Top photo: We made it to Iloilo!! The guy sitting beside me is Christian Bunch. He is the new Student Missionary Coordinator for SAU.
A group of youth camping out on the cheap. After my visit, these young people gathered around me and prayed for me and my ministry. PYC people like to pray!
The Iloilo Central Church during a PYC plenary session
Some of the participants from one of my breakout sessions. They came up afterwards for pictures and prayer. One group came up and specifically asked that I pray for their surrender. God really blessed our sharing together.
On Friday and Sabbath we moved to a larger, air-conditioned venue. The chair seemed designed to put people asleep but I was happy to see that most of the congregation stayed awake when I shared my testimony on Sabbath afternoon.
After the hard work, comes the play. Off to a few hours at Guimaras island and the beach.
This is the boat we took to the island.
A view of the beach on Guimaras.
Optional diary entries:
Tuesday, May 30
I woke up this morning at 3 a.m. feeling refreshed. It is such a blessing to wake up early! My alarm was set at 3:30 because we were leaving for the airport at 4 a.m. My flight was supposed to leave in the early afternoon and my plan was to spend the day in the airport until my flight. But when I got to the airport I checked into the possibility of changing my flight to the 6:25 a.m. flight. By God’s grace, there was room on the airplane and I got the flight changed without cost!
Although delayed for about 45 minutes, we landed in Iloilo at 8:45 in the morning. It is such a blessing that I did not have to stay in the airport for half the day waiting for my afternoon flight!
Some friends of the Flores family picked us up at the airport and fed us an excellent breakfast consisting of muesli and home-made whole-wheat bread with mango-orange marmalade. I was very hungry!
After breakfast Gem came to pick me up. He took me to the home of Emily and Van Fuentes where I will be staying in Iloilo (well, technically La Paz which is a suberb of Iloilo). When I arrived at their home, I found Jon Wood and his whole family there eating breakfast! It was really good to see them again and talk for a short time. Afterward they went to their lodgings elsewhere in the city and I went for a walk to explore my new surroundings. There is a square park just a couple of blocks away that has a (partially) shaded path that goes around the entire park. It is a great place to walk. Now I need to try and get a vlog taped while I have some time because this evening we will be getting together for some fellowship with some of the other PYC team. I’m looking forward to it!
We ate out at a Chinese restaurant for lunch. The meal was good and the fellowship even better. Everyone is so gracious! After lunch we drove by the PYC venue so that we could see better where everything is.
I recorded a vlog this afternoon in the garden of the Fuentes family. I think it turned out pretty good. This vlogging is getting easier, I think, and hopefully will be useful.
Wednesday, May 31
After a wonderful breakfast with Emily and Van, I gathered my suitcases and we went to the home of Gem. His small house was packed full of people, mostly speakers for PYC. It was great to make a number of new friends.
Then we headed for the hotel and got ourselves comfortably ensconced. The hotel is very nice. I am sharing a room with another speaker whose name is Daniel. He is a student from Australia and is speaking, from experience, on the subject of addiction. He seems like a great guy. This is his second or third time here at PYC.
NOTE: I found out during Daniel’s plenary session that he is a recovered homosexual. He certainly has a powerful testimony and God is using him greatly to address this important topic.
We had all day free, so I wandered around town exploring and getting in my steps for the day. At 5 p.m. we ate supper in the Union Conference office across the street. It was very good and included rice and beans along with several fruit and vegetable options.
At 6:30 I arrived at the evening venue. Each speaker was given about 2 minutes to plug their break-out sessions. It was quite fun and the Lord blessed. Then Taj spoke from Revelation 6 and 7 about “who will stand” at the Lord’s coming. After that I hurried off to bed so that I could get up early the next morning.
Thursday, June 1
United prayer started at 5 a.m. this morning so I was up at 3:30 for my own worship time. Last night I got to bed around 9 p.m. so I am operating on a sleep deficit. But I figure God can work miracles in sleep just as well as any other area.
Praying together in a united way with a large number of youth in a church with regular pews is quite a challenge, but we managed and the Lord blessed. We all pressed toward the middle of the church in a big circle and prayed together. For those who have not heard of united prayer, it is really quite simple. We break the prayer time into four phases starting with praise, then confession, then requests, and ending with thanksgiving. During these phases anyone can share a short prayer at any time in any order. It’s kind of like popcorn prayer, just short sentences. Interspersed throughout the prayer time are songs. Often the songs correspond with the current topic of the prayers. One thing I like about united prayer is that it takes a while. This is a good thing, I think, because we are serious about praying and uniting together in that prayer time. United prayer is not about quick requests and then move on to the other stuff. It is about taking quality and quantity time with the Lord together.
After prayer we ate breakfast and then hurried back for the first plenary session. To give you an idea of the schedule, we have 5 (one-hour) plenary sessions and 2 (two-hour) break-out sessions today. The schedule begins at 4 a.m. and ends at 9:30 p.m. with no scheduled breaks besides meals.
At 8:45 I hosted my break-out session. I was put into the air-conditioned room because I needed a projector for my PowerPoint. That cooler air was a blessing, but it still got warm in the room after a while. We had a great time sharing together and at the end we did question and answer time, which is a great way to get people engaged. I enjoyed it very much and pray that those who attended were also blessed.
Then we had another plenary session, which I missed due to an emergency video-chat session with my son. After that was lunch. and now I’m off to the 3rd plenary session of the day.
The message was about sexual brokenness and the speaker told about how she had been sexually abused as a child and then fallen into homosexuality. What a powerful testimony. God is very good. Plenary session #4 today was shared by my roommate Daniel who discovered in himself homosexual tendencies around puberty and fell into pornography and, eventually into homosexual relationships. His story is also a testament to the amazing power of God. Both of these speakers felt alone and that there was no one to talk to about their challenges. One was driven away from the church because of this, the other stayed and acted “normal” but felt alone and isolated. God transformed the lives of both of these dear souls and is now using them to help others who the devil has confused. God is very good.
My second break-out session today went very well. It was about the problem of self and the Holy Spirit solution. I believe that God worked powerfully. Before the session began both this morning and this afternoon, youth came up to the front before I began speaking and asked if they might pray for me. Many of the youth here at PYC have this endearing habit. They put their hand on my shoulder and lift me up before God asking for strength, power, humility and many other graces that I so desperately need. I am extremely blessed.
We still of one plenary to go after supper and then I’m going to go to bed as early as possible. God gave me the energy when I needed it, but now I am fading fast.
Friday, June 2
Today was a little more laid back, there was time to rest a little and get some things done. It was really nice.
The breakout session went very well today. I have been tired and my stomach has been feeling a little off, but I had energy and freedom of speech in the session. Afterward a group of students came forward asking that I pray for their surrender. And then they prayed for my ministry. These youth seem to really take a lot of stock in prayer and it is wonderful to see. Before and after the prayer we took photos. That’s another thing they like to do.
We moved to the larger auditorium for the Friday evening and Sabbath services. It was huge and it was air conditioned (to an extent). It had huge portable air conditioners in the side isles. If you sat close to one of them, it felt quite nice. This was really great when I was wearing my long sleeve shirt and tie for the Sabbath services and my plenary.
After the evening plenary I made a bee line back to the hotel so that I could get to sleep early. I am struggling to get sufficient sleep and lack of sleep can mess me up faster than almost anything else. This is especially true if I am fighting sickness.
Sabbath, June 3
All the services today, including my plenary, was held in the new auditorium. We started out with Sabbath School which was actually plenary session and the speaker talked about working for lepers, literally and figuratively. He and his wife have a ministry working for leper colonies in China.
For the church service, we heard from our keynote speaker on the devil’s nets (including the inter-net) and how God can forgive us and protect us. It was very good, but too long. If he had taken the whole thing and condensed it down into half the length, it would have been perfect.
For lunch, the speakers were invited by the conference officials to a special potluck. I was not feeling hungry and my stomach was off so I ate very little. Which is a good thing because they had too many people and not enough food to go around.
After lunch we returned to the auditorium for the question and answer time. All the speakers sat on the stage and tried valiantly to understand the questions that were being asked. It was almost comical in some ways because we often did not succeed in understanding the question and we had to have consultations with each other and the native filipinos on the stage to try and figure them out. But we did, eventually, and were able to share our thoughts. It was a great time to share
Then came testimony time where several of the youth got up and shared their personal testimonies with the group.
After that, it was time for my plenary session. I had been struggling with the Lord for a while to decide which message to share. On the one hand, I really wanted to share my testimony (although I had already done so in one of my breakout sessions). But on the other hand I really wanted to talk about surrender in the end times and we now in a special time of preparation for the irretrievable surrender which every living follower of Christ must enjoy when Jesus comes. I had just come to the conclusion that I should share my testimony when the pastor who was sitting beside me (earlier in the day) saw the 144,000 slides (irretrievable surrender) that I was working on and said that this was a message that the people really needed to hear. Was this a sign from God? I wasn’t sure. Then during the question and answer time I saw that my testimony could really help answer some of the practical questions that the youth were asking. In the end, shared my testimony and assigned the Irretrievable Surrender message as homework. This actually worked out pretty well because it gave me the opportunity to talk about the web site and the Delighting in the Almighty series of presentations. I offered them extra credit if they went through all 16 messages in the series. I hope that they will use this resource as a practical way to extend their PYC experience when they get back home.
Sunday, June 4
Today, when I came down from my room, there was an ambulance in the hotel parking lot and one of our speakers was being helped into it. Apparently he has been overdoing it and not getting enough sleep and this, together with a pre-existing condition that makes him especially susceptible to such things, was too much for his body to handle. He is still in the hospital and we are praying for him.
We visited the exotic island of Guimaras today. It was a 15-minute boat ride from Iloilo and then a 45 minutes jeepny trip. The beach was really beautiful and it had some volcanic cliffs that had diving platforms at various heights. I jumped of the lowest platform. It was quite fun. Maybe next time I’ll graduate to the next one up.
On our return to the hotel, I napped for several hours in preparation for our late night travel to Manila. At 7 or 8 p.m. we ate supper together. Many of the PYC staff and speakers have flights tomorrow. At supper we were able to talk to the speaker that had the medical problems. He almost died in the hospital today, but God spared his life and he was resting comfortably when we saw him. Praise the Lord for that! Evidently he was having severe stomach cramps that was making it difficult for him to breathe.
At 10 p.m. we left the hotel for the Iloilo airport and at 12:20 we departed for Manila.