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Saturday October 9

We arose early and had breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant. We had Topsilog, a cup of cooked rice with a fried egg on top, and a piece of meat on the side. It tasted good. Today’s schedule called for four speeches on the covenant and started at 9:00 am. I had a little free time so took a two-mile walk on the main road leading out of Daet. I was able to see many interesting things. I then caught a tricycle to the church where the speeches were to be held.

Pastor M. Tanierla had picked up Revs. Miersma and Kleyn and was at the church already. The people started arriving slowly and again we had the opportunity to visit with these men and talk about things of God. The meeting was called to order and opened with prayer. We sang a few hymns and then Rev. Miersma gave his speech on the covenant. They then had a question and answer period and then lunch. Pastor M. Tanierla’s wife and family had prepared a lunch for all the people attending the lectures. There were around twenty-five people present. The food was very interesting, but good: a real Filipino meal. We found all these people to be very easy to talk to and very friendly. I then went for a short walk to get some more bottled cold water to keep us cool, as the temperature and humidity were very high.

At the end of the street near the church there was a young person sitting in the dirt under a tree. I had seen him there the day before. Obviously he was homeless. It was very hot out and there he sat all day. As I was standing there watching the sights of the town go by, I saw a young girl, who must have been from the catholic school near there, stop and give him some food. It was very touching.

I returned to the church and Rev. Miersma gave the second speech on the covenant. Again we had a very lively question and answer period that had Revs. Miersma and Kleyn thinking. Rev. Kleyn then had the third speech and also another very lively question and answer period. They used Professor Hanko’s book, God’s Everlasting Covenant of Grace, as the basis for their speeches. There was supposed to be a fourth speech but they ran out of time due to the extended questions and answers.

We all then piled into a jeep owned by Pastor Alan Dolormente, with Pastor M. Tanierla and went and saw the ocean that was four miles away. We saw all the fishing boats and the market place where every day the fishermen come in and clean and sell their fish. The fishing boats were no more then a large canoe with a small motor and boards hanging out each side of the boat so that it would not tip over in the rough sea. I’m sure it is not a job for someone who is faint hearted. We visited for a short while with a couple from Pastor M. Tanierla’s church who lived near the ocean and then went to a Chinese restaurant for supper in Daet.

Pastor Dolormente and Pastor M. Tanierla then took us to a town about 10 miles away called Labo. Pastor Dolormente is a Pastor of a congregation near Labo. He was telling us that he had built the vehicle that we were driving in. First he had just a motor and four wheels and a seat and a steering wheel. Then as he got more money he bought fenders, a top, doors, seats etc. It is amazing how these people make things with the little resources that they have.

In Labo we went to the house of one of the members of the church for a Bible study on the Perseverance of the Saints. Rev. Kleyn gave a short introduction and explained what the Bible teaches. There was then an open discussion time and questions. There were about 25 people present and it is amazing how interested they are in the truths. They have a good grasp of the basic truths of the Reformed faith but want to learn so much more. These were people that were not at the lectures during the day. They really appreciated the teachings and had a real zeal and interest in it that we lack at times. Discussion concluded at 9:15pm and after a quick drink and cookie the ministers had to get back to the hotel to prepare for their sermons. The discussion could have gone on for a few more hours I suspect, but it had been a long day and the men were tired.

Sunday October 10

Up early at 6:00 am. The two ministers prepared for their sermons. Rev. Miersma was scheduled to preach at two different congregations and Rev. Kleyn also twice at two different places. It was early so I went for a walk down to the ocean again. It was 6:00am and the beach was already packed with people swimming and relaxing on the beach. So Sunday is just another day for most Filipinos, just like home. Everyone is very friendly and when they see a white man they say “Hi Joe.” At first I didn’t know why until it was explained that America always had a large military presence there after the war till the early 1990’s. They called the soldiers Joe after GI Joe. Therefore they see us and assume we are American. While near the beach a man introduced himself to me and after talking for a bit he invited me for a cup of coffee to his house, so again I had the opportunity to see how these people live.

I walked back to the hotel for breakfast with the two ministers. Rev M. Tanierla came and took Rev. Miersma and we did not see him again until later that evening. Rev. Kleyn and I went to the Reformed in Christ Fellowship Church for morning worship. We were there at 9:00am. A Bible study was to be first and then the church service after that. We were able to visit with members of the congregation as they came. There were around twenty-five people there, young and old. Around 9:30 they started. The Bible study was opened with prayer and singing and then Rev. Kleyn spoke on “The Church—Its Calling and Duty.” Then we had a discussion period with many good questions. People in the congregation asked questions that applied to their life in the church.

We sang a few more hymns and then Rev. Kleyn led us in worship service. He preached on the Parable of the Lost Sheep from Luke 15:1-10. After the worship service we were both given a very touching thank you from their Pastor and a certificate of appreciation for coming. Lunch was served by Pastor D. Tajares mother, smorgasbord style, and was delicious. We had a really nice time of fellowship with these people as the whole congregation stayed for lunch. But all too soon we had to leave again as Rev. Kleyn had to preach in another village at 3:00pm.

We took a tricycle to the bus depot and then took the bus for an hour and a half drive to a little village called Jose Pangeniban. The roads were terrible and the bus seats are made to seat small people, not us with our long legs. We arrived at around 2:30pm, stepped out of the bus, and went to the church called “The Body Of Christ.” Dante and Pastor Mark del Pilar traveled with us to this town. Both these men were born and raised in this village. Church started at 3:00 so Dante took me for a quick walk around the village. He has two sisters who live there still and showed me their places. It is hard to describe what I saw. What an eye opener. These people live very simple lives.

The worship service was opened in prayer and singing. Most of the time they spoke in English, but at this church when they prayed and when they had their announcements they spoke in Filipino. It is a little easier for some of them to speak their native language. Rev. Kleyn was introduced and then started preaching on Matthew 11:28. “Jesus Call to the Weary.” About half way through the sermon it started raining really, really hard, and then we lost power so the PA system did not work. There was a tin roof on the church and it was raining so hard that we could not hear him anymore. Rev. Kleyn had to stop preaching for around fifteen minutes till it quit raining. But he picked up right where he had stopped and did a fine job. They said this happens quite often during the rainy season. After the service was done, we were able to visit with the people of the congregation for a short time, had a sandwich provided by them, and then rode back on the bus to Daet. By now it was dark. We arrived in Daet and went to Pastor M. Tanierla’s place and met Rev. Miersma. He also had had a very busy Sabbath Day. We then took a taxi three hours to Naga as we had to fly back to Manila first thing Monday morning. That was the end of my trip. Rev. Miersma and Rev. Kleyn stayed for another week and visited other contacts and I traveled back home.

Observations:

I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to travel with two of our ministers to a foreign country like this and see them work. These men worked hard and put 100% into what they were doing and hardly had time to even relax.

I also feel very blessed that I have been able to meet many Christian men and women from the Philippines who have a deep love for the Scriptures and the Reformed faith. It is a love that is very sincere and evident in their lives. They are people that are content with the lot that the Lord has given them. This surely has been a lesson to me. They also want to learn more and more of the truths of Scripture. They have studied it hard and know the Bible very well, but need more teaching of the truths found in the Scriptures. They asked us when we were coming again and hoped that it was the next week. I see that the Protestant Reformed Churches can do some really good mission work in the Philippines, and I hope and pray that this may be the Lord’s will. We as a denomination need to support this work whole-heartedly.

Introduction:

The Foreign Mission committee of the Protestant Reformed Churches sent a delegation of Rev. Rodney Miersma and Rev. Daniel Kleyn to the Philippines for two weeks in October 1999. I had the privilege of “tagging” along for one week of this trip to see the land and the people that the PRC has contact with in Daet and Manila. It was a culture shock for me to go to a foreign country like this and gave me the opportunity to meet people from a foreign county who have the same beliefs as we do.

Tuesday October 5 – Wednesday October 6

I left Grand Rapids Tuesday morning and met Rev. Kleyn and Rev. Miersma in Minneapolis. We then flew to Japan (12 hours) and then flew down to Manila (4 hours) and lost a day crossing the International Date Line. We arrived in Manila Wednesday night at 10:30 PM. Went through customs, which went well, except right away you knew you were in a different country when you see a sign, “Drug traffickers will be subject to the death penalty.” We caught a taxi and went to the Shalom Center (hotel) and slept.

Thursday October 7

We awoke and had a rice breakfast and other interesting food at the hotel. We soon found out that Filipinos have rice with breakfast, lunch and supper. We did not have anyone to meet till late afternoon so we ventured out into the streets of Manila. We saw sights and smells that were very interesting and make me thankful for the things we have in America that we take for granted. We saw the make-shift huts and shelters that people live in. Everywhere we went there was dirt and trash. Streets were not well kept, and had lots of potholes and traffic lights that did not work. We walked down to the ocean and saw how it was full of trash washed up onto the shore. People were living on top of this trash in their boats. There were people who were sleeping on the sides of the footpaths.

We exchanged some money as well. For $100 US you get 4,000 Peso. The minimum wage per day is 200 Peso or $5 US. But we could buy a pretty good meal for around 40 Peso or $1 US.

We then visited a mall. It was pretty nice to get out of the hot, humid, tropical weather. We never did know what the temperature was except that it was hot. The mall was a lot like our malls and here we could see there is a rich element in the Filipino society.

We then went back to hotel and rested. Jet lag was catching up with all of us.

The Filipinos can all speak English. The American military had a presence there till the early 1990’s, thus everything is written in English and nearly everyone we met could speak good English. The hardest part was that their accent was pretty heavy at times, which made it difficult to understand them.

At 4:30 PM we met Rodolfo Sy. We were meant to go with him to a Bible study, to a Berean Group as they call themselves. This did not work out for the group, so instead we met with Rodolfo in our hotel room for three hours. He was a very Reformed man and had an excellent grasp of the truths of the Reformed faith. The ministers discussed many different things with Rodolfo and were impressed with the knowledge that he had. It was encouraging to hear a man from his background have such a knowledge of the truths of Scripture.

Friday October 8

We got up at 4:30 AM and were off to the airport to fly to a city call Naga. The ride in the taxi to the airport took 20 minutes, but during rush hour it could take 3 hours. We flew out of their new Philippine Airlines terminal that had just opened and was quite impressive compared to all the other buildings we had seen so far. We flew to Naga and were met at the airport by Pastor Nelson Carvllo and Pastor Modesto Tanierla. Six of us squeezed into a taxi built for small people and went to a bus terminal. We then caught a bus to Daet. What a ride that was! The driver was unreal: cutting blind corners, passing cars and just pulling over to miss oncoming traffic etc. We stepped out of the bus in Daet (with much relief) and right into a restaurant for lunch. After lunch of sweet and sour pork and rice we squeezed our big bodies into a tricycle, (a small 250cc motor bike with a sidecar on it) and went to a hotel to check in and rest for a few minutes.

At 1:00 PM, Modesto came and took us to his church called Sovereign Grace Baptist. This was quite a unique building with no glass in the windows, pews were small and hard, the lighting was very dim, and everything very plain and simple. It struck me how content they are with simple things and nothing has to be fancy or extravagant. Pastor M. Tanierla (71) lived behind the church with his wife and mother. I think there were also two other families that lived in little huts in front and behind the church. These huts were very simple and plain compared to what we have in the USA, but they were quite adequate.

A meeting with ministers and elders from about six or seven congregations in the area had been organized by Pastor Percival Tanierla for the afternoon at this church. Pastor P. Tanierla has been instrumental in teaching the men with whom we met the Reformed truths. The idea of the discussion was to talk about different doctrines that they struggled with, about their churches and how they were affiliated with each other, and about the PRC and our beliefs and purposes in visiting these churches. The men started arriving around 1:30 PM. We met these men as they arrived and were able to talk to them and get to know them a little. We were then introduced to the group of men that had gathered, around 12-15 men. The session was opened in prayer and we sang a few hymns with a guitar as accompaniment. A circle was formed and discussion started and lasted for around five hours. It was a very lively discussion. Some of the questions were as follows: What does the PRC want to do in the Philippines? When are we coming? What type of gospel are you going to preach when you come? They got into discussions on dispensationalism, covenant, doctrines of sovereign grace etc., and Rev. Miersma and Rev. Kleyn were in the hot seat. One question after another, and well-thought-out questions with Scripture to support their questions, were asked. They both did an excellent job of answering the questions. It was interesting to see these Filipino ministers asking questions and discussing things. They get really excited when they are making a point and it is interesting how they express themselves. Rev. Kleyn said that he felt like he was in front of synod again for his examination into the ministry. These men were very receptive to the answers given by the two ministers and were very open to learn more truths of the Reformed faith. It sure was a blessing to see these Filipino men get excited about new biblical truths they were learning.

After the discussion ended, Rev. Miersma and Rev. Kleyn went back to the hotel to prepare for Saturday’s lectures, and I think as well to recover and relax after a very busy day. I had the opportunity to go with three men to visit in their homes. Dante Almoguera, Elmer Barrameda and Pastor Danny Tejares. These men are the leaders in a church called Reformed in Christ Fellowship which is located in Daet and about three miles from the church we had been meeting in during the day. We first went to Pastor D. Tejares’ house. He has five children and lives with his parents. He also is the Pastor of this church and they hold the church services in his house. A rather sad story too. He and his wife were on a bus to Manila in June and had an accident with a truck. His wife was killed instantly and he was severely injured. He had just gotten out of the hospital a week before we came and his leg was still in plaster because of seven fractures he had in it. He has five young children. But you could see how the church and his family had pulled together during this tough time and he talked of God’s will and sovereignty in the things that had happened to him. It was a blessing to see how sincere and accepting he was of God’s will for him.

I then went with Dante to his house just around the corner. He is 32 years old and is married with two children. He lives with his parents in law in the same house. These houses are very different than we have in the States. Nothing is fancy and the people are content to have homes that are simple and plain as that is usually all they can afford. It is also very common in the Philippines that families all live together either in the same house or in little huts on the same complex. The family unit is still rather strong compared to how it has fallen apart here in the States.

Elmer was a young man from a church in the hills about three hours from Daet. He had been staying with Pastor D. Tejares the last few weeks to help him because of his accident. He met Pastor D. Tejares at school and has been taught the truths of the Reformed faith by him.

I then visited for a few hours with these men back at Pastor D. Tajares’ house. We spoke about their thoughts on the day’s discussion and they were very receptive to the teachings of Rev. Miersma and Rev. Kleyn and said they now would go and study the Word of God more in light of the day’s discussion. We also talked about life in general, how they all struggle to find work, about the economy, the political situation, schooling and family life. It was interesting that in the Philippines divorce and abortion are outlawed by the government and is very low. They said it was changing. Slowly these things were getting accepted more and more and the government was changing the laws.

After a very interesting night I caught a tricycle back to the hotel around 9:00 PM. Rev. Kleyn and I then went out to find some food to eat. I think we found some cakes at a shop that was about to close.

As I was studying up about Pelagius, I wondered if Pelagius ever had children?  I say this because Pelagius believed that children were born without sin.   As a father of three young children, I really do not know how Pelagius could come to such a conclusion.

Pelagius was a British monk and theologian born in approximately 360 A.D.   Little is known of his early life, and even his birthplace is uncertain.

He came to Rome around 400 A.D. and met up with a man names Coelestius.  Together these men preached their ideas concerning how man is saved.  In the year 411 Pelagius and Coelestius traveled to Africa to preach their heresy.  It was there that they met up with Augustine.  It was also here in Africa that Augustine and Pelagius disagreed with each other concerning how man is saved.

Augustine believed in the total depravity of man.  He maintained, and correctly so, that it is only through the sovereignty of God that man is saved.

Pelagius had a very weird view of salvation.  He taught that every child of God that is born is born good and without any sin.  In fact, he insisted that every child is born as good as Adam was before Adam ate of the forbidden fruit.  Sin, in the view of Pelagius, is a habit that is picked up from other people’s bad habits.  He insisted that there is no need for divine grace and salvation.  All a person has to do to break the bad habit of sin is to have a firm enough resolve.  Pelagius believed that man can save himself.

Augustine would have no part of the extreme ideas of Pelagius and in 418 he was instrumental in the excommunication of Pelagius from the Roman Catholic Church, the true church of that day.

In 431 the Council of Ephesus condemned the radical views of Pelagius but at the same time they did not want to accept Augustine’s views on the total depravity of man and the sovereignty of God in salvation.  Instead, the Council found a compromise position called semi-pelagianism in which they believed that the human and divine will could cooperate in salvation.  They taught that man was born sinful.  At the same time, however, they insisted that man was not totally depraved but had the capability of accepting Christ as his Savior.  Semi-pelagianism taught that God offers salvation to all men and it is up to man to accept or reject it.

This is exactly the same heresy that is taught in most churches today.  God loves you and all that you have to do is accept him.  Isn’t it amazing that even in the early days of the church this heresy of God’s universal love was taught?

The whole system of semi-pelagianism became the foundation for the Roman Catholic doctrine of works-righteousness.  It is also the same heresy that our mother church fell into in 1924 when the Christian Reformed Churches adopted the three points of common grace.

It is sad to see that so many people nowadays, just as Pelagius did in the fifth century, deny the total depravity of man and think that they can save themselves through their own works.  The truth is that we all have this same sin dwelling in us and more often than not we think just like Pelagius. Let us as youth in God’s church cling to the truth of God’s sovereignty and in this way stay clear of the heresy of Pelagius.

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