The Philippines - 2009


We left Santa Maria Wednesday mid-day, heading south on the General MacArthur Highway, Again, the road is in terrible condition as all the bridges and most of the roadway is under repair from the floods. We stopped in Candon City at McDonalds for lunch and then journeyed on to the Town of San Juan in LeUnion District, the adjoining District to Il Locos Sur. A District is much larger than a county. At San Juan, we picked up the LeUnion District coordinator, Pastor Luna. She is a powerful and determined Director, doing the same kind of church building as Marben has in Il Locos Sur, Abra and north. Pastor Luna has twenty churches established under the banner Voice of Judah. They are all members of Caleb Ministries and under the leadership of Elohim Covenant Community and Bishop Marben. Our purpose was to visit as many of those Voice of Judah churches as we could in three days.

From San Juan, we went further south through St Lucia, which has seven additional Caleb churches we would not visit this trip. At the village of CabanJuan, a Barangay about an hour off the road, we visited the site of land donated for an additional church, not yet started. Walking a great distance through corn fields, rice paddies, cows and tobacco fields, we located the CabanJuan house where church was in session. A tiny home in the fields, there was a great cross-section of ages represented. About 30 children had assembled and were singing greetings to us on the small porch while inside an additional 20 were waiting, including several in their 80-90 year range! It was severely hot in the fields but waking in was necessary as farmers had covered the roadway with drying corn and grains.

I gave a message and we anointed all present and then presented candy packs to the kids. You can picture a small house with plastic stacking chairs, a table set for us with rice, fish, sticky rice paddies and crawdads, two bottles coke and bottles of water. This was a handsome gift to us from their modest holdings! The elderly was very appreciative as they had never had outsiders visit.

About 5 pm it had cooled a little, making the walk out more comfortable. I would guess it was in the 80’s at least, and muggy in this area. I was exhausted!

Arriving at the car, we drove to the other side of the highway to a Barangay Bluing. This one was tricky as it involved driving through the plaza where many had spread their wares for sale on the ground, past small shops, down long narrow drive with concrete block walls on each side! These roads are made for motorcycles and trikes so our van barely fits, sometimes having just inches on each side and requiring three or four attempts to make a corner! About 7, we arrived at Bauang and parked in a rice paddy (drained) as there is literally no road to the house. We were at a new church, Anchor of Hope. This church has many very young adults and is full of energy! They love to dance for Jesus as they sing and they do songs with animation, hopping, dancing and swinging! Stand back! And in the intense heat is it a sight. Most everyone has a towel stuck inside their shirt at the neck to mop themselves. I thought I could sweat not another drop after the last church but here it never stopped!

They were very excited at our visit and it was made clear. I preached on the cup of redemption, bringing in the Last Supper and Garden of Gethsemane portions of scripture. I then anointed many and most ended laying on the floor! It got to be very amusing as some would hold on to the stakes holding up the lean-to type structure and yet I would just touch their forehead and down they went! The spirit is very strong at this church and at most we visited.

The church then brought in a table and set for us for dinner in the center of the church. They had mostly fish but I had a pear with me which was sufficient as it was still too hot to eat much. As we sat at the table the people ate around us in their chairs. I was pleased they gave the people the same food as we had as sometimes ours is clearly “better” and that ticks me off so I spoke to Marben about it. He said the local churches each decide what to prepare.

We then went into the house to which the lean-to church is attached. It is a big brick home with many comforts for this area of the country. There, we had a Pastors Meeting with 14 pastors from LeUnion. They asked me to tell about Caleb Ministries, which I did. They each presented credentials and applications to join Caleb Ministries. Then I was led to a small bedroom for the evening, complete with electric fan! I like the young pastors in this church very much.

In the morning I was able to take a “shower” and to use internet briefly. I gave the thumb drive to a young man and I gather he sent all the photos at once. I hope this not mess up anyone’s computer. I asked him to break it into three. The thumb drive was prepared to send from Santa Mari but I never had the opportunity so thought it best to send it when I could to let everyone know I was okay.

After breakfast (another pear) we went into the village town to visit the small mission church of Bauang pastured by Pastor Marco. This is a rented building in town. The Pastor lives alone in a small room in the back, (stereo, bed pad, shelves for clothes) and cooks on the patio in the back. It is about as Spartan as a place can be. He has built the church up into two services on Sundays and a big youth program! He is a dynamic Pastor for this town and very committed. His church growth program is posted on bulletin board in the meeting room.

We then drove to another area with an orphanage housing presently 22 children. The Pastors asked I anoint each of the teens and pray for them as well as staff and the building. It is a very large and fine facility! One of the residents is a lady whose daughter was brutally murdered. She clung on to me tightly as we prayed. Another was a young girl gang-raped. The residents are troubled and are getting good counseling in this place. The facility is sponsored by private donations .

We then visited the home of the Pastors (husband and wife) who operate the orphanage. It is quite modest, being three small rooms with a well and outside cooking arrangement. They are not permitted to live in the orphanage as that would be to benefit from the donations, so they rent this small house close by.

From there we drove to a meeting of young adults. I prepared a message on the way but when we got there I found they were in fact young children for whom my message would have been unsuitable. This meeting house was a bare frame building in the middle of a field by a village. It is literally four walls with a stage of sand held up by concrete clocks. It was packed with young kids. I toned down my message considerably and then we did candy-packs and anointed each child and staff. It was excruciatingly hot but well worth the effort. With children this young I anoint and dedicated them to Jesus as they are too young to make the decision as yet. Older ones will tell me they have elected Jesus and then I proceed in the usual manner to pray for them. By now it is very clear to me the entire LeUnion District has been anticipating our visit from Caleb. Most of the churches have Caleb supplies and several have our computers.

We stopped in San Fernando at the community hospital to visit Mechelle, Pastor Marbens daughter who is a doctor there. She renewed the list of requested medicines from Caleb and thanked us profusely for what she has received.

We returned to the Anchor of Hope church at Bauang for a service with the teens. I spoke on the 23rd Psalm. We snacked on raw turnips dipped in vinegar. We ran short of candy packs so Pastor Luna said only to give to the Sunday School kids. I told her that was not permitted under Caleb Ministries as all are treated alike whether they attend the church or not. She then gave the three kids some candy.

We then visited Calvary Chapel, another rented building with new church. This one is right on General Douglas MacArthur Highway (the ONLY highway here) and has a dynamic young minister. He asked that I pray for his six staff before leaving (there was no service during our visit) and all six fell under the spirit in a row! Pastor Luna and another young pastor then left us as we journeyed to Lydia’s’ house. Lydia is a Filipino lady from Michigan. She is committed to church planting in this area and has a home here in Barangay Gusing where we spent the night. She has built two churches here and spends about half her time in LeUnion. We were invited to stay the night in her home in Barangay Gunsing. Later in the evening, Pastor Luna rejoined us, bringing candies, toys and sacks to make additional candy packs so that each child would receive something. I was pleased she came to agree with me. Later, we stopped in town and Xeroxed more coloring sheets to add to the new candy packs.

I had a nice bedroom on the upper floor at Lydia’s’, complete with fan! Dinner was sticky rice, urchins, fish, and I had my apple and a boiled egg. Breakfast was the same. At breakfast, we discussed future plans for LeUnion District as we had five pastors now traveling with us. This was followed by a communion at the breakfast table, using coffee creamer cups for the juice! I asked Bishop Marben to preside as I felt it more appropriate as by then eleven of his Pastors were present.

After communion, we piled into the van and headed out into the brush to a small village about an hour in towards the mountains. There, we found a new church called Ubbog, meaning “spring” as in water source. Pastor Fernando and his wife live in a concrete room which serves as sanctuary in rains and store rest of the time. The side has a lean-to covering where they store their belongings and have a bamboo pad to sleep on. The front has a well and a roof-awning under which they preach. We were just visiting to bless the church but while we sang songs people and especially children, from all over the hillside, gathered. I spoke on 1 Sam 24:2-10 and anointed people and prayed over them, gave out candy packs and saw several healings! Many fell under the spirit again. We told them we would return for full services the next day. We enjoyed lunch of Tupig (roasted sugar cane) and rice, and I had a pear.

Our next stop was Nagulian, a larger city in LeUnion district. Here, we saw the Heavenly Sanctuary, built by the missionary Lydia. It is a beautiful church. The service was electrifying! Many came from the smaller churches including 20 pastors! I spoke on Malachi 3:1-3, the refiners fire., and on The dead water vs. living water, and Jesus as the fountain of Living Water. As I was anointing, people started dancing and eventually formed a parade dancing around the sanctuary! Then we gave out candy packs. In the back room, we had dinner, it being nearly 11 pm. Mostly seafood so I had a little rice and an apple. During the dinner, Sister Ruby and another, Pastors from Marbens Church, announced they want to go to Indonesia as Caleb Ministry missionaries next year. Three others volunteered to go to India for us! Plans are being drawn up to send them as The Philippine Caleb Churches want to get into world missions and this is their natural target mission field! Back at Lydia’s, we spent a second night sleeping.

The next morning we returned to Ubbog to find over 150 children and many adults waiting for us. The first thing , Pastor Fernando announced they had changed the name of their church from Ubbog (spring) to Fountain of Living Water! After many songs and worship, I spoke on The Transfiguration of Jesus and His being both Perfect High Priest and Perfect King. In praying for one lady, she kept clinging to a rosary and complaining of things buzzing in her head. She finally released the rosary and gave it to me. Then her head cleared and she started singing. Many in the Philippines suffer from a mixing of Catholicism, mysticism and spiritualism. Once they release those, they can see Jesus alone as Savior. She is a good example of that. We gave out candy packs and blessed the children. Lunch under the awning in the church yard was a surprised as someone had thoughtfully broiled a chicken thigh for me to accompany my pear.

We then journeyed to two Barangay villages in Mamat-Ing Sur where we had outdoor meetings and gave out candy packs. The children start coloring the papers to turn them in for prizes from Marben. There was a nice breeze at Mamat-Ing Sur but we were under a big tree and tiny worms like miniature caterpillars kept falling on us! I spoke on Paul’s visit to Ephesus.

Then we returned to Burang Town and had fellowship at Pastor Jody’s church. I spoke on Malachi 3:1-3 again, as it is Marbens favorite, and we then said goodbye to the LeUnion churches. We stopped for supper at McDonalds in a mall. (I had McSpaghetti!) We arrived home at Santa Maria late Saturday evening.

Sunday was market sellers service at dawn (4:30 AM) and I spoke on the 23rd Psalm. At the nine AM service I repeated the Refiners Fire sermon at Marbens request as they had not heard it here. At 5 pm, we formed a parade of Jeepney, trikes and motorbikes, and went out about an hours drive to Barangay Pachane, a very remote hill village. About 30 children were waiting. This is a new village for Marben so he did not know what to expect. His leaders there are very young and new but did great job. As we started the singing and stringing a light in the tree, more kids and adults kept coming. The team workers were hastily creating new candy packs in the jeepney as I have my testimony! There were 71 children anointed and 34 adults! When we got back, I went directly to bed, exhausted!

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Yesterday was Sunday....FOUR services in three places with four different messages. Sat night was at San Emillio with 8 mountain churches (small) coming to misdsdion center carrying bamboo torches to see their way! ENCHANTING. Sunday dawn service at St Mary, 9 am at St Mary, 2 pm at Selig and 5 pm at San Carbanado

Jerry Riess
& Caleb Good News Ministries

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I have included with this Report a photo of Miko. He is 17, weighs 68 pounds, and was assigned as my guard on the boat trip! He cannot swim either. I nicknamed him “flotation device”….and he likes that! He is great kid. Plays guitar and drums and is one of leaders of youth group and Pastor candidate! Will be Pastor when is twenty (minimum age here)

It is now Wednesday and I last wrote on Saturday afternoon. Sorry for the delay but we have been very busy. Saturday afternoon was return to San Emilio (the half-way point on trip to Luba where we switched to the high-powered Jeepney to climb the mountain). St. Emillio is a Christian Faith Center operated by Assemblies to serve the small mountain communities. It is a humble church and houses a retired Pastor couple who apparently arrange the Jeepney schedule to reach Luba and further inland communities. They contacted eight small churches to announce our program. It was absolutely enchanting to see the mountain people coming at dusk to the Mission, many carrying torches made from bamboo to see their way. All eight churches and their pastors arrived along with others. The little center was packed and the entry way and patio were filled. All eight pastors participated in introducing their people, giving opening prayer, the offering, and extending greetings. All are already part of Caleb Ministries along with a whopping 51 other small churches on the mountain. I preached using Deuteronomy 30:6, the 23rd Psalm, and Malachi 3:1-3. The message has become a favorite of Marbens and is requested often. The response was incredible as even the Pastors lined up to be anointed. Many went down under the Spirit and heaviness filled the mission with people weeping, crying and dancing! The pastors and Marben all want Caleb to take three weeks to travel through the mountains to many more communities. It is so clear this area is ripe for the harvest. We journeyed back after a late dinner at the mission of fish, rice and noodles with fish. (I had oatmeal)

Arriving back at Santa Maria at 1 AM, it was quick to bed as the dawn service is at 4:30 AM each Sunday for shopkeepers! I preached on The First Fruits using Joshua 3 for the text. As always, we anoint each after the sermon here so I was back to bed at 7 but up at 8:30 for the 9 AM service. This time I preached on The Power of The Word, using Psalm 19:7-11 and the parable of the sower. The town’s people attended this as the main service of the day and lots of new people came forward. After, we commissioned a young man named Danny who is going to Taiwan as a missionary to establish churches for Marben and Caleb! These people are dead serious in their challenge to bring one million to Christ and Marben sees Caleb Ministry as one tool of that program!

Then we packed up the trikes, motorbikes and jeepney and headed for the mountain village of Cabaritan, the place where I had the motorcycle accident last year. This is a small village set in a valley in the hills, with a cliff overhanging. It was a perfect setting for me to talk on Caesaria Philippi in Matthew 16! The sermon went well as they had no idea of the setting and meanings involved in Peter’s declaration! People gathered from surrounding houses, bringing stools, plastic chairs, logs and sitting in the “street” as we spoke from a porch using the sound equipment the team had set up. After the worship time, the team was inside preparing more candy packs as the crowd was twice the size we expected.

Finishing there about 4, we packed up everything and rushed over to the next village to set up for 7 pm service at Silag. Again, this is done from the porch but has large yard. Neighbors dragged in chairs, sat on the “grass” and several lights were placed in the trees. The team has been working here with the kids for over a year so we had huge crowd of children and many brought their parents. I repeated the lesson on Deuteronomy, 23rd Psalm and Malachi 3 at Marbens request as I gave my testimony here last year. (I try to vary the village messages as most of the TEAM hears each one and I am sure they would tire of the same lesson over and over, unless it is a first visit there in which case my testimony is expected) We finished by 10 pm, had light dinner of noodles, rice, fish and cake!

Monday is our day of rest with just one service but Marben wanted to take me to a big Pastors Meeting in Vigan for Assemblies. We went at 8 AM and I was introduced around but could not stay for the business meeting so Joy and I went to the zoo! About noon Pastor Marben arrived along with a Bishop from the next north Province. He asked if his 300 churches could join Caleb Ministries and presented me with the completed applications! We went to Jollibees for lunch (a McDonalds clone) and then returned just in time to pack up the equipment to go to the area called Nalvo. This is on the beach and we met in a bamboo hut. The power was run from a house across the street to run the sound equipment and lights. The hut was packed with kids! With only a few adults, I decided to bring a message more suitable for teens so I spoke on Matt 15 and 16 where the lad provides the bread and fish for feeding the multitudes (twice). We ran out of candy packs again but the team teaches there twice a week so will bring the rest. (They take names of those not getting candy packs when we run out). The van would not start for the trip home so one of the motorcycles took Joy back to the church and she returned in the Trike. Got home about 1 am.

Up at 8 as we were going to Abra today to visit Cynthia and Alan and Jeff at Morningstar Mission. We got the van running finally and headed north into the hills, arriving at 11 am. The mission was full of people lining the drive, patio and mission entry waiting to be attended by the medical teams. There were doctors, nurses, dentists and military personnel all at work in orderly fashion. Cynthia, Alan and Jeff greeted us warmly as did the kids who remembered me from last year. Brandon kept sitting on my lap every time I was still. About one the Mayor and his wife and his military escorts arrived and we enjoyed the pig roast prepared by the mission. It was a very good visit. Cynthia gave me a mango and Alan slipped me TWO cold diet colas!

We got back to Santa Maria, stopping to visit Marbens uncle along route. The uncle lives in Renton 6 months a year. His father started the Assemblies church in the Philippines in the late 40’s and he enjoyed telling me all about it.

Getting back to the church at 5 it was time to pack speakers and candy packs and guitars into the van to go to Ag-Agrao village. But again, the van would not start. So we moved everything to trikes but Marbens trike would not work. (He broke part of the frame falling off edge of a road). So they called for the Jeepney. It arrived about 8 and we arrived at the village at 9. The people had been waiting quietly since 7! They were seated on rocks, benches, chairs, in the trees, one the ground, everywhere! Marben asked me to again do the Deuteronomy-23rd Psalm-Malachi message as he likes it and I gave my testimony here last year. I did and the Holy Spirit clearly was in control. As I anointed the adults, one went down and then another and another. The first got up, and went back down. She got up again and went right back down and stayed! One woman was yelling Hallelujah so loud I thought my ears would break! Another, an older lady, just kept crying and laughing! It was truly indescribable and we understood why all the attacked on our coming. The lady who hosted us at her house had prepared a special sugar-less lemon cake, knowing I was diabetic. It was great! God is so good….

On Wednesday, we held the ground-breaking service for a new village church at Barangay Badallasioan. This was very special as the Pastor assigned to shepherd this flock is Connie Phillips cousin Vinnie. She became a Pastoral candidate at Marbens Elohim Covenant Community last year after the “pig roast” we held for the Paclab family. A neighbor to Vinnie has offered her home and wanted it used for services for two years. The Elohim young pastors have been holding youth programs for two months to promote the church, enrolling twenty youngsters. At 5 pm we started hauling chairs, sound equipment, food, candy packs and beverages to the house. By seven, it was set up and after a prayer time, we started the worship music. By 8:30 the place was packed with people standing in the road and neighboring yards. We counted 73 children as we had only 50 candy packs and had to take names to deliver the rest later. I preached my testimony as it was first visit to this village. Many came forward at the altar call and Vinnie was truly blessed by the response. Marben assigned two assistants to help her with the large numbers of people.

Thursday, we went to Vigan to meet with Vice-Governor Jeremy “Jerry” Singson. I met him last year and sent medicines for his medical days, his favorite project. He has been sending e-mails ever since requesting more. He is good friend of Marbens, having accepted Jesus in Elohim Covenant Community Church two years ago. His office is in a Cinema multi-plex building. He was most gracious. He has several ministries sending medicines for the medical days and 40 doctors donating their time. His largest response was in San Fernando about 2 months ago when 5,700 were treated and given medications totally free! He has a medical day this Saturday in Santo Domingo and wants us there so Caleb ministries is acknowledged as he says we supply fully a third of his support! I met his dog “Bubbles”. His office is interesting as it has two wall clocks and a desk clock. One said 9:47, another 10:12 and desk clock 10:05. It was actually 10:40! We gave him three boxes of medicines and promised to try to be there Saturday.

While visiting the vice-Governor, my friend Alex walked in to the office to ask for medicines for his Cornerstone Church. He is an Action-International Missionary from Nigeria who has started a large church in Vigan. He invited me to preach there last time but we had no room on the schedule. He was surprised to see me in the Philippines as he had not read his e-mails. He asked what we have been doing and I showed him the photos on my camera from last nights meeting. He was awestruck, could not believe this was a village and insisting I come preach in his church before leaving, He and Marben and trying to work out the schedule. Marben says our evangelism is very powerful and would be good to demonstrate it for Alex to encourage his reaching out to villages too.

Bishop Marben plans to visit Filipino churches in Seattle this summer to encourage their support of Caleb and wants me to accompany him to Hawaii where there are hundreds of Filipino Churches he wants enrolled in Caleb. He envisions a Caleb Center for Asia located in Hawaii at one of his relatives churches!

We spent the afternoon preparing more candy packs for evening service.

Thursday night we took the van, cycles, trikes and chairs to the Barangay Suso. There we set up on the yard and patio of a small house. It looked like a small group of about 30 but when the worship started they came from all around. It was a good gathering and as it was my first visit to this home I gave my testimony. The response was very good as I anointed and prayed for each coming forward. Then we delivered the candy packs, had a late supper on the patio of rice cakes, juice and fish. The team then gathered up the chairs and sound equipment and headed home. I came back in the Trike as again our van would not start and they sent for the battery charger.

Friday was a long drive in very bad roads. There are four construction zones between Santa Maria and San Fernando in LeUnion Province and we had to traverse all of them in heavy traffic, hot weather, and one-lane zones. It took over four hours to reach the village of Greenich, south of San Fernando. There, we met with Pastors from Isadora Province, situated on the west coast of Luzan Island, three provinces across the mountains. They were here for a conference and wanted to meet with us. Then we came back north past San Fernando to a little village in Bangar called Barangay Lusong. This is situated still in LeUnion District and is the church of Pastor Jerry whom we worked with two weeks ago. The LeUnion churches wanted to see how we conducted our evangelisms in the villages so we agreed to do one in their area. Our team from Santa Maria came, hauling the sound equipment, candy packs, and even chairs! I gave my testimony again as it was the first visit to this village. It was received well and literally all came forward. As has become our practice, Marben gave the altar call and I then anointed the people. We now separate out the children and then anoint them as they receive their candy packs after we have received the adults. This works well. Pastor Jerry then presented me with a plaque and gift book on behalf of the LeUnion Pastors. It was very nice. We then went to his home for dinner and returned to Santa Maria about midnight.

It is now Saturday morning and I will conclude my last Report from Seattle.

Jerry Riess
& Caleb Good News Ministries


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