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Philippines May 2016

Undisclosed Location May 20-29, 2016

TLI is conducting a non-formal, pastor training program designed to build and strengthen the church in this 7,107-island Southeast Asian nation. The pastors in the program come from various areas around the island. Most of the pastors are responsible for several churches. You are invited to join us in strengthening and encouraging these pastors in this traditionally Catholic country experiencing a growing Muslim influence Curriculum to be taught: Hermeneutics

Follow along as teachers in the field offer their experiences as they share theological training with local church leaders.

Field Notes   Philippines May 2016

May  27th,  2016Long, Exhausting but Worthwhile Trip

Our Hermeneutics classes ended at noon today and then after lunch we had a closing ceremony for the 50+ students where each one received “Taking God at His Word” by Kevin DeYoung. After the closing ceremony our host Pastor and his son made the long trip, in two vehicles, with the team and our luggage to the local airport, a trip of 1 ½ hours so that we could fly to the Manila airport for our overnight stay. Departure will come very early on Saturday morning for our return trips to North America. We will all be glad to be home. 

This was a tiring and exhausting week for all of us but refreshing in renewing as we saw our students grow in their practice of Bible interpretation and applying that knowledge to sermon preparation. We all agree it was worth the long trips here and back home and the long exhausting days, and we would all be willing to come back again. Goodbye for now Philippines. May God pour out His Spirit upon you.

Ron Latulippe


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May  26th,  2016Thursday in Mindanao

As the week has gone along, I have been trying to find ways to build relationships with my 13 students.  I have asked them to plot their home location on a map, I have asked them to describe their greatest joy and challenge in ministry, I even played basketball with some of them after class one evening (maybe not the greatest idea since nearly all of them were 30 years younger than me).

I’m seeing this pay off for me because I believe it has improved my application of the material.  I’m also seeing it pay off for them because they seem to be connecting with me more personally.

Yesterday I asked my students to each give me something in the way of a prayer request.  I told them that I want to continue to pray for them when I return and it would be helpful if I could pray for something specific.  I share these without further commentary because I believe they speak for themselves and illustrate the value of the work TLI does.  Here are some of their requests.

  • Pray that our church would be able to have a place to meet.  Currently we just meet in an open space and it can get very hot and sometimes rain.
  • Pray for our mayor because we live in a very critical area where the Muslims are emigrating from Indonesia and trying to take over our area and drive us off our land.
  • Pray for the young people in our youth group.  Most are from Muslim families and so they have to attend in secret.
  • Pray that we could have the money to get electricity.
  • Pray that we might find another lot to build a church.  We have a lot now where we live (pastor & family), we have built a building that is nearly done except for the roof, but a woman wants our property and her father is the local warlord.  We have been told that if we do not leave it for them, they will attack and kill our family, but we have nowhere else to go.
  • Pray for protection from the rebel group in our area.  In January 2015 one of our Sunday School teachers was slashed to death in her home and no one found her for three days.
  • Pray for protection during rice harvest seasons.  The terror group that lives in the mountains comes down at harvest and attacks and kills so that they can steal the crops and bring them back up in the mountains.

Larry Stromberg

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May  25th,  2016Delirious Day 3

After three days of difficult teaching, a pervading sense of delirium has set in among our students and among ourselves. This is the inevitable sum result of time together + familiarity + a general tiredness. I'm grateful for it, really.

We have much to be grateful about, for the privilege to be here, interacting with Filipino believers, laughing with new friends, surely is a gift from God. Teaching within a fairly rural area in a part of the globe that's known notoriously for its high humidity, I think we're all grateful to teach in rooms with properly functioning A/C units, and even with spacious white boards to boot.* Such amenities are so easily taken for granted in the West, but, here, it has made a world of difference.

 In fact, I'm constantly reminded of to what ludicrous extent I take luxuries for granted. Personally, I flew from Tulsa to Davao in a modern-day odyssey spanning 18 total hours in my (semi-)comfortable airplane seat, most of which time was spent watching movies and playing in-flight games. Surely, I have reason to complain, right? 

 Yet, Ron and I co-teach a class of 13 pastors traveling from cities throughout Mindanao, most of whom travelled somewhere between 8 to 11 hours by bus, cramped in their seats, crying babies all around, devoid of headphones to tune anything out. They've made the arduous journey this past week and they'll make it again many more times over the next three years, all because they want to learn something from God in his Word. They commit to this journey precisely because they want to acquire the necessary interpretive tools in order that they might love God more deeply and serve Christ's church more fully.

The road is difficult, both for the students and for the teachers. Some times can be frustrating, when I wonder whether the pastors are even comprehending our teaching material, much less internalizing it. Still, other times can be truly elating - those times when an excited student's face brightens as he makes insightful connections between different lessons. Teaching, it seems, is an emotional pendulum between anguish and ecstasy. I've experienced both this week, and I can report to the interested reader: the latter far surpasses the former and makes it all worth while.

For example, today, we discussed how to find the contemporary significance of any passage in the Bible. Together, we walked through an exercise meant to apply everything the students have learned up to this point. After diligently working our way through Daniel 7:9-14, the students (and myself) seemed to erupt with excitement as we saw the passage's significance for our lives and for our churches. God's Word, we saw today, is exciting precisely because in it God speaks to his people concerning his character, his expectations for their lives, and his promises. To see all people know and love God's Word is precisely the reason for which organizations like TLI exist, and that's a vision I can stand by and to which I can give my life.

 Please continue to pray for our team and our students as the week comes to a close. Pray for our Filipino brothers and sisters as they endure persecution for the sake of Christ's name. Pray that they will apply what they have learned this week in order that churches across Mindanao can know and trust that God is with them in their suffering, and that they have an eternal promise in him.

Sam Griffin

*Shameless plug for the next trip to the Philippines in October.


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May  24th,  2016Much Needed Training - Monday May 23, 2016

With most of us waking up while it was still dark, bleary eyed from jetlag and 20 hours of flying, we did some last minute studying, prayed and headed off to meet our students.

 Weeks and weeks of preparation, anticipation, supplication and determination were all culminating in the joy-filled presences of pastors from all over the Island of Mindanao.  Though we’re all from different backgrounds, we worshipped to familiar songs sung in English, read from English Bibles and gave glory to the same God.  What a refreshing way to start the week!

 As we toured the facilities and met we our students we were introduced to men and women who traveled many hours on motorcycles and buses, some for as much as 15 hours, for this training.  Tiny AC units and considerable language barriers could not stop their desire to learn and our desire to teach them how to understand God’s Word better.

 In my class, most are associate pastors under 25 years old (what a blessing to influence them with truth at such a young age!).  One is a lead pastor of multiple churches; others are pastors, elders or worship leaders.  The need for TLI training here is clear. 

 Few of my students have read much of the Bible.  They have no resources at all—no books, no computer programs, no journals, no magazines—nothing to help them study their Bibles.  Most don’t have TVs; radios don't have much preaching.  When I asked who their favorite teachers are that I would know, most didn’t have any while other said Billy Graham, Charles Stanley, Kenneth Copeland, Maurice Cerillo and Benny Hinn.

 When they study the Bible, one pastor told me he googles the passage and starts putting his sermon together from the first websites that come up.  At 30 pesos an hours, he told me “in 3 hours at an internet cafe you’ve spent your whole paycheck” (just so you know, $1 is equivalent to 47 pesos). 

During a break after lunch, a woman told me that she didn’t need a class on how to study the Bible.  When I asked her why she told me through translation that it’s because she receives dreams directly from God and he tells her what to say when she preaches.  Only one student thought that was not a legitimate way to prepare to preach.

 We miss our families back home, terribly, but Monday made it clear why each of us is here.  The need for the training TLI offers is great and greatly needed here in the Philippines.

Jon Benzinger


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May  21st,  2016Safe Arrival In the Philippines

The Lord has brought a pastor from Gilbert, AZ (Jon), a pastor from Minneapolis, MN (Larry),a  seminary student from Deerfield, IL. (Sam) and a pastor from Canada (Ron) along with a TLI staff member and his wife (Weymann & Helen) together to train pastors and church leaders in the Philippines this week (May 23-.27)

We are thankful that all of us arrived safely and on time in Manila yesterday (Saturday) and that we were able to get a good night’s rest after many hours of travel.  Today (Sunday) will be our final day of travel to our training site. We will be flying this afternoon to Davao, a city on the island of Mindanao and then travel about an hour by car to where the training will take place.  After we arrive at our accommodations for the week, we will have a time together as a team to review the week’s schedule, to pray and to review our notes. It’s good to be able to have a little time to adjust to the time chage before beginning our ministry.

On Monday morning we will begin with an opening session and begin with our time of training. We will be dividing up the 50+ pastors and church leaders, who had been attending the two previous training sessions)  into 4 smaller groups for our study of hermeneutics  This is probably the most important course in the TLI curriculum which provides the rules and guidelines for correctly interpreting the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15). Pray for us as we begin our week of ministry and for those who will be attending the training. 

For His Glory, 

Weymann Lee, TLI Trip Leader


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