Ongoing Updates About Mission Philippines
September 2015 Update From Ruben C. Laoagan
September 8, 2015
Dear Brother Roger,
Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ whom we serve.
We would like to inform you that we have opened a new feeding program at the Rimiendo residence on Sept. 15, 2015. This will become our regular Good News Class every Saturday morning. The children will be taught to sing spiritual songs, memorize verses and learn a Bible lesson. Nine children are now attending our Sunday School and we continue to pray that their parents will be reached with the Gospel as well. A similar feeding program is also held at the Madriaga compound where an average of 20 children are attending every Saturday afternoon . Bryce Homes is also sponsoring the feeding program of the church during Sundays.
We also distributed the 2nd batch of vitamins to our scholars, Mark Benson Agting and Joan Fabros to help fortify their stamina against dengue and other upper respiratory ailments, which are prevalent in our community at this time. These children are involved in the Good News Classes and feeding program.
Joan Fabros is a member of the Young Evangelists for Christ Team, which is tasked in doing man-to-man evangelism among the children. Joan and the team go out to witness every first and third Saturdays of the month. Mark Benson, meanwhile, assist in the Good News class at the Madriaga compound.
At present, Joan is taking up piano lessons while Mark Benson is learning to play the guitar together with other children in the church. We deemed it necessary to include in their education such lessons so that they can be equipped, not only academically, but also be able to play instruments to worship God. This will also give them an opportunity to be involved in the music ministry of the church.
It is our prayer that more children from the Sunday School will be encouraged to learn and play musical instruments, and that the church will have more instruments to lend to these students, since most of them are incapable of buying their own instruments. These students are free to come to church and practice anytime of the week. Nikki Agting teaches the piano and Rhoderick Ubongen teaches the guitar. Both volunteers are receiving a small lovegift, a token of our appreciation for their voluntary efforts in sharing their talents to these budding children and young teens.
Last month, Joan attended the Girls Scout of the Philippines Camp and was in need of a tent. This gave us the idea of purchasing a tent which Bryce Homes will own and can be borrowed by the scholars anytime they will be in need of it. Joan is scheduled to attend the Girl Scout Jamboree Camp this coming October in Agoo, La Union.
Indeed, we are grateful for including our church in the ministry of Bryce Foundation. It is our utmost joy to be able to partner with you in spreading the goodness of the Lord through the preaching and teaching of God’s Word and be a vessel in ameliorating the education of the people in the church.
To God be all the glory and honour for He is greatly to be praised!
Co-worker in God’s Harvest field,
August 2015 Update Letter From Richard
Dear Bro. Mike and Bro. Roger
April 2015 Update Letter
Dear Bro. Roger and Mike,
Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I received the support for the month of April Thank you very much.
Abner and my son graduated last March 25 2015 from high school. Becky was there attending the graduation.
Three years ago when the UTT started to support Abner for his education ,He a is native from Mindoro a boy who wants to finish his study in high school and through the help of UTT , Mr Roger Oakland and the donors his life was truly change the UTT is part of Abner's Life He is planning to go back home to share to his family how the Lord is good And changed his life.
I would like to thank the Lord for using UTT and to all the donor's for supporting Abner and my family truly you are God's blessing to us, and through this the Understand The Times ministry are fulfilling the great commission by changing the life of needy children and families in the Philippines and in many country.
have 4 reports posted. Please scroll
to read all the reports
Scheduled on the trip I made to the Philippines in 2007 were speaking
engagements to the New Bilibid High and Medium Security Prisons. Since
that time, Understand The Times has participated in a Philippines Prison
Ministry and contributes resources on a monthly basis to provide
assistance for three men to visit the prisoners weekly. This ministry
team consists of Rey, Pastor Richard Sorillo, and Tony.
This year there was a problem that prevented us from going to the High Security Bilibid Prison. The day we were scheduled to visit there, an explosive was detonated killing one and injuring 19 others.
The prison was under lockdown the entire time I was in Manila. We were
able to park at the gate of High Security Prison and take a few photos
and see the activity that was underway with the news media and the
National Bureau of Investigation.
The following day we were told that we could visit the prisoners at the Medium Security Prison. When, Pastor Richard, Rey, Tony and myself arrived we discovered that this prison was also under lockdown. We waited for about an hour and were given clearance by the authorities to go into the prison. I was permitted to speak to a group of about 40 prisoners for over one hour.
The number of prisoners in these two prisons is staggering – 17,500 in the High Security Prison and about 7,000 in the Medium. Christian volunteers are welcome to visit the prisons however extensive paperwork is involved before clearance is given.
The prisoners I spoke with were men who are regularly ministered to by the Understand The Times Prison Ministry team. These men have become believers while in jail. Some of them have been incarcerated for 20 years or more, many of them for murder, rape, extortion, kidnapping, rape, and bank robbery. One man told me that when he had been sentenced to jail for life his wife and children abandoned him. He had not seen them nor any of his former friends for 18 years.
There are a number of goals the UTT prison ministry attempts to fulfil. On several occasions Bibles have been given out to prisoners. Visitation is vitally important. For most who come to the weekly meetings, this is the only contact they receive from the outside world. Food, clothing, soap and toothpaste are given out when available. However, the spiritual food the men receive provides a new lease on life. Without the message provided though the Christian faith, life in these prisons is nothing more than an endless spiral into hopelessness.
Since my first visit I have seen a number of changes in the prisoners. New converts have been made and some have been released. One of the prisoners who was given his release is Tony. He spent 16 years in the High Security Prison for murder. Now he regularly attends Pastor Richard’s church in Malanday and plays a major role in assisting Richard in the Prison Ministry by going back and forth to the prisons each week doing the necessary paperwork.
Tony makes a very merger living by peddling a bicycle that has a side carrier for one passenger. He makes about five dollars a day, four days a week. He goes to church on Sunday and volunteers two other days for the prison ministry. As he is now over 50 years old, Tony is finding it more and more difficult to keep up to the physical demand required to continue with the bike-taxi business.
I see Tony’s participation in the Understand The Times Prison Ministry
as crucial. For less than $200 we can assist him with the investment he
will need to change professions from a bike-taxi driver to a fish
salesman. This will alleviate some of the physical stress he has and
also give him an opportunity to make a better living as well as free up
more time for him to be involved in the Prison Ministry.
Tony’s life and the change that has occurred from a murderer to a minister is a wonderful example of the grace of God. It is also a demonstration the forgiveness of God and the provision of hope that can only be understood in the light of the grace of God.
While in the Philippines this time I interviewed Tony, Rey and Richard on video and asked them a number of questions about the Prison Ministry. In the near future I plan to produce a short documentary so their own words will be able to convey the scope of this ministry.
Throughout the first 25 years of ministry Understand The Times call was mainly to communicate to believers and unbelievers that the Bible contains the truth regarding the past, the present and the future. Then a directional change took place in the ministry when God showed me the importance of assisting poor and orphaned children around the world. This was the direct result of the desire to establish a program in memory of our son Bryce who passed away as the result of a vehicle accident in August of 2001.
Since then the doors opened for Bryce Homes International in a miraculous way. This journey has taken me around the world. I have met many like-minded friends who have partnered with us to make the Bryce Homes Ministry possible.
Each year I try to visit the four countries where the Bryce Homes Program is operating. As I write this I find myself in the Philippines in the city of Manila. Every time I have visited Manila and the surrounding regions I am reminded that the Philippines is a land of many contrasts. This is not unlike the other countries where Understand The Times partners in ministry.
As our scheduled trip to the Maximum Security New Bilibid Prison was cancelled because of unexpected prison lockdown, I had time to wander around Pasig City by foot to investigate areas that I had not been before. I took my camera with me with the plan of capturing some of the sights.
Pasig City is not a lot different than any other modern city that I have visited around the world. Huge shiny glass skyscrapers surrounded me on every side. Dozens of traffic officers taking the place of traffic lights, waved their arms and blew their whistles in an attempt to control the endless traffic. Motorbikes wove in and out of lanes horns honking incessantly. It was apparent to me that even walking on the sidewalk was a risky proposition. Crossing a street in order to go from one block to the next made me very uncomfortable. In fact on more than one occasion I wondered if I should return to my hotel room and remove myself from harm’s way.
My destination and goal was to find the Pasig Megamall which I had been told was within walking distance of my hotel. The hotel desk clerk said this is where I should go if I wanted to see the culture of modern day Manila. As I approached the mall a sense of amazement overcame me.
The complex consisted of a huge building several blocks long and five stories high. Up and down escalators, stairs and elevators were packed with people rushing in every direction in order to spend money on every product known to man. The number of restaurants and fast food outlets was endless.
Every department store I have ever heard of could be found there. Some of these department stores encompassed several floors of the mall. On the fifth level there was a full size hockey/skating rink, a bowling alley and an IMAX Theater. Name any store or business and it was there.
After about one hour I left the mall and headed back to towards my hotel. As I left I was faced with a constant moving wall of humanity. It was difficult to remain on the sidewalk as people were pushing and shoving each other in a race to get to the mall and spend money on “stuff” I am sure most of them did not need.
The following day, Pastor Richard picked me up at my hotel and we drove to Malanday, the location where 9 of our 10 Bryce Homes are located in the Philippines. This is where Understand The Times has been called to partner with Pastor Richard since 2010 sharing the gospel with the poor.
My first trip to the region was organized by Mike and Becky Miller from the USA. Becky grew up in the Philippines and has a heart for her people. Both of them help me to administer the UTT Philippines Ministry.
Becky’s friends, Pastor Richard and his wife Bernadette, invited me to their small church in Malanday to speak at a conference. While I was there I was touched by the great needs of the people, especially the children. I was open to the idea of finding a way to come alongside Pastor Richard to assist him financially so that he could reach out to poor and needy children in this area.There are no shiny glass skyscrapers in the Malanday area of Manila. Most of the people were relocated there by the government from “shanty towns.” Most of the houses have been thrown together with whatever building materials that could be obtained. The area is located in a flood zone next to the Marakina River. When the heavy rains come during the typhoon season all the homes are subject to flooding and devastation. I have seen this first hand on several occasions. The water rises to the second floor of the dwellings and destroys everything.
There are no vehicles in the side streets of Malanday, only motor bikes with side carriers and bicycles. Instead of stores and restaurants there are street vendors selling anything they can to try to make a few pesos. Graffiti decorates the walls. Doors are often barred by iron gates. Most of the families are so poor they cannot afford to clothe or feed their children. Sending their children to school never the less purchasing school uniforms so they can attend school is a luxury they are unable to afford.
Every year when I visit our Bryce Homes in Malanday I make sure that I meet with the children and the parents or grandparents who are in charge of the home. Each year we try to add more homes to meet more needs. We will continue to do this ask long as God provides for the ministry.
This trip confirmed for me that Understand The Times has been called to share the gospel and minister to the poor and needy around the world. We are not interested in building material kingdoms the world (and the church) can see. I am thankful for the many from around the world who support this ministry and feel the same.
After resting on day one, the plan for day two in Manila was to visit the Bilibid High Security Prison and speak to a group of prisoners. However, this was not to be the case. I received a call later in the day telling me that we would not be going because of a serious incident that had occurred at the prison earlier in the day. When I turned on the TV, the news reported the situation. Yesterday the headlines in the Manila papers were: 1 Dead, 19 Hurt in Bilibid Blast. The time this incident happened would have been the exact time we would have been visiting the compound.
Following is the link to an article that explains what happened:
The other news here in Manila is concentrated on the coming visit by Pope Francis that will occur a few days after I leave. It is worth the time to read the following articles to get a better perspective of the pandemonium created here as a result of the preparation for the Pope’s visit.
Over 30,000 police officers and troops have been recruited to protect the Pope while he is here:
Policeman and security workers will be required to wear adult diapers as they will not be allowed to leave their positions, even when nature calls:
Yesterday the annual “Black Nazarene” Parade took place in Manila. Several million devotees lined the parade route pushing and shoving for a chance to see the black wooden statue and perhaps a chance to “kiss” it. The news reported:
Today we will attempt to visit the prisoners Pastor Richard ministers to in the Bilibid Medium Security Prison and then visit several Bryce Homes. I will continue to interview our leaders in order to provide footage for informational videos for our Understand The Times Philippines ministry.
January 2015 Roger Oakland Trip Report 1
While the trip was long and I was unable to sleep on the planes, I am thankful that I can say I am here safely and without any problems. Thanks to the assistance I received from friendly travelers who helped to lift my carry on case into the overhead compartment and then lower it when we landed, I was able to make the trip without any difficulty. This is a humbling experience but a necessary one for me at this time.
Pastor Richard and Rey met me at the Manila Airport then drove me to my hotel where I will be staying for six nights. On our trip from the airport to the hotel we discussed tentative plans in order to make good use of the time while I am here. The three main items on the list are the prison ministry, the feeding program ministry and visiting each of the ten Bryce Homes in the Manila area. I also will be gathering video footage that we will be using in order to put together video reports from the Understand The Times Philippines ministries posted on our site and on YouTube.
Before leaving the USA I discussed with Mike and Becky Miller (they assist us with overseeing the Bryce Homes Program in the Philippines) the possibility of expanding the program in another location in the Philippines located about a four hour drive north of Manila. While I am here I will be gathering more information.
For today, rest is on the agenda. We are also waiting to hear whether or not we will be permitted to visit the high security prison while I am here as there have been visitor restrictions implemented because of problems that occurred there recently. Lord willing we will be able to go there and visit the prisoners that Richard and Rey minister to on a regular basis.
As the week unfolds we will be posting more reports.
Dear Bro. Mike and Bro. Roger,
Grace to you and peace.
I want to thank the Lord for His steadfast love that never ceases, His mercies never come to an end, and they are new every morning.
Truly, the Lord continues to show His steadfast love and kindness through the ministry of Understand the Times here in the Phils.. Children are not just learning the Word of God they are also fed by the nutritious food provided by Understand The Times feeding ministry. Twice in a week every Sunday morning (feeding for children) and Friday evening (with the parents) we do the feeding ministry regularly. Parents are very thankful for this ministry that they consider this as a big blessing that their children are fed twice in a week and once a month we are giving each child a kilo of rice. As of this moment we are now on our preparation for the gift giving on December. This has been the tradition of the church to give a gift for these poor children every third week of December.
May the Lord continue to bless the ministry of Understand The Times International so that it may continue to be a blessing in the lives of hundreds of individuals all over the world. You can rest assured that all you support for the ministry are used for its intended purpose.
Let us continue to serve the Lord while we still have the strength and the opportunity to do it. All glory belong to God!
Along with the feeding program UTT also has established 10 Bryce Homes and a prison ministry.
Dear Bro. Mike and Bro. Roger,
Grace to you!
I am very grateful to the Lord for the recently concluded VBS (Vacation Bible School) and feeding ministry attended by more than 100 children last May 6-9, 2014 in our church in Malanday. This annual event that usually lasted for 4-5 days is intended to train the children to study God’s Word and learn the cardinal doctrine of the scriptures. This year, our theme is, “Jesus the way, the truth and the Life” and we focus on three fundamental truths about the Lord Jesus Christ. Firstly, He is the only way to salvation and not religion or good works. Secondly, that truth can only be found in Christ not in science or education and lastly, Jesus is Life which means He is the source of life and not big-bang theory or evolution, and as a source of life he is the one who is able to give eternal life through faith in Him alone. I trust that these cardinal truths of the Scriptures, which we proclaimed, opened the understanding of the children (especially the teenagers) through the enlightening power of the Holy Spirit.
After the session we serve dinner for the children. We do the VBS from 5-7pm because it is very hot in the morning since it is summer time now here in the Philippines. On their graduation day we gave school supplies such as notebooks, pencil, ballpen, crayons, pad paper, socks etc. for each of the students who graduated and these would be very helpful for the upcoming school year that will begin next month (June). We also gave them rice so that they can bring something to their family.
Truly, the feeling is good when you know that you are used by God to bless the life of these little children. I trust that all the supporters of Understand The Times International feel the same, knowing that we are blessed by God to be a blessing for others. The lyrics of the hymn of Fanny J. Crosby describes it best.
To the work! To the work! We are servants of God;
Let us follow the path that our Master has trod;
With the balm of His counsel our strength to renew,
Let us do with our might what our hands find to do.
To the work! To the work! Let the hungry be fed;
To the fountain of life let the weary be led;
In the cross and its banner our glory shall be,
While we herald the tidings, “Salvation is free!”
To the work! To the work! There is labor for all;
For the kingdom of darkness and error shall fall;
And the love of our Father exalted shall be,
In the loud swelling chorus, “Salvation is free!”
To the work! To the work! In the strength of the Lord,
And a robe and a crown shall our labor reward,
When the home of the faithful our dwelling shall be,
And we shout with the ransomed, “Salvation is free!”
Toiling on, toiling on, Toiling on, toiling on,
Let us hope and trust, Let us watch and pray,
And labor till the Master comes.
To God be the glory!
Grace to you!
< I am in receipt of UTTI support for the month of December-March sent monthly by Bro. Michael Miller, intended for Feeding Ministry, Bryce Homes, and Prison Ministry.
With regards to our feeding ministry, I would like to inform you that the children are growing physically and spiritually. The children that formerly belong to the Primary Group have been transferred now to Junior Class and few more years and they will be in Young People Class. Truly, time flies so fast and let us continues to pray that these children abide with what
they learned from the word of God that they may be used in God’s kingdom when they grow up.
Thank you very much Bro. Mike and Bro. Roger and to all the supporters of UTTI ministry for your burden for the ministry of the Lord in reaching less fortunate people for Christ.
May the Lord continue to bless UTTI ministry.
Click on a image to see it larger
Prison Ministry Philippines March 2014
Dear Bro. Mike and Bro. Roger,
I would like to give you an update with regards to the prison ministry here in the Philippines supported by Understand the Times Ministry. Once I have expressed my desire to quit prison ministry due to the fact that prison ministry is so laborious, hard, risky and demands more time. There comes a time that I stopped teaching in prison and I only went there to give their financial support courtesy of Understand The Times International ministry. Yet, all these changed when one Saturday an inmate in prison talked to me and opened his heart to me and express his deepest gratitude for time and effort that we are doing in prison. He is very thankful because for almost 15 years of prison ministry he saw how the grace of God sustained their need in prison. It was then I realized how the Lord’s love and mercy were felt in prison through this ministry. I realized also how I became selfish, thinking only my personal comfort and ease without realizing that these inmates are suffering and destined to eternal condemnation if nobody will share to them the gospel of salvation through faith in Christ alone. I became blind to the fact that seeing convicted criminals singing “amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me” is truly a wonderful sight to behold. Convicted criminals changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ are now preachers of the gospel that saved them. I would like also to inform you that two inmates that have been released from prison became a member of our church in Malanday Marikina. They are very faithful to the Lord and they are the one who come with me whenever I visit the prison. I was challenge to Michael Miller because every time he will spent his vacation here in the Philippines with his family, he always find time to visit our brethren in prison not just in Maximum and Medium Security Compound but also in Iwahig Penal Colony in Palawan which is a separate island from Luzon.
As of now I continue my regular teaching in prison. I am teaching them spiritual discipline and Bible survey in the Book of Corinthians. I attached herewith undated photos of our Brethren in prison expressing their deepest gratitude to Understand The Times International Ministry. I attached here also pictures of Bro. Michael Miller during his visit in Medium Security compound and in Iwahig penal colony in Palawan.
Thank you very much bro. Mike and Bro. Roger and may the Lord continue to put the burden in your hearts for the prison ministry.
We will work till Jesus comes!In Christ,
Click on a image to see it larger
December 18, 2013
Bryce Homes Update
This update is coming to you from Manila where I am presently located. I arrived here late on the 15th of December and will be heading back to the USA on the 21st in time to be at home with my family for Christmas.
While the Philippines has been in the world news lately because of the terrible typhoon that caused destruction and death in a wide area, all of our Bryce Homes were spared from this disaster in the Manila area. Before this disaster struck I had made plans to visit the Philippines while Mike and Becky Miller were here to visit their family for the Christmas season and to update myself on the progress of the Bryce Homes Program here as well as to look at the possibility of expanding the number of homes.
Yesterday I met with, Rey and Gleceria Laoagan (Bryce Home One) and their five children. As well, the Laoagan family looks after Abner, an 18 year old boy from a remote tribe in the Philippines, who is receiving his High School education in Manila while living with the Laoagan family. Abner will be graduating from High School in March and has plans to continue his education at a Bible Seminary where he will be trained to become a Bible teacher and take the gospel in his native language to his home community.
Two years ago when we started the Bryce Home Program in the Philippines we assisted the Laoagan family to build an addition to their house in order to accommodate the addition of Abner and one other boy. The second boy returned to his village as his mother was very ill and will not be returning.
While visiting Rey and his family I was informed that there are several children orphaned from the recent typhoon who are now attending the same school Abner is attending in Manila. I have asked that research be done and if there is a way we can add one or more of these orphans to our Bryce Homes program, we will offer to do so.
On another note, funds for the Understand The Times/Lighthouse Trails Special Winter Building Program are coming in on a daily basis. Winter Offering Special Building Fund We are about half way to our goal and are trusting the Lord to provide through year end giving that often comes in the last week of the year.
Over the next few days I will be sending more reports from Manila that will be posted at our Understand The Times website.
Bryce Homes Update
From Roger Oakland Report 2
Yesterday was another great day here in Manila. Pastor Richard along with Mike Miller picked me up at my hotel in the afternoon and we headed for Malanday, a region where six Bryce Homes are located. We were greeted by an afternoon heavy downpour on the way as well as the traffic that clogs the Pasig City streets almost twenty-four hours every day.
Finally after a full hour we arrived at our destination. The Malanday area is where Pastor Richard and his wife Bernadette have established a church among some of the poorest people in the Manila area. Most of the people that live in this region have been moved there by the government from shanty areas and given some assistance to construct shelters. Some of the shelters are acceptable by western standards but most are not. It is in this area that we have reached out to some of the poorest families attending Richard’s church for the purpose of establishing six more Bryce Homes.
As darkness was approaching quickly we only had time to visit four of the six homes. Later today when we return to the area for the Understand The Times Christmas Program which will be for all the poor children in the area we will visit the remaining two homes.
While the Philippine government provides free education for all children, the families in this area are so poor they are not able to send their children to school as they are not able to provide food and clothing. In some cases they will be able to send one child to school but the remaining children in the family must remain at home and work. The Bryce Homes Philippine Program comes along side families in situations like this and assists them financially on a monthly basis so the children can attend school.
While all children in Bryce Homes Program have benefited spiritually and physically over the three full years the program has been in place, there is one handicapped boy who touched my heart from the beginning that I want to mention. Initially when I met Russel and his mother he was very withdrawn and frightened. He did not want to communicate in any way with me. It was obvious that he needed special education and care because of his condition. Now after three years you would hardly know he is the same boy. While clearly stating a number of English words he hugged me expressing his appreciation. In fact, he did not want to leave my side and followed me everywhere I went. His mother told me he is improving every day and loves to attend his special education classes. She also hugged me with appreciation and with tears in her eyes.
The children I visited in the remaining three homes we visited yesterday were also very grateful. One of the purposes of my trip here, this time, was to give the parents of each home a special Christmas gift from Understand The Times to assist their families at this special time of the year and to encourage them. These gifts were made possible by the generous donations we have received from donors through Understand The Times.
Several of our Bryce Homes are in dire need of physical reconstruction. While we do not have the funds to assist now we will look at this possibility in the future. As well, there are at least three other families who attend Richard’s church who are in great need of sending their children to school and would fit well into our program here. As our donors express their support we will pass these funds on to Pastor Richard who oversees our program here in the Philippines.
Later today we will be returning to Malanday for our Christmas Party. I brought, with me, several packages of Christmas candy which most of the children will have never experienced before. We will also provide bags of rice for their families so that many lives will be blessed.
Just before we left, Mike Miller felt upon his heart to provide a special cash donation to the lady who volunteers her time to help cook every week for the feeding program. This has become a community that has become united together because of the goodness they have seen distributed from others around the world who have expressed their love and concern. It is because of Mike Miller and his love for the Lord that God led me to this area.
For me, the progress that I have seen as the gospel of Jesus Christ is being spread in the Philippines, is very gratifying. I know that my son Bryce would be excited and grateful to see what has been accomplished here in the Philippines in his memory.
Tomorrow I will be reporting on the Christmas party for all the poor children in the Malanday region.
From Roger Oakland Report3 Final Report
We arrived in the Malanday area of Manila early Saturday morning in plenty of time to visit the remaining two Bryce Homes that we had not visited. Already there were children gathering for the Christmas Party Understand The Times had planned for the children in the area who attended the feeding program during the year at Pastor Richard’s church.
The mothers of several of the Bryce Homes, Pastor Richard’s wife Bernadette, and several volunteers were at the church preparing the food that would later be given out as part of the special Christmas celebration. For the vast majority of the children, this feast would be a dinner they had never before experienced – spaghetti with meat sauce along with plenty of chicken.
The Christmas program began at about ten in the morning with Pastor Richard welcoming the seventy or more children from ages 5 to 17 who had assembled. Three age groups participated in the program reciting Bible verses and singing a number of Christmas hymns and songs. Pastor Richard asked me to share a short message based on scripture with regard to the meaning of Christmas explaining the importance of Jesus, the most important gift that has ever been given.
Following this message the children played a series of relay games according to age groups. Without question this was a delightful time as everyone was cheering for their own team and shouting loud enough to raise the tin roof of the church. Then came time for the handing out of gifts to every child that was in attendance. Each received a bag of candy, bag of rice for their families and an article of clothing. All of the volunteer helpers received gifts as well.
Finally it was time to eat. Individual plates full of food were handed out to everyone. I only wish our Understand The Times supporters could have been there to experience the joy that I experienced and the wonderful blessing I received to see firsthand what God is doing in the Philippines through the ministry that has been raised up.
The children who are part of this feeding program are all regular attendees of Sunday School and other Bible classes held at Pastor Richard’s church. They have all heard the gospel and know what it means to be “saved by grace.” I am grateful to Pastor Richard and his team for the great work they are doing in this poor community as they reach out to the hungry but more importantly to those who are spiritually lost. When I asked Richard about his assessment of the Understand The Times feeding program he told me that about fifty percent of the adult congregation were attending his church as the result of children in the program bringing their parents to church to hear the gospel.
What God is doing through the ministry of Understand The Times under the guidance of Pastor Richard in the Philippines is truly exciting.
Dear Bro. Mike and Bro. Roger,
Click on an images to view it larger
Dear Bro. Mike and Bro. Roger,
Dear Bro. Mike and Bro. Roger,
Click On A Picture To View It Larger
August, 2013 Letter2
Dear Bro. Mike and Bro. Roger,
Click On A Picture To View It Larger
Dear Bro. Mike and Bro. Roger,
Dear Bro. Mike and Bro. Roger,
I am sending the pictures of Feeding and Rice Distribution of Understand The Times Ministry. We are giving a kilo of rice for every child under our feeding program at least once a month.
I am in receipt of UTTI monthly support for the
month of March. On behalf of all the recipients of UTTI support to
children that benefits in our feeding ministry, inmates in prison
that are very thankful for your continuous support, and Bryce Homes
kids for food and school support.
March 6, 2013
Dear Bro. Mike and Bro. Roger,
Grace to you!
Sending you the latest pictures of Bryce Homes 2-7 giving school support and food for their daily sustenance. They are very grateful to the Lord for using UTTI as a means of grace through helping them to cope up with the daily struggle of living. These families are faithfully attending the church and let us continue to pray that the Lord will touch their hearts and open their minds so that they would come to the understanding of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.
Praise the Lord for using both of you and the ministry of Understand The Times in reaching less fortunate souls and bringing them to the Lord. We will continue to pray for God's provision for UTTI to be able to maintain all the necessary expenses for the ministry.
Looking forward for the Great day of Christ coming!
January 12, 2013
Day five in Manila was another seminar day. This time the church in Malanday was packed, both the main floor and the balcony above. Youth groups had been invited from several churches. They had never heard anyone present the reasons why creation is the foundation of the Christian faith nor seen the evidence that exposed the Darwinian evolution view.
I spoke three times during the day developing the case for creation. It seemed as if everyone was interested in the information.
As on the previous day Michael Miller spoke and shared his testimony. His talk was appreciated by everyone. Michael is unique. Few that I know who suffer a disability like cerebral palsy are willing to stand up in front of a crowd and share how God has touched their lives. Mike does this in a very effective way.
The day was long and very hot. When the question period that ended the conference was over we still had time to visit the remaining Bryce Homes in the area. A month ago, a sponsor contacted me letting me know that he would commit to sponsoring an additional Bryce Home in the Philippines. This brings our total number to seven.
The Bryce Homes Program in the Philippines assists poor Christian parents to send their children to school and to also provide clothes and food. This can be done for as little as $100 per month. There are no administrative costs as Pastor Richard implements this program voluntarily though his church.
Many of the children in his church started to attend regularly because they were being fed twice a week by the feeding program we support. Eventually, one parent or sometimes both parents starts attending and they hear the gospel and become Christians. As you can see this is not just the “rice gospel.” This is the gospel according to the scriptures. Not only will lives be changed for “the here and now” but for “eternity”.
It is our hope and prayer that at least some of these children will continue their education and become leaders that will impact their country for Jesus. All of the families that we are supporting that have been designated as Bryce Homes are moving ahead with Christ leaps and bounds. If you are participating as a donor in any way to the program we want to thank you for what you are doing. God is at work in one of the poorest areas of the Philippines and people like you are making a difference.
January 11, 2013
It has been several years since I have spoken three times in one day on the topic of creation. Yesterday I had that opportunity. While the heat and humidity was somewhat challenging at times, by the grace of God the task at hand was accomplished. The group in attendance was made up of a mixture of pastors and church workers from several churches.
I must say that getting back to the subject of the importance of biblical creation was invigorating for me. For the last decade the discernment side of the ministry has overshadowed the basic creation-evolution ministry that was the foundation of my call into ministry.
It seems that discernment is a battlefield with so-called believers who seem bent on heading down the road of apostasy. Continuous conflict has consequences. There are very few rewarding experiences that accompany this kind of ministry. However, worldwide, I have found that in most cases, when the evidence is presented to support the biblical creation view, people are blessed and encouraged.This was certainly the case yesterday. As the day unfolded, the topic reinforced the concept that faith in the Word of God is dependent on hearing the Word of God. By showing evidence from the facts we find in biology, geology and archaeology supporting the Bible, faith was built up. A number of the attendees were excited about the meetings and thanked me for coming. We also handed out a number of Evidence for Creation books and Searching for the Truth on Origins DVD packets.
Following the completion of the conference there was time to visit three Bryce Homes in the Malanday area. The last time I was there was during the flood caused by the typhoon last August when the area was devastated. The area looked so much better I could hardly believe my eyes. For those who donated to assist our Bryce Homes during this time,we express our gratitude to you. You have no idea what a difference you made in the lives of these families.
I got back to my hotel room late in the afternoon completely exhausted. Tomorrow will be another interesting day as we are scheduled to speak to a group of students, many of them who have been already indoctrinated by evolution by their education.
January 10 2013
Yesterday was a partial day of rest while the rest of the day was spent visiting Bryce Home One. This is the first home we established here in the Manila area. The caretaker and overseer is Rebecca Miller’s brother Ray who I have known since the first time I came to Manila five years ago.
It was Ray’s vision to provide education for at least two poor native children from a remote area of the Philippines. The two boys are Joseph and Abner. They attend school nearby with his own children and stay with his family. As Ray’s family live in a very small home, UTT was able to provide funds for him to build a small addition to his house where they can have their own room.
It was very encouraging to see what is happening through Ray’s mentorship. The boys have learned about the Christian faith and know the Lord and read the Bible. They attend church with Ray’s family on a regular basis and have a desire to attend a Bible School when they finish school so they can effectively share the gospel when the go back to their village.I was able to speak to the two boys as they are learning English in school. They both had printed out a thank you note to give me expressing their appreciation for the chance they had been given to improve their lives.
January 9 2013
Prison Ministry in Manila
My entire day yesterday was spent visiting the Medium Security Prison here in Manila speaking to a group of about 35 pastors. One of the ministries, that Understand The Times supports financially here in Manila, is to take the gospel message to prisoners. Last year when I was here we visited the Maximum Security Prison. This year we did a daylong session at the Medium Security Prison that houses about 6500 men.
No matter how many times I have visited a prison, each new visit provides new feelings and emotions that I never experienced before. Yesterday was no exception. The prison is not confined to a few buildings – it is an entire city. After clearing security at the gate we made a long walk through the prison grounds. As we were not allowed to take in anything with us but our Bibles and our notes I have no photographs to visually illustrate the many memorable sights along the way.
Finally we ended up in a room open to the outside but surrounded by barbwire. I had never had the experience of speaking in a cage before. Pastor Richard, who is in charge of the prison ministry, shared the first session by giving an excellent message based on Chapter 40 from the Book of Isaiah. In the second session, I shared my testimony and explained my own personal journey from believing in evolution to creation.
Following a break for lunch for the prisoners (pastors), Mike Miller shared his testimony and challenged the men to share the gospel with their inmates. His messages are always inspirational. Mike is handicapped with cerebral palsy but his handicap does not limit his ability and gift of being able to point people to Jesus Christ and his Word.
In the final session I spoke of the topic of how creation is the foundation of the Christian faith and how creation can be used as a means of evangelism giving facts supporting the biblical creation view along with a number of scriptures. Following that there was a question period that lasted for about half an hour.
About ten different Christian denominations were represented. These men have become believers and pastors while incarcerated in jail and are now reaching out and sharing their faith with others. The next time that Richard visits the prison he will bring with him a number of Evidence for Creation books that will provide more factual information these men can use to point unbelievers to the Creator, Jesus Christ.The journey back to my hotel through the heavy traffic was long and tiring. Tomorrow I will spend the day visiting Bryce Home One as well as meeting with Mike and Becky Miller who coordinate the ministry here in the Philippines.
January 8, 2013
I am writing this update from Manila, Philippines. I arrived here late last night after a long trip via San Francisco and Guam. I will be here for one very busy week. My plan is to post a few reports to let our readers know our activities.
Mike Miller and his wife Becky are here as well. Mike will be involved in several of the meetings. We will be speaking to prisoners in jail, pastors and church leaders and students. The major theme of my topics will be the importance of biblical creation and how it can be used as a tool for evangelism.
We will also checking on the Bryce Homes Philippines Program and adding an additional Bryce Home, Bryce Home 7, while we are here. We are grateful to those who have caught our vision and have come alongside the ministry of Understand The Times by support the Bryce Home Program here in the Philippines.
As a side note, Becky Miller will be sending out receipts to donors who donated during the month of December when she and Mike return from the Philippines about the middle of the month. If you were a December donor and did not receive a receipt and thank you note from us it was because Mike and Becky have here in the Philippines visiting relatives.As another side note, Wade and Lisa Oakland who live in Canada had an addition to their family in the early morning hours of January 6 – Caitlin Rae. As you can see Elizabeth Ann is a very proud sister. Myrna and I now have four grandchildren – one boy and three girls.
August 12, 2012
The sun shone in Manila on Sunday morning and we headed off to Malanday where five of our Bryce Homes are located. Pastor Richard had called me late Saturday night indicating they were planning to hold a service at his church and asked me if I would speak. He also told me that the clean-up was a long way from being complete and to expect the same devastation we had observed two days earlier.As Sunday was to be my last full day here in the Manila area it was important that we do our best to visit the Malanday area with the purpose of speaking to the fellowship of believers and to visit the Bryce Homes. We arrived in the Malanday area but Richard was only able to find a place to park that was about a block and a half from the church. The last time I had been there was at night and there were no lights to see. This time it was broad daylight. We put on our boots and headed towards the church. The following photos will give you an idea the conditions the poor people of Malanday are facing. The water has subsided but the damage remains. The smell is unbearable. Disease threatens their lives.
According to reports the government will not be able to clean up the area for at least one week and the power will be off for at least one month. We visited all five Bryce Homes before the service and tried to encourage the parents of the homes and the children. We also committed to continue to provide them with resources so they can get back on their feet.
As you are reading this report, try to imagine what it would be like to live in this location during this time. This morning the weather report indicates there is another monsoon in the making and Manila is expected to face more flooding in the near future.
My topic for the morning service was intended to be an encouragement to those who were there. Before the adult service over 50 children from the area met and sang songs, recited Bible verses and had a Bible Study. Afterwards the children were fed and given a packet of rice and noodles to take home.
If you were here to see this situation as I was I am sure you would be deeply impacted. We who have so much have no idea what it would be like to be faced with a situation like the one that has been experienced here. If you can help in any way it will be greatly appreciated.
August 11, 2012
The rain stopped today but the whole day was spent waiting to see if we could enter into the Malanday area to visit our Bryce Homes and take in relief. It was not until late in the evening that I heard from Richard. He notified me that we would attempt to hold a service at his church on Sunday morning and that I should be ready to be picked up early Sunday morning.
Apparently the conditions are still very bad and the streets have not been cleared. I will know more in a few hours and will write another report as soon as I know more.Please continue to pray for all of our Bryce Homes in the Manila area and the people of Richard’s church in Malanday. This is a crisis that is beyond anything I have ever experienced first-hand. We will do all we can while we are here with the resources we have and then follow up with more supplies to be distributed later when I return to Canada.
August 10, 2012
Since turning the focus of the ministry of Understand The Times towards sharing the gospel to the needy in poor countries I have witnessed and experienced many things that have been etched into my mind for as long as I live. More and more it becomes obvious to me that this is the direction the Lord has called us to go in this phase of my life. Yesterday, while here in Manila, it was once more confirmed that reaching out and helping the poor and orphaned is truly what the Bible calls “real Christianity” (James 1:27).
As I mentioned in my previous report I arrived at the Manila Airport in the midst of one of the heaviest continuous downpours the city has ever experienced. All rivers had over flown their banks and low lying areas nearby had been flooded. Over 1 million people have been impacted by this disaster and the loss of human life is now over sixty.
The first day I was here it was not possible to go to the area where our Bryce Homes are located because it was completely underwater. Yesterday there was a let up in the rain and we set out around noon to take food and necessities to as many of the six homes we are supporting here. Pastor Richard picked me up and we went to a large market where we purchased rice, noodles, sardines and soap.Our first stop was Bryce Home One in the region of Pasig City. While the water here had been chest high it was one of the first areas to subside. Our caretakers there are Rey Loaogan and his family. Earlier this year UTT had assisted Rey to add a room to his humble home to take in two children, to care for them and give them an education. After dropping off some goods we proceeded on our way to the area where the remaining Bryce Homes are located – Malanday.
Finally by dark we arrived at Malanday but were unable to get within a block and a half of the church. There are no words to properly describe the conditions we saw. What made it worse is that there was no power and we were submersed in compete darkness. A group of children from Pastor Richard’s church in Malanday met us and told us the best route we could go to make it to the church on foot. We put on our knee high boots and slopped our way through the muck carrying the produce we had purchased to the church. Some of the older children helped us carry the smaller packages.
I cannot describe in words the conditions we saw in this area. The streets were completely buried in mud and garbage three of more feet high. As you can understand the smell of this rotting garbage was unbearable. It is hard to imagine how the people living here would be able to recover. I have been to this area several times before in the past. In my wildest dreams I could have never imaged the devastation I saw this time.
After dropping of the produce at the church there was not much else we could do. As we were leaving the area the sky opened up again with another deluge and there was a tremendous amount of lighting and thunder. As we headed back to the hotel Pastor Richard received word that government officials had warned those who remained in the Malanday area to leave immediately as an overflow from a dam holding back a river running through the area was about to be released.
Today the rain has subsided and I am waiting word whether we will be able to go back tomorrow. I desperately want to see the remaining five Bryce Homes and find out what we can do to assist them in this time of need. I am also thankful I was here to be able to see first-hand what our brothers and sisters in Manila are facing and to find ways to help them in this time of great need.
While it is not our custom to appeal for funds every time we see a need, I feel that this is an exception. If you feel led to contribute to assist in this situation you can do so through Understand The Times. Pastor Richard is a totally trustable brother who will administer the distribution of all resources. Your gifts will be greatly appreciated.
Approximately two months ago were led to the Philippines to minister to a group of Philippino pastors. This speaking tour was arranged by Mike Miller and his wife Rebecca who are residents of the USA. Mike and Rebecca have a burden for sharing the gospel in the Philippines.
While there, it did not take long to see that the Lord had opened a huge door for the ministry of Understand The Times to come along like-minded brothers and sisters who God had already raised up to minister to children and adults as ambassadors of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Since returning home, we have received several reports of how the ministry continues to grow. We were amazed at the support that we received from our commentary titled “From Garbage to God.” These funds have been invested in the leaders and projects that we have chosen. It is our desire to reach out with humanitarian aid along with the gospel as well as providing education for children and adults to be better messengers of the gospel.The following photos show the fruit of the outreach we have to the poor families near Antipollo. This project is being implemented by Pastor Rusidel Danan. The children involved here are from the families we reported on previously in our commentary “From Garbage to God.” The photos need no explanation.
Letter From Pastor Paul - UTT Philippines
Greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The attached photos were taken during the regular UTT Feeding Program for the month of August. We prepare breakfast every Tuesday morning. Their meal is a hot chocolate drink, bread with spread and a hotdog alternated with boiled eggs. Before 6:00a.m. breakfast is ready because most of the children are going to study in secular school at 7:00a.m. But before they take their breakfast we have a minute of prayer to the Lord.
Regular attendance is about 25 to 35 children. Sister Annabel is always helping me in preparing and cleaning. My son, Israel, is assigned in cleaning the area before and after the program.
The feeding program is twice a week, the second day is every Saturday. The meal is for lunch. WE cook rice and adobo pork, sometimes chicken tinola. The regular attendance is 25-30 children.
Before they have their lunch, we do the main objective- Teaching the Word of God. The past lesson is "Knowing the Books of the Bible", the ongoing lesson is "Showing God's Love." Lessons are written by Sheila Scroggins.
I teach children ages 8-12 yrs old while my daughter Grace teaches those who are ages 4-7 yrs old.
I have a vision for the children from the Lord. In the future they will be in service for the Lord, by God’s grace.
I have advised Israel, my son, to teach children how to play guitar.
We have a standby second hand electronic organ. it was donated by Bro Rey Laoagan and we are praying for an adaptor. We are also praying for a second hand computer.
My daughter, Grace, is now ready to teach the children how to play the organ and how to use the computer.
Please bear with me in prayer for them. Thank you very much for all the goodness.
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always.
Another report sent to us by Pastor Richard explains how Pastor Reuben and Pastor Richard have been taking the message of creation to students in the Philippines. The students who are being shown the documentary “ A Question of Origins” and also taught about the importance of creation as the basis of Christianity. Here is what Pastor Richard wrote:
Grace to you and peace be multiplied upon your
hearts. I want to send you a good report on how the Lord works at
the young hearts of grade VI graduating students of God's Grace
After the question and answer which last for 30 minutes I ask them to write a reaction regarding the movie and the lecture. It is really a blessing to see how the Lord works in the young hearts of these students as I read their papers in their written reaction. I attached here the pictures and reactions of these students.
Understand The Times is an independent non-profit organization in
Canada and the United States.