The opportunity to study the Bible on an academic level is a blessing and a privilege. Ideally, the process should produce people ready to give away what they’ve worked hard to learn about God and His Word. On our most recent trip to the Philippines we had the chance to invite young people into that possibility. Our team, including myself, my wife Megan, Ty Mathews, and Jason Carpenter, spent a total of 10 days on the ground at our community center, Tahanan, near Tacloban City on the island of Leyte, in a town called Palo. During that time we hosted Bible studies, seminars, and youth events. Our team was thankful for these opportunities to freely give what we have received in terms of biblical education.
We arrived late on Friday night and hosted a Biblical Studies Seminar the following Monday. We jumped right into ministry with over a dozen young adults, many of whom function in leadership within local churches. While there are many highlights from the conference itself, one of the things that stood out most to us was the fact that we heard so much in the following days about how attendees were using the tools they learned and finding them helpful in their own study of Scripture. Teaching the Bible is a wonderful thing, but giving people the tools they need to interpret for themselves in the process is particularly helpful for those who need to lead and teach.
Later in the week we got to work side-by-side with our long time friend, Pastor David Pica, hosting youth from his church for a SLAM Service Plunge. We spent time in worship and the Word together, going over 2 Tim 2:5-7 and our theme, “Pu Cho Werk N.” We put those lessons to practice and helped dig and plant half a dozen garden beds at the local elementary school. Pastor David and his family have been friends and a huge blessing to our organization’s efforts in the Philippines for years. He expressed a lot of gratitude to us for our service to his youth, but we were equally grateful for his participation with us both this week and throughout our history together.
The success of conferences like these is dependent on the continued work of Clark and Rina Miller at Tahanan. Their work there has created an environment of learning and hospitality through a consistent offering of both Bible teaching and fellowship opportunities. The youth that come there on a regular basis are hungry for the Word and it is our responsibility to teach as people who have been blessed to study. Through conferences like these we seek to offer times of both formal learning and intentional service.
Outside the context of these larger events, one of the highlights of the trip for all of us was getting to spend time with some of our friends. Irish is on staff at our community center along with Clark and Rina. MC and Sherelyn attend college with Irish. These three are all in their early 20’s and eager to learn the word. Our friend Ayok has been consistently helping Clark with the garden at Tahanan, and was a particular help to Jason, who constructed a new chicken tractor for the garden on our trip. Our friends Calven from Manila and Jackie from Cebu also joined us. We were blessed to have these individuals help facilitate our events and to have them present for our daily Bible studies. Our service together on a daily basis continued forging friendships that we pray the Lord will use into the future.