Thursday, April 27, 2023

A Blessed Week in the Philippines...

I'm sitting in a hotel room near the western coast of Manila in the Philippines, waiting for 4:00 pm to roll around when I will take a short taxi ride to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Pastor Rob Sauers headed to the airport early this morning (4/27) for his flight home. He'll fly from Manila to Tokyo to Los Angelos to Orlando. Somewhere along the line, he'll cross over the crazy international timeline in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and will gain a whole day. But, he's got a looong day ahead of him. I have just two short flights that will take me from Manila to Bangkok to Dhaka, Bangladesh. My flight schedule has me arriving at 1:25 am in the early hours of Friday morning.  Pastor Monotosh's proposed itinerary has me hitting the road right away with a congregational visit Friday morning! Hopefully, I'll be able to get some sleep on the flights.

Pastor Rob Sauers, Pastor Palangyos, and Me 
Rob (CLC Bd of Missions member) and I had a busy and fruitful week here in the Philippines. We arrived in Manila about a week ago and took a taxi directly from the airport to the bus terminal and caught an afternoon bus to Baguio, a vibrant city about five hours north of Manila. This is where Pastor Jordan Palangyos, his wife Amabel, and their two children live. We arrived in Baguio around 10:00 pm. Pastor P. took us to his home, where we were treated to a traditional Filipino meal of adobo chicken, rice, and fresh fruits. After a few hours of much-needed sleep, we got right to work the next morning (Saturday) when Pastor P. picked us up from our hotel at 8:00 am. We spent most of the morning meeting with Pastor P. discussing many important topics that we pray, will eventually lead to an opportunity to work with him and the Lutheran Autonomous Mission in the Philippines (L.A.M.P.) in a God-pleasing way.

Meeting with Pastor Jordan Palangyos

In the afternoon, Pastor P. and his wife took us to a museum that depicted the history of the people of the mountainous Cordillera District. This region covers most of the Cordillera Mountain Range, and is where the two L.A.M.P. congregations and two preaching stations are located.

At the Ben Cab Art Museum in Baguio

A Jeepney...the common form of public transportation. First developed using U.S. Army Jeeps that were left in the Philippines after World War II

The L.A.M.P. was formed in 2008 when Pastor Palangyos resigned from the Lutheran Church in the Philippines (LCP) following his graduation from the seminary. Pastor P. is 47 years old and the son of an elderly retired LCP pastor. He was led by his conscience and obedience to God's Word to resign from the LCP due to what he described as greedy and power-hungry leadership that had little concern for spreading the Gospel and teaching God's word in the hard-to-reach areas of the Philippines, especially in the mountains. In recent years he has also witnessed a trend toward an increasing tolerance of liberal theology in the areas of pastoral ministry and church fellowship. From what he has observed, he is sadly convinced that a lack of theological training for pastors and solid Biblical, Law and Gospel teaching in the congregations is leading the LCP away from the foundational truths of God's saving word. All of this has led him to work independently and with no financial support to proclaim the Gospel among the marginalized people and abandoned LCP congregations of the Cordillera mountains. After just a few minutes of conversation with Pastor P., it becomes very evident that he has a deep love for our Savior and for people, a heart for missions, and a sincere desire spread the truth of God's word with no concern for personal gain or prestige. 

Pastor Sauers and I had the opportunity to travel through the steep and rugged mountains a couple of hours north of Baguio City. 

We spent a couple of days and nights teaching God's word in the two villages where the L.A.M.P. has congregations and preaching stations.

Wallayan Village L.A.M.P church building

Wallayan Village (L.A.M.P.) Mission Congregation

Teaching at the Wallayan Village (L.A.M.P.) Mission Congregation

Teaching at the Delles Village (L.A.M.P.) Lutheran Mission Congregation

Delles Village (L.A.M.P.) Lutheran Mission Congregation

Pastor Palangyos and I have been studying together via email for the past couple of years. We have studied through the "Introduction to Lutheran Theology and the CLC", an Online Theological Studies course that uses the CLC Statement of Faith and Purpose as an outline. These studies have served as an important first step in determining if we share a unity of faith and teaching that, according to God's Word, is necessary to work together in spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ in a way that is pleasing to God. 

Our visit confirmed that we have a solid foundation on which to build, and Pastor Sauers and I will be making a recommendation to CLC President Wilke to begin the official colloquy process with Pastor Palangyos and the L.A.M.P. soon after our return home. This process begins with President Wilke appointing a representative of the CLC to work with Pastor P. and me via email correspondence to conduct a thorough study/review of the teachings of the CLC and L.A.M.P.  If all of this goes well over the next several months, another visit will be scheduled for a face-to-face/oral review of our doctrinal unity. Please pray for this process!

Praise the Lord for the privilege and opportunity to be a part of our Savior's harvest in the Philippines!

Thank you for reading and for your prayers!

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Sent to The Philippines...and Bangladesh

It's been a busy week. On Sunday, I traveled to Eau Claire to attend Board of Missions meetings on Monday and Tuesday. Today (Wednesday...4/19) I was up bright and early to catch a 6:00 am shuttle from Eau Claire to Minneapolis for a flight to Chicago. Now, I'm sitting at the airport in Chicago waiting to check in for my flight to The Philippines. I'm traveling with Pastor Rob Sauers, a member of the CLC Board of Missions. He'll accompany me on the visit to the Philippines and then we will part ways as he heads back to Florida and I continue on to Bangladesh. 

Pastor Sauers and I will spend about a week visiting Pastor Jordan Palangyos in a mountainous region of the Philippines, about eight hours north of Manilla. We'll fly from Chicago to Tokyo to Manilla. If all goes as planned, we'll arrive in Manilla around 1:30 pm on Friday. We'll then take a 7-8 hour bus ride to the city of Baguio where we will meet Pastor Palangyos. We'll spend the next several days visiting the two congregations and a few preaching stations that Pastor Palangyos serves up in the mountains. Pastor Palangyos was introduced to the CLC through a Facebook contact a few years ago. I have had the privilege of extensive correspondence with him since 2019. We've studied through several Online Theological Studies together. I am excited to finally meet him face-to-face. If all goes well, Pastor Sauers and I will make a recommendation to the CLC Board of Missions and CLC President Wilke to begin the formal colloquy process. Please pray for the Lord's blessings on this visit and for fruitful discussions and study of God's saving word as work toward a God-pleasing unity of faith and teaching.

On the 27th, Pastor Sauers and I will part ways. I'll fly from Manilla to Bangkok to Dhaka, Bangladesh, where I'll spend the next few weeks working with Pastor Monotosh Banarjee of the Bangladesh Lutheran Church Mission. We'll visit several congregations, schools, and preaching stations and conduct a five-day pastor and leader training seminar. Pastor Banarjee has a busy schedule planned. It will be good to work together with these faithful servants of the Lord again. 

Thank you for reading, and please keep praying for God's blessings as we work together to spread the Good News of our Savior Jesus!