Last week, I experienced another ‘first’ on my ministry trip to Kidapawan City, Mindanao, Philippines: it was the first time that I would travel on an overseas mission, 21-27 October 2014, on my own. I know that this would mean nothing to veteran ministers but for me, it was a milestone – haha!
The trip started with a glorious send-off by my family and parents early Tuesday morning, 21 Oct. After a short half hour delay, my SilkAir flight MI566 departed and I arrived safely in sunny Davao City. I was met by my host and friend, Ptr Joel Acaso. We spent some time catching up over coffee and then proceeded to fill up over buffet dinner at Vikings before embarking on a 2.5hr drive to Kidapawan City, arriving at 10:30pm. After a full day’s travel, I was all too ready to hit the sack. Unfortunately, my beauty sleep was rudely interrupted at 4am when the neighbour’s cock started crowing (every 5mins!) … all the way to my scheduled alarm time of 6am. Talk about an awakening – haha!
The next three days were spent ministering at the Prayer & Leadership Conference, organised by Kidapawan City Assembly of God Church (of which Ptr Joel is the Lead Pastor). We had a tremendous time in the Lord’s presence and the response to the message of Archippus Awakening was very encouraging! Read more about this Awakening Event on Archippus Awakening’s Website.
After the conference, on Saturday morning 25 Oct, we drove about 1hr to President Roxas in Kamarahan Barangay. I had the opportunity to speak at a Thanksgiving Service of Temple of Praise Assembly of God Church. This church is set in the midst of a farming community and the service was for the purpose of giving thanks to the Lord for a bountiful harvest. For a city dweller like myself, it was quite an experience as we tend to give thanks for our material possessions rather than an actual agricultural harvest. A celebration lunch followed and we feasted on Filipino fare; yes, there was lechon baboy (roasted pig), of course!
On Sunday morning 26 Oct, I preached at Kidapawan City AG Church, encouraging the leaders and congregation with the message, “Trekking Through Transitions”, drawing from my own journey and experience, especially in this past year of personal and ministry transition. It was significant when I called out the leaders and prayed for them, exhorting them to be strong and of courage as the church navigates and treks through transitions towards all the Lord has called them to.
By this time, I was all ready to head home, missing my wife and children dearly (and my good ol’ kopitiam kopi-O). It had been a full but very productive week of ministry. The message of Archippus Awakening was declared and many seeds of the kingdom were planted in hearts made ready by the Lord. I also made many new friends and I believe, new kingdom connections too. I may not know every name but that’s ok because to me, they are all Archippuses awakened for Jesus and His kingdom 🙂 It was also a meaningful time of re-connecting and fellowshipping with Ptr Joel Acaso, a very passionate minister of the Lord. We spent much time sharing and exchanging ideas; and eating too.
After saying goodbye to Ptr Joel, I made my own way into the airport to check-in. By myself once again, I waited in the lounge and later boarded SilkAir MI566 bound for Singapore via Cebu. How significant, I thought to myself, that I should be travelling overseas alone for the very first time since I stepped into full-time ministry. I suspect this would not be the last time I do that. That said, in my heart, my desire is always to bring others along, not just for company but for the purpose of discipleship and raising even more Archippuses along the way. I know the Lord will honour and arrange that.
Even so, although I spent much time alone on this trip, I knew that I was never alone. The Lord was always with me, watching over me and enabling me for the work of the ministry. He said that He will never leave me nor forsake me. I can be strong and of good courage because the Lord God is with me wherever I go. The Lord affirmed this for me as I looked out the aircraft window and beheld a beautiful rainbow in the distance! Significantly, in my last trip to Davao in 2011, the Lord also encouraged us with rainbows over Davao City.
I also know that a team of prayer warriors upheld me in prayer for the entire trip. These brothers and sister might have not made the trip with me physically, but in the Spirit, they interceded and stood with me as I preached and ministered in the name of Jesus. To these, I am truly appreciative of their love and co-labour through the ministry of prayer!
My entire family, Serene and the children, was also with me, supporting me and praying for me. It is not easy for Serene to manage the household all by herself; but because she understands and acknowledges the higher purpose of the kingdom, she stands squarely behind me as I minister. And as the Lord was with me in Philippines, I know that He was also with her and the children back in Singapore.
What a good and faithful God we serve! Where He sends us, He never sends us there alone. The Lord Himself goes before us and journeys with us every step of the way! All praise and glory be unto Him!!!