It was at the height of Etab’s crisis five years ago that the Lord spoke to me from Isaiah 54:2-3 (message) – “Clear lots of ground for your tents! Make your tents large. Spread out! Think big! Use plenty of rope, drive the tent pegs deep. You’re going to need lots of elbow room for your growing family. You’re going to take over whole nations; you’re going to resettle abandoned cities. Don’t be afraid – you’re not going to be embarrassed. Don’t hold back -you’re not going to come up short.”
It was this rhema from God that caused me to decide to build our new church edifice in the form of a TENT – thus the new name TABERNACLE. He spoke to me to use five years to gradually improve upon our new sanctuary and new land.
In September 2012, despite the shake in our church caused by the enemies, we still stepped out by faith to engage a building contractor and by end of March 2013, our new building was completed. We literally took the command of God not to be afraid nor to hold back, by literally stepping out of our comfort zone of a rented building at Quezon for 20 years. God was true to His words when we obeyed. We weren’t embarrassed at all by launching into this building project. We didn’t come up short financially in our building fund. We are not under any bank loans for the building- Glory be to God.
Today Etab building stands proudly as one of the most beautiful church buildings in Iloilo City. Glory be to God!!
Since March 2013- February 2017, the Lord has been rebuilding the people and the ministries of Etab. God has never failed us but has been showing His goodness, faithfulness and steadfast love to us.
And now comes the time for God to fulfill the second part of His promise to Etab – “For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your descendants will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities” (Isaiah 54:3 RSV).
The instructions by God for foreign mission to be undertaken by Etab after 5 years, which is 2017, are very clear:
- Etab must spread ABROAD and not locally -to the right and to the left.
- Etab’s descendants will possess the nations
- Etab’s descendants will people the desolate cities
5 years ago, I took out the world map to see which nations are on the right and left of the Philippines and I saw Africa as one of the nations on the right and Cambodia as one on the left. Thus, began this burden for these nations.
The Lord specifically told me that it will be MY DESCENDANTS – my very own seeds and not those members from other churches who I will be sending out. God told me that I MUST spread ABROAD and stop being myopic by thinking only of Philippines. God told me his vision for missions is global and not local. My people will possess the nations (note the plurality of the word “nations”). And one of the criteria for choosing the place for this foreign mission is – the cities must be desolate. Thus, Cambodia flashed to my mind as it is a nation that went through traumatically the genocide in 1975, where more than 1.5 million Cambodians had perished then.
True to the God’s word and timing, the Holy Spirit opened the door for us in February 2017 to connect with Pastor Chin Leong and Pastor Karla – missionaries to Cambodia. Pastor Chin Leong and family have been sent by Church of Singapore to Cambodia and they have been serving God in Church of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, for the last 7 years. Pastor Karla, on the other hand, is from Kuala Lumpur and has been sent by her Malaysian church to Kampong Speu, a province of Cambodia. She has been planting churches there for the last 10 years and presently she has 8 churches established. These are wonderful missionary-friends whom God has blessed us with and they unselfishly guided us and briefed us about the situation and culture of Cambodia when we visited them.
In July 7, 2017 (777), a date that was appointed so perfectly by God, Pastor Toh Nee brought some of his DJ cell members together with two of Etab’s full time staffs- Pastors Edgar and Rowena- who indicated they have a call for Cambodia- to Phnom Penh. There were 7 of us in that team and we landed in Phnom Penh to do Community Penetration Blessings at Pastor Chin Leong’s church. 100 packets of rice and 100 bottles of oil were donated by Etab’s member to be given out to the community poor located round Pastor Chin Leong’s church. Then we proceeded to Kampong Speu where one of our team members, Cheng, preached to the church of Pastor Karla. Etab’s people also donated US500 to Pastor Karla’s church to help construct a Comfort room for the church.
Unknown and unplanned by us, God led us to Nehemiah – a fine Cambodian Christian guy who was gloriously saved from a life of an orphan by a church and who was also miraculously healed by the Lord of a fatal brain tumor. He was full of energy, life and passion to give his life to full-time ministry. When we met him, he accompanied us as our interpreter. The Lord spoke to Pastor Toh Nee and me to approach him to be our local staff for our future work in Cambodia. It was timely that Nehemiah just resigned from his secular job and was looking for a mission church to be attached to and thus began our alliance with a local there – all due to the timely provision and appointment of God.
Nehemiah has a passion for the youths of Cambodia and thus began a series of Sports Connect and Music Connect to reach the Youth. To date, he has about 30 youths who are interested to join Etab once we officially launch the work there. God began to open doors for Nehemiah to secure a building at US200 per month for Etab and this building will be the headquarter of Etab.
God never sends us out without His divine resources. Just two Sunday ago, a member walked up to me and gave P200,000/- for the Cambodia mission. In addition, last Sunday we raised our first mission faith pledge after 5 years of engaging in raising the building fund. This is the first mission faith pledge we have raised since we moved into this new land and new building and praise God for a very good mission faith pledge by our people. We need our very own Filipino members to be sent out too. God knows that too and he begins to call many youths of our Church for this foreign mission. For the last three weeks, I have been talking to some youth who told me they have a call for Cambodia. Without any reservation, I accepted one of them and he is Michael Barcelona. Indeed, this is the time for the next young generation to arise and fulfill the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. If young people dare to answer the call of God for mission, the Church must dare to send them out.
And so, this coming October, by the provision and goodness of God, Etab will start two churches officially in Cambodia – one in Phnom Penh under Michael Barcelona and Nehemiah and one in Kampong Speu under Pastors Edgar and Rowena.
Mission is indeed the heartbeat of God and we see God opening so many doors easily for Etab when we decided to spread abroad to Cambodia.
I pray that Etab will always be fulfilling the Great Commission of Christ and never become guilty of being a Great Omission Church. It is my prayer that Etab will always stay true to her DNA – a Mission church and not a Missing Church when Christ comes. After all, Etab was founded on the lives of both of us who are missionaries from Singapore to Iloilo City. Both of us answered the call for foreign missions 31 years ago and it is high time that Filipino members from Etab rise up and carry that torch of Christ to other more desolate cities abroad. Cambodia is just the first of the many foreign nations Etab will be spreading abroad.
But as for now – CAMBODIA! HERE WE COME!!!!