From the monthly archives:

March 2001

Originally posted by Elder Gus Harter

(Continuation from Part 4)


We arrive at the airport in Iloilo City a 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 15. Iloilo is a progressive city and exceptionally clean. The first Baptist arrived in 1900 right after the Spanish American war. They have had a good success with over 20,000 students enrolled in their college and hundreds of churches. The old Spanish influence is still prevalent in the architecture. The economy here is stronger than in most of the areas of the Philippines. At the airport Brother Leo Engbino brought his Jeepney with Brother Ike Benia, Ronnie Cabaobao, Edmund Linatan, Manolo Dalman and Constancio Tejada. We went directly to the Amigo Terrace. I secured two rooms for Junio and I and Cons and Manolo. I had asked them to meet us there. All eight of us gathered in our room for a planning session. After I first gave them a broad view of our progress all over the Philippines everyone showed their individual progress in their pioneering efforts to plant churches. We were all mutually encouraged and ready to go to work. We then planned the week as to how we could best use three meetings a day. We had a wonderful prayer meeting begging our Lord to bless us with revival.

On Friday morning we visited a fellowship in one of the homes Brother Ronnie meets with each week. The wife was a retired teacher and he is a retired accountant. They were the caliber of people needed to form a nucleus for a church. However they were not yet sufficiently taught to bring others along theologically. But it was a good start. That night we went to the main groups that Brother Ronnie meets with. Their gathering place was a common area in subdivision. There was a gathering of 20 souls. The Lord was with us and I spoke from Romans 8:28. There was a good balance of young and old. After the meeting we answered questions for over two hours mainly on God’s sovereignty in salvation. Two young ladies, well educated presented some standard arguments from a freewill position. This type of question is welcomed because you know they are grasping the difference and it gives opportunity to explain grace from a positive and clear viewpoint. We closed with the subject of baptism. I think we got through to most of them. The best prospect was Jerrie Cambonero, a kind and gentle lady whose home we visited beside the meeting place. She privately told me she and her husband were satisfied with the doctrine of Primitive Baptist and also with Brother Ronnie as her pastor. The two young ladies that ask so many questions were two of her nieces. Their names were Johann and Dolly. After the meeting Johann shared with me her belief in grace but wanted a minister to explain all the problems that have been brought against God’s Sovereignty.

On Friday morning we arose early and boarded public transportation to visit a new work in Conception two hours north of Iloilo. Elder Constancio Tejada was kin to many of them and had been working with them for sometime. Constancio Tejada, Manolo Dalman, Ronnie Cabaobao, Ike Engbino, Junio Tabanyag and I were taken to a large country home in the middle of a tropical forest. We met in a large living room, which opened up to a kitchen. There were about 35 people present. There were five or six young couple with infant children. I spoke on the sheep discourse found in John 10. Elder Constancio interpreted for me. At the conclusion of the service most of the people present desired baptism. We walked almost two miles to a beautiful secluded white sand beach. The land was covered in coconut palms and in the ocean in about three to four feet of water were large mangrove trees. A few children were playing and several men were working on a typical Filipino fishing boat. I had requested Brother Cons to do the baptizing since he had done the labor to convert these people. He gladly agreed. Sixteen souls were baptized in this placid scene. This was a wonderful beginning for this church. The pastor of this flock is Rogie Tasoy. He was at our last preacher’s meeting and was so please to have us visit him. We were so far out in the country that there was no way to call for transportation so we began the long walk back to the town of Conception. It was about five miles. When we had walked about half the distance two motorcycles came by and we paid them to carry us the rest of the way. Manolo and Constancio remained in this area with meetings scheduled at Bacacay Church and preparation for the constitution of that church. The remainder of our group boarded a public van to carry us back to Iloilo.

On Friday night we went to Leo’s home. He had converted his garage into an excellent meeting hall for church. He had a good size of crowd of over 20 present for our meeting. There were also two new ministers present. The interest was good. After the message we had a lively discussion with a kind missionary Baptist minister. He could easily see the logic of our Biblical position on grace and he wanted to talk again on these things. This was a good start for the building of a church. We were served refreshments and then were taken back to hotel.

On Saturday morning we rented a taxi for the day and headed to the west side of the island to an area call Antique. The country was mountainous with picturesque streams and waterfalls. Our destination was fair size town called San Jose de Buenavista. Brother Edmund Linatan had begun a pioneering work in this community. He lived further out in the interior in a village called San Remegio. Some of his church in San Remegio had moved to town and he was trying to build up a congregation in San Jose as well as continue his work in San Remegio. We had a fair congregation and the potential for building a church here is bright. We then drove back to Iloilo for a meeting with Ike in a rented room he uses every Sunday. We again had over 20 in attendance and the interest level was excellent. At the conclusion we again opened the floor for questions. I was beginning to tire from constant preaching and I let Junio and the local ministry answer most of the questions. They did a good job. That night we had off and I spent my time preparing for the constitution of the church in Bacacay, which was to take place on Sunday afternoon. I was thankful for some forms and material left by Elder Donnie Halbgewachs Senior. I also called Lassere Bradley to fax some material from him. While I work Brother Junio, a tireless and diligent servant, drifted to sleep. I knew he was exhausted and I made an effort not to disturb him.

We arose on Sunday morning and secured a taxi to take us a two-hour drive to the Bacacay. Brother Ike, Ronnie, Junio and I all got in our transportation to go to the constitution. Elder Tejada and Dalman were already at the church with Elder Jerry Navarro the pastor. Some 20 members from Conception were already gathered when we arrived. In typical Filipino laid-back fashion the crowd of worshippers slowly arrived. By the time the singing started the building was filled. I was asked to speak for the morning service. I first spent 10 minutes on the history of the church and my joy in laboring with them. I had the privilege of baptizing over 50 members in to this new church. I dealt with Mathew 16:13-18 stressing the church is built on Christ. The message was warmly received. We broke for lunch and enjoyed fried fish and rice.

After lunch the presbytery was formed by the attending elders, Junio Tabanyag, Manolo Dalman, Constancio Tejada, Jerry Navarro and myself. Elder Constancio Tejada was chosen to be the moderator and given authority to appoint the position needed for the constitution of the church. Elder Manolo Dalman was to read the church covenant, articles of faith and the rules of decorum. He was also to question the church spokesman. I was requested to deliver the charge to the church.
The meeting began with Brother Manolo reading the three documents and questioning the church spokesman as to his agreement. Brother Navarro clearly and positively stated his agreement on all accounts and even magnifying with comments after each reading. Elder Constancio offered the constitution prayer and I followed with a charge to the church. I chose as a text Acts 2:42 “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship and breaking of bread and prayers”. My subject was the marks of the primitive church. I charge them to hold to the pattern of New Testament worship. The church was excited about the work of the presbytery and made a motion to accept their work.

The church then completed their work as a church in doing the following. They officially chose the name Bacacay Primitive Baptist Church of Christ. They called Elder Jerry Navarro as their pastor by a unanimous vote. They read and accepted a letter to the convention (the group of their former association) withdrawing from their organization for the reason to more closely adhere to the doctrine and practice of New Testament. The service was then closed by prayer and the ministers then left for Iloilo for a last service in this series of meetings.

I had rented a meeting room at the Amigo Terrace Hotel where we are staying and invited any who could come to a final service. I spoke on seven text that seem to teach a universal invitation for salvation and general atonement, John 3:16, John 1:2, Matt II: 28, I Timothy 2:4, Hebrew 2:9, II Peter 3:9, Revelation 3:20. The explanation given on these texts was received by almost all in attendance with absolute delight. With some of our new visitors they were filled with questions but none responded with anger. There was a good representation from the different groups. This was my last night in Iloilo and with a degree of sadness I would leave this beautiful island. How ever two of local ministry Brother Ike and Ronnie decided to travel with us to Negros.

(To be continued…Part 6)
March Trip Pictures (Part 5)


Originally posted by Elder Gus Harter
(Continuation from Part 5)


On Monday morning Brother Ike and Ronnie met Junio and I at the Amigo Hotel. We secured a taxi and went to the pier to board a boat going to Bacolod on the island of Negros. The accommodations on the airboat were comfortable and the ride took us about 1-½ hours. We were entertained by a movie about Herbie (the little Volkswagen). In my mind I travel back to New Smyrna Beach 30 years ago when I took my children to a similar movie about Herbie. I laughed so hard at this little car with a human personality that my older children Tammy, Becky and Jonathan were embarrassed. They moved to a distant seat but Cindy and Stephanie as well as myself enjoyed it to the maximum. It was a pleasant reverie in this distant land. Seated in the middle of those preachers, I was several thousand miles away with my little children. I don’t think they noticed my tears.

We arrived at Bacolod and took a taxi to the city of Silay about 15 miles north. We first secured a room at the only hotel in town. There was air-conditioning and hot water so I was more than satisfied. From the hotel we took a tricycle to the Enoposa’s home. This is the home of Danalyn, the little girl we took into our home with heart problems. I had met her mother but had not met the rest of the family. Upon arriving at there home all Danalyns siblings came running to give me a hug and called me Papa Gus. The father name is Don and was for a Filipino a large strong man yet extremely tender and lovable. As I told them about Danalyn the whole family began to cry because they missed her. They expressed their love for her and were glad that we welcomed her into our home. We first enjoyed good fellowship and then had a worship service. All this family came from Catholicism. They had a strong work ethic and warmth of love for one another. It was a joy just to visit in their home.

Only a few months back a terribly flash flood ripped through this area. One of the members of the church only a few doors down from the Enoposa’s lost his home in that flood. The subdivision gave them old pieces of lumber they had stored at their home. With this used lumber he was trying to build a house for him and his family. We walked back to see the remains and the condition his children were in without protection from the weather. I gave him sufficient for roofing and sidings for his home. They had lost their furniture, clothes, and everything that was inside their house. After the service we went to a beautiful spot on the beach for a baptismal service. There were nine baptized that day including three of Danalyn’s sisters. It was peaceful; and enjoyable and we lingered there till almost dark. That night we went to the home of another members of the church for a very good service. It was a large comfortable home and we could comfortably put 20 to 30 people in their living room. Elder Tabanyag translated for me, and the message was received with gladness of heart. After the meeting we had our supper of fish and rice. They then asked questions of how to defend our doctrine against different accusations. I rejoice in both their knowledge and zeal to study.

Brother Hernani Osorio, a minister who joined us in Iloilo on our first trip lived in Bacolod and met us on that night. He stayed with us until we left for home. He also brought with him a minister name John Arquiola. Brother John serves a church in Bacolod and is very close to us in doctrine. After a lengthy explanation he followed his Lord in baptism and was baptize by Elder Tabanyag. He is as I write visiting with us in Davao City.

We had two last appointments. We went to a poor village and met beside a basketball court on Tuesday afternoon. There were some 80 to 90 in attendance and about one half of them were children. My mind was too crowded with too many things and I did not enjoy good liberty. However they seem to enjoy our coming and were apologetic that they had not prepared a meal. We then proceed to Brother Hernani’s home for our last service. The structure was very simple, mostly made of bamboo but the yard look like a garden with cobblestone walks and flowers everywhere. I spoke on five phases of salvation. The Lord enables us to rise above our tired state and limping turned to liberty. There were a lot of questions especially from a young lady who was attending a seminary. As we drove back John promised if I would return they would gather 30 preachers to hear for doctrine proclaimed. I will return and will be more than satisfied if they have ten. All the ministers as well as the male members of the church followed us back to the hotel. We enjoyed this last night of fellowship but at midnight I departed to get some rest for my journey home.

The joy of this trip was the number of congregations that were in a planting stage. Only three of these congregations had an ordain pastor. The future is extremely bright. Please pray for our labor and for Gods blessings.
March Trip Pictures (Part 6)


March Trip, Six Months After Arriving in the Philippines (Part 2)

March 30, 2001

Originally posted by Elder Gus Harter (Continuation from Part 1) MANILA Manila is the capital city of the Philippines and is the heart beat of almost all the government, industry, banking, business and even the social life of these islands. There are twelve million souls pack into this massive city and the traffic is actually […]

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March Trip, Six Months After Arriving in the Philippines (Part 4)

March 30, 2001

Originally posted by Elder Gus Harter (Continuation from Part 3) BOHOL We arose early in the morning to board a large airboat for Tagbilaran the only large city in Bohol. This island is rapidly emerging as one of the prime tourist destinations because of it chocolate hills, that assume a chocolate brown coloring at the […]

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March Trip, Six Months After Arriving in the Philippines (Part 3)

March 30, 2001

Originally posted by Elder Gus Harter (Continued from Part 2) CEBU We made our flight to Cebu with 15 minutes to spare. Cebu is the second city of the Philippines and has a large America population. It is the summer capital and has a thriving tourist trade. In my limited opinion it probable has more […]

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March Trip, Six Months After Arriving in the Philippines (Part 1)

March 28, 2001

Originally posted by Elder Gus HarterUpon converting men to the hope in the sovereignty of God in salvation, you have only begun the loving labor of establishing the people of God. As Paul requested Barnabus to accompany him “and visit our brethren in every city where we had preached the Word of God.” I felt […]

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Letters to White Unto Harvest from the Philippines and the United States

March 28, 2001

Originally posted by Elder Gus HarterFrom our White Unto Harvest Newsletter we continue to get encouraging letters from the people receiving them in the Philippines and the United States. I have enclosed three letters for your reading. The first letter is from a young teenage girl at Bagacay Church north of Iloilo. She is the […]

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Adopting Children from the Philippines

March 27, 2001

Originally posted by Betty Jo HarterThank you for your encouraging e-mails. Gus and I look for our e-mails from home first thing in the morning, last thing at night. It makes us feel connected with you even so far away. You would write more if you could see Gus face when he gets one! I […]

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Lydia Grace Harter

March 21, 2001

Originally posted by Betty Jo HarterYes, we’re adopting another baby, the same age as John Mark. February 26, I received a call from a certain maternity clinic in Davao telling of an abandoned baby girl. “Would I please come see her?” “Only as quick as I can get my shoes on”, I said. I walked […]

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