Part 16: Pangangaral sa Alas Cinco ng Umaga
Pangangaral sa Alas Cinco ng Umaga (Preaching at Five O’clock in the Morning)
Paul exhorted Timothy, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season.” I never knew that could mean preaching at 5:00 a.m. until I came to the Philippines!
A few days before Sunday I was invited to preach at the Banga Evangelical Church for their Pastor Appreciation Sunday service. Because of the nature of the service I wondered if it was appropriate for me as a dayuhan (foreigner) and a guest to preach at a service dedicated to honour their pastors, but after a little persuasion, I reluctantly agreed and THEN I was informed of the time! What had I agreed to? Five o’clock in the morning? I would love to preach BUT ...
I had brought no preaching material to prepare for the topic assigned to me so at every spare moment I had, which believe me, were very few, I read those passages of Scripture that focus on pastors/elders, their work and their way of life. This also meant I needed to squeeze in a few hours before the service began to prepare my soul and put my final thoughts and notes together. So, to the jarring sound of my cell phone alarm at 2:00 a.m. I was forced out of a deep sleep and then forced myself out of a bed which seemed to cry out, “No, please don’t go!” In the quietness of this early hour the Lord supplied me with all I needed to preach his Word.
We arrived at the Banga Evangelical Church minutes before the service began and were greeted by the warm smiles and gracious words of the congregants. This Christian and Missionary Alliance Church will celebrate its 77th anniversary later this year. It is the third oldest evangelical church in Mindanao, established in the days when the authority of the Roman Catholic Church was unquestioned and declaring yourself an evangelical was sure to bring disenfranchisement and persecution. Today the Banga church has established daughter churches in all of the town’s seven surrounding barrios.
The Gerics, Dave Roberts and Andrea and I were all given special mention and welcome during the service. Pastor Jong, his wife Met, and the church’s three other associate pastors and their wives were honoured by the people and given special gifts. At the conclusion, the Elders of the church requested me to pray for their pastoral team and spouses. With final part of worship completed we were escorted outside to the front lawn of the church where a delicious breakfast had been prepared for all who attended the service. We were encouraged to sit at a large decorated table with plates of rice and delicious fruits. At first, I thought this was reserved for us as the special foreign guests, but then I realized that seated with us were many of the church’s senior citizens! (Yes, they reserved these seats for seniors like Paul Gerics!) We enjoyed the meal and the rich fellowship outside before the hot Philippine sun would rob us of a pleasantly cool morning. By 7:30 a.m. we had returned to our rooms at the beautiful Aqua Vista Resort and I quickly returned to the bed which begged me not to get up and I slept soundly till noon.
“But what about preaching at 5:00 a.m.?” you ask. Well ... let me just say that this was the first time on this Philippine missions trip that I have spoken publicly and did not need to shower afterwards because I was fatigued and dripping with sweat. So, you know, preaching at five o’clock in the morning ... well ... it’s the best time to preach in the Philippines.