Today, I preached the sunrise service at Aninuan Christian Church. I was getting ready to start teaching, when I noticed that a fellow pastor and friend had arrived to encourage and support me. Considering his very full schedule, I was surprised to see him there. But, then again, it didn't really surprise me at all!
Being a full-time missionary medical doctor can mean a very full day of ministry for Francis Daytec. What strikes me as unique about Francis and his wife Leah (who is a midwife) is their ability to speak life into so many crevices of their community. Jesus is important to the Daytec family. They live a rhythm of ministry so natural that it is easy to overlook. However, in all actuality, the scope of their ministry is astonishing.
How many medical doctors do you know who have patients living at their house for post-op recovery? A friend from a mountain tribe recently gave birth and simultaneously had a very serious operation. After the surgery, Francis and Leah invited this precious woman, her husband and five small children to live with them during recovery. At the same time, Leah was hosting a short-term medical team from Australia, home-schooling her three children, and mentoring an American medical missionary living as part of the Daytec family.
Meanwhile, Doc Francis ministers throughout the community serving, encouraging and being a catalyst for outreach. On Saturdays, Doc facilitates a community pastors' get-together at 6am, which focuses on ministering to Mindoro as a church without walls. Francis also happens to be the pastor of a small church that meets in his house, where people come to be taught, loved on, to eat Leah's incredible home-cooked meals, and leave refreshed for another week of service. Between his work as pastor and medical doctor, I've known Doc Francis to work a 40-hour day.
Would you like to meet Doc Francis and Leah? Just come to Puerto Galera and keep your eyes open. They move quietly through the community, feeding homeless, counseling the hurt, and giving medical care to any who ask. I remember when one of our pastor friends broke his arm playing basketball on a Sunday evening. Doc Francis got the call during his church's after-service dinner and immediately left to help his fellow-pastor out. Another time, I was riding my motorcycle past a basketball court where a government medical outreach was taking place. Who do you think was sitting at a folding table listening intently to a patient's words? The other day, we stopped over at the Daytec house to bake some Christmas cookies. A few hours earlier, a mountain family had come to the house with their baby who had been feverish for a week. Doc was out, so Leah got them started on some food and provided an egg fund for the baby. (An egg fund is money that provides one egg a day to help improve the health of malnourished patients.) When Doc got back home, he and I drove up to the church where this beautiful family worships. After a warm welcome from the pastor, we waited a few minutes for the family to arrive. Doc did the check-up and gave them medication to take home.
What strikes me is the heart of this missionary doctor: humble and Christ-centered.
For you have been born again... through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:23
The Bible is different from any other book because inside of it are the living words. When mixed with the purpose and power of the Holy Spirit, the words in the Bible make life-birthing changes inside of the reader. When you give a Bible or a New Testament, you are giving the potential for the reader to experience eternal life.
God uses His words in the Bible to give new spiritual life and to germinate faith in Jesus.
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17
The Holy Spirit continues to use these living words to fuel a life of repentance and faith. The reader wrestles with the words, learning how to live a truth-filled life that matches his/her new identity in Christ.
Memorize Truth, Apply Daily
Every week, the Sunday School classes at Aninuan Christian Church have a Bible lesson and memorize Bible verses. In the above photo, ladies are sharing their memory verse. This begs the question of why. Jesus Christ is called the Word and calls Himself the Truth. We are born into anti-Christ, humanistic thought patterns. We are bombarded by anti-Truth messages constantly. That is why we memorize and study the Word, which came to us from the WORD. We must fill out minds with the truth of God's word, so that we can evaluate each thought and action. We must tear apart our thinking patterns and replace them with truth. That is how we grow!
You know that feeling when you are saying just a little too much? Or, when you are being manipulative? Have you ever crushed someone with your words? Most of us can remember specific words spoken to us that were devastating. The tongue is like a little match that can cause blisters deep into the soul of a friend and kindle destruction in a relationship. Has your sarcasm scarred your spouse's self image? Or, have angry words left a relationship in a pile of smoldering rubble? James says that if you can tame the tongue, you'll have control over your whole body. He also says that the tongue is set on fire by the fires of Hell.
The fires of Hell burn hot with the fuel of lies, envy, greed, lust, selfishness, complaints, gossip, and angry bitterness. These flames scald and burn. But, they also seer the conscience of the speaker. Hell is a total absence of God's goodness. Imagine what that can do to people within range of a tongue smoking with the heat of Hell's fires.
But, there's a better way! There's the Jesus way!
We're here to build each other up with our words. Instead of burning, we build. Imagine you see a friend who is living in a house that is tilted and sagging. You look under the house and you see that one of the supports is missing. So, you get some lumber and you fix the support. It's the same way with our words. As we see the needs, we will use our words to build up!
Encouraging, truthful words bring blessing into people's lives and build them up. Try this for a week: Simply speak blessing into the lives of people around you. Tell them how much you love them and thank them specifically for their skills and contributions. Tell your pastor that you are proud of him for his integrity and perseverance. Tell your neighbor that she is doing a really good job raising her children.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29.
Our motive is really important here. If we are always on the prowl to fix people, our words will not be encouraging. The motive for fixing people is usually anchored in pride. The motive for building other up "according to their needs" should grow from Christ's love.
Patience and timing are important when building others up. The right words at the wrong time can crack the structure. Christ is the foundation and we are helping to build the house. Our truthful, loving, timely words will benefit those who listen.
Last! Relationships! It's hard to build if you don't know the blueprint or are unfamiliar with the job site. With the Bible as the blueprint, we must do the hard work to learn the job site. Be vulnerable. Be honest. Be available. Take the risk of your love and honesty not being reciprocated. Part of taking up your cross daily, is to allow yourself to be hurt in this process. A jammed thumb or hammering the wrong nail will happen. Take those to Dr. Jesus, and stay focused on "being helpful, building others up according to their needs."
I could see her moving across the small bank parking lot with a dirty baby on her hip and her hand cupped. She was short, face puffy, and hair orange from malnutrition. She looked about twelve. The baby surely was her brother. I edged a little closer into the ATM line, and watched her slowly climb the concrete steps. She was ignored by most, but that cupped hand pushing towards me demanded my attention. I asked her her name. She refused to answer. Either, it was too personal or she didn't speak Tagalog. I told her that I wouldn't give her money but that I would give her food. She edged up to the European family at the adjoining ATM. The tourist-mother turned furiously and started making a hissing TSK, TSK sound, like we use with stray dogs in the streets.
We're a family on mission to bring the good news of Jesus to the Philippines.