From the monthly archives:

February 2007

Philippines Trip by Gene Thomas

by Original Author on February 21, 2007

Originally posted by Elder Gus Harter

(This article was posted on web page of Free Grace Fellowship)

My observations and views:

Many areas of the Philippines are very thickly populated. Manila, the capitol has over twelve million inhabitants. There are other cities with over a million. Davao City (Where Elder Harter lives) has 1.4 million. I do not readily know the distance from Manila to Davao City, but it virtually requires travel by air. Many of the churches are a far distance from each other. We covered many miles by air on the various trips to the churches. We also made a very interesting trip by jet boat which involved walking a gangplank to board the ship and to exit the ship.

Traffic in the various cities was very frightening to me. Traffic was moving virtually in all directions. Traffic entering from the side would inch into the road and eventually force a vehicle to stop to allow entry. In the midst of all the traffic individuals would be walking—-some would be merely crossing the street, and others would be attempting to sell various things, often being bottled water. School children (wearing uniforms) would often be marching along the edge of the various roads as it seemed that schools were everywhere.

On the edge of the road (on both sides) in what we would consider the "right of way" would be a continuous row of dwellings which also usually had various items for sale. This land belongs to the "government" and the individuals have a kind of "squatter’s rights" to have their homes there so long as the government allows them to do so. These dwellings were made of almost anything—often with old metal roofing for walls. Nothing separated one "home" from another except a thin wall.

People are almost constantly moving along the edges of the road (going somewhere, I guess). Jeepneys abound. Bicycles are sprinkled in the midst of traffic making progress when possible. Motorcycles are darting in and out of the traffic. The slow moving cars, trucks, buses, and every conceivable type of conveyance are often only inches apart. With all of this conglomeration, I did not see a single crash. Yet, I would not dare drive in that kind of environment.

No one ever had to pick me up and carry me. However, it seems that everyone was very considerate and made things as easy for me as possible. Brother Darrel made sure that the airlines that we traveled on did have a wheelchair and an attendant to make it very easy to get from place to place in the airports and this saved Darrel and me from spending time in the long lines that seemed to be necessary everywhere.

Elder Harter had inquired of me (some weeks before the time of our arrival) if I would be willing to help ordain some ministers without ever hearing them exercise their gifts. I immediately replied in the affirmative because I have often done so several times here in the states. My thought is that I certainly have respect to the judgment of my brethren and I have confidence in them sufficient to participate in an ordination.

At one of the churches Brother Darrel and I were requested to have a discussion of the T.U.L.I.P. after we had preached our regular messages. Brother Darrel discussed Total depravity and Unconditional election and I discussed Limited atonement and Irresistible grace. We left Preservation for Brother Harter to discuss. After the discussion there were several questions asked and answers were given. Nobody seemed to be in a hurry. A number of ministers were present who were not (yet) members of the PB church. One did decide to become a PB and an arrangement was made, and we witnessed his baptism by the local pastor. (at a late hour in the night)

An arrangement had been made to have a ministers’ meeting lasting from our last Tuesday night, morning and afternoon and evening (night) services on Wednesday, and the closing service on Thursday morning. Brother Harter did let me know that I had "freedom of choice" as far as subject selection. Brother Harter did want Brother Darrel to discuss the subject of Responsibility and the subject of Family. One very interesting feature of the services during this meeting was that on Wednesday and Thursday mornings Filipino ministers gave a devotional at 6:30 am and then breakfast was served at 7 am. Three sermons were given on Wednesday morning and three more on Thursday afternoon and three more on Thursday night. An hour was devoted to each sermon. Each sermon also had a translator involved so that the entire group could understand what was being said. (I had some difficulty in this area, but everyone was very considerate. Brother Darrel would hold the microphone for me so that I could turn to places in the Bible. If left alone with the "mike" I would often forget to hold it up to my mouth. It was easy for me to appeal to a time when Moses had help in holding up his arms, and Darrel and the translator made me feel that I had help on both sides.

At the ordinations (three good brethren were ordained) there were demonstrations of strong understanding and explanation of the doctrines held by Primitive Baptists. I did appreciate the thorough questioning and the explicit answers that were given. These brethren that were being ordained already had a very strong background in the doctrines of the sovereignty of God and when they learned the proper understanding of the role of the gospel they were equipped to become able ministers of the Primitive Baptist Church. They have the understanding that the gospel does not quicken into eternal life but that the gospel gives instructions to those who have already been quickened to eternal life by the operation of the Holy Spirit which works directly and immediately on the objects of God’s eternal election. They also know that many of the elect of God will die without every hearing the voice of a gospel minister. These ministers also know that there is a "time" salvation distinct from eternal salvation. ( I could not tell a difference in the manner of the ordination of these brethren from what is practiced by our churches in the United States.)

However, the feature that struck me very strongly from the very first and grew continuously throughout our visit was a combination of fellowship and Christian love. I could sense from the first meeting that these people were my brethren and sisters in the Lord. It was a growing and binding relationship.

While it is not likely that I will every make this trip again, I trust that I am thankful to God for the strength granted to make the trip. It is a very high point in my life and I expect the experiences of this trip will be "re-lived" in my mind often in the future. My prayer is for the welfare of the Lord’s kingdom in the Philippine Islands.

May the Lord continue to bless Elder Harter and his wife in their labors in Philippines is my prayer.

If any of the members of FGF have questions, please feel free ask. The Lord has been wonderful to me, and I remain,

Your little brother,
Gene Thomas

P.S. Much more needs to be said. Brother Darrel has a journal and I will depend on him to give any specifics relative to the individual churches that we visited


His Banner Over Me Was Love

by Original Author on February 21, 2007

Originally posted by Betty Jo Harter

Each week when we pay our helpers who labor so diligently to help us at Beauty for Ashes in the care of our children (washing, cooking, etc.), and those working in our farm and constructing our cottages. I write them a note of encouragement from me, or words I have gleaned from those I like to read after.
This past week even though we do not celebrate Valentines Day, I gave each one child a chocolate rose with the scripture attached from Psalms “His banner over me was love”
John Mark is always drawing. The Filipinos are very artistic, almost all of them. Anyway, John Mark made a card for his Dad. He drew the church with the columns, Gus preaching, Brother Julius interpreting English to Cebuano for the congregation. The ladies are sitting in the back with the babies. Our van is parked outside the church.
But the most inspiring tender, drawing in the picture is the angel “hovering” over the church. I wept at the joy of his understanding that without God’s presence we are just a “gathering of people”, nothing more.
I made his drawing into a card for my weekly note and ended up giving a card to each church member, Sunday. Also please notice the 12 little ones from three to seven year old in their “go to church” clothes last Sunday morning. I tell everyone that just as the children of Israel, their clothes have grown with them. Most of the clothes were brought from the States and were worn by the older children. (Front row, left to right) Twin Kelly, Hannah, Tricia, Twin Katie. (Back row, from left to right) Angel, B.J. Isaac, Meriem, Lady Jane, Naomi, Robert, John Mark, August, Rhea.
I have been able to have the joy and blessing of watching them grow from sickly abandoned children into a beautiful array of God’s handiwork quoting for memory the 23rd Psalm and so many more scriptures. The twins Katie and Kelly cannot walk but they can sing. Oh, how they sing “The Lord’s Prayer” all by themselves. You would think the angels are near. I know they are!
Thank you dear friends, for loving and helping to support them and all of our other children.

Mom Betty
The Card and Children’s Picture


Philippines Trip by Darrel Chambers

February 17, 2007

Originally posted by Elder Gus Harter (This article was posted on web page of Free Grace Fellowship) Brethren, It is easy to see how misconception could be concluded from the plight of many of these ministers. So many have given up so much to become PBs because they were former pastors of denominational churches who […]

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Betty Jo Harter Journey to Wellness:

February 1, 2007

Originally posted by Betty Jo Harter Oh dear friends and fellow soldiers, I am so humbled by your prayers. The Journey I’ve been through this past year leaves me with the inability to describe in words. I know you want to know so I will try. Everything started the 15th of February 2006. The day […]

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