villagers who live in stilt homes over the water. He said, “They had never heard of Jesus, and were surprised to see someone from Africa preaching the gospel to them. Over 20 people accepted Jesus.”
Other teams visited in prisons and spoke in schools, churches, and home Bible studies. In one location, an international team preached in a municipal hall. After two Cambodian brothers gave testimonies and a Kenyan preached, 30 came forward for salvation. Otieno said, “This ministry together is more important that just meeting in a conference. It really impacted all of us to be with the local people, to eat with them, live with them.”
Two Isaan leaders from Thailand visited the IMA for the first time. Ponthawee, an elder in the Life Enrichment Churches, commented, “Our church is very young, just like a baby. I’d never experienced anything like the big evangelistic rallies we had where God came down and touched people who were hungry for him. It’s not because of our knowledge that God uses us, but because our hearts are open to God. It’s frustrating not being able to talk to people. They even think I’m a Filipino!”
Luis Edgardo Borjas from Honduras commented, “In our group we had people from Indonesia, Cambodia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and the Philippines. God transforms us when we’re together. We don’t just talk about missions. We participate in mission together.”