by Eleazar Rizaga
Cagayancillo, population 7,000, is a town in the Palawan province of the Philippines. It has been a year since this area was visited by missionaries or pastors. In the past, missionaries and lay pastors were assigned here, but it was hit and miss. Some would stay for a few months, while others stayed for a few years. In between those times, Adventist members would often wait more than a year before a new missionary, ministerial graduate or pastor would be assigned to Cagayancillo again. I could sense the longing of church members for a more permanent solution.
Currently, there are two Seventh-day Adventist churches in the area. One is in Bantayan, located in the municipality proper, and the other one is in Nusa, situated on the nearest island. When Palawan Mission asked me to choose where I wanted to be assigned on behalf of Gospel Outreach, I selected Cagayancillo, the farthest island from Puerto Princesa City. Traveling to this remote location requires a 24-hour journey by a small boat known as a lantsa.
I arrived in January and met many church members. Later, I began visiting them and conducting worship in Adventist households, reaching out to both faithful members and those who had drifted away.
One major issue shared with me was the struggle to return tithes properly. Thankfully, the Sabbath school lesson for the first quarter focused on stewardship, which provided guidance.
Another challenge I encountered was the lack of motivation for soul winning. According to Ellen White, a growing church is a working church. To address this, we formed two care groups: one in Bantayan and another in Nusa. These groups, named Timoteo and Pilipos, first focused on visiting backslidden members and inviting them to return to church. We rejoiced when many answered the call.
In Nusa, we faced a problem. The man leading the church was known as a sabongero, a cockfight enthusiast and gambler, and he was often under the influence of alcohol. Many members felt their worship was tainted by his presence. Through prayer, discussions with church members, and God’s grace, we appointed new leaders from within the church. Afterward, we visited those who had left the church due to the previous leader’s actions. We saw a revival in the church as the members began to worship joyfully once again.
Our care groups began to function effectively in both churches. People participated in Bible studies, refreshed their understanding of fundamental beliefs, and learned how to give Bible studies.
Like Paul, I earnestly seek the prayers of all who read this report. I firmly believe that the success of our ministry in Cagayancillo hinges on the work of the Holy Spirit and the prayerful support of our brothers and sisters.
To engage with the community, I’ve taken to offering free haircuts using my simple scissors and comb. The church members and I are praying to gather enough funds to buy a laptop and projector for public evangelism. As we wait for God’s answer, we continue to use what we have to share God’s love with the people here.
Eleazar Rizaga writes from Cagayancillo in the Philippines.