This past month my wife, Jerah Mie, and I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to anothed part of the Philippine Islands, Panay Island to be precise, with Bro. Darrell and Sister Denise Hutto the Directors of Grace International World Outreach along with a small team of missionaries from the USA. Together with Bro. Darrell and Sister Denise, Mike and Valerie Stanton, Johnathan and Ruth McCarty, Rod and Liesl Leeper and Lunden Martineau, my wife and I traveled to all four provinces of Panay Island. We visited many churches and outreaches in the four provinces of Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, and Aklan. Everywhere that we went we met and built relationships with local believers, ministers, and pastor's. We were honored to have had the opportunity to encourage and uplift the local congregations. For the first 3 days of our trip we took park in a pastor’s and teachers conference with over 200 local pastor’s and ministers from all over the Philippines. During the conference we were so blessed by the teaching and preaching. My wife and I were honored lead the whole conference in singing worship to God for one song. It was so wonderful to have my wife standing next to me and ministering in song right along side me.
We traveled to several newly built church facilities as well as existing facilities and we had the chance to fellowship with so many fellow believers in Panay Island. It is hard to describe what is happening in this part of the Philippines, but there is a great move of God sweeping this area…the Gospel is spreading like wildfire and new outreaches and churches are being built and souls are being saved for the kingdom of God. It was as if we witnessed something close to what the early church must have looked like as it spread across the nations.
In Antique, we traveled to a small church facility that had recently been completed with the help of GIWO. When we arrived we were told that only the day before our arrival a fire had broken out in the church, destroying many chairs, their whole sound system, and many of the electricals in the building. However, when we arrived at the small church, we could hardly tell this by looking at the congregation, who were all smiles, greeting us with a king's welcome. While the village is small, they are being reached for the Gospel of Christ through the dedication of the local Pastor and the community of Grace International Churches of the Philippines as well as support and prayers from Grace International World Outreach back in the USA.
In the above image you can see some of our team in soot stained church we visited. Thanks be to God, there was no major damage and all can be repaired. My wife and I were greatly inspired by the resiliency of the congregation in the face of what some would have seen as a disaster. Truly the devil failed and God is triumphant!
In the Capiz Province, we traveled to the village of Tapaz, in the mountains of Capiz, the home of the Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines, where GIWO has constructed a wonderful facility for outreach to the native tribes who live in the mountains. In this area the culture is strongly driven by centuries of tribal heritage and traditions. These communities are heavily influenced by the tribal traditions that have been passed down for generations. For generations the culture here has revolved around paganistic religion complete with sun and earth worship, the worship of trees and plants, animals, and even the rivers or mountains themselves, but to the Glory of God, through the work of local ministers and the support of many through GIWO, these areas and these tribes are being reached for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Tribal Center in Tapaz is strategically located near the foot of the mountains which are home to the Indigenous tribes. It serves as a safe meeting place and as a Christian school for hundreds of tribal children who live in the surrounding communities. If you look in the picture above you will see the smiling faces of many of the tribal Children who are being reached for Jesus! It was so amazing to see how excited these children were to learn about God.
Not only are the children being reached for Christ, but the tribal and community leaders are being converted also, including a local Witchdoctor! We heard the testimony of the Local Witchdoctor who was deeply involved in witcraft and the local tribal religion. By the grace of God the man who once performed witcraft ceremonies, is now one of the elders in the local body of believers and my wife and I personally met him and witnessed him worshipping our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To God be the Glory!
We visited one of the newest Church plants located in Carles, Iloilo. Jesus Christ Mission Church is a wonderful body of believers pastored by Pastor Billy Aclo and his son and family. GIWO sponsored the building of this facility which is now being used to reach the Carles community and surrounding areas for Christ! My wife and I had the chance to form friendship with Pastor Billy and his family. Pastor Billy has plans to invite us to return in the future to fellowship and minister with them. In fact, God allowed Jerah and I to form friendships with many of the ministers in Panay and several of them expressed their hopes and plans for us to return again soon to fellowship and minister to the local communities and for this my wife and I are both humbled and incredibly excited. We look forward to seeing what God has in store for the future and we look forward to continuing our service to the Kingdom of God!
Sister Denise shares a powerful testimony for the believers at Jesus Christ Mission Church in Carles, Iloilo.
Bandiangan House of Praise Church in Iloilo with Pastor Christian welcomed us. We worshiped with them and were given presentations by some of the many local children who are a part of the local children's outreach.
Bandiangan House of Praise and Pastor Christian welcomed us with a delightful feast featuring many of the most treasured local delicacies of Panay Island.
Lechon Baboy(roasted pig) a local delicacy of the Philippines. The pig is stuffed with natural herbs and slowly roasted on a bamboo spit over an open fire. What a treat. The skin is crisp and the meat is incredibly tender and juicy.
Children of BHOP perform a beautiful rendition of a powerful worship song for us. According to Pastor Christian and his wife Jeanette, they now minister to over 300 children each week with their children's ministry. Many times when the children are reached for the Gospel, their families also turn to Jesus. Praise God for His mighty works!
We landed in Kalibo, Aklan April 4th and we spent much time in Kalibo as this was where the 3 day conference was held. Kalibo, Aklan is also home to the Shepherd's Home, a small orphanage sponsored by GIWO, and the Bible School, Grace Bible Training Center, which is also sponsored in part by GIWO. My wife and I had the chance to visit the orphanage and School and were blessed to become friends with Pastor Evon and his wife who pastor the Church there, lead the Bible school, and care for the children at the Shepherd's Home.
Featured here are the Bible school students as well as Bro. Darrell and some of the other missionaries and local pastors. It was great to see the eager hearts of the students who are learning through Biblical teaching, leadership training, and in person discipleship.
My wife and I were greatly blessed throughout our entire trip to Panay Island and had many chanced to minister and to pray for and with local believers, but perhaps the most memorable place that we visited was deep in the Mountains of the Panay Island. My wife and I along with Bro. Darrell and a few other members of the team traveled deep, deep into the rugged mountains of the Panay island to the remote village of Panipiasan. This area is so remote that there is only one trail into and out of the mountain and there are only two ways to traverse this dangerous route, a nearly 10 hour journey hiking on foot, or a treacherous 1 and a half hour trek on motorcycle(1 and a half hours up the mountain and 1 hour down the mountain).
Despite the fact that my wife had never even been on a motorcycle, much less taken a journey on one of the most arduous and dangerous trails, she bravely decided to come with us and trusting God to protect our journey, I was glad to have her with me. We all met at the foot of the mountain in the town of Madalag at another one of the local church facilities which, by the grace of God, has recently been constructed. There part of the team loaded up onto the motorcycles. God blessed us with some of the most skilled riders in the whole area, many of which were actually fellow believers. My driver/rider is actually one of the local pastors and now we have become friends. I heard a story from one of the brethren, a sister, who crashed on the motorcycle on the way up or down the mountain a few years ago; while she was not seriously injured, it could have been far worse. We are so grateful to our skilled riders and to God for keeping us safe!
The route had twists and turns and steep climbs and falls, deep cliff edges, and streams which flowed across the pathway, but every inch of it was filled with an awe inspiring splendor and beauty! Every foot deeper into the mountain we saw things that we have never seen before…dense bamboo jungles, crystal blue rushing waters, picturesque bamboo huts called Kubos, giant oxen called Kalabaw, mountain farmers, mountain rice paddies, and far reaching, densely jungled mountains as far as the eye could see.
Once we reached our destination, the village Panipiasan, nestled deep in a valley of the mountains, we visited the Church, which was constructed by GIWO and we saw the mountain school, the first and for many, many years the only school in the mountains; also constructed by GIWO. We visited the home of the local pastor and shared a lovely meal.
We shared a lovely meal consisting of fried mountain chicken and other dishes made from local ingredients which were all gathered right on the mountain. Keep in mind, there is no grocery store deep in the Mountains. Few of the villagers have motorcycles so the only other way to get food or supplies would be to make the exhausting 10+ hour hike down the mountain and then 10+ hour return hike…this is just not efficient or practical. So, virtually all of their food and building materials are harvested directly from the mountainside.
About 40 years ago, there were 0 Christians in these mountains. When Bro. Darrell and Sister Denise came as missionaries to the Philippines, God spoke to Bro Darrell and told him to preach to the people in the mountains. At this time, this area of the mountains were overrun with NPA rebels, a highly violent and militant resistance group that were rebelling against the Philippine government at that time. But through his faithfulness to “reach the unreached", God used Bro Darrell to plant great seeds of the Gospel here and now 40 years later nearly 90 percent of this mountain village and its 2,000 plus residents are now born again believers in our Lord Jesus Christ! This church which was built through GIWO now sees between 600-800 people every week during Sunday services!!
My wife and I were honored to serve Jesus on this trip and while we have returned home to San Pedro, Laguna in Central Luzon now, we are honored to keep serving Jesus here too. We recently hosted our first Bible Study in our home last week and invited two locals. By the grave of God we had the chance to share the Word of God with them and pray with them. Each day we seek to shine the light of Christ wherever we go and we look forward to seeing what else God has in store for us and the work we shall do for the Kindom.
Through your loving support we have everything that we need. Our goal is to not only be fully sufficient for our needs, but also to have surplus to bless others and to travel to the different areas wherever God would lead. If you would like to help support our life and ministry here, you can mail your checks to:
Grace International World Outreach
P.O. Box 1952
Laurel, MS, 39441
Make check payable to Grace International World Outreach and in the memo, write Sonshine Ministry.
You can also give at https://giwo.org/service-agency/affiliates/josiah-holliman by clicking on the button below.
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