I have recently returned from a two-week trip to the Philippines. The RCUS sent me and another pastor to explore the possibility of beginning a work there. There are a number of pastors there who are dissatisfied with their present church affiliation and desire to affiliate with us, which is exciting.
The trip itself was quite an experience. Manila is a city of fifteen million, making it one of the largest cities in the world. We were staying in a suburb province, Cavite, and did not spend any time in Manila except to just pass through. But it’s a difficult thing to grasp for me, to be in a place with so many familiar sights and sounds, but which is still so utterly alien. There is a great deal of wealth in Manila, and a great deal of poverty. Huge air-conditioned shopping malls stood right beside shantytowns. People sell cell-phone service out of shacks next to the street.
And it is, unfortunately, a very dirty city, which I think all by itself illustrates their burning need for the Gospel. They burn their trash in the streets; they casually throw garbage into the river. They don’t even think about this. The country is 80% Catholic, 15% Protestant (give or take), and 5% other. But the Christianity which exists there (both Catholic and all too often Protestant as well), as is the case in so many places, is just a thin gloss over the underlying culture which feels, on my short visit, to be some combination of animism / spiritism and hedonistic nihilism.
I am looking forward to see if we can establish a relationship with these pastors, to start a work there.
I’ve been deathly ill ever since I got back. I’m pretty sure it’s just a severe cold bug, exacerbated by my lack of rest due to the jet lag and our very busy schedule there. But just in case, I’m going in to the doctor today to see if I have malaria.