Saturday, November 22, 2014

Apples, flip flops, and Christ's love

UPDATE 12/13/14 - Two days away from starting the program, they have $1000 of the $5000 they need. I wait with bated breath to see what will happen. Yet I catch myself: the question is NOT "Will God be found to be faithful?" but rather, "How is He going to do it?"

• • •

One thousand children in the Philippines are going to experience the wonder of Christ's love this Christmas for a whole week. In a fun and powerful VBS program, they are going to receive instruction, meals, and two very special gifts. 

I would like to introduce you all to the man who is making this happen. He is someone who is walking by faith in our generation, demonstrating the power of God, and seeing great things come to pass as a result. 

Pastor Narciso Gautane (who goes by "Jong") is a missionary in the Philippines. I met him when he spoke at my church in 2009, and ever since, I have been truly blessed to receive his emails and learn about what the Lord is doing through his life.

This Christmas, he is conducting an exciting outreach from December 15-19, 2014. He is holding a Christmas Vacation Bible School (CVBS) for the children in five villages, and 1,021 kids are registered. (I don't know about you, but I've worked in VBS before where the total enrollment was about 50 kids, and that seemed like a lot. Try 1000!)

This is the fourth year they are doing this CVBS, and each time, it has opened up doors for the gospel, leading to wonderful opportunities to establish churches and mission works. 

Not only that, it has also become one of the most awaited occasions for the village kids every year. Rather than wishing and hanging stockings in the windows waiting for Santa Claus to bring gifts, these children are being raised up to learn to pray and ask in the name of Jesus for Him to meet all their needs.

Last year, the Christmas VBS had around 500 kids. This year, the registration has doubled. This was accomplished without anyone going from house to house inviting kids to come--it was all the effort of the kids who experienced the joy of the program last year, who invited their friends to come this year. God is raising them up to be little evangelists and missionaries.

Most remarkable of all, at the moment of this writing, Pastor Gautane has the provision for 70 of these kids. That leaves 951 more to go. He and his church are walking by faith, trusting God to provide the $5 per child which will allow them to accommodate all 1021 children. 

This week, I wrote to Pastor Gautane and asked his permission to share a brief interview with my readers on my blog. Be blessed as you get to know him and hear his heart.

Tell me about your family.
My name is Bro. Narciso M. Gautane Jr. I am 35 years old and a Baptist missionary to the Philippines. On November 26, 2001, I married Rodelyn I. Septimo, and our marriage is blessed with three beautiful kids, Rona Gabrielle (12 years old), Ronan Ysrael (11 years old), and Ron (6 years old).

Could you describe your ministry in the Philippines?
We started our church planting ministry as a local Pastor in 2005 and pioneered a mission work in the village of Balibago 1, Tarlac City. After years of pastoring and eventually establishing the mission work into a church, God opened a door for me to come to the U.S. to study for my Master's Degree in Pastoral Theology in 2009. I eventually had the opportunity to go on deputation for my mission support every weekend. I came home to the Philippines in August of 2011 and guided our church at Balibago village through its transition period of leadership by the men that were trained in that ministry, and I started a new mission at Nazareth village early in January of 2012. After two years of ministering in this village and establishing a church, in 2014, we started two new mission works in the village of Maluid and Calibungan. 
We are also blessed with the opportunity to exclusively handle the Department of Social Welfare development program of the government to do counseling, Bible studies, and preaching for more than 2,000 families every month. This includes evangelism to children, youth camp programs, and teaching in our Bible College.

How did you come to know Jesus as your Savior? 
At the age of 11, I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord on July 14, 1990 through the child evangelism program of Victory Baptist Church in my hometown.

What happens in the Christmas VBS?
  1. They will have different Bible programs throughout the week and will be divided in to two sessions, from 7am to 11am and 1pm to 4pm. Each class will be divided into 20 groups to ensure that every child who comes will be properly attended throughout the week-long program.
  2. The event will consist of Bible classes, teaching of Christian songs and musical instruments, fun games, and team-building activities, followed by a meal at the end of every session.
  3. Each child will be given a pair of flip flop and one apple at the end of the CVBS as their token and Christmas gift.
You might ask, "Why flip flops and apples?" It is because the majority of the kids that we are ministering to belong to poor families in 5 different villages that we will cater to this year. Their parents hardly earn $2-$4 for 12 hours of working in the field every day, and it is a delight and very special for these children to have a bite of apple once a year that their parents could never afford to buy them. For most of them that will come, this will be their first time to know what apples taste like at the age of 3 to 14 years old. Their families cannot afford to buy them a pair of flip flops to wear, either. They will appreciate so much having flip flops that will cool their feet from the hot ground as they come to the Bible meeting and hear about the Word of God. This ministry has been our tool in establishing good social relationships with the village people and has been the way in establishing churches and mission works in our church planting ministry.

How do you manage 1000 children?
Our Bible College Students and young people from our church at Balibago, Nazareth, Maluid Mission, and Calibungan Mission will be divided and designated to handle the programs in five villages that we will cater to this year for CVBS.

What has God been teaching you recently that could you share with us?
Missions must be the heartbeat of every church, and of every believer in Christ. It is the great commission that Christ has entrusted to us, to reach those who are lost, even unto the uttermost part of the world. It has never been an easy life to go on missions. It is characterized with tears, heartbreaks, pain, struggles, selflessness, and unending needs, and yet it is the most rewarding field you could ever be in through witnessing lives that have changed, people that have been delivered from sin, and families that have been rescued from destruction by the Word of God. Truly we have experienced God’s faithfulness and presence in this ministry. To God be all the glory.

Get involved! 

I am calling my readers to see what impact we can have on this program. At $5 per child, that is a total of $5105 to give each child an apple, a pair of flip flops, and daily meals for a week. To date, they have raised $350.

Seeing all this challenges my own thinking. Would I, with $350 in hand, be able to go ahead and register 1021 children for a program that is happening next month, and trust God to bring in the $5K? I stagger at the thought. I question whether I could. And yet, I'm working! I have a job and a regular income! I live in America, where proportionately more people have that kind of money at their disposal! So in the natural realm, it would seem more likely for me to achieve it than if I was living in the Philippines, walking by faith, and pouring out my time on ministry. Yet there they are, doing it in the Philippines, while it has never entered my head to put together an event for that many people.

Let us be the hands and feet of Jesus to these children. Let us each take this VERY ACHIEVABLE amount and ask ourselves how many children we could sponsor for $5 each.

Who is in?

This is easy!

  • Forego one coffee and send $5 to sponsor one of these children for the VBS program. 
  • Share this post with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. 
  • Pray for the impact of this program on the children.

Send your gift by Western Union to Narciso M. Gautane, Jr, Tarlac, Philippines, and then email him at ptr_jong [@] yahoo [dot] com [dot] ph with the control number. While you're at it, ask him to add you to his email list. 

Do it today!

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