Monday, April 16, 2012

Greetings from Mindoro!
Good news!  By God’s grace, I’ll be moving into the Batangan territory this Thursday, March 1!  The Batangan project is about to get a new birthday!
As you may recall, I mentioned that there is one lowland Batangan village, named Balangabong, that has a Seventh-day Adventist church.  This is the village that Dong came from.  It was planted 30-40 years ago, and has never really matured or grown.  After the church was planted initially, it was abandoned.  About 15 years ago, the Balangabong church sent a delegation to the local Adventist church, asking for help, but because of a lack of personnel, cultural issues, and politics, the church has received almost no help except for development projects.
As you remember, in the meeting in which Fausto kicked us out, he told us that if we wanted to live in Batangan territory, to go to Balangabong where we already have brothers.  Because of all of the politics involved with the Balangabong church, as well as our desire to start fresh, putting “new wine in new wineskins,” we decided to explore our other options first (Matt 9:17).
Since that time God has systematically closed all the other doors, and seems to have flung the doors into Balangabong wide open.  During the Conference Workers’ Meetings that I mentioned in the last update, I met with the man who is responsible for the Balangabong church and the development projects that have been done there.  He was glad to have me live and work in Balangabong.  When I got back to Mindoro, some of the other political sticky points were cleared up as well.  Then when I went down to visit the village again, they asked me on their own initiative to come live with them while I learned the language and continued to work to find an open village in the interior.  They promised whatever help they could offer to get into the interior in exchange for my helping their church while I lived there.
It sounded like a good deal to me!  After prayer and consultation, I let Balangabong know that I would be moving in.  While I’ve been wrapping up the last few loose ends up here in Alangan territory they have been gathering materials, and Thursday we’ll start building my house.  Praise God!
It has been my plan from the beginning to involve the Alangan in this project as much as possible.  The Alangan and Batangan are both tribes native to this island, their languages are somewhat related, and their culture and spiritism are almost identical.  Hopefully the Alangan will hopefully be able to relate and bridge the gap more quickly than I would be able to do alone.  In return, the experience will hopefully provide good training for the Alangan in cross-cultural missions, and help to fan the flame of evangelism.
The Alangan have long been deliberating on who, then, would go with me.  As with any church anywhere in the world, it is easy to get in a rut and just keep on going with life as usual.  It is also difficult for anyone to move to a distant and unknown place, but this is especially true if no one in your entire extended family has ever made such a move.  It was finally decided, though, that Delpin, my best friend since I arrived here as a child, will go with me on a part time basis and see how it goes.
The Devil is not happy.  Just like Ramon when he was on the initial expeditions, Delpin has noticed that whenever things start heating up with the Batangan, his family starts to get all kinds of sicknesses.  Since we have finalized plans with Balangabong, Satan has tried to frighten us again in the form of strange sounds, things moving around, dreams, etc.    He does not seem to have as much strength against us as he used to, though, and we know that he cannot harm God’s work unless we give in to him.
Please pray for us!  The last time we, “got in,” we were immediately kicked out again.  I know that Satan is fighting our arrival down in Balangabong as well as up here in Pandarukan.  Please pray that God will bind his power and not allow our move to fall through again.  Please pray that God will strengthen us and give us personal victory in our fight against the powers of darkness and against our own sinfulness.  Please pray that God will be glorified and His cause moved forward in all that happens.
Thank you so much!  I don’t just believe in the power of prayer, I depend on it, and I thank you so much for your faithfulness to the Batangan.  According to God’s will, the next time I write to you will be from a Batangan village!
In His Service,

John Holbrook

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