Dear AWR Friend,
What a time to be alive! As I write this letter, we have just concluded the General Conference Session in St. Louis, where we met several of our Adventist World Radio team members from around the world. They shared with us some amazing stories that I can’t wait to share with you!
But first, an update on the latest miracle from Mindoro, Philippines. We rejoice with our new brothers and sisters in the faith, and especially with the group that was baptized by our president, Elder Ted Wilson and myself right here in St. Louis during the meetings.
If you attended the GC Session meetings, or watched the Session on television or online, you may have witnessed these special baptisms. But in case you missed them, here is a recap.
MINDORO MILITARY BAPTIZED
Last month, I shared with you our hope that a group of former rebels and military personnel would be able to attend this GC Session and be baptized. We didn’t know if it would be possible, especially as background checks are required for visas.
When we explained the situation at the embassy, they were sympathetic and very much aware of the story of the former rebels of Mindoro. They were willing to work with us and expressed their desire to help the former rebels obtain visas—something unheard of given their history.
However, we were advised that a quick turnaround was not possible, and given the shortness of time, their visas would not be ready. Even the visas for the military personnel were in jeopardy. But God worked a miracle, and the military personnel were able to attend. It was a joy to baptize these precious souls as a symbol of how God can change a hopeless situation and transform lives.
Here are their stories:
Officer Willie Hudierez works in military intelligence. He was assigned to monitor the activity of AWR when the government noticed we began working with the communist rebels from the New People’s Army (NPA) in the mountains of Mindoro. Unbeknownst to us, the Philippine military wasn’t sure what we were up to, so in 2018, they began their surveillance. Early on, Officer Willie reported that we were “genuine people whose love for God and for the Philippine people was true and sincere.”
His exposure to Adventists slowly led him to know the truth, and he often accompanied our team in expeditions. Before his baptism, he even agreed to perform as an actor in one of our videos when we needed someone in the role of assassin. He and his family found their community in the Adventist Church.
Officer Jimmy Sendrome also works in intelligence. His job was to neutralize the work of the NPA on the island of Mindoro, and his role was to plan military operations against the NPA—pursuing known key people among the rebels. His brother had been killed by the NPA, and his anger toward the rebels fueled his need for revenge. He was targeting the rebels we were working with, and in doing so, he witnessed AWR’s efforts to bring peace, unity and reconciliation.
Because his desire for revenge was so great, he observed everything we did, listened to every broadcast, attended every evangelistic meeting, and you guessed it—while he was planning revenge, God was changing his heart, because Jesus draws all sincere souls—even those burdened with hatred and revenge—to the foot of the cross. Officer Jimmy understood the words of Jesus when He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
I had the privilege of baptizing both Willie and Jimmy on that first Friday night of GC Session.
Colonel Eric Guevarra is a high-ranking military official. Despite his elevated position, he was the first to accept the Sabbath truth. As part of his job, he attended all our evangelistic meetings with the former rebels, and in doing so was convicted of the truth in the Adventist message.
On Monday night of GC Session, he and his wife were both baptized by Elder Wilson and myself. What an amazing privilege to witness this miracle after working and praying for the salvation of these dear people!
Colonel Guevarra said, “During the course of our interaction with the now-former rebels, we saw how God moved and worked to transform their lives to become fully restored individuals in Christ until one day, the Holy Spirit reached us through the teachings of Pastor Dulay and Adventist World Radio, and opened our hearts to accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.”
Yes! That’s what God’s Spirit does. It is said that “by beholding we become changed,” and that’s what happened to the former rebels when they beheld Jesus and learned of His love for them. It’s what happened to the military, even when it was part of their job to see and hear what God was doing as He transformed lives, and it’s what happens to every sincere person who beholds Jesus. He said this would happen: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32)
But I want to tell you one more story from Mindoro, because sometimes God has to crush our dreams to give us a greater blessing, and often, our apparently unanswered prayers are the greatest blessing of all.
THE UNANSWERED PRAYER—OR WAS IT?
Pastor Robert Dulay is assistant director for the AWR Asia-Pacific region and has been instrumental in AWR’s Mindoro project. But the story of his life and how he came to be with AWR is a story of God’s providence.
As a young man, Robert had a burning desire to be a pastor, so when he finished high school, he applied and was accepted into the theology program at our Adventist university in the Philippines. He worked hard and excelled with top grades, so it was no surprise when he was hired by the South Manila Conference, which included his home territory of Mindoro. His fervent prayer was, “Lord, please send me to a nice church near Manila.”
He thought for sure his prayer would be answered as he had done so well in college. But alas, it was not to be. Instead of a nice church in Manila, he was assigned to the forbidden mountain area of Mindoro. And instead of a nice car or motorcycle, his mode of transportation would be a horse—and he didn’t even like horses!
Robert was bitterly disappointed. For the next 18 years, he ministered to the people in the mountains, making friends with the rebels and the military alike, even as the 50-year NPA rebel war continued at its height!
I still recall the years when my wife Kathy and I would take groups of young people from the United States on mission trips to hold evangelistic meetings in different countries, and the few times we visited Mindoro, we always brought an extra $1,000 as a “gift” for the rebels of the NPA so they could purchase medicine. This would afford us protection so they wouldn’t shoot us! We did this for more than 10 years and it worked well because we never got shot!
THE UNEXPECTED TURNAROUND
But everything changed six years ago. We were invited to Mindoro for a camp meeting. At that time, we were preparing to take a group of pastors and speakers from Japan to hold evangelistic meetings in Mindoro. It would be a practice run to prepare them for the following year when they would hold the same meetings in Japan as part of the General Conference Total Member Involvement (TMI) project.
You know the story because I’ve shared it before. To prepare for the project, I asked Robert to take our AWR TMI sermons and broadcast them on rented time on radio stations across Mindoro. This had never been done before, and Robert was sure it would not work. But since I was spearheading the project as Elder Wilson’s assistant for TMI, Robert agreed to try.
As you will recall, when the broadcasting began, nothing happened at first, until Robert had the inspired idea of incorporating the “Question of the Day.” The first five individuals to call in with the correct answer would receive a gift—a Bible, a Steps to Christ and other books. It was a hit! People would compete for those prizes throughout the island. And as they listened, they were transformed.
Now look at what God has done! Robert wore out seven horses in those 18 years of apparently “fruitless toil” in the mountains. He thought he wasn’t making a dent among the rebels, when in fact, all this time, God was preparing him for the greatest work of his life. Five years ago, when Adventist World Radio began broadcasting in Mindoro, the rebels in the mountains listened to Robert’s voice on the radio. Since then, thousands have been baptized, and a 50-year war is over!
I used to say—when people asked me about AWR—that we have a thousand radio stations around the world. That seemed to sum it up pretty well. But now I say, “By God’s grace, AWR can stop wars!”
“MY THOUGHTS ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS”
Just like Robert, you may feel you’re stuck and not moving forward toward your goals and dreams. Maybe you even feel that God is not answering your prayers. But like Robert’s horseback years in Mindoro—or like Moses in the desert those 40 years tending sheep—God is preparing you for something great, if not here on earth, then for the greatest event of all—His second coming and an eternity with Him!
Robert thought the best he could hope for was a nice church in Manila, but God gave him so much more! And He says to you and me, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways . . . As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8, 9)
We also never dreamed what God could do with Adventist World Radio—He exceeded all our expectations! That’s why we continue to move forward by faith, beaming God’s truth to the world and trusting that God’s plans will always be greater than those we could ever dream up!
Thank you for your support of Adventist World Radio. Your love, generosity and prayers also exceed our expectations! It is your partnering with us that allows the work of AWR to go forward. Without you, the miracle of Mindoro would never have happened—and I can’t wait to see what new miracles God has in store. Whatever they may be, you can be sure I’ll share them with you, because working together, we can make a difference for eternity.