Saturday, November 25, 2006

Donations Update

Dear Jeff and team,
Here are some photos and an update on the funds that had been donated
towards purchasing clothing for pastor Chiu's orphanage.
We love you! HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS! Preach the Word!
Jeff, Jamie, Kyle & Spencer

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Monday, August 14, 2006

"Jesus Loves You, But I'm His Favorite"

Allison [judoCHOP] and I were on route to a drop off at Silliman University to hand out tracts; you know, share the gospel of Jesus Christ with complete STRANGERS. In a moment of shear panic I wondered, “When did we sign up for street evangelizing? Jeff’s made a mistake.” I began having a meltdown inside my head.

We set off with some pretty weird ideas about evangelizing. The people of Dumaguete City are incredibly gracious because no one burst out laughing in my face. God must have been roiling in heaven as he watched me step out to “save” souls that day. I became pretty much the worst evangelist in the history of the world. I brought new meaning to the term, “Jesus-freak.”

It was pretty dumb, but I was under the impression that there must be some “formula” for bringing people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. In any other deployment, sending a out a worker, who is pretending to know what they are doing would be dangerous [or humiliating.] God however is in control.

As I assailed my personal testimony upon many college students, I’m sure many of them thought, “Wow, Americans are really strange and bold. This lady is kinda creepy...” They were extremely polite because no one ran away.

Allison became a TRACT-PASSING-MACHINE: yes, God moved in swiftly to fill the gaps, where we were lacking. 4-dozen tracts or perhaps more were handed out. I don’t believe my religious-ranting particularly moved anyone to receive Jesus into his or her heart that day. I was deeply blessed however by the sight of students actually reading the tracts. Of those who received the tracts, many started reading them on the spot or [as I released them from the vice-grip of my desperate need to share my testimony] as they crept away... Very few rejected the tracts. It was extraordinary.

There’s a t-shirt that says, “Jesus Loves You, But I’m His Favorite,” and that was how I privately felt. That day I became the apple of our Lord’s eye: through my faith He had blessed many in spite of my fear and retarded preconceptions. I understand it takes 6-8 times for the Gospel to be heard for a person to come to Christ. Don’t hold back if the Spirit compels you: God will bless your trust and fill in the gaps. Just pray, ask and be ready to move.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Julie Clifford

I guess I always knew that I would someday travel on a mission’s trip. The only difference was before I became a Christian I assumed it would be with the, “Peace Corps.”

It’s been 2 weeks since we returned. It was an amazing and profoundly blessed experience: I miss the team, PTA and the Philippines so much. I am writing to witness and to share with the many who faithfully covered our team in prayer.

On Friday, July 21st, our team did a prayer outreach at the Provincial Hospital in Dumaguete City. Unless you have traveled abroad, the conditions of this well overburdened health care facility were just unimaginable. The smells alone were overwhelming. My prayer group consisted of Justin, Emily and myself. It was our first major outreach as a team. I committed my morning to prayer in preparation: in hindsight, I was clueless.

Upon entering the “critical care ward” I remember sitting down on a bed in the hallway with 2 young beautiful Filipinas [women.] I did not have the courage to ask her affliction, but it touched my heart to learn that the other girl staying at her bedside was her cousin. An earmark of this remarkably gracious and family-centered culture is that the Philippine people “take care of their own” and specifically where hospitals are extremely understaffed in skilled nursing; family members are required to care for patients. I offered to pray for the young woman: I took her hands upon her consent and then felt the Lord move in and bless us both as I prayed aloud. I had never done this before. Wherever I was lacking, God filled in the gaps.

This remarkable scenario repeated over and over all the way along the chain of beds in the corridor and into the rooms. My guess is that the people in the hallways could not afford private rooms. Many could not afford medications. We talked and prayed with a mom and her feverish teenage daughter, a husband and his barely conscious wife, children with their ill mother, and the family with the person coughing blood: I am ashamed to confess that I cannot recall their names. There were so many gracious people waiting for treatments. It became a battle to not cave in to discouragement or sadness. Words cannot adequately describe...

Our [initially nervous] prayer group stepping forward in faith throughout the outreach, grew that day distinct in character: Justin distinguished himself as a strong and compassionate leader, Emily as the genuine, intimate and caring confidant, as for myself I was blessed with turbo-prayers that were not of my own [you see, I’ve never prayed as I was compelled to that day.]

I am still deeply moved by the memories of witnessing the transformation of so many faces from dull to suddenly alert and often smiling, and to seeing the frail struggling to rise up to receive our offering of prayer and comfort. Time seemed to suspend. No one denied us the opportunity for prayer. No one on the team got sick. Imagine that...

Jeff expresses it well, “Nobody changes the world serving on a 2 week mission’s trip: you basically sign up to serve and support the existing full-time missionaries.” So there you have it: my bubble was burst before I had begun packing my suitcase. But the trip blessed me personally far more than anything I had to offer. It was truly clear and undeniable; I could see the impact of faith in Jesus Christ. They get it in Dumaguete City: the Lord is their hope. They get it here at home: the responsibility of intercessors is of the highest calling. Thank you and God bless you.

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Individual Stories to Come!

The team has returned home safely with many stories to tell. As they catch up on their sleep and are able to process their trip, we will have them start to put some of their experiences in writing. As they do, we will begin to post some of their stories here so you will be able to enjoy their heartwarming, yet challenging encounters of their trip.
Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Well, it is presently just before midnight in the Philippines, and we are all packed up ready to come home. There have been a lot of sappy moments around the roof-deck here at Pastoral Training of Asia! Truly we will miss the staff here, and the great love and support that Pastor Jeff and Jaime Martin have shown us. We have all grown to love them.

I want to take a minute to recap our last ministry day which was yesterday (Saturday). We spent the full day up in Calo, a mountain village nearby, doing a medical outreach. A medical outreach is where we take doctors, nurses, and medicine to a poor village that is in need of health care, and we provide it for free. These villages are comprised of primarily indigent people, that are not able to receive any medical care. It is the "true village living" here in the Philippines.

I am attaching three pictures of just different people I photographed. There is no special reason or rhyme for these pictures, I just like them. The one of the crowd is of the people of Calo starting their registration process. I heard a count of approximately 250 people from this village were seen for medical help that day!

My most impacting story of the day cannot come with pictures, because we didn't take any. You will understand shortly. I predominantly assisted with the tribal/cultural rite called "Tuli". Every boy must have "tuli" by the time he is 14, or he will be ostracized from his people group. "Tuli" is Cebuano for circumcision. And, yes, I said circumcision!

This is not the sterile, surgical procedure you may be accustomed to in the United States. This is a local anesthetic (which I will not explain in detail, but I cringe just thinking about it) and then a series of cuts and stitches. The young boys come in bravely, five at a time, and laid on a wooden table covered with a plastic table cloth. From there I won't go into detail, but I felt much compassion for these young boys. They all ranged from 8-12 years old.

So, one boy who was very young, came to get tuli done, and possibly the pain medicine wore off, or possibly the sight of his friends "tuli process" was too much to see (as they are all laying next to each other at the same time) but he couldn't continue. The problem was, he was already 50 percent into the process. What was left was stitching only (did I just say stitching only???) but he didn't want to continue. I had to physically hold him down while he screamed out to his mother, but it was for his own good. He needed to be stitched. Just the same, it was very difficult.

I learned a little bit about how it must be for God to allow us to suffer through things that we need. The love God must feel as we struggle in pain! I hated seeing this young man hurt, but he had to endure it so that he could heal properly.

Well, that is it for me. I hope to get a couple hours of sleep, and then on a plane to Manilla.

I love you all, and thank you for your prayers. I will ask the team to begin emailing me stories after we get home. That way they can add stories and pictures of their own. Also, that will allow anyone reading to continue on for a while.

Jeff Ludington

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Their last day

It is 2 pm Saturday afternoon. In a couple hours the team will be waking up for their last day to do ministry. It is Sunday there and they will be going to church. I am not sure what other ministry things they have planned today, but the rest of the afternoon/evening will be packing to go home. They will rise very early on Monday morning (there) and heading out to the airport to begin their journey home.

What that means to us is that tomorrow, Sunday, they will take off from Dumaguete at around 4:30pm(our time)and travel for about 24 hours and arrive at LAX at 4:30 pm Monday night.

I know that coming home will be a difficult transition for many of them. They have experienced many things that we at home could never imagine. Please let them share their stories and experiences in their timing. They may want to talk things through, or they may not want to talk at all. Please continue to pray for the whole team. Sometimes, coming home is when the enemy attacks the hardest.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Winding down

OK, so today really feels like we are winding down. I think we are all tired, but still unwilling to quit! We had two ministry days left to do, and we went at the first one with all we could. 14 of us loaded left this morning to go to a city about a 45 minute drive north of here called Tanjay (TAN-hi). We went there to do market evangelism. Basically, our goal was to hand out several hundred tracts to the people shopping and working in the marketplace (I think the Cebuano word for that is "changi").

So, we broke up into teams of 2-4, loaded up with tracts, and went for it. Since I am writing this at almost 11pm my time, and breakfast is at 6:30am, that is all I have for tonight. However, I am including pictures tonight (thanks to Justin and Cyndi).