Davao City is the home of Durian fruit, a strange fruit that can overpower you with its pungent odour but entice you with its sweet taste. No I have never tried it and probably never will.
Davao City was the last stop on our journey. Its a large city of around two million people. Here we met up with Pastor Vic Bernales of Davao Covenant Reformed Church. Pastor Bernales is a Mid-America graduate.
We held two morning workshops in Davao for pastors and church leaders. "Handling Conflicts in the Church" and "Handling Criticism and Opposition in the Ministry". Twelve to fifteen church leaders of various churches took part.
There were also two evening sessions for the broader community where Rev. Bouwers delivered four messages on "The Amazing Love of the Father" in The Parable of the Prodigal Son. (Luke 15:11-32) These messages were well received. One young lady mentioned to us later that she could not sleep that evening because of the wonderful things she heard. Another young man suffering from depression and other issues also was sure to let us know how much hearing the gospel of grace meant for him as he deals with his struggles.
One of the surprises of the evening was meeting a young lady from the Alymer URC church. She has been studying in Davao for the last year. She's quite thankful for the Davao Covenant Reformed Church and it's ministry.
Our hope and prayer is that this small reformed church would continue to grow and be blessing to this city.
On our last day of our trip we were able to enjoy the beach on the island of Samal just a short ferry ride from Davao City. I have to say when I saw the covered beach area it looked strange.
But as the day progressed I soon came to realize that if it were not for the covering we would all be "fried". The culture on the beach is to sit and enjoy food and fellowship. To sit, enjoy food and fellowship is something we regularly experienced in the Philippines. It was no different that evening when we were able to fellowship at the home of Pastor Bernales along with the elders and a few of the members. It was a wonderful evening as we sat around the table and got to know each other a little better.
We are back home now and thankful to God for His traveling mercies. We are very thankful and encouraged by what we have seen and heard in the Philippines. The gospel of Grace is making inroads in this country of mostly Roman Catholic persuasion. There is a hunger for the gospel and a focus on the reformed faith and confessions. It gives reason to celebrate and for thankgiving. The gospel of Grace may come as an offensive smell to those who trust in themselves or in their good works. But so does the smell of Durian - yet many people have come to love its sweet, tasty fruit. It's our prayer that the Lord would richly bless the reformed faith in the Philippines and continue to bless those whom we have come to know. May it be that in the Philippines and around the globe that, "Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand." (Romans 15: 21)
"To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen." Romans 16: 27