From the monthly archives:

May 2005

Bethany Church, Her Daughter and Grandchildren

by Original Author on May 18, 2005

Originally posted by Elder Gus Harter

In July 1994, I visited the home church in Diplahan served by Elder Constancio Tejada. Brother Cons was my interpreter on that entire trip. About one half of that congregation embrace the Doctrines of Grace and formed a Primitive Baptist Church. They name their congregation after Bethany in Atlanta which had sent me to the Philippines. A few years following that first visit I returned to preach the dedication of their new building.

Since moving to the Philippines I have not visited this congregation because of rebel uprising around the area of Diplahan. Several ministers and even Constancio encourage me not to visit that area for my protection. That problem is much improved, so last month, I did attend their Thanksgiving Meeting. It is like our annual meeting at home. Their building is beautiful. They have new pews, well manicured lawns, and a new concrete walk way from the road. Everywhere on the outside were fruit trees, flowers, and vegetables. But the most encouraging was the new membership. They had three public school teachers, a local builder (they call them engineers) and several new farmers. They have about 100 members and there were about 150 in attendance. Please see the pictures on the picture trail.

Another encouraging aspect of my trip was visiting several churches that have come from the labor of Brother Cons. As we drove to a little building, Elder Tejada said, “I want you to see Bethany in Atlanta’s apo (grandchild)”. We then drove to a nipa hut church building in the middle of a small village. I took a picture of their congregation in front of their building with Brother Cons and Elder Rustico Cabrobias. Please see the picture trail. This congregation was Bethany’s grandchild. You can often tell the skill in parenting of men and churches by viewing their grandchildren.

G.H.
Photo Trip to Diplahan, Zamboanga

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Glory to God Our King

by Original Author on May 3, 2005

Originally posted by Elder Gus Harter

My wife wrote this short note of encouragement to put on our web page. I was touched by it and thought our people in general would appreciate its content especially regarding our song service.

Gus Harter
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It is Saturday evening here in the Philippines. The sunset here is breathtaking; a reason to sing. It is as though each evening God delights to display His magnificent mixture of blended colors. A mixture of colors you cannot find in a Crayola Box. His “finger-painting”, to we who are ever looking upward to get a glimpse of His glory.

As I wait for the colors this evening I have playing in the background the CD “Glory to God Our King”; congregational singing from Cincinnati Church.

Brethren I encourage you to never let your thoughts wander or be tardy to service as though the song service is only “gathering time” for the preaching service. Tears are streaming down my face now as I listen to our brethren lift their voices as one body of believers.

Before I united in Baptism and heart with the Primitive Baptist Church 43 years ago, I played the organ and piano for the Baptist Congregation of my membership. Actually I started playing the piano for church when I was 9 years old. I would play and beg the Lord for sinners to come down the aisle to be “saved”. I hoped that God would use my piano playing as an instrument to help save people. I was so ignorant as to the abomination it was to the Lord that I would even think that I or any man had a part in his own or another man’s salvation. That was all I knew! That was what I had been taught. I felt like that the eunuch who cried out “How can I (understand), unless some man guide me?”

Upon a cue from the preacher I would turn the lights down low with a switch placed for that purpose beside the organ. I would play the hymn “Just As I Am Without One Plea” over and over and over again. I would be in such despair if no one came down the aisle. I felt somehow that I had let God down.

On my “off night” from playing the organ for my church I would attend other missionary churches. Since I did not have to play at their church I was free to walk down their aisle so perhaps I could get “saved again” I never ever felt like I got the job done. Maybe, I just forgot one of those steps they said you must go through. Maybe I got the steps in the wrong order. I had to keep changing churches to attend because I was even embarrassing myself that everyone kept staring at me when I would attend. “There she goes again”, they would say. I did what the preacher told me to do each time I sincerely tried to “pray through”. I still felt like such a sinner, unworthy of the least of God’s blessing much less His salvation.

The joy, the overwhelming joy of walking into Lexington Primitive Baptist Church that night in 1962. The Congregation of believers were singing, I am a Stranger here below and What I am tis hard to know, I am so vile so full of sin I fear that I’m not born again… Without free grace I know I’m lost!

My heart pounded, tears filled my eyes. Where have these people been all my life? You mean they are not going to ask me to raise my hand and walk down the aisle to accept Jesus? They truly sincerely believe that Jesus brought salvation all by himself? He did not need our help? For by grace are you saved!

The beauty, the sound of voices, yes heavenly voices blending in praise to God. No organ, no piano, no “dimmed lights”. This is real! This is the real world!

Sing brethren, sing with all your hearts all together to the praise and honor of a sovereign God who only has one mediator; the man Christ Jesus.

You never know, there may be a wandering pilgrim in the congregation just like me.

God Bless,
Mom Betty

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