02/14/2015: I’m Just a Little Child
I’m Just a Little Child
In 2013, the Mountain Heights missionary students, along with brothers Ruel Cape and Ting Palange, went to San José. One of the villages there is named Maayaay, which means “very fresh,” because the site is located at the top of a mountain and near the forest. Their leader, Junior Sugdan, offered us five hectares of land for missionary purposes, and by God’s grace we erected a church there. Before building the church, Brother Ting asked me to nurture the brethren at Maayaay. I accepted the call, for I knew that my God would help in times of need. On Sabbath, we gathered at the village meeting hall to worship God, and during the rest of the week my fellow students worked in the farm planting cassava for our food. Working as a pioneering missionary is not an easy thing; you have to adjust to a nomadic culture. I am 22-years-old and my two companions, Proceso and Hermie, are 15. We go house to house on Fridays, and every Wednesday and Friday we go to the village hall and worship the Lord.
One time I was alone because my partner had gone to visit Brother Ting. I went to the farm with my sword and it accidentally slipped, slicing open my right thumb. Blood poured out and I went back to my cottage to attend to the wound, but the blood kept coming. Time passed and soon it was late afternoon, and I was still bleeding. I became worried, so I knelt and asked God to send someone to help me. After a few minutes I heard someone knock on the door. It was Brother Ting who had come to visit me. He treated me, applied a bandage, and, by God’s grace, the blood stopped flowing.
There are times when I have been tempted to think about my home, but I take it no heed, for I know that there is a reward waiting for those who love God. That reward is eternal life in Heaven, where there is no crying, nor sighing, nor sorrows, nor pain, nor mourning, nor death. During the night, when the moon shines brightly, I consider that it is also shining on my family, brethren, and friends. All my sorrow I take to the Lord in prayer. As of now, I have been here almost ten months, working voluntarily as a student. Sometimes, if we have no soap or food, we claim God’s promises: “Lo, I am with you always,” and then Brother Ting finds sponsors for our food and personal needs.
I was born into Catholicism, but we rarely went to church. Instead, we would go find amusements and gambling. I went to those places for the purpose of gambling and if I won I would buy food for our family. When I was 17, my brother-in-law invited me to attend worship on Sabbath at the Katutungan church, because he is a Seventh-day Adventist. It was the beginning of a turning point in my life and I began to accept Bible studies. I was baptized at the campmeeting at the Lopes church in Tongantongan. Afterward, my brother-in-law encouraged me to attend Mountain Heights missionary school for further training and study. It was hard for me to adjust, but I prayed to God to give me strength and courage to go on. A year later, Brother Ting asked me to assist Brother Michael at New Eden, the church at Maayaay.
In the fields at Maayaay, while planting corn, cassava, and legumes for our daily food, I began to realize that life is like a plant. If we don’t apply fertilizer and have no patience to care for it, it will not flourish. Sins grow easily, like weeds. I started to think that I was like a little child. I had only memorized a very few Bible verses. I understood doctrine, but transferring that knowledge to others is difficult. I began to think that I was not a capable missionary, but then I remembered the words of Christ in Matthew 5:15, 16: “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Our good deeds shine as a light to the world. I praise God for our good relationships with our neighbors, for the daily toil on the farm, for the house-to-house visitations, and the worship services. These are lights that shine upon others. Today, I am thankful to God for giving me strength and courage in my work as a volunteer, even during the times we have no soap for washing and no food. Still, we are happy serving our Lord. Remember the little child who brought the five loaves of bread and two fish and gave to Jesus all that he had? The multitude was fed with that small bit of food.
Janly Hortillano, age 17, was a student of Mountain Heights missionary training school. One time, he asked me for permission so that he and his younger brother, who was also a student, could return to their home and stay for a few months because they wanted to help their parents find food. While they were there, God gave them the task of helping a man named Jojo. He told them he had been baptized about seven months ago and he longed for a simple house of worship, together with his brethren of 360 individuals who had also been newly baptized.
Janly asked me to go to Jojo’s town to visit, so several of us traveled there. On Sabbath, we gathered together in the house of worship which had for its roof an old tarp with many holes. When it rained, our worship was interrupted by the water dropping down on us. But 40 people joined us there that day anyway. We told them to pray that our Lord would bless them.
Please remember us in your prayers, so that our Lord will give us more power to continue His work. Please pray for all of us, and ask for the Lord to provide a way to build a church for a place of memorial in which to worship, for these ordinary people of God.
By Michael Ebclay. Support for the work in the Philippines can be sent to Mission Projects International, PO Box 59656, Renton, WA 98058.