From the monthly archives:

February 2001

John Mark Harter

by Original Author on February 22, 2001

Originally posted by Betty Jo Harter
Another chapter of our life was written on February 10, 2001. John Mark Harter was born 6 lbs. 13 oz. 19 inches long at 11:15 p.m.

I received a telephone call February 6, 2001 to please call a certain lady about the possibility of adopting a baby of an expectant unwed mother. I cannot even describe the emotions racing through my heart and mind. After being assured that there was no one else in the immediate family to raise the child, the inability of the mother, and an adoptive couple backing out at the last minute, I said I would agree to talk to the mother.

I traveled quite a distance to meet her and to find out what she truly wanted to do. Wanting to know if there had been any coercion, influence of money, etc. that led her in this direction. Did she just need financial, emotional support to keep and raise her baby?

I was not expecting to find such a beautiful, courageous mother, I loved her the minute I saw her and just wanted to mother her after hearing her story. I was so torn between the emotion of compassion for this expectant mother and the excitement of having a newborn!

She had planned to go to a maternity clinic there, which is the way the young ladies do here, or they have the baby at home. She had not been to a doctor and was not completely sure when she was due. I realized the baby was overdue about 10 days to 14 days. I suggested that she let me take her to a doctor to be checked, have an ultrasound and see what condition she was in. She said, she would prefer doing that but could not afford it. I told her we would just do it! And I started hunting for a doctor on a Saturday afternoon. We rode on a tricycle that will carry three or four people, rode through the heart of the Muslim market to seek out a doctor that had been recommended to me. After riding all across town and walking a long distance to the doctor’s office, we read the office hour’s sign on the door. The doctor was closed on Saturday. I tried to assure her that everything would be all right and I would find help. I asked the tricycle man to take us to the best hospital and I would find the doctor. I should have done that in the first place rather than exposing her to exhaustion and me to all the Muslims in town. Remembering the last thing I assured my family is that I would stay in the hotel and not venture out at all because of the danger. Since when have I ever made a decision based on sound reasoning anyway? Why start now! We arrived at the hospital and I found that the woman doctor was out in the field in the mountains and the only thing I could do was radio her. I did, and after hearing the story and the urgency of the moment she did not hesitate to come in.

When she arrived we unraveled how I was involved, and she ordered an ultrasound for the mother. Sure enough it showed that the baby was overdue and she had lost so much amniotic fluid that she had to be induced right then. Should the baby come in to distress they would have to do a C-section. She wanted me to see the ultrasound and it was obvious this baby was indeed a boy. The mother had never been hospitalized, and was so frightened. We were not allowed to go back to the hotel or she to her apartment to get anything. She did not want me to leave her and I could not. My heart was so entwined with this beautiful, frightened girl and the baby I would soon hold in my arms. She requested to the doctors that she didn’t want to see the baby at birth but for me to take it. We have adopted 13 children all with different circumstances, birthed 5 children all with different experiences in birth but yet now I would indeed experience loving a baby never held by its birth mom. What would I feel toward her, toward the baby? I was moving toward a different venture of adoption, in mothering, and I thought I had been through it all!

Our mother was hooked up to an inducement medicine and started labor. She had a cousin she was very close to that was also there and stayed with her most of the time while she was in labor. Only one person was allowed. She would call for the cousin and me and I would trade off. She was the only one in labor in the ward. As I said, most women couldn’t afford to go to the hospital. The hours dragged on after an already exhausting day for both of us emotionally, I could not leave her in spite of the urging of the doctors to get my rest and they would call me form the waiting room when she was to deliver. I stretched out on the floor on the other side of the door from where she was, and told the doctor to assure her I would not leave her and that there was someone who loves her and prayed for her.

At 10:30 the doctor appeared and told me to get suited up that it would not be long. As I walked in the delivery room her eyes followed me motioning for me to come hold her hand. As the baby began to appear in this world without any distress my heart started racing. It was just five days ago I learned of this baby and yet it seemed that I had been preparing for this time in my life for all my life. John Mark was born a beautiful, beautiful baby! Perfect in every way. As the doctor checked him out, I saw the birth mom trying to glance toward the bassinet just to get one look. Since she had already disclosed her wishes to the doctors I could not say anything. I wanted to run over get this beautiful baby, put him on her chest and say, “you can do it, I’ll help you.” But I did know the circumstances and knew there was not a possibility. I found myself as they wheeled the baby into the nursery to clean him up, staying by the mother side. I couldn’t leave her—she was so alone. Nothing to hold for all her pain and sadness, I cried, she cried, the doctors cried. I kissed her face all over telling her how much I loved her and how courageous and unselfish she was. They took her to her room and I went to the nursery to hold John Mark. As they placed this beautiful baby in my arms, my heart was surely one with his and I held him close, and sang to him. Thanked God for this wonderful gift.

The pediatrician suggested I get a room down the hall on the floor and after stabilizing him they would bring him to me. Another strange feeling to me in a room waiting for my baby to be brought to me and not having experienced the physical birth. I must admit with the events of the past couple of days, I felt as though I had been in labor!
Then at 3:30 a.m. they brought John Mark to me and we were alone! Do you ever forget how to mother a baby? No! It was immediate just as natural as ever.

After signing the waiver of custody the next morning, this beautiful courageous girl asked me if she could please see him just one time before I left to take him back to the hotel. Even though I was advised not to, I could not deny her this. I dressed John Mark and took him to her room and she held him and checked him over. My heart was crying for her. How she must have felt I could not imagine. She handed him to me, looked away, I kissed her forehead and told her I would tell him all about her one day.

I walked out of the hospital with my nine-hour-old son, thanking God for one more experience of his mercy and grace. Understanding the beautiful doctrine of adoption from another experience. Her arms were very empty. Mine very full!

John Mark

Not my flesh of my flesh,
Nor bone of my bone,
But nevertheless my very own!

Mama Harter
Picture of Jonh Mark Harter


Gods Blessings

by Original Author on February 13, 2001

Originally posted by Elder Gus Harter
The blessings of God are falling upon us like a summer shower in a dry and thirsty land. At our recent minister’s meeting we had 65 members and gathered at Iligan City to consider some of the most difficult problems facing our people in the Philippines. It was not a meeting just to encourage one another with thoughts of grace and mercy, which is always needed. But one where we faced immediate problems like preacher jealousy, creeping and debilitating absolutism, increasing differences in non-essentials and covetousness on the part of our membership. As these issues were dealt with Biblical solutions were presented the Lords blessings melted hearts and united our ministry to face a world that is unfriendly to grace.

To add to the joy of seeing progress made in these most difficult issues, five new ministers from Iloilo were used on Friday night Ronnie Cabaobao, Ike Benia, Leo Engbino, Edmund Linatan, and Hernani Osorio. They are all about the same age, late 30’s or early 40’s, and have been serving as pastors for the last twenty years. They spoke with authority and power. The messages were Biblically sound and scholarly presented. Shouts of amen where heard thru out the building as each man spoke. They spoke on the doctrines of grace. And old message to all the hearers but as liberty was granted to the speakers it came with the freshness of a gentle rain upon tender plants. At the conclusion of the meeting we baptized a visiting minister from the island of Bohol, Max Qiachon. For the past year thru fellowship of Mario Omila, one of our ministers who had moved to that island from Mindanao, Brother Max had learn to love the message of grace and came with the purpose of uniting with our people. He presently serves a church in Tagbilaran City who are ready and willing to be baptized.

Our meeting concluded on Saturday and I traveled to the beautiful city of Cagayan de Oro to meet with six new congregations of our people. Many of these had not participated in communion or feet washing and the last time I was with them they pleaded for me to return so they could enjoy that blessing. They do not have an ordained ministry as yet among them and they are experiencing unusual zeal and growth. We rented an open concrete auditorium right on the beach. We had two hundred and fifty souls in attendance. We had a service in the morning beginning at 10:00 a.m. Elder Constancio Tejada spoke first on the doctrines of grace. Elder Levi Sebuala followed speaking on baptism and the seriousness in following in this ordinance. I concluded speaking form Acts 2:42 “And they continued steadfastly” challenging them to not only embrace the doctrines and practice of the New Testament Church but determined to hold and walk in them for life. Before lunch we gave opportunity for baptisms. Sixty-one souls came forward requesting baptism including three in excess of ninety years of age. There were also five new pastors of churches with some of their members, Buena Asilan, Temoteo Cabahug, Gabriel Ocom, Juan Dangupon, and Romulos Castro. Also among those baptized was the family of the two young men Alex and Rhod Marq Pansanos of Davao City who lived just south of Cagayan de Oro. These were the young man united with us a few months back who worked on our air-conditioning. They have wonderful zeal to share the truth of grace with everyone they meet and especially their family. Their parents were baptized as well as five of their siblings. After lunch and few hours of fellowship we enjoyed a warm spiritual communion and feet washing service. Tears of joy were seen through out the building. It was one of those seasons when service was a joy. Knowing the vast amount of work and follow up that is needed in Cagayan de Oro, I requested Elder Manolo Dalman to spend the next two weeks visiting from house to house of the ministry encouraging and stabilizing them. I encourage them to hold meetings in each congregation answering questions and bringing light to their newfound faith. They immediately with joy took the responsibility and are at the time of this writing strengthening the brethren. Please continue to pray for this work.

Also doors of opportunity of service for my wife Betty Jo and my children are opening faster than they can walk thru them. Betty Jo will have to share in a more detail for she is doing a wonderful service for the community and especially for little children. “If you have done it unto the least of these my brethren you have done unto me.” Matt 25:40. Betty Jo was going to institutions, individuals and door-to-door seeking abandon children she could help. Among the little children we have brought to our home a precious little girl four years old named Angelica. Her growth has been stunted from malnutrition and she is about the size of one year old. Her mother died two weeks ago from T.B. We are presently going through the legal problems to adopt her. Also little Danalyn Enapoza who had the heart problem diagnosed by Elder Shaffer is in our home and we will keep her as long as she will stay. Her prognosis is excellent though she will have to be on medication for the remainder of her life. Just this past weekend my wife received a call from an unwed expectant mother requesting us to adopt her child. Saturday night while I was at the ministers conference my wife was with this young lady in the delivery room receiving a seven pounds little boy whom we have named John Mark. These seemed to be no end insight as to the possibilities of service.

These little children thus named are a wonderful addition to our family but more blessing were in store for us this month. Shiloh Church served by Elder Shafer in Stephenville, Texas sent a sizable donation to purchase a land in Davao for an orphanage. We are presently looking for just the right property for this purpose. They just heard of Betty Jo’s burden to help children and of the work we had done personally in our home and wanted to help in this work. Because of the extreme poverty of the Philippines and the shortness of good medical facilities this is a real need.

The work before us is vast. The future looks extremely bright for building and planting churches. Our ministering brethren are grounded in truth and filled with zeal and warmth. The opportunity for us to add to building churches with hands on service toward those great need, like the little children is most satisfying. We need your prayers and any assistance you desire to share.

Your Servant in Christ

Gus Harter
Photo Album "Gods Blessings"


Married Tradition Among Bilaan Tribe

February 6, 2001

Originally posted by Elder Junio TabanyagThe church in Matanao is made up of an aboriginal tribe called Bilaan. They are a mountain people and seldom ever mix with other people. They have intermarried for years, which does cause abnormalities and even some deformities. Their marriage customs are very set and have been followed for hundreds […]

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Reflections From Our Home to Yours by: Betty Jo Harter

February 5, 2001

Originally posted by Betty Jo HarterThe other night I was very troubled about finding a solution to a problem here that I was facing. I tossed and turned and prayed and begged God for wisdom. I know I should have done more praying and less tossing. I want to cry out so many times, “Lord […]

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Hope Harter Letter

February 5, 2001

Originally posted by Hope HarterMy name is Hope Harter. I am thirteen years old and in the eight grade. I have eleven sisters and six brothers. I am the third oldest of the thirteen children yet at home. I enjoy fellowship meeting at our home with the people from different Primitive Baptist Churches. I enjoy […]

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