The Philippines - 2014
Back in Northern Luzon Island and the home for Caleb Ministries in The
Philippines, the Eloheim Covenant Church in Santa Maria, we are settled in for
a few days from the home base. “Drugs end all dreams = dead” is the common
slogan seen on signs in Barangays (villages) in the middle areas of Luzon Island
as the drug war is becoming more prevalent in this area. We serviced the car in
San Fernando on Tuesday as planned. It took nearly four hours to complete the
warranty service so pretty much used up the day as we had to pack and arrange
things for our trip to Pilar on Wednesday and Thursday. The 74 LBC Boxes we
shipped from Seattle on January 2nd and 3rd arrived containing relief supplies,
candy packs, as well as the 9,000 Tee-shirts so we forwarded them on to the
recipient churches throughout The Philippines, including Tocloban, Omroc City,
and Cebu where we had visited earlier on this trip. Text messages were sent to
many local groups to come and pick up the supplies at Santa Maria on Friday when
we returned from Pilar. The Tuesday evening program was postponed
until Friday night.
Wednesday we went to Pilar, a steep climb on rugged dirt roads up the mountain
in the remote hills of Abra. The vehicle we used is best described as a flatbed
four-wheel drive truck on steroids! I was amazed to see this beast of a vehicle
literally climb the mountain terrain. The driver is truly a pro and knows his
arrived the first night to stay at the village Nanangduan which is
translated “Mother, the hen has laid two eggs so far,” giving you some concept
of the fantasy world we had entered! We stayed in a large timber house with
open living area and a loft with two bedrooms and an open dormitory room where
much of the team slept on the floor. Our team was Marben and I, Pastora Edna
from Bangar (who is originally from Pilar), two others from Pilar, and about ten
of the seminary Pastors and Pastoras from Santa Maria who came on motorbikes
bringing supplies. Dinner was cooked by the team and the host family and
consisted of many different vegetables and fruits, rice, and chicken. We brought
coffee packets with us and of course bottled water. Following dinner we went to
the meeting area which the young team members had set up, including lighting and
microphones. About 200 attended the revival meeting, including the Barangay
captain (mayor) and several civic leaders. The preaching yielded about 30 adults
coming forward to receive Christ, many slain in the Spirit, and a true revival
feeling for the village. The local pastors were very excited and grateful for
Thursday afternoon we moved on to the village of Occop which means “Mother, the
hen is setting.” Here we set up on a large field, again with the team arranging
microphones, lighting and chairs and benches. I would guess we drew perhaps 350
to 400 this last evening, including several local Barangay captains, a
congressman, many pastors and officials. The result was as the night before
except that after the sermon on Acts 14 and 16, literally everyone came forward
at the altar call. I have never witnessed such a complete response in my life.
We gave out candy packs, Tee-shirts and food to many before packing up and
returning to Santa Maria about 3 am Friday morning.
At 8 am Friday, pastors and Bartangay captains and their staff started arriving
to receive Tee-shirts and candy packs, continuing throughout the day. At 7 pm I
addressed the monthly Interfaith Youth Program and more Tee-shirts were
distributed. Then at 11 pm Friday, Marben and I drove south to Manila, dropping
off more Tee-shirts and supplies along the way to various churches through the
arrived at Antipolo, Manila at 7:30 am Saturday to set up for the 9:00
am service commemorating the second-year anniversary of the Antipolo Church. The
service was difficult in some ways because three nights before an 18-year-old
boy was fatally stabbed by accident by another 18-year-old boy as they were
playing “jousting” with knives. We visited both families involved and provided
what comfort and counsel we could, though clearly most were still in shock from
2 in the afternoon, we held the first Antipolo Church baptisms, taking 16 kids
and 10 adults to a “Water Wonder World” park nearby and performing the
ceremony. Then it was back to visit with the two families who were working
through their sorrow regarding the knifing incident, and then some sleep after
packing to fly out at 10 am Sunday back to the USA. I arrived home with just a
minor cough and somewhat worn out, but for the most part very healthy from this
long adventure. Clearly, the 2014 Journey to the Philippines was one of the most
memorable in my experience.
Thank you all for your support and prayers. Caleb Ministry is a team endeavor!
Jerry Brian Riess
Click on each photo to enlarge the image.
Last Friday was so exciting, here
are a few pictures from that night for you. This was at Victory Outreach, a new
youth church just 8 months old. The Spirit was so strong, people were slain
without being touched or even approached.
Photos of Roberto Abad wake. He was
91. It is common to play cards or games of chance at a Wake as it shows you
Additional pictures of breakfast meeting with Governor Singson. On Wednesday,
the Bangar Revival meeting & dinner after and Thursday Night Bangar Revival
Meeting and Caleb clothes distribution after.
Jerry Brian Riess
Click on each photo to enlarge the image.
Strawberry Farms, Bengeud, we minister to the Bishop. He takes us next morning
to Rebel Territory seminary of 60 students, an orphanage and a school to
minister there three days. At morning service, 5 Americans arrive just as lady
in orange regains ability to walk! (stroke 4 years ago) Americans from Madison
want to join us but Bishop sends them off. Night service (Friday Night Youth)
many are healed by Lord and many receive spiritual gifts for first time. Then
three photos of orphanage and two of girls cutting used foil wrappers to combine
with cloth as pillow fillers. Left remote village called OLD MILL, a former gold
mining operation over 7,000 feet up in mountains.
Jerry Brian Riess
Click on each photo to enlarge the image.
This is Monday, last day in Cebu and
central Philippines. About 1 AM Tuesday we fly to Manila so must be at airport
11 pm tonight. Then we drive six hours further north to Bangeud so you may
not hear from me for a few daYS. 2nd Report ended Saturday night. Sunday I
preached at Cebu at Faith Full Gospel Center morning and evening services.
Marben and Beverly went to Tolodo to preach in home churches there. We are
together again as of last night. Had very big healing services am and pm. In
day went and visited the Foursquare Life Bible College and Church and then
Immaculatre Assemblies of God Campuses. Here are some photos
Jerry Brian Riess
Click on each photo to enlarge the image.
pictures from Grandera where we stayed three nights with Pastor Ramos Family.
Services the two nights were revivals.
Friday after Phillip left, we had
breakfast and then visited the adjoining orphanage, inviting older children to
the youth service Friday evening. Marben and Melita and I hired pedicabs to go
into town to visit Western Union and have an outing. We stopped at a café where
I enjoyed a pineapple crush icey. Marben and Malita shared a fish-calamari
dish. We then went to the hospital to pray with the sick and then back to the
house. Dinner was spaghetti (for the American) as special treat. It is
Filipino style with a heavy sweet tomato sauce and tiny chunks of hotdogs for
meat, served with toasted bread.
Friday evening youth service in
Gardena went well. Many youth were present along with many adults. As
expected, the worship music was loud, unsingable, but to their liking. As it
got louder and louder, Marben and I began praying for individuals, the Holy
Spirit sending many to the floor. As the kids got more and more excited, the
worship came to a stop and I was suddenly introduced to speak. I chose my
teaching on the calling of Timothy as it generally goes well with young people.
The Spirit was heavy and they listened intently as I went through Acts 15 and
16, explaining that in some way we are all monsters or outcastes as we are
strangers in this world, passing through. They identified with the message and
as Marben called them forward, the anointing and prayer was dramatic and deep.
We ended service at 11, a five-hour program which is unusual for the youth, but
no one left early! God blessed the evening beyond my highest expectations.
One lady really stole my heart. I
think the message was extremely significant in her life. She was about 40, had
her hair in a bun, and was in a green dress. She was short and “dumpy” in
appearance, and obviously had been ridiculed many times for her unusual
appearance. Truly and not unkindly, she resembled a hobbit! She came forward
crying and held on to my arm. She would not let go even when she went to the
floor slain in the Spirit! She got back up and just kept crying and hanging on
to me. She motioned for me to anoint her legs and then took off her shoes and
just kept asking for more and more. When we ended in prayer she held my hand
and kept kissing it over and over! This message obviously was meant for her!
We returned to the house for my last
evening here and showed videos on my laptop of the Caleb Fiesta Dinner,
greetings from recipients of LBC boxes, slides of Africa and Romania trips, and
slides of packing parties. At 1 am we went to bed.
Saturday morning breakfast was
toast, oatmeal and fish soup. We visited the Miracle Haven Children’s Home,
operated by our host and his family. It is next door and is very nice.
Thirty-one children are there and it serves as a Christian School as well.
After lunch we drove to Calbayog City on Samar Island. Tacloban is the home of
Imelda Marcos so it has developed as a beautiful city whereas Calbayog is a poor
and rugged “stepchild.”
Here our host is Pastor Danny Montes
of Faith Tabernacle Center. They have 85 churches and a seminary. He is 57
years old and carrying on the work of his father who started much of the
Mindenau Assemblies Church movement. He moved here in 2002 to assume this
church that his father started. Pastor Danny is a character of sorts, very
likable, young and enthusiastic. I took a liking to him immediately. The
church building is very large with the back half being the “house area” of his
family, his mother’s house, and a big room for activities--all in one large
warehouse converted to church. Behind is building which houses a Bible School
with a dormitory for 31 students. Then there is a small pig farm operated by
his wife for income and on the street, a small store, also for income, also run
by his wife!
It was Saturday night so we
rested after dinner of dried fish, rice, and my inevitable oatmeal and mango.
My sleeping area is in the mother’s house. Her bed is two doors put together
and covered by a sheet with huge mosquito netting! I fear I will never get
out! Sunday I am up early and connect on Skype briefly. The family dog here is
“Jack-Jack,”a real cutie.
I can see Pastor Danny is a little
concerned about what I will preach. He introduced me and then went to back
ready to re-enter. He need not have worried. The Holy Spirit ran everything
and we ended up with a revival service which ran from 8:30 to 11:20 am with many
anointed. We had to stop as at 11 am people were waiting on the streets for the
second service. They came in and I noticed that my friend Japeth (elder who
lead Gander services) had come all the way with friends to join us again. I
used the sermon on Deuteronomy plus history of Caleb Ministry at the first
service and the story of Timothy at second one.
Afterwards, Pastor Danny took us to
lunch at a local restaurant. Then, during rest time, he took me to see the
Public Market area, his father’s grave, and his daughter’s grave. I was very
touched by this. His church that his father started came out of the Seattle
Full Gospel movement that I was active in during the late 70’s to early 80’s.
We knew some of the same people as did Marlita whose father’s ministry also
came from that movement. Faith Tabernacle in Kent-Auburn is the namesake for
much of the work here and Don Ostrom, Rod McDowell and Rick Martin are seen as
the church planters!
Pastor Danny decided he wanted to
rent a hotel room for me so I could rest. I decline and he said it was from his
own funds and not the church, but I said I did not want to be away from the
people so he relented. He took an offering for Caleb which I give to their
widow’s fund. (No idea how much it was.)
At 7 pm Marben arrived from Grander
and we had the evening service revival until nearly midnight (curfew). A low
pressure area was moving towards us so we decided to go back to Grander at night
as it is another typhoon building. Arriving at 3 am, we slept until 7 am. Then
we had breakfast with Pastor Ramos. His wife was our host as he was in Cebu
getting supplies until this morning so this was my first chance to meet him.
There is much going on. A 21-year-old best friend of Pastor Ramos’ son was
killed on his motorbike coming back from Calbayog City. Some vandal threw a
stone at him and he lost control of the bike. We visited the family and I gave
$100 for memorial. Pastor Ramos introduced us to his brother Paul, whose church
was destroyed completely and he asked prayer to restart. He serves an area of
68 Barangays (villages) but the main church was near the shore when Yolanda hit.
We then left Grander and Pastor
Ramos and his son decided to travel with us as Pastor Ramos wants to know more
of me but not leave his son at this time. It is good decision and I have
several opportunities to minister to him. The boy is perplexed as he lost
another friend not long ago when the motorbike struck a caribou on the road at
night! We talk much of the trip and he relives many good memories of his
friends. He begins looking after my stuff as we travel and by the next morning
he is much better.
We took the van back to Tacloban,
changing vans once at a transfer station. It was very uncomfortable as the back
of my chair was broken but I stuffed my jacket there. It was a three- hour
drive! Finally we arrived back in Tacloban and were relieved to finally see the
military is arriving to halt looting and keep better order. The Robinson Mall
was completely emptied as were most shops and stores and many homes, adding more
misery for the locals.
At Tacloban we are met at the van
transfer station by the local Bishop Jimmy Casses in charge of Assemblies
Churches. He took us in his car to meet Pastor Jimmy Libut of King Jesus Church
Leyte, Philippines. His church is where our six LBC boxes were directed and
arrived at his mother’s home the day before the typhoon hit. He drove us by the
site of his church, now quarantined off, and is being destroyed as unsafe. The
entire eight blocks are being leveled. Pastor Jimmy lead us on his
motorbike through a web of open streets to reach his home, the Bishop followed
with us in his car. It was tricky as wires and debris are everywhere. His house
still has no water or electricity but his wife had prepared lunch for us of
fish, dried fish, fish chowder, rice and mango (oatmeal). He told us the day
after the typhoon, his church met at the church building and distributed the LBC
boxes we shipped, as the first relief supplies. They are still overwhelmed by
what God did. Pastor Jimmy gave me a CD rom showing the church and their
As the Bishop took us to the bus, he
told us, “The Philippines are islands named after a king (King Phillip of
Spain), dominated by the church for 300 years, and then freed by the Americans.
This means they were plundered, held like a convent, and then went Hollywood!”
From Tacloban we take another van
and head across the island of Leyte to Ormoc City, the other large city on
Leyte. (We left Leyte Island when we went to Grander and Calbayog City which are
on Samar Island, and connected by the long bridge). Omroc was as destroyed as
Tacloban, but since it is smaller, it is not getting the notoriety. A city of
perhaps 75,000, it has been leveled for the most part but is recovering better.
Here we are met by Pastor Eric Zabala of the free Methodist church of Omroc
His church has about 20 families.
He lead on motorcycle as we followed on rented tricycles, again wandering the
streets finding our way through debris. Finally at the end of a boulevard, down
a paved road, down a gravel and rock walkway, we reached his church, settled in
a fenced compound surrounded by fenced off houses. The parsonage has one wall
and a half or two other walls standing, with only the sink and toilet and some
cabinets remaining. The ground is covered by mounds of debris and rocks. The
adjacent church is standing but badly fractured. They have just completed
installing a well and pump the day before, so they have water. They are living
in a corner of the church, sleeping on pews, and cooking outdoors. A small gas
generator is saved to use for services so only one emergency battery light is
working in the church continually. He has four children: 17, 15, 13 and 7.
They are all determined and in good spirits but finding it very hard on an
allotment of just 25 pounds of rice a month AND 2000 PESOS ($50) TO BUY WHATEVER
We brought food and help for them
like bread, water, rice, and bought some fish from the market. His wife told me
about the harrowing experience when the storm hit. She was at her friend’s
house with the children and Eric was in Cebu City, miles away. She said the
house she was in was declared very safe and sound but instantly half the roof
peeled away. She did not know whether to go outside to avoid the falling room
or stay inside. She grabbed a door post with the four children hanging on to her
in ladder-style and she was crying out to God when she looked around and saw all
four children kneeling in the storm praying! Then she knew it would be ok,
whether they lived or died! When the storm stopped, they returned home to find
it, too, was destroyed. They are very brave and beautiful people.
The next day she took us on a tour
of the city, city hall, shops, schools, and finally to the pier for a lunch of
barbecue (very expensive) but we paid to give them a treat! That night we
watched the Caleb video on my laptop. The next evening we held the revival
service, very unmethodist-like, but they loved it. Then we left the following
morning not wanting to deplete their resources. At Omroc City we took the
hydrofoil across the open ocean for three-hour ride to Cebu City. (The ticket
counter at Omric City was a card table, umbrella, and two guys hand-writing
Cebu City is a culture shock after
Tacloban and Omroc City, with the hydrofoil terminal modern and functioning. We
are met by Pastor Charles and Mila who take us into Cebu to the Faith Full
Gospel Center compound operated by Pastor Willie Navarette. He is 81 and the
founder of the Faith Center Compound. When we called to ask if we could stay,
he said to come for lunch and we will talk. When we arrived, he took an instant
liking to me for some reason. He clung to me, holding my arm and leading me
everywhere to see the compound. He says I can sleep in his room! After lunch
he decided the rest can stay there too. He had a son hook up a microphone and
had me preach to the neighborhood inviting all to church, etc. When I was
resting, he came and got me out of bed and then he decided he needed my watch so
he took it as well as half of my anointing oil supply. He is a lovable
Bible school students take our
laundry and do the cooking for us. Most of my time is spent talking with
Willie! He got me up at 5 am. He woke me from my nap at 2 pm. You get the
The first night we went to Lapu-Lapu
Island for a meeting. It is adjoining island where Magellan landed. The church
was floating…..entered through a house path and up a gangplank! Built by
Koreans, it is nice little church, packed with mostly adults. Later I find out
66 are pastors from nearby villages we cannot get to, so they came to us. I
preached in Deuteronomy and about the founding of Caleb as this is what they
requested. God was clearly with us as we prayed and prophesied over each one
there! At the end, EACH came forward and testified to their healings, blessings
and overwhelming joy! This was huge boost to our trip.
When we got back, Pastor Willie
repeatedly asked my assurance that he is part of Caleb Ministries! I finally
wrote him a note to prove it which he then read over the loudspeaker (about 4
After breakfast we caught a cab and
returned to Lapu Lapu to the home of Charles and Mila. There their son and
daughter-in-law insisted on doing an ion cell foot detoxification procedure on
each of us for toxins we might have from Tacloban and Omroc City. Then back to
Pastor Willie and on to Cebu City Free Methodist Church (Light & Life Church)
and Pastor Alan Prochina. It’s Thursday evening, so the service is the youth
service which was great fun as I recounted many adventures and prayed over
them. Even the Pastor and his wife were slain in the spirit!
Friday we visited the Ramos Family
Mansion which is a college, a nursing school, a Bible school, and a museum. We
addressed a Bible class of about 20. I taught on the Garden at Gethsemane and
the process of Jesus’ atonement for our sins. It is now rest time as we have
Friday night service was very
exciting. We had a TYPHOON here in Cebu. About four in the afternoon they
sounded the alarm and at six the second alarm which means get off the streets.
It was a wild storm with rain hitting like rocks on roof. Many leaks in metal
roofs. Service was sparse as travel prohibited so only those close by walked to
the church. About 60 people. Pastor Willie and I alternating on the loudspeaker
before, encouraging those who could to come. I preached on the Seven Places
Jesus Bled for our Redemption. Then Marben and I anointed people. About 10:30
the storm got serious and we sent folks home. The power went out and our roof
started peeling so we went to bed. Rain came through and it was funny trying to
jocky for dry positions in bed. The Assemblies building is very strong so we did
not worry about severe damage. Storm was over by morning and we held our pastors
conference at 9 am as scheduled. Showed videos of Caleb Ministries and taught on
Pastor Charles Roda from Palu-Palu
came with his wife Mila. They reported that after we left the Pau Palu church
Wednesday night (Floating church) the pastors were so excited they stayed up all
night talking about the program!
Marben and Beverly are in Toledo
City in house churches today as Marlita and I minister here in Cebu. We visit
the 4 Sq Church and Life Bible College in Cebu. The Pastor welcomes us and asks
we find time to preach. He is excited to learn of our work and we have a fun
visit on the chutrch campus. He sent out for burgers and fries for dinner and we
have wonderful visit. Then he invited us into his home and introduced us toi his
bride. He has invited me to stay anytime at their guest house.
From there we visit Isabella
Assmblies Bible College Campus where Pastor Willie taught fior 11 years. He is
very proud and rightfully so of his accomplishments. Big communion service
scheduled for me tomorrow morning (Sunday) and on radio as well so I will stop
and rest. Very busy. Having a ball! Its like heavenly vacation!
Jerry Brian Riess
Click on each photo to enlarge the image.
Airlines (Korean), I found a pleasant surprise. The service was excellent and
leg room ample. It was a most comfortable flight from Seattle to Seoul, Korea,
taking just under 12 hours. But the overnight accommodations were very poorly
coordinated. First, the promised free airport service was actually $67.00 by air
porter bus or nearly $100.00 by taxi. It took 90 minutes to travel from Inchon
airport to downtown Seoul were the hotels are, by bus. There apparently are NO
Hotels or Motels or overnight accommodations in Inchon near the airport, forcing
all overnight travelers to travel to Seoul.
arriving at the main entrance of several hotels, mine was the last stop
for the bus service. The driver let me out with my luggage on a busy
city arterial and said the Royal Hotel was to the right side. There were
no signs of any Royal Hotel and just an alley with entrances to several
underground garages, and one lighted ornate footpath. I guessed the
footpath led to the hotel, so took it. It turned from boardwalk into
stepping stones and in poor repair at that, making lugging my carry on
and suitcase very awkward, with my cane. The steps took me up to a
landing about 300 feet in on a hill, and turned out to be a memorial
park with tables and benches, but a dead end to any hotel. I was now
very tired but retraced my steps to the main arterial where the bus
abandoned me. I asked several passersby for directions but they were not
helpful. Finally, a security guard found me and showed me that the Royal
Hotel was actually on top of the hill, facing the other direction. It
had no signs or identification in my direction. He showed me the
correct road, a steep hill, and I journeyed up to find the entrance
lugging my suitcase and carryon. By now I was hungry and exhausted but
the Hotel stopped serving food at nine, had no room service available,
and no snack bar. I asked for arrangements for the morning for travel
back to Inchon airport in time for my 7:45 am flight and was told the
first free bus was not until 10 am so to catch my flight I would need a
taxi. I ordered one for 5:30 am. Being hungry and exhausted, I had not
eaten since lunch on the plane at 3:00, so I went to bed. The only
English language TV was CNN.
|Water reached the top of the airport tower.
The taxi back
to Inchon was $90.00 but got me there on time. Asiana placed me in the “wheel
chair lounge, promising to get me by 7:20 to check in for boarding at 7:45. They
finally came for me at 8:25 and I just made it on the flight, arriving at Manila
at 1 pm on Friday January 17th as expected. Pastora Beverly and Bishop Marben
were there to meet me at the airport and we went direct to a Jollybee (I had not
eaten since 4 the previous day!). There we met by prior arrangement with three
Pastors including one from Tacloban, making arrangements for the journey there
after Phil DeBorg arrives on Monday, the 20th. Tacloban suffered yet a second
Typhoon last Saturday so arrangements for travel there were very limited. We
were able to book our flight for this Thursday the 23rd but Phil must return the
following Monday to make his flight back on Tuesday.
we visited the church I will preach in on Sunday afternoon, the Peacemakers
Church, which is hosting Wailing Women Worldwide Ministry on that day. Wailing
Women is an international ministry of women intercessors. They are based on
Jeremiah 9: 7-10 and practice fasting, intercessory prayer and sacrifice for
others. The director here in Manila, Pastora Mileete, has attended their
conferences in London, Nairobi and elsewhere over the years. It is my honor to
be invited to address their conference here on Sunday service. Her husband
graciously offers me the facilities of his church. He recently suffered a stroke
so I prayed for him and we visited extensively in their facility, meeting many
from the fellowship, school and orphanage. He and his wife have 2 biological
children and 10 adopted children, the adoptees being from mothers who were
seeking abortions! After our visit at peacemakers, we journeyed up the hills of
Manila to Antipolo where we are staying in “One Goat Church”. This is the slum
I stayed in last year and the mayor (Captain) sold us a plot of land to build a
church for the price of one goat. The building is complete, having been put
together by the team of young pastors from Maben’s Elohim Covenant Church in
Santa Maria. It cost only $300 plus the supplies we already had on hand. It is
a concrete block structure in the center of the slum, having one bedroom which
is where Pastor Beverly lives. She insisted I use her bedroom for the trip as
she slept with neighbors and Marben slept on the main room floor. There is a
kitchen “area” of sink and propane burners, and behind the kitchen is a wall
which houses a toilet-shower stall and buckets of water to flush or wash.
Many of the
people flocked in when we arrived, bringing eggplant and bananas as gift food.
My bed is two house doors on a raised platform, covered by a sheet but no
mattress. My body creaks today but I will become accustomed. I unpacked and we
shared our breakfast of eggplant, fried eggs, friend Bananas and rice with many
children as they wondered in and out to greet us.
went to Pinas-Pilla in the outskirts of Manila for church service. It was a
small storefront church and favorite of Pastor Marben as he has known the Pastor
since he first became an active Christian. For those of you who know his story,
Pastora Mileete and the Pastor at Pinas-Pilla are the two who mentored Marben
after he was shot by army forces in an ambush when he was trying to but
armaments for the communist. These two are the pastors he stayed with for 48
hours after he escaped the ambush. They led him to Jesus and are ones who
convinced him to surrender his rebellion and work undercover with the Manila
Police while becoming a Pastor! It was indeed a privilege to meet and work with
We have a
revival meeting that evening in the storefront church with many slain in the
spirit. Healings and new gifts were abounding and as we finished the Pastor
declared the beginning of “The Flame of Revival”. He took us to a fancy dinner
at a Chinese restaurant nearby and while eating Marben shared with me that the
restaurant was on the very grounds where he use to bury his kidnapped victims
align to extort money for the rebels! I had thought it was on Mindanao but it
was here outside Manila! The locals do not know anything of the infamous past
of the area, once called the “pumpkin patch”. As we got home I celebrated
quietly as the farrow cats had entered our church home and ate all the dried
we held service in our own church in Antipolo, “Elohim Covenant Community Church
Antipolo”. It was great fun seeing all the folk’s crowd in. I preached on
Deuteronomy 30 and Isaiah 53. At the end of service a soup of ginger root.
garlic, onions, rice and chicken, was served to everyone. Each week Beverly
serves over 300 meals in Antipolo as part of the ministry of this church.
afternoon we went to the Church of Pastora Marleeta, the Peacemakers Church
Wailing Womens Conference. There we had a great revival. It was truly awesome.
I spoke on my coming to Our Lord and the beginnings of Caleb Ministry in
Romania. My sermon was on Jeremiah 9 in honor of their work as intercessors. We
then begin calling people forward for prayer. Nearly all there participated as
we prayed for each as they came forward. The church took a video they provided
to us. At the end of service we were invited back for a private Monday
Afternoon party to celebrate the 25th wedding anniversary of the assistant
pastor and school administrator. After collecting Phil DeBorg at the airport at
4:30 am (we had to leave Antipolo at 2 am to make it to the airport), we rested
and then went back to Pastora Marleeta‘s for the lunch. We were the only guests
for the dinner, at her request! We shared many stories of our ministries,
families and adventures. It turns out Pastorals’ father is the one who
counseled Marben to leave the Communists and go into undercover work for the
Philippine government and then eventually into ministry. Pastora Marleeta has
offered to accompany us to Tocoblan and then the southern Islands as she speaks
eleven dialects necessary for our ministering. Then I blessed their school and
we returned to Antipolo for the afternoon.
Monday we took
several of the young leaders of Antipolo churches and the local college to lunch
at Jollybee to thank them for their service and further introduce them into
Caleb Ministries. Monday evening we obtained Wi-Fi portable system for the
laptop (40 days service via satellite for $66, varying success depending on
Tuesday was big
Antipolo Service in our Elohim Church. This involves crowding all belongings
into the bedroom, setting up chairs and benches, and cooking rice, ginger,
garlic and onions for feeding the crowd. By 7 we are ready. Pastora Beverly
opened and led worship, playing her guitar. I introduced Phillip and he preached
on his work in healing prayer. My teaching was a refresher on Samson and Delilah
(stay away from the things of this world of you wish to serve God) and then the
central lesson was David facing Goliath. They seemed to like it well to have
basic Old Testament Stories viewed in spiritual perspective and they were all
surprised to learn why David took 5 stones to kill Goliath. Even Marben, Pastora
Marleeta and Pastora Cora were amazed to find the answer is in 1 Chronicles 20
where the three brothers of Goliath and his father are also slain by David or
again took several of the young leaders of Antipolo churches to lunch at
Jollybee to thank them for their service and further introduce them into Caleb
Ministries. They enjoy these outings and view them as special rewards as we dine
on Spaghetti, friend chicken and gravy, and rice. (Jollybee is similar chain of
fast foods like McDonalds but very popular here and Philippine owned.
we pack for the next two weeks as we have to carry just 7 kilos (14 pounds) on
the airplane to Tacloban. My 7 kilos is in my computer bag with laptop,
convertor, kindle, sermon notes, one pair of pants, 2 shirts, meds, and shaving
gear! Must travel light. The airplane is specific on weight restrictions and we
comply or do not fly! At midnight, Marben, Phil, Pastora Marleeta and I head to
airport in dead of night, midnight! At 2:30 we check in and at 4:30 flight takes
off with airplane fully packed. We arrive at Tacloban at 6 am. It is quite a
shock as you land, as the airport and field and support buildings are in
terrible condition still from the November 9th Typhoon that swept across and
leveled this city of 200,000! Everywhere you look is devastation. Much of the
town was on peninsula that the storm swept across in 20 to 30 foot level waves.
Much of what was on or near the water is now impacted ACROSS THE BAY on the far
shore with houses, boats and cars stacked up the side of the mountain! We are
met by our host Engineer Elmo Mongrubon. He works for Bank of the Philippines,
still closed here. His wife works for IRS, open as you would expect. He drives
through town to the far side where his home is just a couple blocks from where
the typhoon struck. Their personal damage from Typhoon Yolanda was from high
winds, flooding and falling trees and debris. They fared better than 99% of
the people. Over 6,000 bodies have been recovered with that many still missing
2 months later. There are villages of relief tents for workers and then of
tarps and tents for displaced families literally everywhere you look. CNN has a
tent headquarters followed by UN Relief, Red Cross, Church agencies and the
temporary shelters. People stand in line at relief trucks as Red Cross passes
out bags of rice, bread, water. People fight in line frequently and the question
everyone has is how much longer the goods will be passed out. Uncertainty is
everywhere. We pass a big field where over 1200 bodies were found
scattered….and they tell of the living just walking through looking for loved
ones, no longer reacting to the vast numbers of killed.
In the part of
town still standing we find a Jollybee Truck in front trying to provide
spaghetti and bread with the restaurant behind a total wreck. McDonalds is
boarded up and parts of refrigeration show through the collapsed roof. A mexi-grill
restaurant is open but the line to get in is blocks long. Food prices and cab
fares and gasoline prices have soared everywhere. Our hosts drive 30 miles to
another town to shop and even there prices are inflated and supplies limited.
They are most gracious and hospitable but we see we are a burden they do not
need so stay just 2 nights and then move on. For breakfast they serve cinnamon
rolls (like Pillsbury bake and serve) and coffee packets. For dinner it was
cinnamon rolls, rice, and beef in oyster sauce. (I had my oatmeal). The next
morning it was rolls, chocolate Nutella, one can fried spam divided among 12,
and a tuna bread spread. Again, I had oatmeal which I was grateful I brought.
For lunch, we
luck out in getting into a Shakeys' Pizza, as there are six in our group and the
owner wants large crowd. We discover quickly it is NOT feasible to hold meetings
in Tacloblan as few buildings are standing and most have no power or water.
People are still repairing their houses and do not want to come out to meetings.
We visit several families directly, praying for the sick and comforting where we
Elmo took us to
meet his mother’s house. She is marvelous lady. Her other son is the host Pastor
but he is in Cebu trying to get supplies. She is so excited to meet this
mysterious person “Jerry Riess”. Six LBC Caleb boxes arrived at her home Nov 8th
for her son’s church. She placed them in front seating area. November 9th the
Typhoon Yolanda hit at noon. Her house was untouched! All around was
devastation. Every house, car, structure on her street was severely damaged! On
November 10th they took the six boxes to the church and opened and distributed
the relief goods among their members, rejoicing in Gods Provision! They call us
the first responders but I resist as it is nowhere comparable to the brave NYPD-NYFD
but to these people we are a symbol of God’s love and protection.
We see their
church which still stands but with severe roof damage. There are limited
supplies and no workers to help as all are taken by the relief agencies. Most
streets are still not passable as telephone poles are snapped, leaning, or
broken off everywhere. Tree limbs are still everywhere. Government agencies are
not working together. The Federal Government is opposite party from local so
help is very slow and uncoordinated. For example, ten days after the storm,
temporary houses were built dormitory style ready for 400 families and another
600 were near completion but one government agency said they did not meet
permanent living conditions so closed them from being used or completed! Tents
and tarps are everywhere with families open to the elements in view of these
called Hope has started building small houses on an open field. They provide
materials that cost $338 per house. Volunteers build the houses to show their
skills so they will be hired. About a dozen of these houses are done. The
ministry director is Pastor Jerry Lindblad. We met with him. His superior was
supposed to meet with us but suffered a spider bite and is severely ill. We
provided Caleb Funds for 4 houses.
General MacArthur landing monument on the beach is damaged. The adjoining hotel
collapsed completely and now is used for gleaning wood. The monument is chipped
and scarred but still impressive.
We visit the
International Christian Mission High school, a private school in Tacloban where
our host’s son attends. The sports stands are collapsed and total loss. Windows
were gone and all three levels flooded as the roof was blown off. Many
classrooms are still useful and school will reopen tomorrow which is January
24th with half now useful from the November 9th storm! They are still awaiting
windows and other supplies but are advised they are held up in Manila harbor by
the flow of relief supplies. We have great visit and conversation with him. A
blond Evangelical Swede, he is a pastor, founder of the school, and now
supervisor for reconstruction. The main school is three flows with second floor
being “shared” facilities of library, cafeteria, lab facilities, and
audio-visual and faculty facilities. Ground level is elementary and top floor is
junior high and high school. The library was DESTROYED and they are asking for
any good Christian books.
Government is providing 10 roof panels per home as relief but one must find help
to install, etc. The military troops arrive while we are here, a caravan of army
troops. People are upset as it is so long coming. Following the Typhoon, most
all stores were looted. Then a phony evacuation alarm was sounded and people
thinking a tsunami was coming, went up the mountains. Gangs then came in and
systematically looted hundreds of homes! Two months later, the army arrives to
are lots of work for Elmo and his wife, we leave and take bus to south area for
4 hours. From there we change to minivan built for eight but carrying 14, and
head across the longest bridge (specular sight) on to Gandara W. Samar
San Juanico Bridge
is part of the
and stretches from
Leyte across the
San Juanico Strait in
longest length is a steel girder viaduct built on reinforced concrete piers,
and its main span is of an arch-shaped
truss design. With a
total length of 2.16 kilometers (1.34 mi),
it is the longest bridge in the Philippines spanning a body of seawater.
Here we are
hosted by Pastor Ramos and his wife Jezaniah, niece of Maben’s, and by his aunt!
The Ramos has 4 children plus new gift baby abandoned to them. They operate six
churches and two orphanages here. We are staying at one with 31 kids, the Aunt,
and Ramos family.
egg-drop soup with tiny shrimp (oatmeal) and fresh rolls. Dinner is same
followed by church service. I preached Deuteronomy 30. Phillip spoke on street
ministry and Gods healing. This was followed by spectacular revival! All were
slain in the spirit. It was surreal see the Spirit again working mightily! God
is so good. Marben is having incredible time reuniting with distant relatives in
this area as is Pastora Marleeta. We are contented, at peace, and very tired.
Today, we visit orphans and then have youth service tonight. Phillip DuBorg left
this morning after breakfast, on his way home.
Click on each photo to enlarge the image.
Jerry Brian Riess
Top of Page |
| Mission Field