Canaan Mission School was one of four literacy schools in the central Philippines under my supervision as a SULADS* worker. After attending a baptism at Tubacon Mission School, our SULADS director and I hiked seven hours, covering a distance of about 40 kilometers (25 miles), to reach Canaan Mission School where we attended closing exercises.
As we reached the village, we saw joy on the faces of the people as they welcomed us warmly. Early the next morning we worshiped together.
Lito Macuray, an enthusiastic elder in the Canaan church, is the one who led the village in building a school. His own house is very small, with a roof made of anahaw leaves. A humble man, Lito shared his experience of what life was like before he became an Adventist Christian.
He showed us his spear—called bangkaw in Visayan dialect. This spear had been handed down from father to son for 150 to 200 years, spanning six generations. Only the eldest son, such as Lito, had the authority to inherit the spear.
“My grandparents survived by hunting wild animals like deer, pigs, monkeys, and wild duck,” Lito explained. “They did not know how to make a garden or to plant fruit trees, but they knew how to plant rice. During the six months before each rice harvest, they hunted for food in the jungle. They offered the heads of wild pigs to their gods called abyan (meaning “friend”). They believed their gods blessed their spears and gave them signs regarding how to hunt wild animals.”
“Every time they killed a wild pig,” Lito continued, “they offered the head to their abyan, believing their eldest son would die if they didn’t do so. My parents also conformed to this practice of worshiping the abyan.”
Lito was afraid; however, he kept on believing in Jesus Christ, fully relying on the promise of God.
We learned that as time passed, Lito, longing for a peaceful life, decided to seek another way, eventually meeting a group of Seventh-day Adventists. He felt blessed as he listened to their beautiful songs. After observing for a time, he realized his people had been living in darkness. Finally, he firmly decided to accept Jesus Christ as his personal Savior through baptism. God changed his life and took him out of the darkness into a new life full of love, hope, and happiness.
Lito’s father was not aware his son had been baptized. Sometimes Lito felt afraid that his own eldest son would die because he failed to honor the abyan. But when he remembered God, he knew that He would never leave his side.
Once when Lito arrived at his father’s house for a visit, he was astonished to hear his father speaking in an unusual voice. As if demon-possessed, his father said, “Lito, I will take the life of your son because you disobeyed our agreement with the abyan.”
Lito was afraid; however, he kept on believing in Jesus Christ, fully relying on the promise of God. Three days later, his eldest son got sick. Lito didn’t know what to do. The hospital was far away. With tears he earnestly prayed to God, “Oh, God, You know everything. You are the owner of our lives and only You can take our lives. This very moment, I give the life of my son to You.”
After two weeks, God healed Lito’s son. After those events, he felt the presence of God and His protection. Satan had been trying to frighten Lito’s village, but God showed how He loves and cares for his children.
When Lito accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, he said to himself, “That is the end of using the spear for hunting wild pigs and offering to our gods.” Now Lito is dedicated to serving God and supporting the SULADS missionaries assigned to his village.
*SULADS is an acronym for Socioeconomic Uplift, Literacy, Agriculture and Development Services—a student missionary program of Mountain View College, Philippines.
By James A. Subigca, Gospel Outreach Worker
James Subigca writes from northeastern Mindanao, Philippines.