April 5, 2012. 5am. I arrived at the IVCF building with James, not knowing with whom we’ll be spending the next four days with. It turns out that I am already acquainted with 10 of the other 15 participants *what a relief*. After praying for our safety, the 12 (me, James, Jay, RG, George, Joh, kuya Marlon, Jom, ate Belle, Kels, Tal, and Kars) of us left the building and passed by 3 (Janna, ate Joy, Malyn) other companions on the way to NLEX.
To cut the long story short, we reached the beach at around 3pm: that is, after 2 stop- overs, more than 7 hours of driving (my longest and farthest drive to date), a sunburnt left arm, and watching random people carrying crosses and flogging themselves along the way. Most of the members got acquainted along the way, except for us who were in the front seat. They had enough ice breakers to feel comfortable with each others’ presence by the time we hit the beach; especially since the great Kuya Marlon was with them. Being the driver, I only had a chance to eavesdrop on their conversations whenever we were stuck in traffic. Yet from what I was hearing, I could clearly deduce that they were often talking about either love life or theology, or rather, their theology of romantic relationships. Over lunch, we also met our last companion, Rox, along with our partner churches.
We were behind schedule, and the team wasted no time in catching up. We just put our things down on our fenced and roofed beach table (it’s not really a cottage), had a very brief briefing, a few minutes of prayer, changed into our BM shirts, and *poof* -out we go.
Whenever we went out to the beach, our first task was always to attract attention by inviting people to a tug-of-war or through games using the evangelistic (soccer?) ball. Surprisingly, those activities never failed to draw a crowd. After that, the team would move in a diasporadic manner – often in coed pairs – and started “fishing”. I was initially paired off with Kels. As usual, we went through the dilemma of whom to approach among the plethora of humanity, and finally ended up talking to a guy whose companions were also being talked to by our other companions in blue. We used the evangelistic balls, ballers and bracelets that were patterned from the Wordless Book to share the gospel. After that, we usually lead them into prayer or pray for their concerns. We also gave away the colorful bracelets for them to recall the message and share it to others.
Our typical daily schedule would look something like this:
6-8am Personal Meditation and Team Sharing
9-11am Morning evangelism
11-3pm Lunch, Siesta and Team Time
3-5pm Afternoon Evangelism
5-Sawa Dinner, Team Time, Worship, Preparation
The only deviations were when we had our Good Friday Special and Easter Sunrise Service.
Good Friday Special
We invited just about everyone we talked to on the beach to attend our Friday afternoon special. Sadly, not one of them came. Some bystanders watched from afar. We did manage to get some of the kids to dance along with our action songs (yes, we didn’t mind na magmukhang engot – dancing in public for God’s glory), but they got disinterested when the songs stopped to give way to the message. Jay preached a 3-point evangelistic Mahal na Araw sermon that revolved around the word “Mahal”. If I can recall it correctly, it was something like Mahal tayo ng Diyos, Mahal ang Sakripisyo ni Jesus, and Mahalin natin ang Panginoon. All thetime, I believe that I wasn’t the only one interceding. Though no one seemed to get close and sit down with us, some of us saw an old woman who listened intently from afar, and whose lips were moving along when the sinner’s prayer was being prayed. After the message, ate Joy approached her, and we found out later on that her name was also Joy. This person gave her life to Christ and actually wanted to go to a local church, and also wanted to bring along her daughters and their boyfriends. Praise be to God for His words are never spoken in vain (Isaiah 55:10-11).
One of Many Stories
While in neck-deep water, I was able to share to a guy named Paul. They joined the human barricade that formed the court’s outline when we let the younger kids play basketball in the water. He listened attentively to the message we had to share, and even prayed to receive Christ. I was just a few sanguine points away to ask him if he wanted to be baptized then and there (we were already in the water). I told him that he was probably named after Saint Paul, and that Saint Paul was a real sinner before he was forgiven and taken by Christ. He said that he was aware of that story, and that Paul was called Saul prior to that. When I asked for a contact number, he said that he didn’t memorize his, and so we went all the way to the other side of the beach just to get it. At this point ako na ang nahiya to have to bother him so much, but he didn’t seem to mind. I hope and pray that they will be followed up properly.
Overall, I believe that the Team was able to share God’s Good News of salvation, repentance, and forgiveness of sins to over 200 people in a span of 4 days.
“Jesus Loves the Little Children”
“Jesus said, “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” – Matthew 19:14
I have a trauma when it comes to teaching kids. Perhaps it was because pinagtulungan ako ng mga rowdy DVBS in the same way that hobbits fought in groups, way back when I was in high school. And so, when I found out that I would be the one to share the evangelistic ball that Saturday afternoon, I felt like I was sentenced to lifelong imprisonment. In the conviction that this was Good Missionary Training (GMT), I prayed and claimed all the memory verses I knew pertaining to courage and the Holy Spirit’s guidance and power. Ate Joy finally tossed the ball at me and directed the crowd to listen to me. I can barely remember what happened, but my teammates recalled that I was speaking in a loud voice so unusual for my demeanor – something only God could have done. In the end I was able to lead them to a prayer of repentance, purely by God’s enabling.
“No wonder si God, sabi Nya na wag paalisin yung mga children. Hindi ibig sabihin nyan na hindi pa nila naiintindihan ang mga bagay-bagay, na wala pa silang masyadong problema sa buhay, walang effect yun sa kanila. Hindi totoo yun noh. I think naiintindihan nila yung mga sinasabi natin, nasurprise ako kasi sila pa nga yung mas nakakaalam ng kinikwento natin. Nakakaencourage rin lang na marinig yun from children themselves” -Jay
“Tapos may batang lumapit dun na 6 years old. Natapos na ako mag share ng gospel. Nung nagpapaalam na ko, sabi ko manghuhuli pa ako ng isda. (Bata:) Kami pala yung isda na hinuhuli nyo? Andami nyo na sigurong nahuling isda. Kasama nyo ba yung mga naka-blue? Pwede ba akong sumama sa inyo? -Malyn
- Commando Evangelism should never be impersonal, after all, what we’re sharing is about a personal relationship with Christ
- Find common ground when sharing. Get to know the people before telling them their message. Affirm a person’s right beliefs rather than quarrelling about doctrinal differences. At one point, I felt that I had to invoke the trinity in prayer (in the name of the Father…)
- Children are often more receptive and responsive to the Gospel.
- Never miss out on the important aspects of the Gospel. From our team sharing, I realized that I did not emphasize God’s love. That, I believe, sort of affected how the people responded to the message.
Other Lessons from the Teammates
On Rejection and Individual Accountability
“then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head” –Ezekiel 33:4
“Nung nireject ako, dun ko mas inisip kung how eternity will go for these people… One day, the Lord will judge them, and then there’s this one day that someone offered them the gospel, but they did not listen. “ -Kars
On Being an Encouragement
“pero, parang sa akin, aalis na ba ako? Parang kulang pa eh… I would like to take the opportunity na baka ako naman yung maging answer sa prayer nila” –Belle
“Most of the time, I was just listening. My point is, kahit sa beach missions, sometimes yung mga naeencounter natin, Christians na sila. Hindi ibig sabihin na kailangan na natin sila iwanan. I think we can also draw encouragement from one another. Nakakatuwa kung papaano nilang pinapalaki yung anak nila.” –Jay
On Overcoming Shyness
“Sobrang nakatulong sa akin yung reminder na, pag nakita nyo, lapitan nyo na, parang… don’t hesitate. Inisip ko kasi minsan na baka busy, hindi pwede. But I still hold on to that na it’s God’s leading to go to that person or group. ” -George
“Even yung pag-greet is ano, for me, it’s hard. Tatanggapin ba ako, papayagan ba ako?” -George
On Culture and Evangelism
“Habang nakikinig ako kanina, walang ibang pumapasok sa isip ko kundi, ‘I praise God dahil madaldal ang mga Pilipino, anlaking factor talaga na madaldal sila at welcoming, sa ating part bilang Christians. Kung nasa ibang bansa siguro ako walang papansin sa akin.” -Tal