We were invited by a member of the Grace Baptist Church (GBC) in Los Banos (actually Bay, Laguna) to attend their 35th year anniversary service last Sunday. It was a joy to share the occasion with them as quiet attenders of their afternoon worship service. We were delighted to renew fellowship with the old-timers of GBC and also with familiar brethren from other sister churches.
The Reformed Church has proliferated in the Philippines, especially in Metro Manila. But there was a time when they were scarce. My wife and I were then attenders of a Fundamental Baptist ministry in 1982 when I personally got introduced to Reformed Calvinistic teaching through my younger sister, Tess, who was then Sunday School teacher for ladies of the Fairview Fundamental Baptist Mission, the progenitor of GBC.
It would not be long when our hunger for the truth would bring us to Los Banos to attend the services of what was renamed the Puritan Baptist Church (PBC). We were then working in Manila. But having studied in UPLB for four years, being familiar with the place and loving its ambiance, it was no problem for us to drive the 100 kilometer back and forth journey to attend the services of PBC.
The church was still situated in a small apartment in Villegas Compound near the St Therese Catholic Church; then afterwards moved to the ACCI Auditorium located in the college where I graduated. Then we moved to the INSAET Auditorium. This was in 1983.
Although our stint in PBC was relatively short, maybe lasting less than two years (we moved to Cubao Reformed Baptist Church later on, being nearer our place) both my wife and I were converted (a few months apart) and baptized in PBC under a Reformed ministry.
I remember Pastor Noel as being a tireless servant of God. We would have at least four ministries on Sunday–Sunday School, morning and afternoon worship, and afternoon doctrinal class. He would be a one-man force and do everything from leading, to playing the piano and then preaching. It was a delight to listen to him preach as he was exceptionally gifted in clear, focused, doctrinal and expository preaching. The Lord used this to point us to the way of truth in Jesus.
Now 35 years after, the church has grown tremendously. There are more men, more young faces and more ministries. I pray that from among this crop of men, future leaders would arise to continue the work that was begun 35 years ago. After all, the theme of this year is “Passing the Baton” to the next generation.
Pas. Ramen capped the service with preaching on 1 Sam 8:1-9 outlining to us the difficulties and the dangers of transferring leadership and how to properly address it in the blessing of God.
It was a fruitful and encouraging visit. It has also made me pray for more young people to be saved in MCBC. Thank God for our young people. Thank God for Pas Mike, a young pastor in his early thirties; I pray the Lord would add more young leaders. We have to pass the baton too. Our church will be 30 years old next year Lord willing. How time flies!
Kristiana Margarette Romina is 20 years young. She is on her first year of medicine at UERM. Being the daughter of Christian parents, she practically grew up in the church. But the downside of that was she only went to church because her parents went to church. It was just a way of being a good daughter.
Time was when the family moved to MCBC and she showed more interest in the truth. But the motives were flawed. She looked at church the way she looked at school. She strove for excellence in school and so she did in church.
But God let her realize that her striving for goodness was not enough; in fact she could never be good enough. He used the preaching of His Word to break her self-centeredness. God opened her heart to show her that it was only Christ who could wash away her sins and give her the righteousness that she needed to be accepted by Him.
A line in one of our hymns gave her the urgency of trusting in Christ: “Come ye weary, heavy laden, bruised and broken by the fall. If you tarry till you’re better, you will never come at all. Not the righteous, not the righteous, sinners Jesus came to call.”
Now that she is in Christ her goal and prayer is to be more like Him. She is thankful that God’s grace will help her.
Chalsea Anne Lapid is 16 years young. She is in Grade 11 at Paranaque Science High School and has plans of taking up medicine if the Lord wills. Like Kristiana, Chalsea attended church because she belonged to a family of church-goers. But she looked at church as a mere Sunday routine and nothing more.
Because she was a church-goer and to a certain extent an outwardly obedient daughter she thought of herself as more righteous than her classmates who would worship idols, say bad words and disobey their parents. Then, she had her first experience of blatant disobedience to authority–she rebelled against the wishes of her parents for her not to have a boyfriend at a young age. In addition, she rebelled against school authorities by learning to cheat during examinations.
But God did not allow this life of sin for so long. He convicted her and showed her the exceeding sinfulness of her ways. At first she tried to fix herself but later on realized this was futile. She realized that her good deeds were only filthy rags in God’s sight; that no amount of good would make her acceptable. I quote her as to what happened next:
“The Lord gave me a new heart. He made me a new creation. I am still sinful because of remaining sin but I have become more aware of sin. I have seen that Jesus is the only righteous and perfect One that I should look at. I now abhor disobedience to my parents and the act of cheating I have repented of. I now want to walk a life led by the Spirit and by God’s grace serve Him as I wait for His return.”
What a testimony of God’s grace in the lives of these two young ladies!
May more of our young people follow the footsteps of these young ones and commit themselves to Christ while they are young.
Two hearts became one in Davao City last Saturday, November 5. I married Matthew de Leon, known to those close to him as Chebong, to Kristine Cherisse Castanos or KC for short. These two children of long standing members practically grew up in the church. Although the de Leons are from Manila, KCs family live in Davao where the wedding was held.
The View in Matina, Davao City was a good choice for an outdoor wedding. You had a breathtaking view of the city from atop a hill with nicely cut grass and cool blowing wind. We also had very good weather–the Lord answered our prayers.
I exhorted the couple to make Christ the center of their lives and their relationship and to make the Bible the guide of their married life. I pray for these two that as they submit to Christ and to His word, they would have a happy and harmonious relationship that would last a lifetime.