“There is no longer any need for a Seventh-day Adventist layman to feel guilty about not sharing his/her faith. You can do this too, and I promise you, it will forever change your life.”
It was in February, 9 months before we arrived, when funds were provided, when "the crusade" actually began. With the resources provided, our dedicated members gave thousands of Bible studies and, together with the pastors, they held 270 evangelistic series. The pastors held 60 and the laymen held another 210. The four crusades held by our four guest-evangelists climaxed this year-long plan. While this report will focus on the activities of the concluding three weeks it is vital to note that our success was due to the work of the laymen and pastors for the previous ten months.
Recently Mindanao has suffered violence due to the struggle for independence of several Muslim groups. To ensure our safety, church leaders met with military officers and representatives of two Muslim organizations. Both gave assurances we would be safe and the Muslims provided us security during our time in Mindanao.
Ben and Susan Kochenower

Dr Bruce and Carol Powers

Lawrence and Ann Walton

In addition to the meetings in General Santos City, two laymen and a pastor from North America, each supported by his wife, did the preaching for a crusade. Ben Kochenower, CPA, is a senior partner in a public accounting firm in Gaffney, South Carolina. Though startled when invited to preach a crusade he and his wife, Susan accepted the challenge (photo 1 left).
The Kochenowers held their meetings in Alabel, about 30 miles from General Santos City and the district pastor, Lorenzo Rodulfo translated his sermons for him.
Many mornings the Kochenowers attended Bible studies conducted by the local laymen – which began at 5:30 and 6:30 each morning! They were surprised at the soul-winning role of the laity and to find church choirs attending these early morning Bible studies! He discovered choirs are also very involved in soul-keeping! When a member misses church, the next Sabbath a choir goes to their home and serenades them between 2 and 4 a.m. and invites them to church! No wonder their apostasy rate is low.
When asked what he would say to other North-American laymen who might consider doing what he did, Ben wrote, "This has been one of the biggest ‘wins’ of my spiritual life, for witnessing and sharing the truth about Jesus Christ. I would have never believed I could or would preach a complete crusade by myself. The sermon material is packaged in such a way that all that remains to be added is my time for careful review. I’ll never be the same. There is no longer any need for a Seventh-day Adventist layman to feel guilty about not sharing his/her faith. You can do this too, and I promise you, it will forever change your life."
Entering the Unentered
Dr & Mrs Bruce Powers (photo 2 above) operate an executive and professional placement business in Mesa, Arizona. They too were astonished when invited to preach one of the crusades. But, with the easy-to-use sermon notes and the coordinated graphics, they accepted the invitation to preach in "Tupi." Pastor Alitao took the Powers to visit some of his other churches. The 18 congregations in his district increased to 21 at the crusade's close! They visited two new congregations, each in a previously unentered area.
One group they visited was in the village of Saboy where Brother Tuli began to work only a few months ago. The villagers gave up their land to the Dole (Pineapple) Company and now work for minimal wages. They live in the houses along embankments where the land is too steep to grow pineapple. As a result of the work of this layman seventy villagers were baptized on November 11.
Sadly, Saboy is so far from any school the children are condemned to illiteracy. Needless to say, they need some help. They have land for a church and a school and needed only some galvanized steel roofing. The cost to provide roofing for BOTH a church and school was only $3,000, and the members can provide the rest. Though the roofing has been provided yet there are thousands of similar situations that need urgent attention. Schools are needed to help fight illiteracy.
Lawrence Walton, church pastor in Albemarle, North Carolina, with his wife Ann, a secretary in the Carolina Conference office (photo 3 upper left), also accepted our invitation to preach a crusade. The Lord richly blessed their crusade with 389 souls baptized on November 11.
Elder Walton describes his experience: "Our crusade at Polomolok, Mindanao, in the Philippines, was a thrilling moment for Ann and me. To witness so many people in action for Jesus Christ, to talk and work with those whose lives have been changed, to be a participant in mass baptisms, all of this is such a blessing that it is difficult to find words to convey one’s feelings. Nevertheless, it is one I wish every pastor and layman in North America could experience."

All aboard - Philippine jeepney.

Total baptized exceeded 7,000.

It was fascinating to see how the crowds arrived at each of the meetings. The tricycles (motorcycles with side-cars) were filled to overflowing--even riding on the roof. Jeepneys, for which the Philippines are famous, carried loads that were difficult to believe!
Attendance at the crusade in General Santos City gymnasium was extraordinary regularly exceeding 10,000, due in large part to the personal witnessing activities of the members.
Each Sabbath baptisms were held in different parts of the country. In the first on October 28, in Matalam 198 were baptized and on November 4 in Tacurong, another 396 were baptized.
Filled to Overflowing
Though concerned it was too big, the Mission rented a sports complex for the crusade climax on November 11. They need not have worried. Sabbath morning every type of vehicle imaginable brought members and baptismal candidates from all over Mindanao. Soon the stadium was filled to overflowing with over 20,000 people, the largest crowd ever assembled by Adventists in Mindanao.
Sabbath morning 1,795 were baptized bringing the crusade total to 5,480. According to Mission President, Elder W Serrano, by the end of 2000 the total exceeded 7,000 precious souls.

One of the outstanding choirs that had sung for all our meetings met us at the airport. Their magnificent harmony mingled with our tears as we bid each other fond farewells before beginning the long flight home across the Pacific. All of us cherish the memories of our time in Southern Mindanao. But even more, we wish it were possible to transport our experience of rubbing shoulders with the inspired and inspiring pastors and laymen who truly make hastening the return of our Lord their highest and best priority. Oh, if only theirs was a contagious disease!

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