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The Best Church I never built

When I first arrived in the Philippines I had no plan. Oh, I had ideas, just no plan.

The one thing I had was a complete dependency on God. I knew if I was going to have a thriving Church, God would have to build it. After all, didn’t Jesus say:

Mat 16:18 “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. “

I was asked to preach in a few places and I started getting tired of it. I was invited to a Church in Makati and I said to God, “Today, please start your work here.”

That was it. So I went to Makati and a man came running up to me and said, “Do you want to start a ministry in Payatas? I have a small group Bible study there with about a half dozen people. Perhaps you can take it over?

The man was Pastor Jerry Anota and we became fast friends.

I said, Thank you Lord as I realized God answered my prayer to start His work that day.

A few days later Pastor Anota met with me and we went to the home in Payatas where the study took place.

He introduced me to the people, and they all stared at me with suspicion. They wondered why on earth would this man come all the way here from America? What does he want?

However, after a short time, they realized that I was there to work for the Lord, and we all became very close.

We encouraged the people to invite their friends, and we asked God to increase our Church. So we grew. We were holding church in one of the squatters homes. It was a rough, two story cement block building.

The lady who live there suggested that we could break through the wall downstairs and make a Church, and they could move everything upstairs.

Although it was a sweet and generous offer, I felt God telling me that He would build His Church.

So I invited Pastor Anota over to my house, and the next day we went out looking for a building.

We saw one that had potential. We went next door to speak to the people and we found out the floor was all rotted and the building wasn’t stable.

We told them about the Lord and they made a profession of faith.

We then went further down the road to the building we now (2013) occupy.

We met with the landlady and we agreed upon a price and after she finished painting, we moved in.

That was in November of 2006 and we have been there ever since.

We are now severely over crowded and are in dire need of a new place.

We have gone through many stages while here but we found out the secret of growing a Church is let God do it.

Jud 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

We had this man in our Church that was asking visitors why they were coming to our Church? He said our Church was no good. The devil works his ways.

I didn’t know about it but some members did. When I found out I told the members that if something like that happens again, I need to know about it and whoever knows and doesn’t tell, can go to another Church.

I am strong about loyalty. Whoever is not with us is against us and we need to maintain a good watchful eye.

I was about to throw this man out of the church. It was Sunday morning and I was up in my office. I was beginning to get nervous. I thought that there might be a split and when I go downstairs the Church will be half empty. Finally, my strength came into me as I prayed. “God, this is your Church, not mine. If you allow a split so be it but whatever happens, Blessed be your holy name.

I went downstairs. That man was gone and not only that but we had more people than we ever had before.

It seemed to always work that way. We got rid of some people. One was a bookkeeper. I loved her dearly. She was a very generous woman, a good worker and friend. The problem was, she would only come to Sunday morning service. Not only that, I had to speak to her about texting during the sermon as well as falling asleep.

Finally, I took her into my office and told her that unless she attended the services she would have to leave. She decided to leave. That made me very sad, it still does but the devil will use people close to you. You need to cut them.
God immediately replaced her with another bookkeeper as well as a helper who has now learned also to do the books.

We had a man who claimed to be a missionary and wanted to work for the church. His Pastor in America endorsed him . I set him up with a desk and work to do and every time I passed he was looking at a dating site. He wanted a wife. I told him to do that on his own time. There was a lady who worked at one of our medical clinics. He showed an interest in her. I warned him not to get involved with her. Even though she had been separated from her husband for eight years, she still was married.

One afternoon I was in my office and I heard a loud noise outside. I believe God caused the loud noise to get me to look out the window. There was this supposed missionary getting in a taxi with this women.
When he returned the next day, we parted ways.

Another man from America came and decided he was going to do what he wanted. He was generally obnoxious. I caught him smoking in front of the Church with all our kids outside. I found out he was drinking in the streets with another guy. He was quickly removed.

There were others. The reason I pointed out those stories was if I wasn’t prepared to take immediate action, I feel I would have lost the Church.

I use the old saying -One rotten apple spoils the bunch and it’s true.

We had women arguing and I immediately brought then into my office and we straightened everything out.

1Ti 5:20 “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.”

A successful church has everything to do with obedience to God. It depends on a strong Pastor who is willing to discipline when necessary.

Man can not build a Church. He might build a successful business but it won’t be a church.

God’s strategy was to focus on children. We had plenty of them. Most were from the garbage dump families. They would come and they would be filthy. So we lined them up on the side of the building and we washed the hands,arms,legs,feet, necks and faces of these precious children.

We taught them hygiene and how to keep their clothes clean and before you know it , supporters were telling us that our kids did not look so poor. They were changing by the grace of God.

Another thing God told me was everyone has to have a job in the church. If we are truly a family, we all need to work together. So we have a preacher (besides me) teachers, cleaners, cooks, bookkeepers, Music leaders, maintenance and whatever else we need.

If you are not working together you will soon feel like an outsider.

We focused on teaching the word of God word by word. I break it down and we go through the bible on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. All of our adults and most of the children know how to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Every Saturday we go out with anywhere from 55-75 door knockers.

You would think many people come to the Church by our efforts. The answer would be no. As I said in the beginning, God builds His church. We go out because God requires it. God brings visitors all the time but not by our efforts lest we say we built the Church.
All our people are aware of this rule.

We also have what we call a two by two program where couples go to witness to any of the children’s parents that do not attend. The ladies also have another visitation program where they visit those they deem in need of an immediate visit for whatever the reason.

The children invite their friends. We are constantly growing and if we were taking any credit at all is that we are doing what we are told to do.

There are principles of God which we try to follow very close.

One simple principle is:

2Ch_15:2 “… The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. “

Those who forsake the Lord are expelled from the fellowship. Paul had no trouble doing it and neither do we.

Amos said:

Amo 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

We will work with people growing and learning, We understand each person is at their own level, There is a point where discipline is necessary and it works for the morale of the entire Church.

Building a church is easy when you let God do it.

If you will listen, He is always glad to lead.

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