... but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear. - 1 Pet 3:15
This year there were four of us who were sent to the Philippines. Nicholas and Rhoda Jackson, Debbie Van Lathum and Geoff Tarran. Like in Acts 13:2, where the brethren were ministering to the Lord, the Holy Spirit spoke to them and said, 'Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them'. The Holy Spirit spoke into our hearts last year in the Philippines that Debbie was to come with us this year. When we spoke with her on our return last year she had already felt it in her heart to be going to the nations and this was confirmation that it was time. We saw every provision made for the team to be supplied and sent. Glory to Jesus!
The brethren here in Toowoomba sent us out by the Holy Spirit and we spent three weeks ministering in four of the Islands: Cebu, Bohol, Negros and Mindanao.
Philippians 2:2, 'fulfil my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind'.
This was a reality to us as we were sent. We had continual fellowship around the Lord's Table each day and were able to find the will and counsel of God for each place. Having agreement together in the will of God releases His will then to be done on earth. There was wonderful contribution from the team members and we witnessed the word of God being made manifest as we taught the word in every place.
We had Emmanuel Ortega join us on team for the entirety of the trip and his wife Cora was with us for two weeks of the trip. They have become very dear to us and we have witnessed wonderful transformation in both their lives and ministry. It was a significant trip for them both. One of Emmanuel's disciples, Joel, also joined us in Bohol and in Mindanao. We also had Pastor Dutch from Cebu with us in Bohol and for part of Negros.
One of the real joys in going with a team is to see the growth that happens in each one. Discipleship happens as you go. This has been Geoff's second trip to the Philippines and he testified this trip that he experienced a flow of the word coming forth out of him like he had never experienced before. There was opportunity for all of us to be teaching and imparting the things which we have received. (2 Tim. 2:2)
Emmanuel and Cora were our interpreters in each seminar. They flow in one spirit with us and are continually growing in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus the Messiah. They are truly being equipped in the Word of God and set apart into this grace and apostleship by which we have been called. They have committed themselves to be preaching the gospel of Messiah in the Philippines and be making many disciples.
Leading up to the trip we had committed prayer each day for the Philippines. During one of the times of prayer, Rhoda heard in the Spirit a deep crack that went deep into the foundations. We sensed in our spirits that there was going to come a significant breakthrough this trip in terms of this nation receiving the apostolic revelation, that is, the revelation of Jesus the Messiah. It is time for the nation of the Philippines to become obedient to the faith (Rom 1:5).
It is God's word that pierces to the hearts of men. His word penetrates deep and cuts through all other doctrines and traditions of man. The Word of God was taught and preached powerfully with much conviction. It came more simply, yet with much more authority and grace. 'The people were astonished at his teaching as He taught as one having authority' Matt. 7:28-29. This became our testimony as well.
Daily in the Philippines and in every place we did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Messiah. The early apostles did not cease doing this, so neither did we. He is the only foundation that the church is built upon (1 Cor. 3:11).
Jude verse 3, tells us that we are 'to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints'.
There was a great awareness of the battle going on in the heavenlies, especially on the Island of Negros. The principalities and powers were being shaken as Jesus the Messiah was boldly and openly proclaimed.
Our wrestle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in the heavenly realm (Eph. 6:12). God had opened to us a door into Negros through our host, Pastor Ritchell. He received us last year and also this year. In the midst of this effective door opening there were many adversaries. (1 Cor. 16:9)
The real battle is for the knowledge of the Son of God. There is so much error and confusion in the Philippines in terms of understanding the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ (Col. 2:2). Although in Negros there are many adversaries, who like to speak against the doctrine of Christ, there is still a remnant being called out who are receiving and embracing the truth. We were comforted with the words from Jeremiah 3:14, 'Return, O backsliding children, "says the LORD; "for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion'. It only takes one from a city and two from a family to return, then God promises 'I will bring you to Zion'. He is calling for His remnant church in every place to arise. So we do not measure our success in terms of numbers but in terms of obedience to Christ. Hallelujah!
Finding Some Disciples in Bohol
We travelled to the Island of Bohol this trip, which was a new Island for us to pioneer into. When we came there we found some disciples, as the apostle Paul did in Acts 19:1, when he came to Ephesus. These disciples were hungry for the things of God and they continued day and night with us for three days. We spent each day laying the elementary principles of Christ from Hebrews 6:1-2. Our host, Pastor Butch, gladly received us and the word of God. Emmanuel Ortega will be following these brethren up later this year to encourage them to continue in the things which they have received and to also continue teaching them the apostle doctrine.
On the Island of Mindanao we held a seminar in Dipolog. Dipolog is the home base for Emmanuel and Cora Ortega. We have had other seminars there in the past but this year we had it in a public venue instead of it being in their church centre. There was a wonderful response from pastors and leaders to attend this seminar. It felt very much like a training school in Toowoomba. Emmanuel had set out tables for everyone to sit at and encouraged them to be taking notes and following the Scriptures that were being shared. Every table and chair was filled in the room and there was a very tangible presence of the Holy Spirit among us. The brethren who came had the heart of the Bereans in Acts 17:11. They came and 'searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so'.
In the mornings before we began the seminar, there were pastors coming at 8am to ask questions and receive more teaching and instruction. It was a sign to us that the word of God was penetrating deep and bringing repentance and faith.
Calamba is another city on the Island of Mindanao. In Calamba we held a three day seminar with pastors and leaders from various denominations. In the Philippines, there are two major strongholds, Oneness and Trinitarian. These strongholds have caused much division and confusion in the church. Jesus has given to us the wisdom of God to pull these strongholds down. (2 Cor. 10:4-6)
When Nick preached on Jesus the Messiah and on baptism into Christ it came with much wisdom and authority. Emmanuel Ortega was astounded at the response of the people, for when Nick had finished sharing, there came a godly silence among all who were there. No one was 'able to resist the wisdom and Spirit by which he spoke' (Acts 6:10). This was another sign to us that His word was going deep into the hearts of the people and that these strongholds were coming down.
We were able to leave the first year discipleship course with a group of pastors who work closely together. They were very keen to be teaching and preaching the apostles doctrine and laying the foundation of Jesus the Christ.
Pastors becoming obedient to the Faith in Toledo
Toledo City is on the Island of Cebu. We held a 3 day seminar in Toledo and our host was Pastor Frank De La Cruz. We taught, as in every place, the elementary principles of Christ. It is wonderful to see how these Pastors received these principles of Christ. Many have only ever known to identify with their 'group' or 'denomination' instead of truly identifying with Christ and His body. As the word of God was shared their came a deep repentance in the hearts of some of the Pastors and four of them upon their faith in Messiah Jesus were re-baptised into Christ. Hallelujah! This was again another sign to us that there has come a breaking in this nation, that there is now an apostolic foundation being restored to the Philippines and even 'the priests were obedient to the faith' (Acts 6:7).
Emmanuel and Cora shared with us their heart in establishing a discipleship, training and resource centre for the body of Christ in the Philippines. They have recognised the great need there is in the Philippines for making disciples of Messiah Jesus and teaching them to observe everything Jesus has commanded. They are looking to purchase a block of land and develop it as a place of discipleship. Pastors and leaders in ministry can come and be equipped in the work of ministry, being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone (Eph. 2:20). There has already been Pastors responding to this type of training.
We were able to purchase a small binder machine for them as they are already translating the Basic Discipleship into Cebuano language and printing the manuals. The Word is getting out!
Dear Apostolic Brethren,
Praising God for the team who came and be able to be with them with my wife. That trip really a total change of mindset towards the Apostolic work.
We close the Bible school and focus on Making Kingdom Disciples that will preach and teach about the Messiah and His Kingdom that He is establishing in many nations. To preach and Teach Jesus the Christ among churches and the lost.
To fan the fire that God has put in our hearts and after some prayers and time spend in the presence of the Father, we realized that He want us to GO and MAKE Disciples for Him. And He promised that He will enable us to accomplish this task by giving us more Grace to lay the Foundation of Jesus Christ, Ground them in The Basic Foundation of the Faith and the Apostolic Ministry that God is restoring in His Church, the Body of Him that fills all in all through His Church, Amen!
What is it about going overseas that makes the ministry of the Word so special? In the Philippines there seems to be a hunger among the people that brings a greater anointing. In this trip we also saw an evident contending in the spirit against the gospel of the Kingdom being proclaimed - but in every place we also saw the anointing break the yoke of bondage and the people were released by a revelation of Jesus that brought joy to their hearts.
Typically meetings would begin in a new place with powerful prophetic preaching through Nick that would prepare the way for teaching to be received. We were impressed that we were to preach Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God and the one foundation of the Church - and then the first principles of Christ and the way His life works in us to continue to ground us in Him and enable us to grow to maturity. Each time I have been in the Philippines the importance of this foundational teaching has been made clearer to me - and I have come home wanting to see the foundations shared with greater depth and clarity here too.
Emmanuel Ortega was also becoming very enthusiastic about continuing to share the foundations in other places - and returning to the places we visited to reinforce the teaching among the brethren who heard. It was great to have Emmanuel with us for the whole three weeks, and some others for part of the time - including Cora, his wife. There was good fellowship together as a team and the Lord gave prophetic illumination on some of the issues we faced through Debbie - and dreams she was given.
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