Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Imported from the Philippines

Last February 27-March 8, my partner Mark and I were joined by about over a dozen Filipino brothers in the States to attend the 2009 TMAI Symposium and the Shepherd’s Conference at Grace Community Church. We were treated to great music, fellowship, food and great teaching from men like John MacArthur, Rick Holland, Steve Lawson, and Al Mohler.

During the TMAI symposium we received great teaching from Richard Mayhue, Bill Barrick, John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, Dave Deuel and others. The topics covered included informing on the status of other TMAI training centers, translation and publication options, e-tools that for teaching and ministry, a biblical philosophy on replacing ourselves in the ministry, expository preaching and tips on support raising for our training centers.

Our team was graciously hosted by Marnie and Agnes Lacsamana who not only provided us with a place to stay, meals, and transportation, but they also provided us with dear fellowship. We spent hours talking with them and sharing about what the Lord is doing in and through us as well as the dreams and opportunities that He is giving us. Everyone was also provided with a MacArthur Study Bible.

The men who joined us represented several churches in Manila, one seminary, and the training ministries of World Teach and Biblical Training Center for Pastors. We all stayed in one house which provided for some great time get build our relationships with each other. Oddly enough, I was not the only one who missed American food so in addition to my five trips to Taco El Oso, we had a late night run to IHOP, and a pilgrimage to In-n-Out burger. We also had several runs to Fry’s electronics since most electronic goods are much cheaper and more current in the U.S.

The Conference was a blessing to all of us in so many ways. Besides the added bonus of getting to chat with John MacArthur and taking a few pictures with him, we were blessed with seeing how Grace Community Church conducts the Shepherd’s Conference.

We were all impressed with how over 700 members of Grace Community Church not only volunteered to serve at the conference, but how many of them said that the conference was a highlight of the year for them. We could see how blessed they were to serve God. Their ministers included helping us to register, find our way around, serve coffee, snacks, meals, setting up, tearing down, cleaning up, and passing out books. All of us were blessed with at least 20 books and a $50 gift certificate to use at the Grace book stores or the conference book store.

Another highlight of our time spent in the U.S. was our meeting with the Master’s College (TMC). We discussed the possibilities for a partnership with them. We were pleased to learn that we may be able to start a Masters of Biblical Counseling and Education, among other degrees, through distance education through TMC from the Philippines. In addition to that, they also can provide general education courses through the internet. This could help some of our students who need these classes for future degreed programs with us, but who are not able to leave their jobs or ministry to go back to school full time. With this program, they can take the classes they need on line to better fit their busy schedules.

Regarding the teaching at the conference, we found the delivery method of several of the messages (expository) and the issues that were covered very challenging. We are motivated to work with more fervor than ever to train ministers in expository preaching and teaching. Several of the contemporary ministry issues that were addressed also got us thinking as we looked at some of today’s popular ministry methods in light of Scripture.

After only being back in the Philippines for about three weeks, the men are already wanting to get together to share what they learned at the conference and to plan on how we can implement it here. We will start by working on expository preaching and planning our Philippines Shepherd’s Conference. It will be interesting what to see what else the Lord has placed on their hearts. We are all looking forward to next year and I am praying that a bunch of them, including some new faces will join us. Pray that God will draw the right men to join us and that we would continue to be godly influences to faithful and influential ministers.