Saved by a Smile
Next to our church in Little Baguio here on Mindanao Island in the Philippines lives a young family—a man and wife and their children. We noticed that every time we would visit the church, the wife would turn away from us and shut the door of their home tight. We never quite knew why. Then one Sabbath when my wife went to fetch water, she saw the young woman washing clothes near the community spigot. My wife smiled at her and they started talking.
When I saw the two of them speaking, I came up next to my wife and joined the conversation. “Where is your husband?” I asked the young woman.
She looked away shyly. “He is at the farm.”
“What time he will come back?” I asked.
“Maybe 30 minutes,” she replied.
“Is it OK with you, sister, if we come back and visit your house when your husband returns?”
She nodded her head.
As the time approached, we kept a watch to see when the husband would come home, and when we saw him approaching we went to meet him. He was very hospitable to us and very talkative—the opposite of his wife. He said his name was Joseph Campuso but that he goes by Dodong. We learned that his wife’s name is Amelita and that they are both in their early 30s. We could tell from the icons in their home that they were devoted Catholics.
When I tried to talk with Dodong about the Bible, he said he didn’t think Bible study was necessary. “My wife and I don’t have time to read,” he said. “We are too busy trying to find money for the family’s needs.”
“Well brother,” I said, “if the door is still open for us, we will visit again.”
“The door is open,” he answered, “but we don’t have time right now for Bible study because we already have our own religion. This is my religion until I die.”
Soon after I met Dodong and Amelita, the church elders in Little Baguio requested us to hold a series of evening sermons. Because his house is so near to the church, we knew Dodong could hear the messages clearly, but still his heart seemed like a stone. The family never attended our meetings, though invited, and on Sabbaths they still closed their door.
On the last night of preaching, my topic was the second coming of Jesus. That evening for the first time I noticed Amelita sitting on the edge of a bench in the back of the church, listening to the sermon. Dodong, however, had stayed at their house. On Sabbath, Amelita joined us for worship services, but still Dodong hardened his heart and went to the farm to work. Thankfully, he did not seem angry with his wife for observing the Sabbath.
As the months passed, Amelita became pregnant with their second baby—or so it appeared. Then the family ran into an unexpected trial, because it turned out that this mother was carrying not only one but two baby girls! Unfortunately, she was not able to deliver the babies normally but instead she needed a caesarian section. After the surgery when they saw their hospital bills, the couple could hardly believe how much they must pay. They sold their caribou and asked their relatives to help, but they still did not have enough to pay their bill. The hospital would not allow them to leave until they had paid, so the family had to stay at the hospital for two months. Imagine how stressful it must have been for Dodong, the husband and provider, to be stuck in the hospital and unable to work to supply his family’s needs!
One Sabbath when we went to worship at the Little Baguio Church, we asked our church family there, “Why is it that the house of Dodong is very quiet and always closed? We passed by here last week also, and his house was closed then as well.”
“Didn’t you hear?” Brother Balong replied. “Two months have passed already since the wife of Dodong was delivered of twin babies, and their bills are not yet fully paid. That is why they cannot go back home.”
That evening, my wife told me that we should visit Dodong and his family at the hospital to bring them some food. Food in the hospital is very expensive and it would only increase their bills if they had to buy every meal there. So on Sunday morning we went to the hospital. As I talked with Dodong, he shared with me how he was feeling. “As long as we are in the hospital, I feel that I am going crazy. I know we are in debt, but we want to go back to our home so that we can have peace of mind. If only I could find a solution to this problem!”
“Just pray to God, Dodong,” I said. “This problem will soon have a solution. Just trust in God. And if you don’t mind, before we leave let me offer a prayer.”
I was so thankful when Dodong allowed us to pray with his family! Before we left he told me, “Pastor, I promise to serve God and worship Him every Sabbath. Thank you for visiting us!”
On the motorcycle ride home, my wife and I talked together, both feeling pity for the twin babies and their parents. Then I suggested to my wife that perhaps we could e-mail Pastor Mike Bauler from Mission Projects International and ask for help for this family. I praise God that when I told Pastor Mike about Dodong’s situation, he said the ministry was willing to help. He sent me money and we paid the family’s remaining balance so they could finally go back home.
After that, Brother Jun Salazar and Brother Edgar Taborete held Bible studies with Dodong and Amelita along with Dodong’s sister. After a year of studies, when Pastor Mike Bauler visited here in the Philippines, all three souls decided to be baptized. Please pray for this family that whatever trials may come they will continue to serve the Lord and always have faith.
By Pastor Temtem Piedraverde. firstname.lastname@example.org. Support for the work in the Philippines may be sent to Mission Projects International, PO Box 59656, Renton, WA 98058, marked “Philippines.” To donate online, visit www.missionspro.org.